The science behind the pinhole camera


Karen Ma

F103, also known as the photography room, was brimming with excitement as Photography 1 students went out on the last week of September to try their pinhole cameras for the first time. These cameras, which are made of shoeboxes, contain a small, size-adjustable hole which allows light to pass through, forming an image on the photosynthetic paper at the back of box. Once the film is developed, a picture is created.

“It’s fun, it’s interesting,” photography and art teacher Brian Chow said. “[We’re using] the lowest technology possible and yet you can do a lot of things with it. In other words, taking pictures with a box with a hole in it. That’s basically the fun part of it.”

Projects like these are included in the class to give students a greater exposure to the basics of photography.* According to Chow, students must learn to troubleshoot to get the perfect pinhole camera.

“In the process of making your cameras work, students learn first hand how to problem solve, and … to continue to fail and fail and fail and then keep trying again and trying something new,” Chow said. “And I think that’s something that has a lot of value with anything.”

Scroll over parts of the pinhole camera for more information. All quotes in infographic by Photography 1 student and senior Nanda Nayak.

Graphic by Karen Ma.

*In addition to the hands-on project, by turning the classroom into a light-tight room with a hole where light passed through, students in Photography 1 were able to observe the works and functions of a pinhole camera from its interior.