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Pinhole Positive

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Handout about how to make a Pinhole Positive

Text of Pinhole Positive

  • Photo 1Pin-Hole Positive

    Black and White photography is almost always a two step process. First we make a negative and then we use that negative to make a positive. Making a good negative is essential to making a good positive. The positive can never be better than the negative so take care to make the best Neg. that you can.

    Step by Step for making your Positive:

    1. Set the hight enlarger so that it projects a rectangle of light that is signicantly larger than a sheet of glass.

    Most enlargers have a lock on them so that it doesnt move up or down on accident. Make sure you UNLOCK it before you change the hight and RE-LOCK it when you get it where you want.

    2. Set the APERTURE on the lens to a middle brightness.

    3. Place an UNEXPOSED 4x5 sheet of photo-paper (Emulsion side UP) underneath your pinhole negative (Emulsion side DOWN). Line them up carefully and place them underneath a

    clean sheet of glass. The glass in very important to hold the paper at. (That keeps it sharp.)

    4. Make a Strip-Test. Set the timer to 10 seconds & Expose. (Never set the timer for less than 10 seconds.) Cover 1/4 of your photo-paper with cardboard and Re-expose. Slide the cardboard over and cover 1/2 & expose a third time. Slide the cardboard over to leave only one strip and expose again.

    5. Process & Evaluate your Strip-test.


  • Look for the rst Black (shortest time that provides a rich dark black tone in the shadows.)

    Look for the rst-detail (shortest time that provides detail in the highlights that dont look like blank photo-paper.)

    If all of your strips are too light or too dark you should make the appropriate change to your lens aperture and re-make a strip-test

    If the rst-black and rst-detail are not the same time, compromise and split the difference.

    In this case 15 seconds.

    6. Once you gure out your exposure time, set the timer to that time and expose a 4x5 sheet of photo-paper. Dont forget to set it up so that the emulsion side of your NEG is facing down and the emulsion side of your unexposed paper is facing up. Use clean glass to keep it all at and process it carefully. You may have to make several prints to get it right but once you do...

    7. Write the times of each strip and the nal exposure time on your strip-test. Write your name on the back of your NEGATIVE, your STRIP-TEST, and your POSITIVE, paperclip them all together and hand all three pieces in to your student aid.

    This is a 50 point assignment that when graded, I will look for:

    Everything is cut neatly and evenly to 4x5.Your Negative is clear and sharp (Camera and subject have not moved during exposure.)You have a subject that is 6 to 24 away from the camera.Your Negative is well exposed. (Not too light or too dark)Your strip test shows the range from rst-black to rst-detailYour Positive is well exposed. (Not too light or too dark)All three pieces are completely developed, xed and washed.

    10 20 30 40 sec. sec. sec. sec.