Through the Eye of a Needle
Photographs taken with a Pinhole Camera
by J. Kroin

Orchard Beach


Coney Island Coney Island Ghosts Nature
New York Cityscapes Museums NY Botanical Garden
Photographs Taken with a
Pinhole Camera

A Pinhole Camera is a simple camera that does not have a lens. It is typically a light-proof box with a small hole on one side. Light from a scene passes through this single point. A projected image forms on the rear of the box, upside down backwards. The smaller the hole, the sharper the image and the dimmer the projected image. Due to the small hole size (f/stop), a pinhole camera requires long exposure times. If the camera has a larger hole, the image produced is less sharp and there is a shorter exposure time. A small f/stop produces images having nearly infinite depth-of-field where most of the subject is in focus.

The History: Basic optical rules of the pinhole were commented on in 5th century Chinese texts. By the 1500's the pinhole was mainly used for scientific purposes in astronomy and, fitted with a lens, as a drawing aid for artists. For those purposes, the term camera obscura ("dark room") came to mean a room, tent or box with a lens aperture. Photographers made the first pinhole camera photographs in 1850's, beginning of the term "pinhole" or "pin-hole" camera. The camera became popular in the 1890s, gradually losing appeal. There was a rebirth of interest in the 1970's. The internet has increased exposure and interest of more people to photographs made by these cameras.

About the Photographs on this Website
Pinhole camera photography creates special challenges.
The pinhole size is typically small, therefore, low light reaches the film. Exposure times must be long. Photographers can make easy photographs where subjects do not move.  With long exposure times, moving water and clouds produce photographs with luminous effects. Having soft focus, recorded buildings and places appear as if photographed in historic style. There is a need to anticipate what will occur during the exposure time. If objects are likely to move during the exposure, what will be the result? If light is changing with clouds, it will alter shadows. If bright light falls upon the pin hole it may cause light streaks. Sometimes resultant photographs have elements of surprise. With long time exposures, people and other objects moving during the exposure may disappear. If they are in the same place a long enough time to be recorded on the film, they may appear as ghosts.

Coney Island,
Brooklyn, New York, is an ever changing area. It is a wonderful place to photographically capture a place ever changing. Historically it has been a summer playground for more than a century. Extremes have always been in vogue, especially amusement park rides, fast food, and sometimes strange folk. During the past year the area has had upgrades. Taking photographs there has been a challenge since what is photographed today may be renewed tomorrow.   

All photographs on this website were taken by J. Kroin

A wooden box (on a tripod). Focal length = 75mm (about 3"). F-stop 1/232. Pinhole = 0.013" (about the diameter of a tiny #20 sewing needle). Shutter is a simple flap.
Ilford Ortho Plus, black and white, 4"x5" sheet film.
Exposure times
(typical): bright summer sun (40-55 sec.), bright winter sun (55-75 sec.), dull sun (75-90 sec.), shade (6-12 min.).

Coney Island and a Few Ghosts

Download full version of the book (large file): Coney Island and a Few Ghosts
The book Coney Island and a Few Ghosts has been published in a limited edition: read about it

To Purchase Photographs and other Information Contact:
All photographs © J. Kroin 2012. All Rights Reserved