You read it first in this week’s The Factory in Guide magazine.

Obscure Invention What’s a “camera obscura”? From the Latin for “dark chamber”, it’s a dark room with a tiny hole on one side. When light shines in, an image of the outside world is projected upside down and mirror reverse. It predates modern photography by thousands of years. —

You read it first in this week’s The Factory in Guide magazine.

In the Victorian era, entertainment varied widely. (This was basically a period of time from the early 1800s to the 1920s, correlating to the reign of Queen Victoria in the British Empire.)   

You could go to the circus to see amazing feats of daring, some wild animals, as well as some strange sights – people with deformities or unusual medical conditions often joined a circus to make their living.  There were ventriloquists that gave very impressive illusions of making it look like their man-made puppet friend was talking and singing. There were choirs and orchestras. Theatre halls were popular with many different kinds of singing, dancing, shows and plays. There were art exhibits to view. Museums were also popular, as well as carnivals and fairs in which people could have fun on some rides, or could see the latest inventions.

Among these many entertainment options, there was also something known as “camera obscura”, which according to Wikipedia, is a darkened room with a small hole or lens at one side through which an image is projected onto a wall or table opposite the hole. The image of lensless camera obscuras is also referred to as “pinhole image”.  This image would appear upside down and backwards.

Many people would go visit rooms of this type to view the phenomenon of something from outside being displayed inside, upside down and backwards.  You may have heard of the pinhole camera, this is basically a much smaller, box version of the room.  However, there was sometimes a big problem. There was no focusing mechanism to bring it into focus. Depending on how far the object was from the room where the image was projected, the image could appear all fuzzy. This picture shows two image placements. The first image comes through the hole and is upside down. Then it is reflected through another whole where it is turned upside right again for better viewing.

This is also similar to what happens when you look at the front of a silver spoon using silverware. Have you ever tried this? Next time you are eating your cereal, take a look at the front of your spoon (the part that holds the food). Then take a look at the back of it. What differences do you see?  Is the front view upside down? And what about the back view?  This is a little different than the camera effect in that because of the bend in the spoon, the image is then distorted to upside down.

Well, after some time, of course, better things were invented. Soon cameras and the like were produced with better ways to capture images, and the camera obscura rooms were soon a thing of the past.

This reminds me of the Bible verse that talks about how we were made in God’s image. Genesis 1:26 says, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; …” Do we always look that way to God and others?  Because of giving in to temptation and sin, we often get things upside down and backwards. Let’s always strive to keep God first and obey His commands, so with God’s help, we will always portray a right image of God in us.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version, Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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