Camera Out of Nothing

I’m taking a small photography course right now (Digital Photography and Image Theory), about photographic images in a world of digitalized media. The course is a combination of lectures and theory, but also of practical problem solving and assignments as the course progresses.

The theory is extremely interesting, putting the origin of photography and its development into a historical and social context. I find that the way I think about photography is evolving. But I must say that I enjoy the practical assignments even more!

The very first assignment was to create my own camera obscura using my own home. It’s been something I’ve wanted to try for a while, ever since me and Jed went to Scotland last year and visited the Camera Obscura museum in Edinburgh. We even bought a little pinhole camera kit to try out, but we never found the opportunity to use it.

Anyhow, my problem with this assignment is that usually the easiest way to do it is to black out your apartment, and then project light from the outside world into your camera obscura. What makes it easier is that you have a lot of nice, sharp daylight outside. I didn’t have the time to do this during daytime though, and since it now becomes pitch black quite early in the afternoon, there was no daylight to be seen when I came home from work. So I had to do the whole thing completely within the confines of my home.

Luckily I have a small storage room (well, nowadays it’s my tiny, wonderful, happy-place crafting studio, of course) with a doorway facing my bedroom. Commence blackout!

Jed helped out, of course, being just as interested in the result as I was. Also, he had to pose in the shot so that there was something more interesting in it than our messy bed and balcony window.  So, we used a ton of black bin liners and masking tape.

And then some more bin liners in the place where I cut the little hole for the light projection. A small frame was made onto which I taped a thin sheet of oven paper.

Sure enough an image appeared on the oven paper, but very blurry and not so bright. To make it better I needed to get rid of any light pollution, and make the hole smaller and more even. Loads of tin foil was used (I’m sorry, Mother Nature. It was in the name of Papa Science) on the outside of the black bin liners. Also, black cardstock was placed on top of the old hole to create a better one, but this time I made a tiny hole and made it much more even.

And suddenly I saw an upside-down image of my bedroom projected on the oven sheet. It felt sorta cool.

Results really approved. Awesome! So, with my camera on a tripod I could take this camera obscura portrait of Jed in our bedroom. How cool is that? I made a camera from bin liners, tinfoil and masking tape.

I know it’s been done a billion times, even by Aristotle. But this time I did it 🙂

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