An intro to Pinhole photography


By Nadia Jansen van Vuuren.

Pinhole photography is lensless photography where by  photos are created by light falling onto light sensitive film. The simple camera consists of a lightproof box, film and a pinhole. The light passes through the hole and an image is formed in the camera. The pinhole is simply an extremely small hole, made with the tip of a pin pierced through thick aluminum foil for example a drinks can. The apeture is determined by the pinhole size. The  camera consists thus of a fixed apeture. A smaller hole will create photos in sharper focus. The shutter of the pinhole camera is create by a piece of tape or a removable cap which is placed in front of the pinhole and opened for a few seconds to let the light fall onto the film .

The feel of a pinhole photo cannot be produced with any lens. This kind of photography produces a much softer image. These images have a nearly infinite depth of field and a wide angle. Designing and building the cameras is also great fun.

Step by step instructions on a DIY Matchbox pinhole camera can be found at

Micheal Chrisman took the longest exposure pinhole photo. From 1 January 2011 until 31 December 2011 Chrisman placed a pinhole camera in Toronto’s Port Lands and aimed it, as best one can aim such a camera, at the city skyline. For 365 straight days and nights, light has crept through the pinhole, slowly building an exposure on a piece of photosensitive paper. Chrisman used light sensitive paper as opposed to film, because it is less light sensitive.  Chrisman said that the most intriguing aspect of the photo might be the trails left by the sun as it moves through the sky both throughout the day and as the seasons change.

*Micheal Chrisman, 365 Day Pinhole Exposer of the Toronto Skyline”

On 29 April 2012 it was the Annual World Wide Pinhole Photography Day. Anyone, anywhere in the world, who made a pinhole photograph on that day, could scan it and upload it to the to the website where it became part of the online gallery.


Here are some of the pinhole photos the South Africans entered:

“Peugeot, Wellington” by Debs Major


“Railway bridge” by David Balihar


“Bateira” by Miguel Reis


“Ria de Aveiro” by Jo“o Gomes


“Fisher” by Isabel Teixeira

For more information about World Wide Pinhole Day, visit:


By Nadia Jansen van Vuuren





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