Today, on the last Sunday in April, we celebrate Pinhole Photography Day. This day marks a vacation from the increasingly technical world we live in to create beautiful photographs using an ancient method. The basic optical principles of the pinhole are referenced in Chinese texts from as early as the fifth century BC.

This form of photography is just another great way to flex your creative muscles and potentially create something you can turn into a personalised canvas for your home. Then all you need to do is scan your image and upload it.

What is pinhole photography?

A light-tight container, a tiny hole in one side and a photo-sensitive surface are all you need to create your first (of hopefully many) pinhole photographs. It is a special form of photography as you are essentially creating your own hand-made camera. It is a lensless form of photography with the tiny hole replacing the lens – natural light passes through the hole and an image is formed in the camera.

People have created pinhole cameras from cardboard boxes, coke cans, sea shells and even rooms in large buildings – basically anything that is a box with a small hole at the end and a photographic surface at the other.

What to expect

Pinhole images are usually softer than pictures made with a lens and they have nearly infinite depth of field. However, pinhole images suffer from greater chromatic aberration (failure to focus) than pictures made with a simple camera lens.

The main thing to remember is that some of the images you could capture with a pinhole camera could not have been captured with a lens, so although there are certain limitations to this type of shooting, you could be breaking new ground with your work.

How to make your own

There are several methods to creating your own pinhole camera but a very basic one can be made using instructions from the official site for Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day. From this page you can find instructions for oatmeal box cameras, matchbox cameras and even wooden versions.

Getting involved

Once you have made your pinhole camera, you can go in search of interesting scenes to capture. And, if you’d like to show off the fruits of your labour, you can share your image with the official site for this year’s event (up until 31 May) to be part of a collection of images from all over the world.

Along with pinhole photography, there are also several other methods to test out. Why not try giving your imagery a magic mirror feel? Or, maybe you’d like to make your next project vintage with our guide to creating faux vintage photos for canvas.