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No Lens No Problem

Getting creative with pinhole photography

With every passing year, we hear about a new phone with… hold your breath… wait for it… one last thing… an extra lens. Most photographers’ kits are bound to have at least 3 lenses. So many to choose from – Wide, Tele, Prime, Macro, Zoom, Pancake(no, you can’t eat it). And then there are the features. Does your lens have VR 1 or VR 2? Or wait is it IS 1 or 2?

But did you know? You can click pictures on your camera without a lens? Yes. The technique is called pinhole photography and it’s based on a natural optical phenomenon called Camera Obscura. Basically, if you have a light proof box with a tiny hole on one side, an inverted image is projected on the other end of the box. Figure out some way of recording that image, and voila! You have a pinhole camera. There are many applications of the pinhole camera and some fascinating history that dates back all the way to 500 BC.

Let’s get back to now though. You can make your own pinhole camera with your DSLR. Just remove the lens and in its place put a circular black chart paper. Make a tiny hole at the centre of this chart paper. You could use a burnt tip of a needle or anything else with a really small sharp tip. Make sure the hole is precisely at the centre of the circle and try to make it as small and even as possible. You could use some other harder material like cardboard or wood too if you are used to handling those(make sure it’s black though). Look through the viewfinder and experience Camera Obscura for yourself! The more precise the hole, the sharper it will look so give it a few tries till you’re satisfied.

You are now the proud owner of your own pinhole camera! Go out there and give it a spin. It is in effect like a lens with a very closed aperture (high f-number), so make sure to carry your tripod along so you can get the correct exposure without shake.

Get transported to another time with your pinhole camera. Explore a “hole” lot of creative possibilities that exist out there. Happy shooting.

You can share your pinhole images on instagram with the tag #LLAOnlineFeatures.

Try this out: You can put some distance between the camera and the pinhole using paper rolled up as a cylinder. See how your image changes when you do this.