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Is there an affordable, homemade way to make photo print paper for a pinhole camera? Answered

I already know about cyanotype paper, but is there way to get multi color prints or even black and white prints from the exposures in a pinhole camera shoe box WITHOUT just buying the ready made print paper online? Or is this too labor intensive and not cost effective for how many chemicals you might have to use for the manufacturing? Even with easy gotten household materials. I dunno, milk, vinegar, lemon juice, dish soap. Something that would also be safe to handle?



Best Answer 5 years ago

Use a large green leaf instead of paper (preferably still attached to the plant to keep it alive).

Do a veeeery long exposure of a high-contrast shot - a couple of days if you can.

Simmer the leaf in alcohol to remove some of the chlorophyll.

Dry the leaf, and then soak in iodine.

The iodine should react with starch stored in the leaf, and turn brown in the areas exposed to modt light.

Kiteman, I like your thinking! The whole idea of this is very "out of the box" (as much as you can be with a pinhole camera, haha).

Now using your mode of thought, could we technically take this further and make some sort of 'paper' out of the organic material of your choosing (stuff with lots of chlorophyll, fresh leaves or grass). A handmade paper from mashed up bits and pieces. While dry but still fresh/green. Although thinking now, this probably wouldn't work as a photo paper but more like a negative or sunprint 'cyanotype'.

But really, photo developing is a process of organized oxidation on a flat plain, right? Maybe this concept is what I need to keep in mind. But any process I'm thinking of now is getting away from the main point of taking a picture: exposure to UV light to capture an exact image of what we see around us.

Thanks for the "best". I guess I had my "art" head on, rather than "accurate".

Whatever route you take, make sure you record all your steps with digital photos, then you can wrire an instructable on it.

There is no way for you to create your own color photographic paper. The chemicals used and the process to put it all together is too involved, expensive and dangerous for doing in your home. You certainly wouldn't want those chemicals in your house.

Are you trying to use just the paper in the camera and bypass using film? While that is doable you are limiting the size and clarity of your image. It's better to use film then you can get the size print that would make the image worth having. Plus you can reprint the image over and over if your having trouble getting a good print.

As for your first paragraph, I figured as much. Now it just makes me wonder how one produces such complicated color photo paper to begin with. Truly an invention that has an interesting history to be sure.

And as for your second paragraph, I understand that size and clarity is limited but the idea of a single, original, transient image that is made with as much luck as it is skill with a pinhole camera is a tantalizing experience. And for that idea alone it's at least trying out once. Although film, like you said is probably my best bet in the long run.


5 years ago

Using any kind of photo print paper, even home made stuff, will give you a revers or negative image. That is why they use film and then print it, so you can get a positive image. I played with using print paper in 4x5 view camera's. Since it is not panchromatic the results are off. Also there is no way to print a reverse picture (now you could use a scanner and reverse it with a computer). I also used to use 35 mm Fine Grain Positive Release film, which is a print film medium that is designed for making a print from a film negative. Remember that movie film cameras shoot negatives also and you have to have the film printed to get a positive image, unless you use slide type reverse film. Its pretty complicated. You should read up on it.

Any type of color film or paper has to be color balanced for the color of the light that it is being exposed to. Indoor color film was balanced for Tungsten light which is light from incandescent bulbs. Its more orange yellow, Outside film is balanced for more blue color light and there is another for florescent lights which tend to be green. It was a real science all by itself. They refer to the color of the light source in temperature, 3200 Kelvin is the temperature of the bulb filament which determines the color of the light spectrum that the light produces. You have to adjust your film to fit the light temperature. To shoot inside a building with T film and still have the view from the windows look normal they used to put colored gel films on all the windows to adjust the color balance. Now digital cameras automatically figure it out and adjust for the color of the light source.

There is a way to make glass plate film, I believe they used to call it wet plate or Collodion process plates, I don't remember exactly. Anyway in the days before film they used to mix up the chemicals and apply it to a sheet of glass and expose it in a large format view camera. They called them wet plates because the process had to be done before the plates dried. It took a traveling wagon to do it. And another early method is called "tintype" which used an iron plate. There also wasDaguerreotypewhich used mercury vapor to develop it which caused photographers to go crazy after a while. Look up the history of early film, it took a while to get a safe process.

My goodness, I don't know what I've gotten myself into... but it's all very interesting. Thank you for the well thought out response. Although alot of the things you mention seem well above what level I'm at, it still never hurts to expand the horizons. And some of the media you speak of reminds me of the way my dad used to create circuit boards. It was probably more of a negative process like you describe. Taking a high contrast image on paper, putting it against a board with a layer of copper sandwiched in glass with a UV light shining on it for quite a bit. Later, he would take the board and wash it over and over in some type of dark green/yellow liquid. After a while the copper around the connections would 'melt' away revealing the finished circuit board. This was all a long time ago, and I don't remember how he did it. But it sounds like the same sort of way you develop your own film.

By the way, I was a cinema and photography major at Southern Illinois University. We experimented a lot.

I was wondering if the bathroom shots weren't coming out.

One of my fellow students got a roll of the paper that they use for making blueprints, it is photo sensitive. He had his girlfriend lay on it and he then exposed all around her with a UV light and made a full body silhouette blueprint. It was very interesting.