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The two dollar lens

Richard Lautens, Staff Photographer

Last week my boss came to me with an odd question, "Did you know that April 24th is World Pinhole Photography Day?"

Quite frankly, I didn't and it is not the kind of thing I really sit around thinking about.  A pinhole camera is simply a light-tight box that you poke a hole into.  The hole projects an image onto the far wall of the box.  If you put a piece of film or light sensitive paper back there, you can make a photo.

He suggested that it would make an interesting project to build a pinhole camera and then shoot some pictures with it on the 24th.  It sounded like a fun challenge.  The problem came to mind that I have never shot a pinhole camera let alone build one.  Further, I was trying to figure out where I could get the photo paper and chemistry needed to shoot and develop the photos.  Another problem was that April 24 was Easter Sunday and timing was crucial to get the pix done and developed and ready for the next day's newspaper.

Finally, I thought I could just adapt my dSLR to take a pinhole 'lens'.  I got excited by the prospect and whipped the lens off and put some duct tape over the lens mount and jabbed it with a push pin.  I couldn't believe it actually worked.  The feeling of accomplishment was very similar to the first print I made in my laundry room darkroom almost 30 years ago.

I thought I made a huge scientific breakthrough until I did a quick Google search and realized that pretty much everyone but me has made a pinhole dSLR before.

I did refine the process a bit and made a video for the Star's Camera Club and was pleased with the results.

I found a local Easter egg hunt I could go and shoot that Sunday.  The pictures worked out well. 

The only problem was that all the people who knew anything about the assignment were not working over the long weekend and when I sent the photos back to the office, no one knew about the project and there was no space for them in the next day's paper!

Ah well, I got to go old school photo for a day and it was good fun.

If you want to try it yourself, check out the video and you can post your images to our Flickr site.












Richard Lautens, The Toronto Star




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