Camera Obscura
January 21, 2007 10:27 PM   Subscribe

Camera Obscura : a series of photos by artist Abelardo Morell (previously discussed here and here) in which all light is blocked from a window, save for a small pinprick - the result is that the entering light projects an upside version of the view onto the wall, creating a hauntingly beautiful image.
posted by grapefruitmoon (18 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

These photos are just awesome. Thanks for the links!
posted by taursir at 10:34 PM on January 21, 2007

Shit so you mean that if there's a tiny bit of a hole in the aluminum foil on my windows that they can see in? Crap, now I have to stay up all night again aluminum foiling my windows. I'm going to get started on that right now. I mean, I'm going to help my friend do that to his windows because he's the one with aluminum foil on his windows.
posted by redteam at 11:15 PM on January 21, 2007 [1 favorite]

Can someone post a more elaborate description of the process; i don't see why a pinprick in a blocked window would cause these effects. tres cool, though.
posted by wumpus at 11:20 PM on January 21, 2007

darkened room + time exposure (8hr)
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 11:31 PM on January 21, 2007

That is the light from a pinhole. The "trick" is very long exposure times in order to get enough photons to see the image.
posted by vacapinta at 11:34 PM on January 21, 2007

I thought the result was a Scottish chamber-pop band reminiscent of Belle and Sebastian.
posted by dw at 11:51 PM on January 21, 2007

They're reminiscent of the Acid House Kings. Belle and Sebastian are reminiscent of Camera Obscura. ;)
posted by vbfg at 11:53 PM on January 21, 2007

Information on the pinhole camera (via Wikipedia).

Also, the worlds biggest recently took its first (and I think only) photograph.
posted by toftflin at 11:55 PM on January 21, 2007

These photos are so wonderful, thank you for posting this.

Quite a few years ago a friend told me road trips he took with his parents. He was very young at the time, and would sleep in a little trailer as his parents drove. Every night during these trips, he would lie on his little cot and watch inverted scenes of factory towns and deep woods play themselves out on the walls of the trailer as he felt himself falling off to sleep. He was shocked when I described camera obscura to him; he was sure he was dreaming all these images.

On a not entirely unrelated note, this reminds me of a previous MeFi discussion of mirages.
posted by maryh at 12:07 AM on January 22, 2007

I saw the Camera Obscura in Edinburgh last year. I was very cool, and recommend going to see one in person - which according to wikipedia, you can do in:
Grahamstown in South Africa
Bristol, Portslade village and Eastbourne Pier in England
Aberystwyth and Portmeirion in Wales
Kirriemuir, Dumfries and Edinburgh in Scotland
Lisbon in Portugal
Santa Monica, San Francisco and North Carolina in the US
Havana in Cuba
Eger in Hungary
Cádiz in Spain
posted by kisch mokusch at 2:16 AM on January 22, 2007

We've got one on the Isle of Man, too.
posted by Chunder at 6:25 AM on January 22, 2007

There's one in San Francisco.
posted by carter at 6:31 AM on January 22, 2007

Just another photo site, I guess. By far, one of the best though! Fascinating stuff. Thanks!
posted by Doohickie at 7:29 AM on January 22, 2007

Amazing. I must do this with my kid. Does anyone have a link to a simple how-to of the process?
posted by LarryC at 7:53 AM on January 22, 2007

I read the book Escape From Iraq in which former hostage Thomas Hammill describes his captivity and release.

He says the terrorists put him in a dark shack, but that somehow it had a camera obscura effect. He eventually saw some US troops on patrol and ran out to be rescued.
posted by b_thinky at 9:34 AM on January 22, 2007

I just visited the Camera Obscura in Santa Monica. It was really beautiful.
posted by JBennett at 11:48 AM on January 22, 2007

If you love a big pinhole camera, you'll love a gigantic pinhole camera... in SPACE!
posted by Anything at 2:26 PM on January 22, 2007

I was fortunate enough to see Morell's work at the Art Institute a few years ago and attended a presentation wherein he described his process, etc. They're not pinhole photos as he does use a lens to focus the image on the opposing wall. Without the lens, it'd be difficult, if not impossible to get the sharpness he achieves - the aperture would have to be much smaller and there simply wouldn't be enough light to work with.

After seeing him speak, my girlfriend (at the time) and I got together and covered her windows save for a small opening - ours was a big pinhole camera. The images were fuzzy, but we were able to make out boats in Lake Michigan, cars cruising along Lake Shore Drive and much of the Chicago skyline - all of it on her ceiling and the wall opposite the window. It made for a great makeout environment. We gave some thought to setting up a tripod for a long exposure, but thought better of it. It's quite difficult to work out all the details and logistics for an image like that. That's where Morell's artistry shines.

That aside, I find his non camera-obscura work uninteresting and uninspiring. I feel like I've seen images like these a hundred times over in college and high school galleries. His early street photography work, however, is fantastic; even when he apes Diane Arbus.
posted by aladfar at 7:41 PM on January 22, 2007 [1 favorite]

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