Camera Obscura Bedroom

Baffled by what goes on inside your camera? Well see for yourself, by making a camera obscura in your own home.

Camera Obscura, roughly translates to ‘Dark Room,’ and that essentially what you need for this project as well as some tin foil and some black tape. For the camera obscura to work you need lots of natural daylight so it’s a great project for the summer.

Camera Obscura inside bedroom

Your camera is essentially a box with a hole in one side of it. The light comes in through a small hole (aperture) and then by magic the power of physics the image inverts and projects onto the back wall of the camera. The clever camera sensor captures this image and rotates flips it the right way up.

By making a camera obscura in your house, your essentially making a camera that is big enough to have a party in!

The ‘How to Bit.’

  • Choose the room for your camera obscura carefully. Pick a room with a view or failing that a room where the windows aren’t too big so you have less glass to black out! Ideally the room would also have white walls. If your room doesn’t have white walls then you may need to stick a white sheet up for the image to projected onto.
  • Next use tin foil (or any other material that light can’t travel through, like thick black plastic or cardboard) and cover the entire window. The goal here is to make sure that no light comes in whatsoever (remember we need the inside of our camera obscura to be like a black box). Block any light leaks from the door frame as well.

How to make a camera obscure

  • Next make a hole roughly in the centre of the widow (but away from any window frame) about the size of a 5pence piece. I used pen to poke through the foil.

Camera Obscura close up

The bigger the hole the brighter the image will be and potentially the fuzzier the image may look. Conversely the smaller the hole the sharper the image but the darker it will be. Try making a small hole first and then make it bigger as you see fit.

Now turn off the lights and give your eyes a few moments to adjust to the change in lighting. Ta dah! Projected on the back wall and ceiling should be the outside upside down. Pretty cool ‘eh?

Camera Obscura Light Painting

To capture this with your DSLR you need to do the following.

The camera bit

  • Put your camera in manual mode (which ‘M’ on the Mode Dial)
  • Dial in a high aperture of f8 or a bit higher.
  • Put your shutter speed into ‘Bulb’ mode and attach a cable release or make one! 
  • Lower your ISO to 100 or 200 to preserve picture quality.

Put your camera on a tripod – I used this one. Invite your  friends to marvel at your amazing light installations. You will be sure to get plenty of ‘oohs’ and ‘ahhs’.

Screen Shot 2013-09-16 at 14.11.57


If you love this sort of photo project, don’t forget to give me your email address (on the top right hand corner of this page) as well as monthly updates, you’ll also receive a free ebook ’10 Fun Cool Things You Can Do Right Now With Your DSLR’.Sue Venables