The Camera Obscura in Modern Times


Photographer Abelardo Morell creates unusual images that bring the exterior world to the interior of rooms through the use of an optical device, the camera obscura.

He has been taking these “travel” photographs since the early 90’s starting with black and white film moving into color and finally digital photography. He uses this optical device first discovered in the 5th century B.C. to fuse the inside with the outside creating literal yet ethereal images. From Times Square to Florence’s Baptistry, Abelardo has traveled the world documenting these camera obscuras.

The camera obscura is created by blocking out all the light in a room and then creating a pinhole (small hole) on one of the sides (that faces the view you want to capture) allowing the view outside to be projected onto the opposite wall, upside down. Why does this happen? Light travels in straight lines and when some rays reflected from a bright object pass  through a small opening with a thin surface, instead of dispersing, these rays reconstruct as an upside down image on the flat surface opposite the hole.

Artists such as Leonardo da Vinci used the camera obscura as a drawing tool using it to project views onto the canvas/paper and sketching over them. There is a much disputed debate about whether advances in realism in the art of the early Renaissance occurred due to the aid of optical devices such as the camera obscura (Hockney-Falco thesis).

How to Make a Camera Obscura






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