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Make Your Own Coffee Can Camera

Look out Juan Valdez, we've got our sights set on your can - your coffee can, that is! All you need is an empty java tin, a few supplies and a little patience and you can make your own state-of-the-art camera. Okay, maybe not state-of-the-art but it's still pretty darn cool. Check it out!

What You Need

  • A two-pound coffee can (or similar sized can) with its lid
  • Black matte (not glossy) spray paint
  • Black electrical tape
  • A thumbtack
  • A safelight (available at photography supply stores)
  • Resin-coated black and white photographic paper (also available at photography supply stores)

    Putting Together Your Pinhole Camera

    Step One: Paint the inside of your coffee can black. Pay special attention to the plastic lid and make sure to paint both sides. You may even want to give the lid a few coats.
    Step Two: Use the thumbtack to punch a hole through the metal end of the can (opposite the side the lid fits onto).
    Step Three: Use a piece of electrical tape to cover the pinhole. Ta-da -You just made a camera.

    Loading and Using Your Pinhole Camera

    Now comes the tricky part - actually using the camera. The whole magic of photography is how light reacts with the film; a little bit of light, used in the right way, will produce a beautiful picture; too much light exposure to your film will ruin it. It's for this reason that you have to load your film in total darkness. Here's how to do it:
    Step One: Okay, you're going to need a darkroom but that's not as difficult to set up as it sounds. You need a room that's totally dark, like a bathroom without a window or a roomy closet. The safelight (which produces a reddish light) will be your only source of light.
    Step Two: Once you're in your darkroom with only the safelight on, take out a sheet of photographic paper and reseal the package. Tape a piece of paper (which acts as your film) to the inside of the coffee can's lid with the shiny side facing the pinhole. You'll probably need to cut the paper to make it fit. Put the lid on the camera tightly. Now you're all ready to turn on the normal lights and go take a picture!
    Step Three: Find something you want to take a picture of - your bike, a flower, whatever - and point the pinhole end of your camera towards it. It might be a good idea to use a piece of clay to prevent the can from rocking around.
    Step Four: Remove the piece of tape covering the pinhole to allow the light to reach the paper film. You'll have to experiment with different exposures - try between 20 seconds and two minutes depending on how bright it is outside. Now replace the tape and you've taken your first photo.

    Pinhole Photo-Taking Tips

  • Pinhole Photography is all about trial and error so don't be discouraged if things don't automatically look the way you want them to. Besides, the fun of pinhole photography is that the pictures look a lot more cool and arty than regular pics.
  • Make sure that both the camera and the subject don't move the whole time you're taking the picture. If you're taking a picture of a person, tell them to hold still or they'll turn out super fuzzy.
  • Relax and have fun - it's just art!
  • Developing Your Pinhole Pictures

    Since you're not using your average camera - or film - you can't just take your coffee can to the nearest one-hour photo hut and ask them to develop your picture. The easiest thing to do is to call around to your local photo labs and see who will develop the photo paper for you. Someone will do it and it shouldn't cost too much. To save yourself the effort of having to run to the lab every time you take a single photo, you can buy a special lightproof envelope to put all of your paper film into (in the safety of your darkroom, of course!) so you can take all your pictures to the lab in one trip. Happy Snapping!

    Related Stories:

  • The History of Photography
  • The Quiksilver Cyber-Shot U Camera
  • Photography 101
  • More Artists and Art Projects
  • 13 Comments

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    F1092759450937

    Fave Kind of Camera?

    • Digital.
    • Pinhole!
    • Polaroid.
    • SLR (the cool manual kind).

    General In The Forums

    SmartSunnyShadow
    I wrote this when I was in grade 4. Please don't judge. It's cringy, I know.
    reply 33 minutes
    SmartSunnyShadow
        I AM Poem   By: SmartSunnyShadow     I am insecure and imaginative I wonder how God’s imagination can be this endless I hear my dad’s screams I see the beauty in the sky I want to go home I am insecure and imaginative   I pretend I’m someone I’m not I feel melancholic I touch my wet tears I worry how people think of me I cry frequently I am insecure and imaginative   I understand the purpose of living I say the opposite of what I mean I dream lucidly and endlessly I try to wear a mask I hope I will fulfill my dreams I am insecure and imaginative                                                                   
    reply 35 minutes
    Kirsteeeeen
    Kirsteeeeen posted in Random:
    A dog.
    reply about 1 hour
    AnnaOfExquizurd
    " Hello, Link. Wake up. The Great Deku Tree wants to talk to you! " The high-pitched voice barely penetrated my sleep, but thankfully ripped me from the nightmare. The words, however, didn't register, and I acknowledged whoever was speaking to me with a groan. Complete with me rolling over. Then a light started flashing across my closed eyelids, rapidly; almost quickly enough to give me a moment of epilepsy. It was confusing, because I was facing the wall.... As the light did that, the voice came again: " Link, get up! Hey, c'mon! Can Hyrule's destiny  really  depend on such a lazy boy?! " The feminine voice was louder now--not only because it was shouting. It sounded  naturally  loud. But what in the world did she mean by Hyrule's destiny depending on...  me ? Curiosity made me want answers, and the want for those answers prompted me to roll back over, sit up and the edge of the bed, and sleepily open my eyes. The interior of my house was still dim... it must've been dawn. My eyes widened more than being just open when I saw the blue ball of light floating in my vision... with barely visible, crystal-clear wings. I was being addressed by a  fairy . Instead of being a typical 11-year-old and responding verbally, I straightened up and rested my hands on my lap. My attention was fully on this fairy, the only one to speak directly to me in my life. " You finally woke up! "  her loud voice exclaimed.  " I'm Navi the fairy. The Great Deku Tree asked me to be your partner from now on. Nice to meet you! " I was genuinely shocked.  Finally , I was like every other Kokiri. The smile that spread across my face was uncontrollable... and I couldn't think of what to say. Mido wouldn't be able to make fun of me anymore! "C'mon, he wants to talk to you. Let's go!" Navi called. I hadn't noticed her hover to the doorway, floating by the green curtain that served as a door. I hopped up, adjusted the hem of my green tunic, and put my pointy green hat on as I moved to the door. After exiting, I first brushed some blond locks behind my pointed ears on one side of my face, and then pulled the curtain open and bunched it up behind a hook on the wall, so it would stay open. Navi patiently hovered by my head, lurching downwards almost comically as I descended the ladder attached to my elevated porch. My house was one-of-a-kind; the only one with a porch like that. When I turned to walk up the path, my aquamarine eyes met a familiar pair of sapphire-blue, topped by rich, deep green hair. The bangs were separated from the main body of the hair--chin-length and thick--by a headband just a shade darker than the hair. All of that rested on an eleven-year-old-girl, with pale skin, wearing a more emerald-green sort of vest and shorts. A long-sleeved shirt the same green as her hair was worn underneath the vest, and matching green boots graced her feet. It was Saria, my lifetime friend, accompanied by her lime-green fairy. Since a smile was sufficient greeting for her, I did that, and Saria cheerfully waved back. "Hey, Link! Oh, you've got a fairy now?!" Proudly, I nodded. An excited laugh escaped her lips. " I'm so happy for you! " My already-existent smile widened. "I, uh... thanks. But the Great Deku Tree wants to talk to me. I have to hurry." "He does?" Saria asked. " What an honor! " If it was even possible, her face was expressing more joy than before. "I wonder why...? Wait, you'll find out, hehe. Don't let me stop you! Good luck!" I gave her one last smile, and then started up the brief uphill climb, to where the path branched off into two more. Speeding up into a slow run, I turned right, passing a few Kokiri houses, then shortly reaching the pond. I didn't want to go around; today's events had me happy and energized. So, I hopped across the three little "islands", landing a few feet away from the path between the cliffs that led to the Deku Tree's clearing. Mido was standing at the edge, looking about the greenery all around us, and the surreal trails of light that floated about the forest. I was just about to pass into it when he jumped up and blocked my path. "Halt! What's your business?" he interrogated, in his bossiest voice yet. I knew he was doing this only because he hated me. "I'm going to talk to the Great Deku Tree, of course," I replied in my usual gentle voice. "No. Don't bother him," Mido said in a pompous manner. Being the Kokiri's leader got into his head sometimes... I swear. "But... Navi told me that he said he needed me." "Why? Who's Navi?" he asked. " You got a fairy, eh? Hmph. " "I don't know why..." I answered through clenched teeth. This was beyond irritating. Mido thought for a moment, also clearly relishing my annoyance. "Come back later with a sword and a shield. There's monsters in there. It's not safe." That was probably a load of lies. There were no monsters in Kokiri Forest, period. In frustration, I threw my hands up, and raised my voice--a rare occurrence. Revel in it while it lasts. " Where  in this village am I supposed to find  weapons ?!" Mido giggled. He sounded like a girl when he did, at least to me. "Just look. See ya in a while... or never." I stormed off, avoiding the pond entirely this time, and flopped down against the tree-trunk house right next to the pond with a scowl. The name of whoever owned that house never stuck with me, but he had turned it into a sort of shop a while ago. Which was pointless, because there was no way for any of us to get rupees. Yes, I had a few--ten--but that was collected over the course of my lifetime. Eleven whole years. Navi floated into my line of sight. "Link, your face is adorable when you're mad." I grunted. "Hey... you know the kid who owns this shop? He set a shield made of wood for sale a while ago. Thirty rupees." "I only have ten." "I know how you can get more."
    reply about 2 hours
    JO16
    JO16 posted in Electronics:
    laptop definitely cause u can carry it around and desktop is tied down
    reply about 4 hours