I participated Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day, using a camera I built in November of 1997. Yes, that was a long time ago, and it was one of my first pinhole cameras ever built. It is a wooden pinhole camera with a “pop can” pinhole, made from strips of wood purchased at the local lumber store, cut and glued together.
It is far from perfect, and over the years some of the wood pieces shrunk leaving gaps on the sides and top of the camera. A pinhole camera is essentially a light tight box, so gaps in the wood were not going to help with making exposures on the camera. I did some research and a fellow pinhole photographer recommended Permatex Ultra Black gasket material to fill in those gaps on the camera. A few toothpicks to push it into the cracks and a little dry time, and my camera was back in business. I also expanded the back of the camera to show the entire 4×5 negative. Somehow when I built it the first time, I let the camera crop the negative due to the wood pieces I used to frame the film holder. After a few modifications my “full frame” camera was ready for Pinhole Day.
Film this year was also a throwback. I used some expired Ilford Delta 100 and developed it in the ecologically minded LegacyPro EcoPro Ascorbic Acid film developer and LegacyPro neutral fixer. This developer is modeled after Kodak Xtol and uses ascorbic acid as the developing agent.
Results? I was quite pleased with what I got. I was able to squeeze three holders (six frames) in before it started pouring outside. Due to the heavy overcast skies, exposures were in the 2-4 minute range.
The images were then printed on hand coated cyanotype paper. I used the original 1842 recipe from Sir John Herschel, This year marks the 175th anniversary of the cyanotype which is a great at home alternative process to learn.
Pinhole photography is enjoyable because it allows me to concentrate on the subject matter, and only worry about the exposure time. Since this camera has a fixed aperture and a fixed focal length, it really comes down to setting up the camera and exposing the film. And it is hand made, which is pretty cool!