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CAMERA OBSCURA A Box with a Hole in It

“Who would believe that so small a space could contain the image of all the universe? O mighty process!” - Leonardo Di Vinci


The Human Eye & Camera Obscura

Š Chris Fraser

The Human Eye Optics | Law of Refraction The actual anatomy of the eye is quite complex, but in essence it is very much like other optical devices based on refraction. Light leaves the surface of an object - traveling in a wide range of directions. Some of the light leaving the object reaches the eye. The light is bent when it pases from the air into the eye. This bending phenomenon is called refraction. The image formed on the retina is inverted. It is the optic nerve that transmits the image rightside up to the brain.

Building an I-Scura The I-Scura allows you to expereince refraction as if you are inside the human eye - seeing the world upside down.

Supplies Gaffers tape, Cloth for eye lid & construction paper for lashes Acrylic paint for iris Sharp blade to cut head & lens openings Foam to cover sharp edges of head opening Trash bin with rounded lid Matte black spray paint

Directions 1. Black out the inside of a trash bin with black paint. 2. Attacch a 3+dioptre lens from pharmacy reading glasses to end of rounded lid with gaffers tape. 3. Paint iris, add lid and lashes. 4. Gaffer tape all components together. 5. Put on someone’s head!

Laundry Basket

Hole (for head) Cloth for eye lid

3+ Dioptre lens (from reading glasses)

Camera Obscura Room How to create your room a camera obscura Derived from Latin; Camera meaning “room” and Obscura “dark.” Go into a very dark room on a bright day. Make a small hole in a window cover and look at the opposite wall. What do you see? Magic! There in full color and movement will be the world outside the window — upside down! This magic is explained by the simple law of refraction. Light travels in a straight line and when some of the rays reflected from a bright subject pass through a small hole in thick material they do not scatter but cross and reform as an upside down image on a flat surface held parallel to the hole - the same as the human eye functions.

Supplies Gaffers tape 6mm thick black plastic sheeting Exacto Knife

Directions 1. Use a room of any size-preferably with light walls. 2. Make the room completely dark! Cover all windows with black plastic and close all doors. 3. Cut a dime sized hole in the center of plastic covering windows. 4. The scene outside will project itself upside down on the opposing wall within the room.


Pinhole Cameras and a Darkroom

Pinhole Camera Construction How to build a pinhole camera A pinhole camera can be created from ANY light tight container. Pinholes have been created from oatmeal cylinders, to coconuts, to garbage cans. A container can be modified and made light tight by coating the interior with black paint. The size and shape of the container will affect the final look of the image. The process is all about experimentation!

Supplies Containter with a tight lid Black paint or spray paint Thin aluminum Glue Electrical tape Scissors #16 needle Light grain sand paper Black & White photo paper

Directions 1. Black out the inside of container with black paint. Let dry.

2. Seal bottom of container and interior of lid with glue. Set container aside to dry.

3. Cut a 2in x 2in square out of thin aluminum.

4. Create a hole in center of aluminum square with #16 needle.

5. Lightly sand each side of aluminum square. Re-pin hole to ensure proper opening.

6. From top to bottom measure center of container. Cut 1in x 1in opening.

7. Glue 2in aluminum square on inside of container. Needle hole should be centered in container’s 1in x1in opening. Place small piece of electrical tape over exterior hole.

8. Place B&W paper inside container, opposite of needle hole. Close lid.

9.Point pinhole at subject. Remove electrical tape from hole for proper exposure time. Recover hole with tape. Take inside to darkroom!

Unconventional Darkrooms How to construct a Darkroom A darkroom can be created from any light tight room. Because of the toxic nature of the chemistry it is ideal to have proper ventilation. When creating a darkroom in unconventional spaces (without ventilation systems) be sure to limit the amount of time students are in the darkroom and have fans to circulate the air. This will ensure safe use of the space. Users should not splash chemistry and avoid touching mouth or eyes during processing. Hands should be washed immediately after photo processing is complete. Unconventional darkrooms are easy to create and enjoy with the right safety precautions!

Supplies Light Tight room Ventilation or fans Long table or sink Clothesline Clothespins Safe light trays tongs Water Towels Chemistry: B&W paper Developer B&W paper Stopbath B&W paper Fixer Read chemistry bottle instructions for proper use.

Creative Resources How to make camera obscura room 23 pinhole cameras you can make at home I-Scura and Pinhole Photography

Where to Buy Supplies

Camera obscura  
Camera obscura