Pinhole Photography at Odiorne State Park: Part 1

So, what is a pinhole camera?

The world’s first camera! The concept is as old as Aristotle, but I first learned about them in my high school photography class. Today, there is a niche of photographers who enthusiastically pursue the pinhole camera for its pure simplicity.

What you’ll need:

1. Some kind of box/can/jar

2. Thin cardboard

3. Small needle

4. Duct tape

5. Black Paint

6. camera film



Cut out a small hole in your box then paint the inside black.

Get that cardboard, cut out a square large enough to fit over the hole you just cut. Take the needle and make a very small “pinhole in the center of the cardboard.

Duct tape the square to the box.

Making a shutter is optional (you could just use another piece of tape), but here’s an example of what I made. I used a bread-crumbs box, can of beans, and a box of instant pudding.

Okay, so this next part is tricky. You have to use do this step in complete darkness…

…meaning wait until the sun goes down, grab your gear, a sleeping bag, and turn off all the lights in the room.

I used old film, because I had some around, but you could also use photographic paper, to put in the box opposite of the pinhole.

Light is your best and worse friend here. It will soon allow you to “record” a picture, but for now any amount will overexpose your film, giving you no picture. This is why, in addition to waiting until night and turning off the lights, a sleeping bag is used so most of your handy work can be done within the bag and away from that light.

You might want to practice this step with the lights on before you attempt it without any light bulbs.

Turn off the lights and throw the film, a pinhole camera, and scissors in the sleeping bag (have some tape handy too).

Cut strips (one strip per camera), 2-3 inches long, and tape the non-shiny side into the camera directly across from the pinhole.

Now put on the lid and close the box and tape it shut-light proof it!

If your confident in you taping ability you can turn on the lights now and start planning your photo destination.

I went to Ordiorne State Park on a nice sunny day psyched to try out my first batch of pinhole cameras.

Found some good pinhole sites.

I saw a huge barge off the coast whose cargo reminded me of the historic Memorial Bridge of Portsmouth that was just retired.

Great views of the Isle of Shoals, hard to believe there are only 6 miles off the coast.

What’s left of Odiorne’s military history.

Next week is part 2: Developing the Negatives. An experience truly unique from the local 1 hour photo.


Robert Eaton, New Hampshire State Parks Winter Intern

My name is Rob Eaton and I am going to explore the state parks of New Hampshire to experience the ragged beauty of the "off" season. I am currently a student at the University of New Hampshire studying Anthropology and long-time outdoor enthusiast throughout New England. This fall, we all spent our time watching the beautiful New England leaves burst into color as we saw our summer-long tans (reluctantly) disappear with the sunlight. Through this blog I hope to inspire you to get away from comfy couches, TV's, and oil heaters and venture outdoors this winter. My goal is to showcase the endless possibilities our State Parks have year round because, in actuality, we humans are not built for hibernation.

One thought to “Pinhole Photography at Odiorne State Park: Part 1”

  1. Your help and help from others are needed to stop the intentional clearing of dying trees at Odionne’s Park in Rye, New Hampshire because the trees would live healthy if ONLY THE DESTRUCTIVE VINES CALLED ” BITTERSWEET” ARE REMOVED. There is a disaster at the state park and could be avoided if someone cared enough to stop the strangling of trees by the bittersweet vines. Please help. Remove the bittersweet vines which kill the old trees and also new bushes and trees. The vines can be cut and burnt and the trees can live.

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