Wk01 - Camera Obscura

slpark
Posts: 10
Joined: Mon Oct 01, 2012 3:18 pm

Re: Wk01 - Camera Obscura

Post by slpark » Tue Oct 09, 2012 8:22 am

Image
Before coming into this class, I already had some background knowledge of the camera obscura from my Visual Cultures class in the History of Art and Architecture Department. After pursuing information on it through the internet, I gained a more in-depth knowledge of the camera obscura.

Image

The camera obscura was revolutionary. It drastically altered how people were approached and looked at what used to be just ordinary, everyday objects. First used to project images to help artists create artworks faster, it quickly developed into the pinhole camera, the precursor to the camera as we know it today. The camera bscura came in many shapes and sizes, some were big enough for multiple people to sit in and enjoy. There are many versions of the camera obscura that have been made by many people throughout history, such as the box form by Johann Zahn, so it is hard to say who first invented it.

Image
(box camera obscura by Johann Zahn)

Image

Camera obscurae are still used today, mostly as art installations or tourist attractions. Edinburgh’s camera obscura, for instance, offers five different floors of camera obscuras offering a variety of optical experiences while photographer Abelardo Morell turns whole rooms into camera obscurae and turns them into various landscapes.

Image
(Abelardo Morell)

Sources:
http://physics.kenyon.edu/EarlyApparatu ... scura.html
http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2011/ ... neill-text
http://www.camera-obscura.co.uk/
http://brightbytes.com/cosite/what.html

(submitted before the forum was open)

jaehakshin
Posts: 6
Joined: Mon Oct 01, 2012 4:03 pm

Re: Wk01 - Camera Obscura

Post by jaehakshin » Tue Oct 09, 2012 10:52 am

I obtained the camera obscura from an auction in Cologne, Germany after I became interested in scientific instruments when I was an intern here at the MHS. I made a replica of an early 19th c. reflex camera obscura and I'm now in the process of replicating this example.

The challenge for me is in sourcing the materials, using the fabricating techniques in both wood and metal, and designing the optics used by scientific instrument makers nearly two centuries ago. A case in point was making the meniscus prism, which had to be ground by hand after measuring the radius of curvature of the original and calculating its focal length.

The meniscus prism is used in place of a lens and mirror. This was a key stage in the development of optics used in camera obscuras. It was made by the French scientific instrument makers Vincent and Charles Chevalier (father and son) in 1823 and reduces spherical aberration - a distortion that occurs at the edge of images found with early lenses. The hypotenuse face of the prism is plane and totally reflects light internally - as a mirror does. The two adjacent faces are curved in order to focus the light and produce an image.

The engraving on the prism mount is: BREVETÉ Invente Par Vincent et C. Chevalier Ing.rs Opt.ns Quai de l'horlge No.69 Paris

Collection: Roger Smith, Camera Obscura maker and restorer, Oxfordshire

In 1803 Jacques Louis Vincent Chevalier (1770-1841) re-established his late father’s business, which by then no longer existed. He worked in partnership with his son, Charles Louis Chevalier (1804-1859), but, in 1832, Charles fell out with his father and established his own business.
Before separating, they published a description of this instrument.
Image

When a converging lens is placed over a relatively large hole, an image is obtained which has the sharpness of a small hole and the intensity of a large hole. The image formed is still inverted and the simple lens tends to distort the edges of the image. One of the earliest references to the use of a lens in the camera obscura was made by Girolamo Cardano, a professor of mathematics in Milan in the 16th century.
Despite its shortcomings, the camera obscura was used extensively from the fifteenth century onward by artists as an instrument to copy images on paper. This application led to the design of many different types of portable instruments. During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries many camera obscuras were also erected as permanent buildings and used for military, astronomical and meteorological observations, and also as tourist attractions. By then a mirror had been introduced into the system to direct the image either to the lens or from the lens to a screen. In South Africa Henry Carter Galpin built a camera obscura in Grahamstown in the late 1880s which is still in use today. Typical of its era, it has a single converging lens and a hollow screen which compensates for distortions.
Image

Image
A drawing of a portable camera obscura reproduced from A Treatise on Optics by Sir David Brewster. Philadelphia: Carey, Lea & Blanchard, 1838. The Niels Bohr Library Staff are reviewing old books like these to identify those in need of repair.

http://www.mhs.ox.ac.uk/sis25/objects.php?id=17
http://web.up.ac.za/default.asp?ipkCategoryID=2096
http://www.aip.org/history/newsletter/spr99/optics.htm

maerine
Posts: 6
Joined: Mon Oct 01, 2012 4:04 pm

Re: Wk01 - Camera Obscura

Post by maerine » Tue Oct 09, 2012 9:51 pm

The camera obscura developed independently in Western and Eastern culture as a tool to study light and optics by philosophers. While the earliest recording of someone using a type of camera obscura is Aristotle in the 4th century BCE, there is a theory that its usage goes back to the first cave drawings. A camera obscura is simply a dark room with a hole in it and can be made from a well enclosed tent. Occasionally with a hole in the tent, “a randomly projected image stands for a real object; it says bison without being a flesh and blood bison, planting the idea of a referent, the conceptual beginning of art” according to the paleo-camera theory by Matt Gatton.

Image

By the 19th century the camera obscura had gone from being a referent tool for artist to creating the referent. Joseph Nicephore Niepce created the first photograph in 1827, but it was not until after Louis Daguerre took up his work and added silver emulsion that a lasting image could be formed known as a daguerreotype. By 1850 the daguerreotype had become popular for portraits and photography has since then become the main mode of visual referential data. Without the need of artists to create an accurate representation of what they saw, the focus of art shifted to more aesthetic or conceptual train of thought.

Image

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Camera_obscura
http://www.h2g2.com/approved_entry/A2875430
http://www.paleo-camera.com/
http://inventors.about.com/od/pstartinv ... graphy.htm

lauren_hughes
Posts: 2
Joined: Mon Oct 01, 2012 4:10 pm

Re: Wk01 - Camera Obscura

Post by lauren_hughes » Wed Oct 10, 2012 7:22 pm

obcura.jpg
Artists have used “Camera Obscura” as a tool to convey the objects they are observing in enriching and life-like ways. Camera obscura simplifies color while adding depth by focusing on one distance at a time. Camera obscura projects a clear and full color-moving image onto the ground upon which an artist can copy the image. This process allows the camera to act as a model for the eye. While focusing its attention on the distinction between the “virtual” images such as that produced in a mirror and a “real” image that is reflected back like a television screen, the artist is then able to easily manipulate the image.


With the new developments in photography in the 19th century, the camera obscura had been downgraded to a dusty forerunner for the modern camera today. However, certain artists continue to take advantage of this tool in creating new artworks through the use of the pinhole technique that camera obscura allows.
One artist that continues to use this technique is Ilan Wolff.

Since 1981, Wolff has used this technique to create photographs using boxes or tin cans to act as cameras. To create large portraits, Wolff often uses his van or other interior spaces. Through photo emulsion, Wolff can create a multitude of photographs on a variety of surfaces.
Attachments
ilanWolff_Almeria07Spain.jpg

aimeejenkins
Posts: 10
Joined: Mon Oct 01, 2012 4:02 pm

Re: Wk01 - Camera Obscura

Post by aimeejenkins » Sun Oct 14, 2012 7:45 pm

The Historical Significance of photography: Camera Obscura

The camera obscura was obviously the prototype for modern day cameras. In the past scientific art photographers used light sensitive papers and to preserve captured observed environments. During the 18th century artists used the camera obscura to record subjects visual to the eye. Camera obscura literally means “a darkened room.” Before celluloid film, the act of positioning the photographic apparatus vis-a-vis the subject required staring at an upside down image on glass in a dark room. The camera obscura required artists to work with great speed and accuracy.

In the 19th century, improved lenses allowed artists and engineers to cast larger and sharper images using the camera obscura. Lenses were then developed to control the amount of light accepted and rejected by the camera. As camera obscura technology improved in the 16th century, they became portable boxes, which incorporated lenses and mirrors, so that the image was reflected onto a viewing surface, which was visible outside the box. Entire rooms were made into camera obscuras, in which images were projected onto tables and walls. The location, and the revolving lens provide endless permutations of visual stimuli, all projected onto a table in the light sealed room.The development of the camera obscura led to a more portable box device that aided artists in drawing. Most of these artists sought this mechanical device for spreading the message of liberty, fraternity, and equality. Today the camera obscura is enjoying a revival of interest. Older camera obscuras are celebrated as cultural and historic treasures and new camera obscuras are built around the world.

The camera obscura uses the optical phenomenon in which light rays reverse themselves and pass through a small aperture. Light is seen to travel in a straight line and then some of the those light rays are reflected from a bright subject, and pass through a small hole in thin material. They do not scatter but cross and reform as an upside down image on a flat surface held parallel to the hole. Here, we gain infinite possibilities while experimenting with old technology. .

James Nizam is a prime example of an artist who uses the camera obscura in modern ways. In his exhibition “Trace Heavens,” architecture represented the threshold between “out there” and “in here,” the site of ritualized action and liminal experience. Nizam's structures manipulate light across an architectural threshold. His work transforms ordinary rooms into containers of brilliant ideal forms and gives dimension to the immateriality of light. Nizam creates more than clever light illusions. “He draws a picture of an ancient celestial world meshed with our perceptual world meshed with the art world.” Given the importance of time, anticipation and patience to Nizam’s creations we can experience the work as photography. They encourage an engagement with the history of photography, and propel the photographic apparatuses/ architecture/ eye metaphor forward. The deeper effect is to distance the work from a specific physical location, and , more importantly a specific time.

Image
Image
Image
Image

Sources: http://www.jamesnizam.com/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_o ... technology
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Powers_of_Ten
Last edited by aimeejenkins on Mon Dec 03, 2012 10:59 pm, edited 2 times in total.

aleung
Posts: 9
Joined: Mon Oct 01, 2012 3:12 pm

Re: Wk01 - Camera Obscura

Post by aleung » Tue Oct 16, 2012 3:08 am

When the camera was finally made commercially available in the 1830’s, it changed the art world as history had never seen before. Suddenly portraits that would have taken days to complete could be captured as a photograph in seconds. Visual artists all over the world were suddenly put out of work. The camera of today owes its origin to the Camera Obscura, which is a dark box in which light rays from an object pass through a small hole or lens to produce the image on the plate or film contained inside. When the light rays create the image within the camera obscura, the image is generated upside down. A simple law of the physical world explains this wonder. Light travels in a straight line and when some of the rays reflected from a bright subject pass through a small hole in thin material they do not scatter but cross and reform as an upside down image on a flat surface held parallel to the hole.

Image

The first surviving mention of this type of device was in 5th century BC by the Chinese philosopher MoZi. He formally recorded the creation of an inverted image formed by light rays passing through a pinhole into a darkened room. He called this darkened room a “collecting place” or the “locked treasure room”. In 350 BC Aristotle understood the optical principle of the pinhole camera and observes the sun during a partial solar eclipse by using gaps between leaves of trees and holes in a sieve. In 1000 AD Alhazen studied the reverse image formed by a tiny hole and indicated the rectilinear propagation of light. Thereafter, it has been experimented, studied, and described by Shen Kuo, Roger Bacon, Leonardo da Vinci and so forth. Although writings about the camera obscura have existed since the 10th century, Johannes Kepler, a German astronomer, was the first to coin the term “camera obscura” in his work.

Image

The early models of the camera obscura were as large as a room but over the years models became more and more portable, eventually becoming the prototype for modern cameras. The first inventors to make the camera obscura portable were Robert Boyle and Robert Hook. Today the camera obscura is celebrated as cultural and historic treasures and new camera obscuras are being built around the world.

Image

Sources:
http://www.photography.com/articles/his ... a-obscura/
http://www.mariajoao.info/tutorials_fil ... bscura.htm
http://www.obscurajournal.com/history.php
http://brightbytes.com/cosite/what.html

samibohn
Posts: 8
Joined: Mon Oct 01, 2012 3:54 pm
Contact:

Re: Wk01 - Camera Obscura

Post by samibohn » Tue Oct 16, 2012 8:45 pm

The Camera Obscura is the precursor to the world's first camera. It was originally used by artists to flatten three dimensional images and make them easier to replicate (or even just to trace the reflected images directly), before the chemicals were discovered that preserved the images on paper. Early Camera Obscuras were huge, even as big as a room, but they can be made in almost any size or shape. They can be small. You can even make out of a matchbox.

Image

There are artists that use camera obscuras to create works of art, sometimes creating permanent photographs, and sometimes just projecting images. A camera obscura is also known as a pinhole camera. The photographs made with these pinhole cameras are beautiful and eerie. These kinds of photographs are difficult to take because of the variables of the camera itself - no point and click here. If the hole in the camera is too big, the image will be too blurry. If the hole is too small, the image will also be too blurry. Careful calculations are needed. Some special characteristics of these cameras are infinite depth of field, where everything is evenly in focus, and a very wide angle.

Image

http://camera-obscura.co.uk/camera_obsc ... istory.asp
http://inventors.about.com/od/pstartinv ... graphy.htm
http://www.photography.com/articles/his ... a-obscura/
http://mjfdesign.net/ths/photopin.html

glegrady
Posts: 160
Joined: Wed Sep 22, 2010 12:26 pm

Re: Wk01 - Camera Obscura

Post by glegrady » Mon Oct 22, 2012 10:36 pm

(Moved by George Legrady but is a Jake Miller post - Camera Obscura
by jacobmiller » Tue Oct 02, 2012 8:40 am

A camera obscura is a camera that operates using a box with a pinhole on one side. The light that enters the pinhole enters at different angles and ends up projecting an upside down image of the outside of the box on the opposite interior wall. This peculiar light effect was discovered sometime near the fifth century B.C. Various discoveries allowed for improvements in camera obscuras such as adding a convex lens to the aperture and place a mirror on the opposite wall in order to reflect the image onto a viewing surface. Eventually this technique lead to the development of portable cameras that projected the images onto a material that could store the image. The first photographs.
http://brightbytes.com/cosite/what.html

Camera obscuras still exist today; some are personal projects, some are attractions, and others are used for photography. One modern photographer who uses camera obscuras is Abelardo Morell. He likes to turn rooms into camera obscuras and then take photos of the result. Here is my favorite of his work.

http://www.abelardomorell.net/photograp ... sc_69.html

I like the look so much I wish that I could do that to my own room and keep the image projected on the wall. Maybe you could coat the walls with the material used in photo paper and capture the image.
George Legrady
legrady@mat.ucsb.edu

glegrady
Posts: 160
Joined: Wed Sep 22, 2010 12:26 pm

Re: Wk01 - Camera Obscura

Post by glegrady » Mon Oct 22, 2012 10:38 pm

Moved by George Legrady on October 22

w01- Vermeer and the Camera Obscura
by ttapscott » Mon Oct 01, 2012 9:46 pm

My initial research into the camera obscura lead me to various tourist destinations around the world where these optical devices had been erected for sight-seeing purposes. They seem to have been quite popular during the 18th and 19th centuries, however they seem to have lost they intrigue as technology has advanced. This was not what caught my eye, though. I was most interested in a BBC article about Johannes Vermeer’s possible use of the camera obscura in his work. I studied Vermeer in an art history class and got the chance to see many of his works in person, so I was interested in learning more about his practice. My other painters of his time are know to have used the device, Joshua Reynolds for example, but historians have no documentation of Vermeer’s use of the camera obscura.
According to the article there are several clues that suggest Vermeer’s use of the camera obscura. First, he uses what they call a “photographic perspective,” meaning at that time he had an uncanny ability to imitate perspective and create distance and space in a painting. Another reason for these claims comes from his extremely accurate reproductions of maps and globes in his portraits, at this time most reproductions at that time were made with camera devices. Also some of his images are painted in a softer, unfocused light that suggests optical distortion. Art historian Charles Seymour has determined that at least ten of his paintings have the been created in the exact same room, which suggests that Vermeer had a space in which he used a camera to project the image on to a back wall from which he could trace the scene. All ten of these paintings match the dimensions of the room, but in the reduced 1:6 scale that would have been projected on the wall. Seymour’s work offers strong evidence in favor of Vermeer’s use of a camera obscura in at least some of his work. While some Vermeer experts might view this as an attack on the painter’s genius this research only proves that artist made use of the technology of his time.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/british/em ... a_01.shtml
ttapscott

Posts: 3
Joined: Mon Oct 01, 2012 4:19 pm
Top
Re: w01- Vermeer and the Camera Obscura
by rdouglas » Mon Oct 01, 2012 11:21 pm

In researching the practical applications of the camera obscura before the advent of chemical photography, I came across detailed reports of this simple device being used as a popular drawing aid for artists in the 18th century. The artist Paul Sandby, among others was known to use a portable version of the camera obscura to accurately trace the fundamental perspective of a landscape or cityscape. Typically using it for the beginning of a composition, the artist would then translate the rest of the image through traditional drawing or painting. By the mid 18th century these devices common, manufactured items in Europe.


Caesar’s Tower and part of Warwick Castle, Paul Sandby (1730-1809) 1775 Watercolour.

More recently, in 2006, a group of artists know as The Legacy Project revealed the largest photograph ever created. At the former Marine Corps Air Station El Toro in Irvine, CA, Building #115, a retired jet hangar, was turned into the largest recorded camera obscura. In order to make the interior of the hangar as dark as possible, 24,000 square feet of six mil black viscuine, 200 large cans of spray foam gap filler, 8000 feet of two-inch wide black Gorilla tape and 40 cans of black spray paint were used. The aperture size of this camera was 6mm in diameter and the exposure time for the 28 feet x 108 feet photograph was 35 minutes.

The image is created by the world's largest camera, but it also may be one of the world's largest statements on photography, the role of photography and image in society.


Building #115 containing the projected image of the airfield outside.


The resulting negative photograph of the airfield.

Sources:
http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/articles/d ... a-obscura/
http://sweeney.ucr.edu/exhibitions/the-great-picture/
rdouglas
George Legrady
legrady@mat.ucsb.edu

jlsandberg
Posts: 3
Joined: Mon Oct 01, 2012 3:21 pm

Wk01 - Camera Obscura - Jonathan Sandberg

Post by jlsandberg » Sun Dec 09, 2012 9:07 pm

The Camera Obscura, or darkened room, is a set-up that takes advantage of the nature of light. In particular, the characteristics of light (being composed of photons/rays), and how these light rays are able to transmit an image.

Generally speaking, the Camera Obscura is any set up in which there is a darkened chamber. Within in this darkened chamber, light rays are allowed to seep in through a hole in any part of the circumference. These light rays carry information within them. As these light rays meet an opposing wall, an image is created through the information that the light rays carry. This image is flipped upside down, due to the direction of the incoming light rays, and how the image they carry is reflected off of the surface they interact with while producing an image.

Image
An image produced by the Camera Obscura. Why is it reversed? The following diagram will illustrate (6).

Image
This image demonstrates how an image transmitted by lights through a small hole is reversed when it is viewed reflected from the surface. The real object (on the right)'s visuals is transmitted through electromagnetic waves, through the centered "pinhole", and onto the observatory wall. As light approaches the pinhole, the direction of it's waves is such that as it passes through the pinholes, it appears reversed. (1)

In the above photograph, a viewer would be situated on the left side, with the light rays peering through the small hole.

Dating back to the days of Mozi, "a Chinese philosopher during the Hundred Schools of Thought. . .", the Camera Obscura was first mentioned to be a "collecting plate" (2). The device captures information in the form of an image, a collecting plate. From it's inception, the Camera Obscura has since been used for mathematics and architecture in Byzantine, geometric and quantitative analysis in Song Dynasty China, astronomy in England and Germany. The ability to form an image using a dark chamber, a pinhole to allow light in, and a surface upon which the light strikes, is something that has been taken advantage of since 384 BC (2).

In terms of technical precision, the Camera Obscura is not the best. Due to it's simplistic nature, the images that it captures are of low quality and often times blurry. Aristotle learned that if you decrease the radius of the pin hole, this process now known as decreasing the lense aperture, the image will gain a higher degree of sharpness. Another issue is that images created by the Camera Obscura are inherently dim. These fluctuations in image production, in such a simple devise, are only changeable through aperture variations.

Image
A display of varying aperture sizes. Larger aperture sizes allow for more light, which addresses the problem of dim Camera Obscura images. Too large of an aperture will decrease the image sharpness, which was also a problem for the Camera Obscura (5).

Image
This image created by a Camera Obscura demonstrates the blurry quality of images produced using pin holes. Sharper images were not created until the use of a lense (3).

Image
Another image created by a Camera Obscura (4).

1 - http://etc.usf.edu/clipart/28300/28310/ ... 310_md.gif
2 - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mozi
3 - http://arts.brighton.ac.uk/__data/asset ... -4.472.jpg
4 - http://arts.brighton.ac.uk/__data/asset ... -..472.jpg
5 - http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_NGgVlvoN6PA/T ... -stops.jpg
6 - http://touchingharmstheart.com/wp-conte ... viewlg.jpg

Post Reply