Sequence viewing > Index - Cameras - lenses - optics - Resource - © Lloyd Godman

Film - Digital

What is a Camera ? - History of the camera obscura

From the 13th Century Roger Bacon, an English monk and philosopher,  and his contemporaries used the devise to observe eclipse of the sun, which could not be done directly without damaging the eyes.

The design was significantly improved with addition of a glass lens to form a brighter and sharper image during the mid-1500s. Artists began using small portable versions of what became known as the camera obscura to aid them in drawing realistic representations of portraits, landscapes and architectural subjects.  A thin piece of transparent paper was laid on the glass where the image formed and the artist traced the outline of the scene they wanted onto the paper. The camera obscura was directly responsible for the fascination and understanding of geometric perspective developed during the Renaissance and the rebirth of Classical culture.

So the camera can be seen simply as a light tight box, with a single small opening that lets the light onto the film. 

 Once an effective photographic process was invented around 1839 the tracing paper was replaced with a sensitized material where the image could be imprinted directly onto the paper. From here the camera and the photographic process as we know it evolved.


Want to learn more? - do a workshop or one on one with Lloyd Godman