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Technical Information


The pinhole camera is a Camera Obscura or "darkened chamber". Light reflects in straight lines off the subject in all directions. Those rays that pass through the pinhole aperture land on the back of the camera. The distance from the aperture to the focal plane (where the film is placed at the rear of the camera) is called the focal length.
     As you can see, in the illustration, the image is upside down and inversed (like a mirror) on the focal plane.

  Depth of Field is defined as the area of acceptable focus. Photographs made with a pinhole camera have unlimited depth of field from approximately 3 inches to infinity. Unlike cameras with lenses that must be focused, everything in the pinhole photograph is equally in soft focus.
     The Barrel Distortion Camera (below left) was placed on the ground in this photograph of the Sagrada Familia taken in Barcelona, Spain in 1985.


The light enters in a cone shape. If the film plane is large enough and the distance from the aperture to the film plane is short enough the entire cone of light will be recorded. The image will be circular as in the photograph above. The Barrel Distortion Camera (left) was created intentionally to produce distortions. Find out more about this concept on my cd rom titled Pinhole to Pixel.

The photograph above was made with the Triple Aperture Camera that uses three apertures on a single film plane. Each aperture has a different focal length. The interior of the camera is a single space allowing the cones of light to overlap or layer on to the film plane. Made in 1984, this camera produced photographs approximately 32 inches wide by 8 inches high on a paper negative. Go to the segment on Exposures for more about film options.
Triple Aperture Camera