Framing Lights Through A Pin Hole

Photography has always been identified as a hobby that requires plenty of money. Exorbitant camera prices are still topped up with the cost of lenses–not on the cheaper side. This prestige makes photography being associated with the hobby of the elite and the haves. However, you do not take a fortune to capture moments. It only takes a pinhole camera and the intention to learn to frame the light. Interested?


“Produce, not buy!”


That’s the motto of the pinhole community or KLJ (Komunitas Lubang Jarum). The community lives up to the motto by taking pictures without a camera. ¬†Initiated by Ray Bachtiar Dradjat through a book entitled Memotret dengan Kamera Lubang Jarum (Taking a Photo with Pinhole Camera), it didn’t take long for the pinhole camera community to mushroom around Indonesia; including in Pekalongan.

In Pekalongan, the pinhole community (KLJ) was established about ten years ago; initiated by Budi Purwanto. KLJ Pekalongan started from Budi’s interest in taking artistic photos using a pinhole camera. As a teacher, Budi transmitted his photography skills to the students of SMPN 10 Pekalongan. However, it was his enthusiasm that makes the pinhole community in Pekalongan thrive. Up to this day, they have around 150 members in one of their social media accounts.

KLJ Pekalongan usually collaborates with other communities or even schools. The Plaza and Pekalongan museums have served as venues for the community’s workshop. In addition to holding workshops, KLJ also often exhibits their works in various events in Pekalongan, for example during the Batik Week.


Every year, in April, the Pekalongan Pinhole Community is also participating in the Worldwide Pinhole Day. The event is devoted to pinhole camera lovers to gather and hunt photos together. The resulting images will then be downloaded to the page; a platform for pinhole camera communities all around the world to learn and interact.


The Pinhole Community in Pekalongan (KLJ) is open to anyone who are interested in toying around in using this unique camera. Relax. Beforehand, they will teach us about how we can make a pinhole camera with various kinds of tools. Pinhole cameras can be made from PVC, cigarette tin cans, food cans, even a cardboard shoebox. The principle is simple: the camera must be light-proof. The only light that enters can only pass through a small gap on the body, the size of a pinhole.


The technique of photographing with a pinhole camera requires a high level of patience. The camera could have been placed somewhere for a few hours, even a few days. For that purpose, pinhole cameras are best suited for documenting motionless objects; such as the iconic buildings around Pekalongan. Some favorite objects of KLJ Pekalongan community are old buildings around Jetayu Field, the Grand Mosque, and the Pho An Thian temple.

After the light from the pinhole painted the film’s negative inside the camera, it was time to print the image in the darkroom! Afterward, the photo can be displayed. Of course, this skill does not come immediately. All the steps in processing the images must be learned manually. Not an instant feat, but of course interesting and exciting.


The skills to be a pinhole camera lover is presented in five fingers by Bang Roy – dubbed the ‘father’ of KLJ Pekalongan. You need to: 1) know how to make a pinhole camera, 2) understand how it works, 3) be able to use dark space, 4) share your knowledge with others, and 5) be willing to become KLJ organizers.


Quoting Leonardo Da Vinci’s words: “Who would believe that from a tiny hole, we can see the Universe?”


If we do believe in it, however, get connected with the Pinhole Community of Pekalongan when you’re visiting. See for yourself on how they see and capture their coastal city from a pinhole!