a light proof box / pinhole photography (Part 2)

A Light Proof Box / Pinhole Photography (Part 2)

Welcome to part 2 of  “A Light Proof Box/ Pinhole Photography”.

In case you missed the first part: A Light Proof Box / Pinhole Photography (Part 1)

This time around I thought it would be interesting to show you an actual test I did using a 4×5 pinhole camera that is new to me. I decided to once again use my little flower-pot as a muse for this demonstration. Even though I have used this object before, I still found it to be challenging, and I love challenging myself.

The fun part of this particular challenge was that I was challenging myself in several ways. The first being that of the subject matter, the second in figuring out the right calculations, (time of exposure, composition), with a new pinhole camera and the third challenge was having to do all of this indoors.

Of course it would have been much easier to work outdoors or even use window light, but unfortunately the weather was not at it’s best and from testing out the light prior to starting off coming through my living room window, in accordance to the pinhole specifications, I would have dealt with extremely long exposure times.

In part one, I mentioned the use of hot lights and how it would not be the best choice when photographing people because of the heat they create which can be a not so comfortable and possibly painful experience. But since my muse was not a person, I decided to set them up anyway in order to proceed with this pinhole challenge.

In case you may be wondering which pinhole camera I used, I had bought it off Etsy that was hand-made by J-B Gellé who is located here in Montreal. He is excellent at pinhole photography and can build pinhole cameras up to 8×10 and to your specifications that you seek.

Website Link: https://stenopesgelle.jimdo.com/

For all the images, I used Ilford’s pearl darkroom printing paper, which I rated at ISO 4. My set-up was basic and my approach was basic. This I find to be a sensible approach when trying any new creative tool for the first time. From a basic approach you can always add on top of that and always know you have a safe zone if a creative approach you add to it comes out far from what you have anticipated.

The way I went about this test is after each exposure, I processed them right away. This allowed me to see the positioning of the object in the frame and helped to determine whether or not the exposure seemed right.

My first initial test was exposed for 3 minutes and 30 seconds. This image was lit with two lights placed directly in front of the object, (as you can see from the shadows created). I placed the light meter straight towards the camera and metered from top to bottom.

From reviewing the paper negative after processing, by eye it seemed to look a little flat for my liking and so for the rest of the images, I placed the lights on one side of the object in order to give more depth. I also decided to meter on different areas of the object as this was something that I always wondered when I was first testing out with my super-wide pinhole camera and I thought it would be an interesting demonstration.

Second test, I metered right down the middle once again with the modified light set-up. Exposure time here was 2 minutes and 30 seconds.

Third test, I metered on the brightest side of the object. Exposure time here was 1 minute and 45 seconds.

Fourth test, I metered on the darkest side of the object. Exposure time here was 14 minutes!

With the last image,  I decided to play with this one. In knowing the approximate exposure times for the brightest side and the darkest side of the object, for fun I chose to expose for 7 minutes just to see what the result would be.

For all the times calculated, the law of reciprocity failure was not applied. Whatever times I calculated, was the exact times I exposed for. If you are not sure what the law of reciprocity failure is, follow through to this link: Reciprocity Failure

I hope you found this to be interesting and if you are inspired to create, create!

Still to follow: A Light Proof Box/Pinhole Photography (Part 3)



    • Hi Peter! I should have mentioned that in more detail. When processing the paper the image is a negative. The negative is then scanned and inverted in Photoshop and the image then becomes a positive image. There is actually paper that you can use and will give you a positive image immediately during the processing. This is Ilford’s Direct Positive Paper. I have tried this in the past, but not very happy with it. The shelf life is not very good, at least in my experience. 🙂


  1. Robert

    Very good instructional blog. You can also take the paper negative and lay it face down to another printing paper under safelight, expose the back of the “negative” and it will create a positive on the new paper.


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