View of Camera Obscura across the city of Edinburgh
Edinburgh's Camera Obscura Our History How Does it Work Make your own Camera Obscura in Media Camera Obscuras' History
sdf
CAMERA OBSCURA ON TV, FILM AND LITERATURE  
Camera obscuras have appeared in literature and films, here are some examples:  

This is Edinburgh, 1961 by Miroslav Sasek is a guidebook about Edinburgh, in which he talks about the Camera Obscura. Here is an excerpt:

As we start down the Royal Mile, which runs though the Old Town from the Castle to Holyrood Palace, we stop for a look at Edinburgh in the Camera Obscura.

It’s no Magic, it’s “nature’s TV”, a kind of periscope.

This is Edinburgh (1961) by Miroslav Sasek

'Secret Knowledge' by David Hockney
For two years, British Artist David Hockney investigated the painting techniques of the old masters, and like any admirable sleuth, compiled substantial evidence to support his revolutionary theory. Secret Knowledge is the fruit of this labour, an exhaustive treatise in pictures revealing clues that some of the world's most famous painters, Ingres, Velázquez, Caravaggio (just to mention a few) utilized optics and lenses in creating their masterpieces.
'Secret Knowledge' by David Hockney

Vermeer's Camera by Philip Steadman
Philip Steadman's remarkable book Vermeer's Camera cracks an artistic enigma that has haunted art history for centuries. Over the years, artists and art historians have marveled at the extraordinary visual realism of the paintings of the 17th-century Dutch painter Jan Vermeer. The painter's spectacular View of Delft, painted around 1661, and the beautiful domestic interior The Music Lesson seem almost photographic in their incredible detail and precise perspective. Since the 19th century, experts have speculated that Vermeer used a camera obscura. However, conclusive proof was never discovered, until now. In Vermeer's Camera, Steadman proves that Vermeer did indeed use a camera obscura to complete his greatest canvases.
Vermeer's Camera

The wonderful 1946 British movie ‘A Matter of Life and Death’ (British title) or ‘Stairway to Heaven’ (US title) features a scene inside a camera obscura. It is a fantasy story of a British flyer, played by David Niven, who refuses to die after falling in love with an American WAC (Women’s Auxiliary Corps) during his last moments of life. A beautifully conceived scene in a camera obscura between the WAC and an English doctor is short but effective. You can find it on DVD or in a revival of old movies and it is a delight on many levels.

A Matter of Life and Death

The Underground Man by Mick Jackson, Penguin, 1998, is a novel about a real 19th century eccentric, the Duke of Portland. In one of the later chapters of the book he visits the Camera Obscura in Edinburgh.
Here is a passage from the book:
Like my co-spectators I rested my hands on a circular railing and looked down on a broad concave table-perfectly smooth and white – whilst the woman in tweed pressed on with her practiced intonation about the room in which we stood. With one hand she had told of a long wooden rod which hung down from the high ceiling and as our eyes accustomed themselves to the dark she gradually became more visible. Her hands and face had about them a ghostly luminosity. She twisted the rod, saying, ‘… the same principle as the camera. A tiny aperture in the roof allows an image to be cast on the dish below…’

Underground Man

Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier, Dutton, 1999

This is a novel about a young girl who works as a maid in the household of the painter Vermeer. The novel includes a scene with a camera obscura. This is a delightful book and well worth reading.

Girl with a Pearl Earring

The Secrets of the Camera Obscura, a Novella by David Knowles. Chronicle Books, San Francisco, California, 1994

A strange mystery set in a camera obscura. Here is an extract from the book:

…in the centre of the room rests a circular screen, three and half feet in diameter, which acts as the focal point for light that enters the chamber from a kind of periscope in the ceiling. The whole thing is done with mirrors. What you get is the live image of the outside world, the cliffs to the north, the ocean, and the windmills in the park…

This article is adapted from one on Jack & Beverly Wilgus’s website: http://brightbytes.com.  Theirs is the best website on camera obscuras that we know of.

Secrets of the Camera Obscura
#
#
  What visitors thought
  A fantastically informative tour of Edinburgh and its history. Brilliant!
Paul and Kath Shelvan, Aberdeenshire

Great presentation given with passion and knowledge. A good introduction to Edinburgh and a reminder of my childhood.
Matthew Gregg, Cheshire

Fantastic centre. Visited alone and I feel it made my trip to Scotland much better. Great fun & interesting! Thanks.
Lucy Clarke, Herts

It was excellent, wonderful. Our guide was informative and funny.
Marjorie Harvey, USA

When I last visited I was a child and was enchanted by the views via the Camera Obscura. That quality and sense of wonderment are still there
Visitor Survey

The guide in the Camera Obscura show was a riot! His humour was exceptional and it was obvious he enjoyed his job. I really appreciated his enthusiasm.
Visitor Survey

We had a mini guided tour in the Camera Obscura - this really made the visit! Picking people and cars up was a real laugh. I left feeling that I knew the city and locality a whole lot better.
Visitor Survey

Seeing the city in bird's eye perspective was amazing and the rest of the exhibition was one big playground. I wish I'd had more time and will definitely come back!
Visitor Survey

The staff at the camera obscura were all friendly and smiling and helped to make this visit a very positive experience for our family group which met up in Edinburgh for a few days. Thank you!
Visitor Survey


             
HOME CAMERA OBSCURA EDINBURGH VISION MAGIC GALLERY ILLUSION LAB CONTACT US BOOK ONLINE
WORLD OF ILLUSIONS ROOFTOP VIEWS LIGHT FANTASTIC EDUCATION/GROUPS WHAT'S ON TIMES & PRICES
#
>