Is A Pinhole Camera The Same As A Camera Obscura

Light Rays make it so that we can see.

As a natural phenomena, light finds an entry at the front of your eye and the first thing it meets is your pupil.

Then it goes through a ‘lens’ to make sure you get to see everything in focus.

Ones past the lens it finally arrives at the end of your retina, where light sensitive cells are gathered together to make sure your brain is informed what you are seeing.

The image that is formed at the back of your eye is upside down. Your brain flips it back in normal position.

A pinhole camera is a sort of camera obscura which literally means ‘dark room’. ( your eye is a bit the same )

In fact all photographic cameras are.

A pinhole camera is a light tight box or can with a tiny opening so light rays can find it’s way in and influence the light sensitive material that is placed at the back of the container.

The light sensitive material is then flipped by either an enlarger ( chemical way ) or computer ( digital way ).

When you observe cameras that are built with a pinhole size aperture, they usually are meant to expose any photographic material available but have little value if used as a viewing device or underground reference for painting or drawing. ( The famous painter Vermeer used this viewing device to create his paintings. )

Reason for this is that the optical appearance that is emitted by the pinhole is so dim that the representation of the external form would be almost impossible to see.

The overall of camerae obscurae ( seems to be the correct plural ) are constructed with optical devices build in the aperture.

These days we are all familiar with sharp and bright images due to this.

There are some art photographers who use room size camera obscura. Way of doing this is shutting out all daylight that comes through the windows.

This is very easy obtained by using big pieces of black plastic and gaffer tape to stick the plastic to the windows.

After all windows are thoroughly blackened, an opening is made about the size of quarter piece.

Best place is about the center of the surface covered by the plastic.

This way the light gets as equally divided as possible over the room.

Once this work is done you only need to stay in the room for a few minutes till your eyes are adapted to the dim light coming in.

After adapting you start to see the representation of the external but upside down.

When you can see what’s on the walls you set a ‘normal’ analogue or digital camera in position and extreme long expose ( long but not as long as Sun Photography or Solargraphy ) till you get the overall look of the room wrapped in what is happening on the outside.

Using a digital camera is an advantage because you can check the result right after long extreme exposing.

It saves you lots of time just in case anything goes wrong afterwards.

I’ve done it once and it felt like I was in a movie. I saw the cars driving, people walking by and even the clouds in the sky. I have a good friend who does this kind of Art Photography.

You can check out her website and admire here beautiful world.

Enjoy !

Please feel free to leave your comments, ideas, remarks, proposals etc…

This entry was posted in Solargraphy and tagged , , , .

    This is the future and you can create a passive income with it !


  1. Anke July 8, 2019 at 16:16 #

    Hi Luc

    Your text answered some of my questions, so thank you for that. Maybe you’ll find it helpful to know that some of the English words aren’t spelled correctly / used correctly.
    Ones past the lens => Once past the lens (this is repeated further in the text (f.e. once this work is done, …)
    When you observe cameras that are build with a pinhole size aperture, they usually are mend to=> built, meant
    build in the aperture => built
    I’m not going to adjust some other mistakes in grammar, because it’s understandable enough. Thank you for your effort to translate all of the info in English.
    Kind regards!

    • Luc July 9, 2019 at 15:41 #

      Hi Anke, thanks for the reaction. Nothing is perfect, and neither am I. We all make mistakes, and especially when you have to express yourself in another not native language. I’m doing the best I can. After all in my case it’s about my passion photography, and that’s the most important to me. It’s kind of funny that these kind of remarks always come from those who don’t speak any other language. I speak 4…eventually not perfect but I don’t care… and you ?
      All the best, kind regards. Luc

Post a Reply to Luc

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *