Nicole Small | One on One

a light proof box / pinhole photography (Part 1)

 Hi Everyone!

Welcome back from the holidays and may the year 2017 be a wonderful start to new, positive and exciting adventures!

A Light Proof Box / Pinhole Photography (Part 1)


Having had some free time during the holidays, I dedicated myself to pinhole photography. Although it has been a while since I posted any new images, I have been testing quite extensively using both a 4×5 and 8×10 pinhole camera.

I love pinhole photography. To me it is a form of art that is mystical. You sometimes end up with unexpected results, which is what I love about pinhole photography, because sometimes those unexpected results end up to be even better than what you had envisioned.

Pinhole portrait by Nicole Small

Another thing I love about pinhole photography is that even though you can replicate what is in an image that you have seen, in terms of subject or subject placement, the stylistic look can be very hard to duplicate. That is the beauty of pinhole cameras, they all have their own unique characteristics.

Are you inspired?

I am not an expert in pinhole photography, but the whole purpose and goal of this post is to add a dimension of creative ideas and inspiration to what I started last year, “Unifying Creativity”.

I thought I would share some of my experiences with you and some tips that have helped me when I started to experiment with pinhole photography.

One thing that is so very important, is that when you start to work with one pinhole camera, you gotta stick with it. Each pinhole camera has its own specifications and this can play hard on the mind if you interchange from one to another. This was my biggest error when I was trying to learn pinhole photography.

Another big error I made was not actually researching or learning a little about the pinhole camera I was looking to purchase. But just to back up a little, I started out with a list of about 6 different pinhole cameras that I had interest in. I mean there is such a large variety of them out there that it can be a little overwhelming as to which one you should choose. I ended up purchasing a pinhole camera from B&H.

Now the reason why I am sharing this is because as you may know, I love photographing faces, especially up close. The pinhole camera that I had purchased, is a super wide-angle pinhole camera. To be honest, not knowing very much about pinhole cameras and although it does state it is super wide, I had no idea at the time that this particular pinhole camera would not be the one for me. In choosing my pinhole camera, I ended up going with the lowest price, ( just in case I may not have found a liking to working with a pinhole camera), not by the cameras specifications. So if you are like me and shoot subjects in a specific way, up close for example, be sure to review the cameras specifications before making your purchase.

As you can imagine distortion is everywhere and extreme! Here is an image for you to see what I am talking about:


As you can see the pinhole camera choice has not given me what it is I need or want for when I photograph portraits. But it is not entirely of no good use. I realize that I love working with it outdoors. It adds a cool “fisheye” type look which I find to be quite cool. Finding the right places and scenes is what makes it work out well for me.

Lastly, I recommend not to use hot lights! When I was starting and working indoors I was using Ilford’s pearl darkroom printing paper and Ilfords Harman Direct Positive paper. Both these papers have an ISO of about 4, so you can imagine the time needed and the heat! It was disastrous but I came out with some good images in the end. But no more hot lights!

My personal challenge I have given myself is to photograph anything other than a face. I am stepping out of my comfort zone, (maybe you should give it a try to!), and will post a follow-up blog post within the next few weeks with my trials and errors and final selections from the bunch.

I hope you have found this post interesting and informative. If you have any questions, send me a message anytime!


Still to follow: A Light Proof Box/Pinhole Photography (Part 2)




  1. Ardean Peters

    Nicole – Though I’m not personally interested in doing pinhole photography, this was very interesting to learn about your trials and the some of the process behind it. 🙂


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