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Steve Rogers
sjrogers@woolenmillstudio.net
    

2012.01.29

CAMERA OBSCURA

I suspect that there is a moment in everyone's life when some aspect of learning cultivates a specific interest. I can remember the excitement when I developed my very first roll of black & white film and seeing the freshly developed negatives of the pictures I had previously taken.

There was a time when capturing an image was just a dream. But in 1824 two very important components came together -- the 'camera obscura' and the chemical properties of certain elements when light acts upon it. The camera obscura was nothing more than a box (actually a large room to begin with) with a pinhole at one end. In the completely black box (or room) light from the outside entering through the pinhole displayed an inverted image on the far side of the box. It wasn't long before someone thought to use a lens in place of the pinhole and frosted glass at the far end of the box which permitted one to view the image outside of the box.

As I was reading about the history of photography I remembered an old camera I've lugged around for 43 years. To me a relic, the camera was in fact a demonstration of the camera obscura. I dusted off the camera and set it on a tripod in a darkened room and pointed it at a table lamp. There on the frosted glass I saw for the first time the concept of the camera obscura -- the inverted image of the lamp. The lamp as it sets on the table in this picture is washed out as I had to brighten the picture to show the back of the camera.

The picture above was filtered to give it an aged look. Click on the picture to see a better version.





"Ansel Adams in 1930 had been training to become a concert pianist while considering a career as a photographer. He decided, after seeing the photographs by Paul Strand, that "the camera, not the piano, would shape [his] destiny." His mother and aunt both pleaded, "Do not give up the piano! The camera cannot express the human soul!" To which Adams replied, "The camera cannot, but the photographer can."

- Ansel Adams





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