Monday, 9 January 2012

Pin Heads

A while ago bob featured in some really cool home made pinhole shots courtesy of Kenneth Stevens.We were inspired! We have always talked about making pinhole cameras and as is so often the case our ever enthusiastic carboard friend sealed the deal!

TC-1 (Jake)

Initially I was filled with reckless enthusiasm when Richard and I embarked upon our pinhole adventure. Having already made and, with varying success, used cameras out of matchboxes and insulation tape I felt sure that making a more permanent and visually interesting camera would be a piece of cake. All kinds of plans were frothing away in my little pinhead, extravagant shutter concepts, complicated loading systems, bells, whistles and tassels my camera was to have them all!

The only rule we imposed upon ourselves was the material we had to produce our cameras from. Therein lies the rub; my camera was to be a creation wrought in metal.

First I needed materials and the obvious choice, as a starting point was tin cans. Numerous and cheap there were plenty to choose from; so I got them all (well not quite). Coke cans, Spam tins, biscuit tins, pencil tins, there wasn’t a tin Richard didn’t have to drag me away from whenever we went shopping. It was suggested that I should use a tin can in an unaltered state to form the basis of the camera, that way it would be structurally strong and insured against any light leak; “poppycock” I replied, my camera would be a sleek space age shiny future tech creation lovingly and cleverly created. It would look like a camera not a tin of beans.

As it turns out bending metal, sticking metal to other metal; in fact manipulating metal in any way without the proper equipment and absolutely no experience or skill is really hard. Really hard. Unlike Richard instead of carefully planning then crafting according to those plans a working machine, I spent most of my time trying to reverse engineer luxury biscuit tins in the hope that somehow they would spontaneously become a camera.

The process of creating my camera became increasingly organic; I would find something that I thought could be useful and try to apply it to what was already built. The skeleton of the camera was made from various bits of a kids metal construction toy, then came the curved Spam tin sides, then various luxury biscuit tin revelations; the whole thing just started to build itself. Obviously functionality became a more pressing issue as the camera started to take shape, I began to apply tape and sticky felt to guard it against light leak as well as actually making the pinhole (in a tomato puree tin) and the shutter (a jam jar lid serving as a lens cap as well). It was both a much simpler and more complicated beast than I had imagined. Endlessly having to improvise and experiment was at the time frustrating but in hindsight rewarding as well. The amount of cuts I sustained during the build earned the camera an affectionate moniker from Richard: “Tetanus Cam”. The name stuck and the TC-1 was born.

Maybe what I thought would be something that looked like it was made by Spock for a dangerous away mission turned out to be more of a made by Forrest Gump for a special mission, but I love my TC-1. And although I can’t see myself doing it again soon, making your own pinhole camera is definitely worth it for that warm tingling glow you get when someone asks: “ Where’d you get that?” You:” It’s a camera and I made it from scratch.” Them: “Does it work?” You: “Sort of.”


So how difficult can it be to build cameras out of tin cans, spare guitar parts and sticky felt! well i will tell you! while jake fashioned tetanus cam i made what has become affectionately know as the pencil case. the main body of the pencil case is an mdf box hand made of course! the actual build of the box was relativlely problem free but from an aesthetic point of veiw i had made a tiny and very ugly bookcase. i did what any artist worth his salt would do and reached for the bright green spray paint! armed with a tiny bright green bookcase i started work on the mechanism for winding the film, i opted for a wind both ways design, fine as long as you can remeber which way you are winding! my design involved sawing the tops off screwdrivers, very difficult it turns out! after i had superglued telecaster volume pots to the screwdriver tops and held the whole thing together with a sponge i coated the inside with sticky felt. unfortunatley i realised to late that i should have added the felt last because after a bit more fiddling around the felt became less felty and more fluffy! now i had a tiny green bookcase with an interior similar to that of a hairy mans underpants! or at least thats what i have heard! now i just had to make the whole thing pretty. not an easy task i ended up with something that looks like a cross between an automated pencil case and a 1960's campervan.