World Pinhole Photography Day: how you can take part

Bruce Forbes Bath House pinhole photo

From the 2012 World Pinhole Photography Day collection. Bruce Forbes took this photo of the old Rotorua Bath House using a pinhole camera made from an old paint tin.

Got a bunch of kids on your hands these school holidays? Here’s Open2view to the rescue: this Sunday, 28 April, is World Pinhole Photography Day and – as the name suggests – people all over the show will be building their own cameras out of whatever crafty ingredients they can find.

The official website encourages people to take part by taking “some time off from the increasingly technological world we live in and to participate in the simple act of making a pinhole photograph.” The site also has a (anticipatedly empty) gallery for the 2013 collection and photos from Pinhole days past.

Grownups, there seems to be two events in New Zealand this Sunday. There are some pinhole workshops being held in Wellington; meanwhile the Auckland workshop looks to be very almost full. But get in touch just in case – and best you do it now. Off you go.

For the kids, there are plenty of instructions on the web. The simple kiddy ones don’t actually produce photos – last thing you want to do is give your kids a whole lot of developing chemicals to play with – but they do help teach the principle of photography well.

Siobhan Costigan Bike pinhole photo

Proof that Pringles cameras can work. This shot of Courtenay Place, Wellington, was taken by Siobhan Costigan using her ‘Pringleflex’.

I decided to have a crack at making an actual working pinhole camera. It was a rather cruel way of reminding myself why arts and crafts was my worst school subject. But as a fan of photography, and Pringles chips, I decided to give it the old college primary school try anyway. So I did. Then I quickly wished I hadn’t.

In retrospect, a shoebox might have made for an easier functional camera. But to make a prototype, Pringles work deliciously well. Don’t take my word for it (seriously, don’t) – let these guys teach you now. Believe me, it’s easier that way.

Once you have the very model of a modern pinhole camera, you’re probably wondering how it works. It’s all about light, apparently. The image shows up in the camera inverted and reversed because of the way light bounces off the object and through the pinhole. So if you’ve done it right, when you look through the camera the image should show up on your wax paper upside down. How Stuff Works has a longer, potentially more accurate, answer. Frankly, though, I prefer the pretty diagram that even I can understand.

Pretty pinhole camera diagram

Screenshot from the pretty diagram that mostly sums it up.

Pinhole cameras are a fun way to teach the young ones about photography while keeping them busy for an hour or so. If your kids are anything like me, set aside half a day.

If you’re interested in making a working pinhole camera, complete with film paper and everything, ask Kodak or follow this Kidzworld (yes yes, a website for kids) recipe.

Join us next week where I find a small hole in my jersey and die in a horrible knitting accident.

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