Camera Obscura

Ever since I learned about them, camera obscuras (cameras obscura?) have captivated that neato-sciencey portion of my little ole brain. The most spectacular (and maybe the only) example of a camera obscura I have seen is at Ocean Beach in San Francisco. Ten years ago, I passed through San Francisco and saw it. Since then, I've often thought of that dilapidated giant camera on the pier. This trip, I got a chance to return.

For those of you who don't know what a camera obscura is, think projector. If you ever saw the movie Addicted to Love, one features prominently in that. It is essentially a series of lenses and mirrors that project into a darkened space whatever it is on the other side of the lenses. Wikipedia does a better job of explaining it here.

Seeing a 10X magnified verion of what's going on outside projected in super-dooper HD quality (actually, there is no comparison to any digital format) for some reason just amazes me. The camera isn't aimed at anything particularly cool, but seeing just the waves crash or the sea gulls fly by is excitement enough. Perhaps it is seeing an image so crisp but having the sound muffled by the building walls that makes it such a surreal experience.

Anyhoo, camera obscuras are neat. If you are ever in San Fran, I definitely suggest you stop by this place and check it out.
Friday June 1 2007File under: travel, road trip

Toggle Comments (1)comment?
on Fri 01st Jun, 2007 09:29 pm PDT Janet said:
I think it would be the cameras that should be plural. How can the camera have more than one obscura?????

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