Thursday, September 3, 2009

Out of a Simple Juicebox, a Pinhole View to the World

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Twelve Students. Black electrical tape. A small sliver of silver. Two rolls of film. One juicebox. Unlimited potential.

On an ardiente, sticky day in June, photographer Mari Hernandez came to San Anto to show twelve El Placazo students how to turn the ordinary into something extraordinary: a simple Juicy Juice juicebox into a pinhole camera. At first, the students were skeptical. But as they sipped and slurped on their juiceboxes, thoroughly enjoying the apple-flavored contents, Mari showed them how it was possible.

Mari showed the students how to cut a large hole in the back of the juicebox (where the light hits the film) and a small pinhole in the front to function as the lens. She put the small piece of silver aluminum (also with a pinhole in it) over the pinhole in the juicebox, and taped it down to complete the lens. She created the shutter out of a small piece of electrical tape. Then she showed the students how to connect two film canisters-- an old, empty one, and a new, unused one-- to feed the good film into the old canister after it has been used. Then they mounted the two canisters onto either side of the large hole in the back, and sealed out all the light with the black electrical tape so that the film wouldn't be prematurely exposed. And with that, they had created a pinhole camera.

Once the students had their cameras in hand, they were ready to go! They raced out of the office into the sunshine, taking pictures of the fence, the cars on the street, the flowers and trees, each other, and anything else they could make their hands stay still enough to capture. Unlike digital cameras, the images captured in juicebox pinhole cameras are a mystery until the fotos are developed. There is no instant gratification with a pinhole camera, there is no deleting if there is too much light or you caught your friend at a bad angle, so that taught the students to be intentional about the fotos they took, a lesson often forgotten in the current age of thoughtless point, shoot, delete, and retake. The students also experimented with light exposure times, learning that the longer they left the shutter flap up, the more light would be let in, and vice versa. 
Occasionally a clear, distinct image would come through when the fotos were developed, and those images often looked like the old timey pictures taken on the first cameras. More often, however, the fotos would be canvases for beautiful, abstract blazes of color and light.

Like these juicy fotos? 
San Anto is planning a Juicebox Foto Exhibit at
Madhatter's Tea House
later this month!
Stay tuned for more details.

Juicebox Foto credits: Isaac Guajardo-Valles (age 9); Jessica Torres (age 17); Amanda Moreno (mentor); Serenity Hernandez (age 13); Angelina Oz Estrada (age 5)
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  1. very cool! you should post instructions for making the camera - I want to learn.

  2. We learned from watching this video on You Tube:

    Good luck!