One of the workshops I went to was called “Wandle Fortnight with Camera Obscura” at Workshop 305 in South London. I took this workshop because it looked interesting and wanted to learn how camera obscura works.
The workshop was lead by Magda Kuca, who specialises in historical photographic techniques like cyanotype or wet plate collodion. She studied Photography at the University of Arts in Poznań, Poland. She is currently based in London where she studies fashion photography at the London College of Fashion and leads photography workshops elsewhere.
If you would like to see more of Kuca’s work, here is a link to her website: http://www.kucamagda.com/
During the workshop I made cameras to create images with pinhole photography.
To start with, I made three camera obscuras. The first one was made out of cardboard and meant to work as a viewfinder. When I looked into it, I could make out the shapes of my surroundings. It helped me understand how a pinhole camera works.
The other two were fully functioning camera obscuras made out of drink cans. A camera obscura uses a pinhole to project an image onto light-sensitive paper inside of it. I left one on my balcony and the other in my grandparents’ garden, both for three months.
During the workshop I found out that you can project an image of the outside world into a room. I achieved this through learning about the history of camera obscura photography as well as trying it out for myself. Camera obscura was discovered in Ancient Greece, when it was being used to observe the sun without looking outside. In Latin, camera obscura means “Dark Room”. It is a natural phenomenon where light can be projected through a small hole into a larger, unlit surface. The image will be projected upside-down. That’s why cameras have mirrors inside of them, to flip the image.
As a part of the workshop, we got to see how a pinhole projects an image into a room. We created a room-size camera obscura by covering up the window with an opaque foil and making a hole in the middle of it, to let light in. The top image is that of the street through the pinhole in the window. The bottom one is the indoor projection coming through the pinhole.
I think it is worth going to a workshop like this because you can learn how to make a pinhole camera and you get to learn about how light and cameras work. Overall, making the cameras while having a chat with the people there was an enjoyable experience. Magda ran the workshop well and helped out a lot.
Three months after the workshop, I finally took the photographs out of the cans.
I had to be quick about scanning them and putting them back into a dark place so as to not overexpose them. If I had left them lying around, they would’ve been flooded with light and disappeared in a matter of hours. After you scan it, you have to negate the colours on the image, as well as flip it.
I was expecting a garden on the first picture, but that’s not what I received.
When I opened the can I was met with a putrid smell. Water had gotten inside the can, and washed away the image at the edges. You can still somewhat make out the sky, though. However, I did get a very pretty texture:
The negative of the second picture was nothing reminiscent of a street but the bright lights looked very much like stars. The sky was pink, too.
Much to my dismay, when I negated the colours on the image, I found out that the “stars” were just black spots.
The colours on the positive are much better, though. On the negative you couldn’t make out any houses, either. At the top of the image, you can see the sun travelling on different paths over the course of three months. It is quite like solar photography, where a photograph is exposed for months at a time to watch the sun’s path.
I really like both images. They’re not what I expected at all, but that’s what I like about them.