Thursday, 1 May 2014

Camera Obscura Captivates the Cats

Living off borrowed time, the clock ticks faster...

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

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. Using no more than materials essentially considered rubbish, is it astounding to realise this simple manipulation of light we currently bask in is what eventually lead to development of the device currently reshaping the landscape of art: The camera.

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.

You will need a piece of cardboard or twenty, some tape, a window and scissors.

First, lock your doors, kill the lights and block the windows with cardboard as though you are expecting visitors. Any gaps in your shroud that allows light to peek inside (as though a slow trickle from a hole in the corner of a catfood bag)? Tape it up - The darker the room is, the stronger the effect will be.

Next, using your sharp implements of cutting (I.E. scissors, knife or claws in our case), gouge a hole somewhere in the dead off-center of your cardboard curtain.

CLAWnclusion: Now, sunlight entering through this aperture will project an inverted image of the treacherous outdoor realm onto your dark walls, floors and ceiling.

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...

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.

[Edit] Curtains are out; Cardboard is in. Check out Destruction Of Cats new range of home decor on:
[DIY Photography] How To Build A Room Sized Camera Obscura (+ Timelapse) and [PetaPixel] How To Convert Your Room Into a Giant Camera Obscura


  1. What is a good "hole size"?

  2. Try something close to a coin.

  3. Hello,

    is there a limit to the 'throw of the image' I'm looking to do one at work but the back wall is 25ft from the window, I'm worried it won't project that far..

    thanks in advance

    1. G'day Neill,

      Yes, there is a limit to how far you can project, but that all depends on the size of the hole. A wall 25 feet away from the aperture with have a much dimmer projection that a wall just 5 feet away.

      Worry not! By enlarging the aperture size, you will increase the amount of light entering the room and can illuminate a wall even 50 feet with just as much brightness.

      But remember, by increasing the aperture size, you also decrease the sharpness of the projection. If you make the hole too big, the projection will begin to resemble an out of focus photograph.

      By incrementally increasing the diameter of the aperture (by a few mm's each time), you'll eventually strike a perfect balance between brightness and focus of the projection.

      Send us a picture of your results!

    2. Sweet,
      Thanks for sharing your knowledge much appreciated.