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Happy Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day

35mmm pinhole photograph made by L.S. King.

35mmm pinhole photograph made by L.S. King.

Today was the one day of the year – the one odd holiday I thought I would honor – Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day. I had imagined myself outside, shooting at a local, but exotic location. Instead, I spent the day trying to work on two drypoint etching plates, which are not going so well and the deadline for them is upon me.

If you are not familiar with pinhole photography, it uses a lensless camera. A pinhole is used instead to expose the film or paper to light. Exposures tend to run longer then lens photography. Apparently there is also a digital version.

But I hate to miss a great day, so I though I’d take a Carpal Tunnel break, and share some pinhole work that I did at the end of the last year and the start of this year, when I used Wintermester to delve into pinhole work with Bill Ratcliffe (at some point in the near future, if you are not familiar with him, hopefully you will meet him on the blog). Not only is he a brilliant pinhole photographer. He’s a really great cheerleader.

L.S. King's DIY 35mm camera and some of her images from that camera.

L.S. King’s DIY 35mm camera and some of her images from that camera.

During that time, I built my own 35mm pinhole camera (using this DIY 35mm pinhole camera tutorial). I made several modifications and rather than using foam core I made it out of balsawood. Though fragile, my intent was that it would serve as a prototype for an adventure into 3D printing. It may still work that way.

Hit or miss are the words that defined my DIY camera throughout the course. Something would go wrong and it was back to the drawing board. I finally found a pinhole exposure app on the iPhone that helps calculate exposure time. There are light leaks (but then again, I think that’s desirable in pinhole). Then I thought I had shot a roll in Vonore, Tennessee, only to discover the winder never advanced the film.

So, I used my backup Hasselblad version, but to be honest, it did not feel particularly pleasing to shoot with that. There’s magic in creating one’s own camera. And heck, pinhole seems like the antithesis of the Hasselblad.

I’ve included my favorite image from the winter as the hero image (header), which is of Peak Creek in Pulaski, Virginia. And yes, it came from the balsawood version.

So, cheers. Happy Worldwide Pinhole Day. I was there in spirit.

If you want to learn more about World Pinhole Day, please visit


The Unwinding Path is the blog of L.S. King – photographer, want-to-be printmaker and sometimes hypnotist. By day she is an arts communications officer at a rural university (translation: photographer, writer, and media content provider), and most of the rest of her time she is an MFA graduate student at Radford University.


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