The Starbucks Columbian Camera

Even before it landed in the kitchen trashcan, my hand was reaching for the empty coffee bag I just tossed. I rarely let solid containers like cans or boxes go to the trash before evaluating their potential as a pinhole camera. But I hadn’t considered something as flimsy as a bag being a camera. This was a Starbucks Columbian coffee bean bag, made of aluminum foil, light-tight (I assumed), and would hold a 4×5 negative. It suddenly sounded like a camera to me.

So, I shook out the remaining coffee bean bits, took it to my studio, put a sheet of paper in it and took it outside. In the bright sun, I punctured the front with a needle, aimed it at a porch railing, and pulled the needle out. Five seconds later, I placed my finger over the hole and took the camera to the darkroom.

Columbian Coffee Bag Camera

Uh oh, fogged paper! Coffee bags have a one-way air valve in them to allow air to be squeezed out, but not in. This one may have also let some light in. So, I added tape over the air valve to block out any light. And, just to be safe, I sprayed the inside of the bag with flat black paint to prevent light from bouncing around.

Starbuck Photo

Back outside, I took this photo of myself. With the time it took to spray the bag, make the pinhole, and tape the air valve, this was about a 5 minute exposure.

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