DIY Camera Obscura

Posted by on Sep 6, 2013 in Sara Macel | No Comments

Apologies for the lack of posts last week. I was on a road trip from Brooklyn to North Carolina to attend the opening of my solo show “May the Road Rise to Meet You” at Daylight and drop off framed pieces for a group exhibition called “Road Trip” at the Hickory Museum of Art next month.

The summer sun has just about set. The AC is back in the closet, and next week begins another semester teaching photography courses at SUNY Rockland upstate. This semester, I’ll be adding History of Photography to my course-load. As I’ve been planning the class, I’ve asked my fellow photo teacher friends for advice. The amazingly talented Maureen Drennan, who is just wrapping up a summer artist residency in Portland, once told me that she likes to do a camera obscura demo to get her students excited about learning the history of “painting with light.” And so, I decided it would be a good idea to try this out before I show it off to a room full of students. After a quick trip to the dollar store for black gaffers tape and a black vinyl shower curtain, I was good to go. After an hour of making sure the room was completely devoid of light, I cut a small round hole in the back curtain about the size of a dime and as I turned to see the results, fully expecting my living room transformed into an Abelardo Morell photograph, I was disappointed to only see the vague outlines of my backyard projected on the walls. But after setting up my tripod and taking a test image at 5000 ISO at f/4 for 30 secs, success!

Photo by Sara Macel

Photo by Sara Macel

I can’t wait to meet my students and turn our classroom into a camera obscura.  And for a couple bucks and an hour of your time, you can turn your room into one too following these simple steps: