Dark camera


camera obscura is a means or an optical instrument by means of which it is possible to achieve a projection of a certain image or of the environment in its internal part. At present, we can observe this type of camera in the form of closed boxes that are also very easy to transport from one place to another and that contain photographic paper on which the image to be observed is projected.


What is the camera obscura?

The camera obscura is an optical instrument that has the ability to obtain a flat projection of an image on the internal part of its surface . It is the instrument considered as the forerunner of photography.


Characteristics of the camera obscura

The main characteristics of the camera obscura are the following:

  • In ancient times it was used as a drawing aid .
  • At first it became a pinhole camera .
  • The diameter of the opening was always very limited as it could not be too large or too small.
  • It worked as an impetus to find a way to be able to produce permanent and automatic images .
  • It was a large wooden box and the front side was closed by a lens .
  • The person who was going to capture the image had to direct the box to the place he wanted to capture and copied the photographed image on a semitransparent cardboard , which was supported by a glass that was placed on top.
  • It was used for several centuries by painters , who used it to collect notes with considerable precision in perspective .


There are several testimonies of people who studied the observation of the phenomena and the effects of light that were produced by the camera obscura, so in many cases it is considered that the origin of the camera obscura dates from the 5th century BC . according to several Chinese philosophical texts and there are also some texts that place the origin in the 4th century BC


The first mention in the history of this type of device was made by the Chinese philosopher Mo-Ti in the 5th century BC . He formally recorded the creation of an inverted image that was formed by rays of light passing through a hole in a dark room . At that time it was called by the name of “meeting place” or the “closed treasure room .  ” Aristotle had greater clarity on the optical principle of the camera obscura and the Islamic researcher and scientist Alhazen he found that he could reflect images by means of five flashlights outside a room with a small hole.

Image quality was noticeably improved in the 16th century when a convex lens and mirror were added to reflect the image onto a viewing surface . Giovanni Battista Della Porta recommended the use of this device to aid artists’ drawing. The term “camera obscura” was first used by the German astronomer Johannes Kepler in the early 17th century and used to speak of astronomical applications .

In the 17th and 18th centuries, many artists used the camera obscura. At the beginning of the 19th century, it was ready to even become a photographic camera . In the nineteenth century, the camera obscura had improved lenses that could project images larger and sharp. Today it is celebrated as a cultural and historical treasure.

Who Invented the Camera Obscura

The Arab physicist , astronomer and mathematician Alhacen is the person considered to be the inventor of the camera obscura and also experts consider that his book “Optical Treaty” is the first text that explains the operation of vision . In addition, he is credited with the invention of the camera obscura, a means with which he demonstrated his theories.

What is it for

The camera obscura is used to reproduce images.  It is an optical instrument that is responsible for providing a flat projection of a certain external image on the internal area of its surface or on a wall that is opposite to the image that is projected on the outside.


The camera obscura in its beginnings consisted of a closed room that had a single source of light , which was made up of a small-caliber hole used in its walls, through which it managed to enter the rays of light that reflect the objects.

How the camera obscura works

Remember that the camera obscura has a small hole through which a few light beams enter , and the larger the hole, the more diffuse the image will be. The light that manages to reach an object is reflected and the light enters the camera reaching the bottom, shaping the image. This image will be reversed because the light travels in a straight line.  For a better functioning of the apparatus, it was sealed or covered with a blanket to achieve perfect darkness.

How to make a

In order to build a dark chamber we will need the following materials:

  • A cardboard box
  • Black masking tape
  • Glue
  • Vegeta paper l
  • pin
  • Painting black acrylic
  • Scissor

And the steps that must be followed to assemble it are:

  • hole must be made in one of the faces of the box that has a margin of 2 cm on each side.
  • In the other of the box, another hole should be made, right in the center that measures 2 × 2 cm.
  • Cut a sheet that is a little larger than the opening and must be glued on the inside of the box with adhesive tape .
  • Make a hole with a pin in the center of the sheet.
  • Paint the inside of the box with black acrylic and let it dry as well as the inside of the lid.
  • Cover the hole from step # 1 with greaseproof paper.
  • Close the box completely, making sure that no light enters from any side.

In order for the camera obscura to function properly, the box must be placed in front of some illuminated object , so that the vegetable paper is on the opposite side to the object. The person who is preparing it must place the vegetable paper in front to be able to see the image reflected in an inverted way .

Why Inverted Images Occur in Camera Obscura

The camera obscura produces inverted images because the light enters through the lens it does so in a conical shape , causing the light to concentrate all in a single point . However, the light after this maintains its linearity , causing what was above to initially shift downwards and vice versa.


The importance of the camera obscura is that it was itself the forerunner of photography that we observe today, as well as of the different equipment that is currently available to take photos and is also considered the most important related invention with cameras.

Leave a Comment