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Thread: Homemade Camera Obscura

  1. #1

    Homemade Camera Obscura

    Hi all,

    Figured some folks here might appreciate this. While not a photographic camera, I think this still fits here. These days, I work largely in intaglio printmaking, specifically drypoint. About a week ago, I decided I wanted a camera obscura to use in the field for developing drawings and sketches from life for other compositions, much like many classical artists did in past centuries. It turns out that finding an antique obscura of the size I needed was easier said than done so I set out to build one. Below is the completed piece. It’s made of birch, red oak, and walnut. I designed it with a combination of characteristics from 17th-19th century box-style camera obscruras and early 20th century view cameras. It has a sliding track that locks and the front standard allows for front tilt. Inside, there is a mirror set at 45 degrees which carries the image projected by the lens up to a horizontal ground glass. The body is 18x18” and with the legs (which are removable), it stands 31.5” tall. The ground glass will form an image 15”x16”.

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  2. #2
    In the desert...
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    Re: Homemade Camera Obscura

    Interesting

  3. #3

    Join Date
    Dec 2018
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    Re: Homemade Camera Obscura

    That is really cool!
    Doesn't look like it would take much to adapt it for photography.
    BTW, at first glance, in the first pic it kinda resembles a rhinoceros..as drawn by a Cubist.

  4. #4
    Ron (Netherlands)'s Avatar
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    Re: Homemade Camera Obscura

    Nice looking cabinet! reminds me of the cabinet my grandmother had, with her b&w tv-set :-)
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  5. #5

    Re: Homemade Camera Obscura

    Hahahaha now I may name it “Grandma’s rhino cabinet”.

  6. #6
    Between here and there
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    Re: Homemade Camera Obscura

    The obscura looks wonderful, wish I could make such things. Do you have any of your printmaking stuff somewhere on the internet?
    "Be still and allow the mud to settle."

  7. #7

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    Re: Homemade Camera Obscura

    You will get perspective correct with a camera obscura. Looks like a wonderful job that you have done. Many artists would be envious!
    Last edited by Robert Opheim; 14-Sep-2020 at 12:53.

  8. #8

    Re: Homemade Camera Obscura

    Quote Originally Posted by Jimi View Post
    The obscura looks wonderful, wish I could make such things. Do you have any of your printmaking stuff somewhere on the internet?
    I haven’t updated my website in a long while and have just been using Instagram to casually, albeit intermittently, track some works in progress. This is my Instagram page. Eventually, my website will be updated but that’ll probably be a while. My main goal for now is just to make work and gain some momentum doing that. Below is an example of some of my most current printmaking work. A large part of what I’m doing is reimagining my photographs as intaglio images, specifically drypoint engravings. This is a drypoint print based on one of my photographs from when I was doing a lot of street photography in NYC and San Francisco:

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  9. #9

    Re: Homemade Camera Obscura

    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Opheim View Post
    We you will get perspective correct with a camera obscura. Looks like a wonderful job that you have done. Many artist would be envious!
    I’ve built front tilt into it for a bit of perspective correction if I need it but in the end, I’m less concerned with that than I would be if I were photographing with a view camera. I’m actually curious to see if I end up using tilt much or if I end up actually wanting more movements. I’m guessing I’ll be fine without them based on the fact that most camera obscuras used in classical times were basic sliding box designs and had no movements. I’m using it to take drawings and sketches from life as they would have traditionally been used.

  10. #10

    Join Date
    Jul 2010
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    Singapore
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    Re: Homemade Camera Obscura

    very nice. do you use a normal mirror or do you need a front surface mirror ?

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