It looks like this:
So you clean it out and you find a top. this is from the top of a poster-parcel, you know when you buy a print or a poster online and it comes in the tube, this is one of the two plastic end caps. then you get a sharp thing and you bust a hole in it, it doesn’t matter what size. You can see the hole. then you get some thin card and pin prick a tiny hole in it and stick it to the inside of the bigger hole.
Paint the inside of your tin can black by the way to stop light bouncing round and reflecting. Then put a piece of black insulation tape over the hole. That was easy, and free – so the next bit is the only difficult bit. You need to buy light sensitive paper. I found some amongst my step-dad’s things from the 70s. Yes it was in the shed, damp, and had lost its label and protective box and was in a light safe bag but the end was open.
You need to buy fixer (if you know how to make cafenol which is basically coffee, vit-C tabs and cleaning soda) or fixer and developer if you don’t wanna make cafenol. You’re supposed to buy stop as well but I think water suits fine, or maybe water with lemon juice in, but I never tried it.
Then you get three small sandwich boxes and pour the diluted chemicals in, developer in one (label it) stop, or water in the next and fixer in the next. Then you do like 10 minutes research regarding your papers and chemicals to find out your time. I guessed my dodgy damp paper was RC, resin coated, because I liked the sound of that. I went to the website I’d bought the chemicals from (AG Photo in Birmingham UK) for £27 and I searched around a bit and found the info I needed on the Ilford website. The times were pretty simple, 2 minutes in developer (but really you gauge it by eye) 30 seconds in the stop or water, then a minute in the fix, at room temp.
So I basically put the paper in the can (in the dark!) took the can outside with the top on and tape over the hole. I sat it on a chair on my deck and took the tape away for 20 seconds (rough guess) it was pretty sunny. I came back in. Like I say it was pretty sunny so I went under my duvet because even with my curtains closed it wasn’t dark enough. I lined up the 3 tubs and dipped the paper in, swishing it around with tweezers. Then after the fix I washed it in the washing up bowl. pretty low tech.
But I mean, I made it with a frickin mac and cheese can! it’s the trees at the bottom of my garden by the way. And yes, practice will eventually make perfect.
Pinhole experts feel free to educate me on my mistakes.