How to DIY a Pinhole Camera for Some Cool Solargraphy

Our photography funny man, Lou Guarneri, is back with a new “Lou-torial” showing us how to make a pinhole camera for trying out solargraphy.

Are you in the mood to get crafty and try something new? If you said yes to both, we have just the right stuff for you today – a new “Lou-torial” for a DIY pinhole camera! You’re going to love step one — grab a can of your favorite drink and chug the contents down, because that can will be your camera for the day!

For the uninitiated, solargraphy is a kind of long exposure photography done using a pinhole camera, with the goal of tracking the movements of the sun. It’s a cool project for photographers of all ages and skill level, as you will find in this interesting interview we did with Tomasz Kędzierski, who did solargraphy with random cameras.

Meanwhile, some of you may remember Lou, who runs the Sweet Lou Photography channel on YouTube, from his humorous take on “how to Brandon Woelfel” in a previous tutorial. So, if you like a generous sprinkling of humor in your tutorials, we think you’ll enjoy this new “Lou-torial.”

So, there you have it, your very own solargraphy camera! As Lou mentioned, Arizona cans make nice and handy DIY pinhole cameras. But you can make it out of practically any container that you can lightproof save for the teeny tiny pinhole that you have in place of a lens. In place of film, you use a photographic paper — the light-sensitive kind used in the darkroom. Cut it to size, put it inside your camera (light-sensitive side facing the pinhole), then seal your camera well. Place it out in your location of choice (be smart about it, Lou cautions) and wait. How long? It depends. If you’re just trying it out and want to get a grip about how it works, give it an hour or two. But if you really want to make some pretty detailed and cool results, give it a few weeks or even months!

When retrieving your camera, don’t forget to close the pinhole with the gaffer tape first. Quickly pop the photo paper into your scanner before the image fades (because exposing it to light without fixing it will expose the paper). You essentially get a negative image which you invert in your image editing software and tweak as you see fit. And there you have it, a cool solargraph!

Not the crafty DIY type? You can still join in the fun using a Solarcan!

If you liked this “Lou-torial,” go ahead and subscribe to Lou’s YouTube channel for more of his photography tips and tricks.

Screenshot image from the video by Lou Guarneri