As a Solid Surface fabricator at Sterling Surfaces and having a love for photography, it only made sense to make a Corian camera.
Pinhole photography has been around since the early 1800’s, even earlier if you count the Camera Obscuras of the Middle Ages. The principle is pretty simple. All you need is a sealed, dark container to hold the film (yes, film), a tiny hole to let light in, and a way to open and close that hole. When the hole is opened, light comes in and exposes the image onto the film behind the hole. Pinhole cameras can be made from anything from matchboxes, oatmeal containers, soda cans, and even pumpkins.
Being part of the Sterling Surfaces crew taught me that anything can be made from solid surface. I found some Glacier White Corian scraps around the shop and got to work, at a designated break time of course. It is basically a box made up of two halves with a flange where they meet in order to prevent light from leaking in. Two compartments inside hold the film rolls. One roll is a fresh one, while the other is an empty roll that the fresh one gets wound into. For the film advance knob, I used a metal leveling foot left over from a past project. The entire inside was spray painted flat black. There was no way of making a hole in the Corian small enough to create an image. Instead, I drilled a larger hole, and then from the inside, attached a small piece of thin sheet metal with a very tiny hole made with a sewing needle. On the front is the “shutter”. This allows the hole to be opened for a designated period of time to expose the image onto the film. On the bottom, I inserted a standard 1/4 20 nut so I could mount it on a tripod. Because the hole is so small, exposure times are very long, so the camera needs to be stabilized to get a relatively crisp image.
You are probably wondering, "Can you actually make photos with that thing?". Yes, it really works! It took some trial and error to get the size of the pinhole right, but it does work. Below is a photo made using the camera in downtown Sterling, MA.
I probably won’t be using this on a commercial shoot, but it’s fun to play around with, and it was definitely fun to build. Not that this project really pushed the boundaries of solid surface materials, but it definitely is outside of the box, actually it is a box, but you get the idea. Solid Surface is such a versatile, easy to use material. Wether it is glued, thermoformed, or CNC machined, the possibilities are only limited by your imagination!
- Jeff Baumgart