Pinhole Photography: Developing the Darkroom Photo

It’s been a while since I talked about Pinhole Photography! This post covers how to develop pinhole photos using the black and white photo paper. (You can find the entire series here.)

Boo’s photos that she’s taken with a pinhole camera are some of my favorite ever. They almost remind me of Sally Mann’s work.

Pinhole self-portrait:


A photo Boo took of her horses:


There are two posts that led up to this post:

1. Building a Wide-Angle Pinhole Camera


A DIY Coffee Can Pinhole Camera (Wide Angle) via #pinhole #diy #tutorial #photography


2. How to Load and Take a Photo with the Pinhole Camera



So once the photo paper has been exposed how do you develop it?  Here’s an overview of darkroom supplies needed(click image to download the printable version):

Printable Basic Dark Room Supply List (Pinhole Camera Series) via  #pinhole #pinholephotography #photography #exposure #darkroom


Darkroom supplies you can find them at the below links. You’ll be able to use them over and over again (except for the photo paper):

Supply & Source Links: (all of the dark room materials and film paper will run you about $85.00)

A bathroom or laundry room without light
A small desk lamp

Foma Fomaspeed Variant III VC RC Paper 5×7/25 Sheets

Dark Room Supplies:
11W Red Safelight Bulb
Three 5×7″ Developing Trays
Stop Bath
Filter Funnel
Print Tongs
Datatainers for Storing Chemicals


At this stage you’ve carefully loaded the black and white photo paper into the pinhole camera and opened the shutter to expose the paper. The most important thing here is to WAIT until you are back in your dark room set-up to remove the paper. If you open up your camera and remove the paper without using the safelight in a dark room you will ruin the photo!

This is our easy setup in a hall bathroom:


This works great because the materials easily pack up into a box for storage and we can bring them back out again when needed:


The most important part of the setup is that there’s no light coming through into the room. This is why we use a safelight. (I also put towels around the bottom of the door where light leaked in.) I just replaced the bulb in a desk lamp with the 11W Red Safelight Bulb:


And then basically we have three trays:


And three kinds of chemicals: Developer, Stop Bath and Fixer


And three containers for the mixing chemicals (ratios for mixing will be on each bag of chemicals):


Once all your chemicals are mixed you’ll put a small amount in each tray, enough to cover the photo paper when it’s dipped down into the solution. Keep the trays in the following order:



Close the door to the dark room.

Carefully remove the photo paper from the pinhole camera and dip it down into the first tray. And follow the following directions:


While the lights are out you might as well reload the pinhole camera for another round of photos! Once the paper has gone through the fixer in tray #3 you can turn on the light to rinse under warm water. Boo getting ready to transfer her photo to the sink for rinsing:



This is what the photos will look like at this point. They are still in their negative form:


There is a whole process for creating the final print where you take the negative and put it together with another piece of photo paper and expose it. I will cover it at some point but for now I am going to show you the digital process for creating the final print. I scan the negative into a photo editing program like Adobe Photoshop Elements or iPhoto and then invert the image:


A sample photo with their negative:



Hope all of that is straight forward enough. Let me know if you have any questions.

P.S. I created this handy little guide sheet to help with the development stage. Click here to download the PDF or click the image below:




The whole series is indexed here:



July 2013 Dress of the Month

Introducing the July Dress of the Month along with the pre-order listing for the August dress! The month of the July will include a French themed dress along with a coordinating beret and two double sided trading cards (one for a friend!) to collect or frame. The trading card this month includes the colors of the rainbow in French on the front and fun, interesting facts about the Eiffel Tower on the back.

July 2013 Dress of the Month - French Theme via


Purchase the July dress of the month at any time as long as limited supplies last. However, when you pre-order the following month’s dress you will guarantee your size. You will also receive free shipping. I’ve even given you a hint of next month’s theme!


Lil Blue Boo July 2013 Dress of the Month: What you will get via

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East Coast Cutie

This is a portrait commission I finished in early December for a family living in North Carolina. It was a Christmas gift from the boy’s grandparents.

East Coast Cutie via
It’s a tough job painting such a beautiful child but someone has to do it….

East Coast Cutie 2 via
Closeup of vintage handwriting:

East Coast Cutie 3 via
I remembered to take a few photos of the process this time. I am a very messy painter. I paint the image, then paint layers over it. Then sand it down….

East Coast Cutie 4 via

…..repaint the image in different shades of dark and light, then paint more layers on top….and repeat about 30 times.

East Coast Cutie 5 via

To see more of my commission work click here for recent work or visit my painting website here.

Lil Blue Eyes

One portrait down…two more to go. I just finished this one a few days ago.

Lil Blue Eyes via
This little girl has the most crazy beautiful blue eyes and I really wanted them to be the focus of the painting.

Lil Blue Eyes 2 via
Every portrait I do takes a few weeks. I paint a different layer every day (sometimes twice a day depending on the time I have) and then sand each layer down slightly. I scratch away paint, I do some glazing, I layer on some ephemera….and then I sand it all down and restart the process. The result is a very textured, weathered, interesting portrait. I never know what they will look like until I am finished….i.e. I don’t have a plan when I start.

Lil Blue Eyes 3 via
This girl’s family has recently moved to Philly for 2 years while her dad goes to business school so I included a Liberty Bell to signify that time in her life.

Lil Blue Eyes 4 via
A closeup of some of the texture and distressing:

Lil Blue Eyes 5 via
Some old transportation tickets wrapped around the side (this painting was on a 2.5″ gallery canvas):

Lil Blue Eyes 6 via
Scratching away of the paint and some layers peeking through:

Lil Blue Eyes 7 via
Some stamps and old papers:

Lil Blue Eyes 8 via
My little portrait business is always the busiest around the holidays. I have a few more to finish and ship before Christmas. If anyone needs me I’ll be up late at night in the painting studio for the next month! You can see more of my work on my painting website if interested.

Painted Portraits

Custom Painted Portraits via
Sienna – November 2008 – 18″ x 18″ (2″ gallery canvas)


You won’t find portraits like these anywhere else! I’ve spent years working on my process of layering and distressing so that each portrait is a unique family heirloom.
Summer Special on Custom Painted Portraits 2 via
I paint my original portraits from photograph using acrylic paint and other mixed media.
Summer Special on Custom Painted Portraits Boo via
Original “Sienna” reference photo
I love to include ephemera such as copies of old family letters, a stitched outline of a church, or images that represent a child’s interests etc. Many paintings include stitching, vintage watch parts and stamps, old ledger paper and other items from my collection.
Summer Special on Custom Painted Portraits 3 via
Detail of “Sienna” – Vintage stamps, paint layering, old ledger paper and handwriting
Summer Special on Custom Painted Portraits 4 via
Closeup of “Sienna” shirt detail
Detailed views from several portraits:
Summer Special on Custom Painted Portraits 5 via
Vintage travel stamp, vintage car ad, gold stitching
Summer Special on Custom Painted Portraits 6 via
Vintage handwriting, vintage watch parts attached
Summer Special on Custom Painted Portraits 7 via
Reproduction of an old family bank book (this was given to me by the family to include)
Summer Special on Custom Painted Portraits 8 via
Vintage postage stamp, gold stitching
Summer Special on Custom Painted Portraits 9 via
Vintage car ad, gold stitching
Summer Special on Custom Painted Portraits 10 via lilblueboo.comVintage train advertisement (the child I painted this for LOVED trains)
Summer Special on Custom Painted Portraits 11 via
Vintage travel ad (the little girl featured in the painting has a love for zebras)