Friday, August 31, 2012


Adirondak camera obscura in Saranac Lake, N.Y.
During a recent vacation to the Adirondaks, I came across this camera obscura overlooking Lake Flower in Saranac Lake, N.Y. I've been a big fan of these large camera obscuras since I first visited Scotland and Edinburgh's camera obscura, located on the Royal Mile, many years ago.

From Wikipedia: The camera obscura (Latin; camera for "vaulted chamber/room", obscura for "dark", together "darkened chamber/room"; plural.)

The simplest of these can be a pinhole camera, where light passes through a tiny hole, sometimes made using a pin, hence the name, and the scene is then projected and reproduced, upside down, onto the rear of the box.
Edinburgh's camera obscura.
The more complicated camera obscuras use lenses to provide a wider aperture, allowing for more light and better focus. And if you add mirrors, you can correct the image and provide a sharp image with color and perspective preserved. As is the case with the Edinburgh camera and the one I visited in Saranac Lake, the lens is located in a turret-like structure on the roof which can allow you to rotate the camera, thus changing the scene displayed on a table located in the center of the room.

View of Lake Flower from inside Adirondak camera obscura.
I've long toyed with the idea of building a mobile camera obscura using a small 5' by 8' cargo trailer or even a small travel trailer. The idea would be to travel the country with the mobile camera obscura in tow taking photos of various landmarks. Additionally, it could be used for educational outreach, visiting schools, youth organizations, etc., in order to spread the word about photography.

Of course my family thinks I'm nuts and that may be the case. However, if you have, or ever see a used cargo or small travel trailer for sale, you know who to contact. Also, if you know of other large camera obscuras out there, I would love to hear about them.

1 comment:

nicole said...

This is neat, I didn't know these still existed. I love your idea of a mobile one. If you need an assistant I know a girl. :)