Five Pinhole Photography Tips for Beginners Experimenting With Long Exposures

In a few days from the publication of this piece, we celebrate World Pinhole Photography Day. Pinhole photography is very experimental, ethereal and really cool. More importantly, it’s just plain fun to do whenever you get a chance. Lots of photographers have done pinhole photography and many believe it to become absolutely addicting due to the slow and very different process from everything else out there.

For the photographer just getting into pinhole photography, check out these tips.

What is Pinhole Photography?

Pinhole photography is perhaps one of the oldest forms of photography. You see, early on it was done on pretty large formats. But even so, it’s always done with an extremely stopped down lens. I’m not talking about f64, but more like f157 or f295. These require special lenses if you’re using a digital or film camera. But you can also do it with something like a beer can; in fact, pinhole cameras are made out of a whole bunch of stuff.

For this reason, pinhole cameras tend to be more popular with film photographers.

Use a Tripod

Don’t kid yourself this time around. Unless you’re using something like the Olympus OMD EM1 Mk II and can handhold a photo for up to 15 seconds, then you’re going to need a tripod. I really suggest a fairly heavy one to ensure that your camera doesn’t shake about at all. When you’re shooting at f295 or other very small apertures you’re going to be shooting very long exposures. The best photos sometimes also come out with a slow film.

Lenses? We Don’t Need No Lenses

Pinhole photography is also done without lenses. As we stated earlier on, something you can use beer cans, matchboxes, and a whole multitude of other objects. In fact, many pinhole cameras are completely lensless. You instead figure out what the camera will “see” by using some sort of guide.

Film or Digital?

I’m going to tell all photographers to go for film over digital when it comes to shooting pinholes simply because you can shoot at a larger format. But if you can’t shoot film, then there are a number of pinhole lenses for digital cameras. In that case though, I recommend that you use the full creativity that you can get and use your camera’s built in creative or art filters.

Have fun! No really, just embrace creativity.

A Handheld Light Meter, or An App

If you don’t have a light meter, then there are a number of apps for your phone that allow you to use a handheld light meter for ambient light. Just lock your ISO setting, and then tell it your shutter speed or aperture. The app will be able to figure out what your exposure will need to be overall.

Then from there, go up or down a tad for even more experimentation.