This is a resource site for the design and construction of camera obscuras – from the very simple to motorized elegance.
Invented centuries ago as an aid for artists, the camera obscura brings the outside inside. An adjustable lens and mirror image capture the scene in a moving, full-color display that can be seen by a group of people in a darkened room.
George T. Keene designs, builds and installs custom camera obscuras. A 6-inch f/15 instrument was completed in 1997 in Altadena, CA. Many features from this instrument were later incorporated into an 8-inch f/17 unit for a private customer in New York City. In this device, motors rotate both and vertical and azimuth axels and change image focus for near and distant views. In 2006 he designed a 12-inch f/25 instrument for the newly renovated facility of the Griffith Observatory. Two years later an 8-inch unit was built and erected at the Orange County Fairgrounds in Southern California.
Keene has also been asked to work on projects overseas. In 2009 he built an 8-inch camera obscura for the University of Dundee, Scotland, which was installed in the Cairngorms National Park north of Edinburgh.
Kaleidoscopes and other optical devices are also covered here.
What is a Camera Obscura
- a darkened box with a convex lens or aperture for projecting the image of an external object onto a screen inside. It is important historically in the development of photography.
- a small round building with a rotating angled mirror at the apex of the roof, projecting an image of the landscape on to a horizontal surface inside.
ORIGIN early 18th cent.: from Latin, ‘dark chamber.’