Seems like we are too much accustomed to the digitized images such as computer screens. Most of the printed photos are also digitized, as they consist of countless small dots. Movies and TVs are off course "pseudo", consisting of limited number of still pictures. Although the technologies of motion pictures much advanced these days, I found they are still far from real, when I experienced "Camera Obscura" located in Pacific coast San Francisco.Return to Home
Camera Obscura is basically a big optical camera, which principal is identical to what we know as the camera. Difference is that since the camera is big, we can enter into the inside. Instead of view the images on the chemically processed film, we can directly view the images projected on the large parabolic screen. There is no electronics here--no amplification, no raster scanning, no refresh rates or luminescent characteristics. What we see is the true light reflected by the objects, captured by a rotating lens and projected on the white parabolic screen.
Image on the screen was, at the first time I entered into the building, thought as "too faint". It was because my eyes had been adjusted to the California's bright daylight. After a short period, my irises spread to full optical gain. What I saw then was the 2 dimensional motion picture image of unbelievably live, crisp, smooth, and sooo--real!
The top lens was rotated continuously by a motor, providing 360 degrees view. Seemed like the focus was adjusted to the infinite distance -- when the lens aimed to the close building or parked cars, they got unfocused. The bright Pacific ocean surface, however, was exceptionally spectacular. Waves, water splashes, hovering birds were so real that I felt the solid surface of the parabolic screen became a living thing. I could not leave the screen for more than 10 minutes--and thought; will we someday have TVs with equivalent performance to this simple optical camera?
Camera Obscura was build in 1949 in the "Playland at the Beach". It was once about to be abandoned, but survived and restored. It is located in "Cliff House", featuring wonderful collection of various game and amusement machines of good-old-days.
Its address and telephones can be found in the picture shown here.
However the site is planned to be remodeled, and it is said that the camera would be removed. Visit related web site shown below for more information.
Related Web site : The Magic Mirror of Life
Copyright(C) NoobowSystems Lab. Tomioka, Japan 1999