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10-22-2010, 06:29 AM   #1
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Abelardo Morell's giant camera obscura photography

Saw this article in the New York Magazine:
Abelardo Morell Takes the Camera Obscura to the Rooftops of Manhattan -- New York Magazine

And found his web site:
Abelardo Morell - Photography

This guy sets up a huge pinhole - in a room, say, or in a portable tent on a rooftop or the ground - and then photographs the resulting image projected on whatever surface, often with extremely long exposures in order to capture an image.

I find this pretty astounding - not just the results, but the ingenuity and obsessive seeming dedication to the craft.

10-22-2010, 08:23 AM   #2
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The used a hanger at the former USMC air station El Toro (you know, where Will Smith was stationed in Independence Day) for a giant pinhole. Covered the entire rear wall with paper and emulsion, then drilled a hole in the door.
10-22-2010, 09:37 AM   #3
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Good article, thanks for posting.

I've been an avid follower of things pinhole camera/camera obscura since I was a young lad. I remember a Scouts project we had and the fun trying to make everything dark and light-tight. Despite the fact that this was in the days before black plastic sheeting, It did work - sort of. The thing that really fired my imagination was a visit to the Edinburgh Castle Camera Obscura ( Edinburgh's Camera Obscura and World of Illusions - Edinburgh's finest visitor attraction - a good day out for all the family ) - still going strong and well worth a visit if you're in the City.

The Abelardo Morell device is more of a sophisticated pinhole camera than camera obscura. A proper cam. obs. by tradition, is a 'living' thing in real time showing movement/local ambience.
10-22-2010, 11:35 AM   #4
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Yes, I was inclined to call it a pinhole also.

Although, the article says something about him using a 'periscope' sometimes, so technically it is a Reflex Pinhole Tent Camera

10-23-2010, 11:06 AM   #5
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I have his Camera Obscura book around here somewhere, but I can't find it now, damn. A bookshop remaindered-off new copies for one buck -- how could I resist? Very inspiring work.

The aircraft-hanger-cam and smaller truck-trailer-cams are mentioned in Eric Renner's classic Pinhole Photography From Historic Technique to Digital Application which gave me ideas for even BIGGER pinhole cams. How about the VAB (Vehicle Assembly Building) at Cape Canaveral as a pinhole camera? How about a skycam? Line the interior of the Meteor Crater in Arizona with photo-sensitive fabric after capping the crater, with a pinhole.

Or, how about a spacecam? Hollow-out a small asteroid (only a few tens of km long) for the camera obscura. Of course, that's nowhere near the scale of using a distant sun as a gravitational lens, albeit with different engineering. Or for REAL large-format work, use this universe as a camera obscura for observing the multiverse. Can I get a grant?
10-23-2010, 03:27 PM   #6
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Camera Obscura

This is a superb way to spend a sunny afternoon in Aberystwyth. Ride up the cliff railway, have a walk along the cliffs, then have a look at the camera obscura before walking back down Constitution Hill to the town and having a cold beer in the Gwesty Cymry on the promenade.

Last edited by Lloydy; 10-23-2010 at 03:29 PM. Reason: sp
10-26-2010, 08:39 AM   #7
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I enjoyed the one at Greenwich overlooking London and the Thames in the UK. I also had the opportunity to visit one on the river near Fredricton in New Brunswick (Canada) earlier this year. Great fun!
05-25-2011, 06:00 PM   #8
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A recent National Geographic magazine (maybe May 2011) had an article about this guy and had some fantastic photos (the web-site too: Camera Obscura - Photo Gallery - Pictures, More From National Geographic Magazine). This is really fantastic stuff.


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