Back to Basics - How a Pinhole Camera Works

Andrew Hind
A free video tutorial from Andrew Hind
Professional Photographer and Teacher
4.2 instructor rating • 4 courses • 19,098 students

Lecture description

If you can understand how a simple pinhole camera works you're well on your way to understanding how any modern camera works as well. Learn how only two basic controls are the foundations of photography and understanding your camera.

Learn more from the full course

DSLR Cameras Made Simple: Take Pictures With Confidence

Learn how to really understand and control your DSLR camera. Put your knowledge into practice to take great pictures.

01:08:46 of on-demand video • Updated March 2016

  • An understanding of how the camera works from the inside out.
  • The ability to take control of the camera and understand the basic functions.
  • The opportunity to use your new knowledge to take creative and artistic photographs
English [Auto] Hello. The problem with these big digital SLR cameras I think is that you can't see inside them. It's a sort of closed black box of magic tricks isn't it. And it's very very difficult to physically understand how it works. I think if you can understand how it physically works inside what mechanically is sort of going on inside of the camera then it's much much easier to unpack all of the tiles and the knobs and the terminology and all of this sort of thing to gain a real understanding of how the camera works and also to take better pictures. The key to this is not to start with this camera for a start in terms of explaining I'm going to go right the way back almost sort of the beginnings of photography and look has a very different sort of camera with you here which I've actually made out of a bin. It's actually a pinhole camera because it's got a tiny little pinhole in the front and you can make pinhole cameras out of basically anything that's like if this happens to be a light Prefontaine that's been you could make it out of a light proof biscuit 10 shoe box. I've seen the made out of bridges. It's amazing you can almost make a pinhole camera out of anything that's able to have a hole in it and become a light proof container. I took this photograph off my house using this bin. It's a very simple process which if you can understand and relate it to your DSL or you really are sort of 80 or 90 percent of the way to having a complete control of your photography and knowing what's going on. So to take a photograph with the bin camera again and the first thing to notice is that this is like proof it's completely like pre-high put some tape around the top to make it like proof so that no light only can in a dark room inside you need a little bit of preparation. You need to put in the photographic paper a blank piece of photographic paper goes inside the bin. It's blue taxying opposite the hall here so that when the light comes in through the hole to take the fight off it hits the paper still in the dark. The list goes on. So it's like proof inside. Most important thing your finger goes over the end here so that when you take this outside take the photograph no light gets into the bin until you're absolutely ready. So out you go into the sunshine probably where it's nice and bright to take your photograph. Put the pin down pointed at one of you wants take your photograph off and start taking the photograph take your finger off the hole. Now there's been all this pinhole camera is quite large and it actually took three minutes to take the photograph because I showed you down there. And during those three minutes the light comes in through the hole floods the inside of the bean with light hits the paper on the back. Here the paper is incredibly light sensitive and there's a sort of chemical reaction between the light that's coming in through the bay through the pin and the pinhole here and the paper at the back here. The lights almost sort of burns the paper and imprints an image on the photographic photosensitive light sensitive paper here. After the three minutes or so is up to stop taking the photograph finger it goes back over the band Hole. Here the pinhole rather here and then you need to take the pinhole camera back into the dark room. The paper comes out it goes through a couple of chemical processes washed and it dries and you end up with a picture that looks something like this. Now this really is the key to understanding how the big digital That's how it all works. If you can understand how this pinhole camera works then you really do get a total understanding of how your DSL works. In the next video I'm going to stick with a pinhole camera for another few minutes and just show you in sort of practical terms with pictures a little bit more how it works so you can understand how the light goes in in case it was difficult to understand with the bin will then go on and have a look at how that actually relates to a real camera and how it relates to all the knobs and the dials and the arches and the f stops and all those sorts of words that you've probably come across in your in your last all my digital SLR manual are confusing and slightly stressful to look at and read.