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Camera Obscura History

The Camera Obscura, is as derived from the Latin word camera meaning "room" and Obscura meaning "dark" or translated as "dark room". It phrase is credited to have been first used by the German astronomer Johannes Kepler in the early 17th century.

The Camera Obscura is a natural effect of physics that if a small hole is made in the wall of a completely darkened room, an inverted image of the scene outside the window will be produced on the opposite wall of the room. This is due to the fact that Light travels in a straight line and when some of the rays reflected from a bright subject pass through a small hole in thin material they do not scatter but cross and reform as an upside down image on a flat surface held parallel to the hole. This is also true for a very small hole in a dark box will direct light to create an image inside the box turned upside down, which formed half of the basis for the discovery of photography. Light sensitive material formed the other half.

The physics of pinhole reflection of the outside world from a darkened room dates back to the Chinese philosopher Mo-Ti in the 5th century, BC. Mo-Ti called this darkened room a "collecting place" or the "locked treasure room." Aristotle in 384-322 BC, also understood the optical principle of the camera obscura . It was first described outside China by the Arabian scholar, Alhazen ,of Basra in about 1030. Then Leonardo DaVinci more famously documented it in 1490 in his notebooks. Others like Dutch scientist Reinerus Gemma-Frisius used a camera obcsura in 1544 for observing a solar eclipse. In 1558 Giovanni Battista Della Porta in his book Magiae Naturalis recommended the use of this device as a drawing aid for artists.

Many of the first camera obscura's were large rooms and then compact boxes. Later in the 16th century the box camera obscura's were improved with the addition of a convex lens into the aperture, which provided for better image quality. Then latter addition of a mirror was used to reflect the image down onto a viewing surface.

The developments of the camera obscura's box design matured by the early 1800'sso as to allow it ready to accept light sensitive materials with out much modification and aid in the discovery of photography.



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