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Camera obscura

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Duration (?)1h 0 min.
Cost (?)~3 CHF
Languagefrançais deutsch english
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The camera obscura is the ancestor of the photographic camera and uses the same optical principle. Before the invention of photography, some painters like Canaletto in Vense in the 18th century used this technique. It is also likely that Vermeer in the 17th century used as well a camera obscura for some of his paintings.


The camera obscura is a black box with a hole to let light in. This allows the image of a landscape or object to be projected onto a flat screen (wall, canvas). It is then easy for a painter, by placing himself inside, to copy the scene very faithfully with all the details and perspectives.


The image is reproduced upside down because the light rays are straight and cross each other through the hole. The same phenomenon can be found in any camera or simply in our eye. In the latter case, it is our brain that interprets the image so that we perceive it right side up!


This project was developped for the magazine 'Campus Junior' of the University of Geneva.

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Cut a piece of cardboard corresponding to the opening of the cereal box. It should just pass th ...
Cut out a rectangular window in this cardboard.
Cover the window with tracing paper.   Fix the tracing paper with adhesive tape, keeping it is ...
View of the window on the other side.
Fix two pieces of thick tape on the sides of the cardboard to form 'handles' to help insert into ...
Surround the cereal box with thick tape to prevent it from getting deformed. Put the strip about ...
Gently slide the windowed cardboard into the box, holding the handles aside.
Keep the windowd cardboard straight, parallel to the bottom of the box. Stop at about 8cm from t ...
Cut out two 'cones' from an egg box and make two holes in the bottom to form oculars.
Cut another piece of cardboard with a size corresponding to the opening of the cereal box.   C ...
Cut two openings for the oculars.
Place the two oculars on top of the holes and fix them with thick tape. Cover all gaps where lig ...
Cut out a wide window in the top of the cereal box big enough not to hinder the vision of the oc ...
Place the board with oculars on the box and fix everything with thick adhesive tape.
Locate the central point of the bottom of the box and with the help of a drawing pin make a hole.
This small pinhole will act as a diaphragm. This is where the light (the image) will enter.
This is the finished camera obsucra!   Check if the box doesn't let any light come in. ...

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