If you ever find yourself stuck inside and need a fun and educational project, try building a camera obscura for yourself. Here is a 7 minute video of Fotodiox showing how you can assemble a small DIY using ordinary craft store supplies.
For the camera body, Sean of Fotodiox bought a set of colorful storage boxes.
He created the “focus mechanism” by sliding the second larger box into the larger box backwards. Moving it forward and back allows the image to be focused on the rear plane of the larger box.
For the camera lens, Sean found a toy magnifying glass – the kind given out at children’s parties as favors – that can work as a camera lens.
“I wanted something light and cheap, and it did the trick,” Sean says.
You will need to cut a lens-sized hole in the bottom of the smaller box and a large square hole for the frosted glass in the bottom of the larger box.
For the frosted glass, Sean decided to use Shrinky Dinks, a children’s activity product that uses polystyrene sheets that can be cut and made into plastic toys when heated.
“I realized, looking at it, that it actually had a really nice textured surface to use as frosted glass to collect an image,” Sean explains. “I intentionally chose to use this material knowing that it would add an odd rough texture to my final image, and I really love it.”
If you are not a fan of the rough look, you can replace the Shrinky Dinks sheets with a different material that has a smoother, more even texture.
Once Sean was done assembling and gluing his lens box and frosted glass box, he tied a third bottomless box around the frosted glass to protect it from light, allowing him to capture the images on the glass. frosted with a regular digital camera (with additional black cloth covering itself and its camera for additional light blocking).
Here are some photos Sean took using this cheap and easy homemade obscura camera:
“[The photos] are super soft, super indistinct. They almost look like watercolors. With some of these photos I was wondering: were some of the impressionist painters in France maybe using camera obscura like this? Because some of the images I was able to create look a lot like the imagery of impressionist painters.