In Craig J. Barber’s Ghosts in the Landscape: Vietnam Revisited, Barber, a Vietnam vet, returns to Vietnam almost 30 years later to document the country through black and white photos. Barber gets old fashioned photos in a very old fashioned way- with a pinhole camera.
Barber’s photos show how Vietnam has changed since the war, and how the war changed Vietnam. His old fashioned photos show shell casings as fence posts and shell craters turned into fish ponds. There’s a great sense of the beauty and change happening in the county shown throughout Barber’s photos.
I remember my fascination with trying to make a pinhole camera to take black and white photos as a kid.
You can make a pinhole camera with something as simple as a coffee can or an empty box from the pantry. It’s a fun way to recycle and reuse household materials. Here’s a quick overview of the steps to make your camera:
- Use black paint, tape or paper to cover the inside and outside of a can or box to eliminate light. Punch a small hole in one end of your camera, to reflect light. A shutter is fashioned out of a piece of sturdy dark paper and hides your film. Set up a dark room, and insert photographic paper into your camera. Then carefully take your camera to your desired location. Lift the shutter, count to ten, and you’ll have your photo. Then it’s back to the darkroom to develop and print your shot!
- Old fashioned photos taken with a pinhole camera have a distinct look. Taking black and white photos this way takes time, as you sit very still and wait for the photo to expose properly.
- Your homemade camera can provide high quality black and white photos. Experiment with your camera, and take notes to find out what worked best for you. Did you wait ten or twenty seconds when taking the shot? Were you in full sunlight or was it a cloudy day? It takes some trial and error. When done correctly, the results can be beautiful. And it’s fun!
Everyday Photographer Tip of the Day: Kodak has kindly provided instructions on how to make a pinhole camera. It’s a fun project to share with a young family member and a great way to get some grainy, inspired shots!