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Pinhole Photography

Course Times & Enrolment

This course is currently unavailable.

Course Summary

This course is ideally suited for someone with a passion for photography, its history and alternative processes for making images. You will begin by building your own pinhole camera from scratch, learning how to shoot, process and print your own black and white pinhole images. Shooting photographs around the city of Edinburgh and finally using the black and white darkroom to make paper negatives and final prints.

The course aims to introduce students to an alternative process of photography, looking at the history of the medium and its beginnings (here in Edinburgh). They will look at Fox-Talbot’s first pinhole, and the Camera Obscura as examples of how photography was invented before building their own pinhole cameras from household items (i.e. shoeboxes/biscuit tins) and photographic paper. The idea behind this course is to contextualise the beginnings of photography with the now, stripping back and focusing on the simplicity of the images taken with a pinhole. The students will learn about exposure times, how to make test strips, build their own cameras, how paper negatives work and how to make positives prints from the negatives.

Please note, this course includes a walking fieldtrip to take pinhole photographs around the city of Edinburgh and Carlton Hill during a 3-hour period.

Course Details

Pre-requisites for enrolment


Special Information

Essential materials or equipment to be provided by COL:

  • Black and white photographic paper

  • Needles

  • Black paint

  • Scissors

  • Empty cans to be recycled

Essential materials or equipment to be provided by the student:

  • Students will need to bring along an old biscuit tin or a shoe box

Content of Course

The content of the course will comprise of:

1. Developing an understanding for analogue photography.

2. Explore ‘alternative’ photographic techniques and processes.

3. Build a pinhole camera

4. Focus on two themes; Landscapes and Self-Portraits,

5. Be introduced to contextual references, relevant to pinhole photography.

6. The opportunity to employ the camera, using it to take photographs on location, and around the city.

7. Group critique based on the result created, techniques and uniqueness of the process.

Teaching method(s)

The course is delivered in a darkroom workshop with access to the relevant equipment for making photographic prints. Teaching is led by the tutor through group introductions, demonstrations, discussion and one-to-one discourse.

The course will be hands-on, with students expected to engage in the activities from the start. It begins with a short introduction/lecture, before making their camera and learning the skills, methods and processes used in the darkroom, before a walking field trip to take pinhole photographs around the city of Edinburgh and Carlton Hill during a 3-hour period.

At the end of the course, the students will have their own handmade pinhole camera, a series of final prints, as well as test strips and paper negatives.

Learning outcomes

On completion of this course, students will be able to:

  • Gain a basic contextual awareness and practical understanding for the history of pinhole photography;

  • Create a series of photographs with a pinhole camera;

  • Employ a series of darkroom printing methods, processes and techniques;

  • Present a series of related pinhole camera prints.


Core Readings

The recommended titles below may be of interest in following up the themes discussed in the course.

  • Barber, C. 2006 Ghosts in the Landscape Umbrage Editions.

  • Kazimierski, D. 2005 My Palace: Lensless Portrait Globalna Wioska.

  • Kenny, C. 2011 Pinhole Cameras: A DIY Guide Princeton Architectural Press

  • Krummel, B.J., 2009. The Pinhole Camera: A Practical How-To Book for Making Pinhole Cameras and Images Createspace Independent Publishing Platform

  • Levinson, E. 2006. Timescapes Japan ‘A Pinhole Journey’ Nippon Camera Company.

  • Renner, E. 2008 Pinhole Photography: From Historic Technique to Digital Application (Alternative Process Photography) Routledge

  • Roberts, R. 2004 Specimens and Marvels: William Henry Fox Talbot and the Invention of Photography Aperture.

Web Sources


If you have questions regarding the course or enrolment, please contact COL Reception at Paterson's Land by email or by phone 0131 650 4400.

Student support

If you have a disability, learning difficulty or health condition which may affect your studies, please let us know by ticking the 'specific support needs' box on your course application form. This will allow us to make appropriate adjustments in advance and in accordance with your rights under the Equality Act 2010. For more information please visit the Student Support section of our website.