How To Build A Room Sized Camera Obscura (+ Timelapse)

We heard how dangerous it could get outdoors with all the traffic-crossings, pollen, rays of UV and so on, so we decided to stay inside and paint our walls with a live stream of the outside world…

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For those less familiar with such witchcraft, this phenomenon is known as ‘camera obscura’…

First decoded by none other than legendary Arabic scientist, Alhazen, the surreal projections of light through a pinhole have been observed across a myriad of generations, eras and cultures – Today it is observed on DIYP.

Using no more than materials essentially considered rubbish, is it astounding to realize this simple manipulation of light we currently bask in is what eventually lead to development of the device currently reshaping the landscape of art (and spurred this DIY culture):

The camera

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For the cowardly like-minded, here is how you can experience your perilous surroundings from the dankness of your comfortable room.

Craft Or Die Trying

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You will need:

  1. A room with a window.
  2. A material with which to block the aforementioned window – We used a piece of cardboard or twenty rummaged from a dumpster. However, virtually any material that blocks light will work such as black garbage bags or even a blanket.
  3. Tape (Duct tape or gaffers tape will work best due to their opaque nature).
  4. Scissors or a knife.

Building Your Own

Step 1: Lock your doors, kill the lights and block the windows with cardboard as though you are expecting visitors. Are there any gaps in your shroud allowing light to leak inside (as though a slow trickle of whiskas from a hole in the corner of the catfood bag)? Tape it up – The darker you make the room, the stronger the effect will be.

Step 2: Using your sharp implements of cutting (I.E. scissors, knife or claws in our case), gouge a coin sized hole somewhere in the center of your cardboard curtain.

Step 3: Voilà! (Are we already done?) Sunlight entering through this aperture will now project an inverted image of the treacherous outdoor realm onto your dark walls, floors and ceiling.

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CLAWnclusion

Just as your pupil currently projects an inverted image of your dirty computer screen (or LCD if you happen to be part of the smartphone revolution) onto your retina while you read this questionable tutorial, we roll up the catnip and lazily lounge like domestic felines in the achievement of converting our room into a giant eyeball. If we had 35ft film (rather than 35mm) upon the wall, we would perhaps be inside one of the biggest pinhole cameras ever…

Stitched Panorama

In the 15 – 20 minute it takes for our eyes to adjust to the darkness, they become 1 million times more sensitive and we can observe the progression of outside life with nearly as much clarity as a television. Trees blowing the wind, pedestrians crossing roads, cars navigating traffic lights and clouds drifting quietly by.

Depending on the view, shape of your room, position of your window and size of the aperture, you will get drastically varying results. However, this is all part of the fun and the curious allure that drove us (and most likely Alhazen too) to such vivid experimentation.

Taking it Further – a Time lapse

To make this a completely epic experience you can place a camera on a tripod (or pillow) and grab a full camera obscured time lapse. (see how here)

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this photo may take time to load, but it definitely worth it

About The Author

Sending curtains out of style since 2012, Destruction Of Cats are pioneering the cardboard era with photography and art as a unstoppable feline force.

  • https://www.facebook.com/elizabeth.dupre.9 Elizabeth DuPré

    Roxy this made me think of you… cool idea!

  • http://www.1singur.deviantart.com/ Stefan Dumitrache

    All we need now is a guide to make a wall-sized sensitive film. So come on, give us directions on how to achieve that AND how to develop it and print it :D

    • Andre Bonnet

      lens.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/07/16/showcase-23/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_r=0#/1/

      And look up the wet plate work of Ian Ruhter, both amazing artist with a great idea that they ran with.

  • Sameer Garde

    good one!

  • dw

    very cool :-D

  • David Lewis

    WOW!

  • http://wingtangwong.com/ Wing Wong