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Insight into History of Photography – Camera Obscura

udai prashanth 0

This article will help you understand Photography and you can improve your skills by knowing History of Photography – Camera Obscura. Nowadays, photography is the largest growing hobby in the world with the hardware alone building a multi-billion dollar industry.

The idea of this article is to help photographers to improve their skills. Journey through the history of photography will help you to get to know how it all begins. Understand the concept, update your knowledge and apply your photographic skills for better output.

History of Photography – Camera Obscura

History of Photography

Have you ever wondered how did all this start? A few days back, when I was cleaning my camera, I saw inner setup of the camera. Wow, it was amazing everything was so perfectly timed. I was so amazed and started googling to know how did all these start. And after knowing some cool stuff, I decided to start my blog with this wonderful information.

Photography is an art form invented somewhere in the 1930s, it was recognized nearly 10 years later. But it was until recent times that this costly hobby got more popular due to cheaper digital cameras and phones. However, the sad part is that most of the so-called photographers today have no idea how this wonderful art was invented or works. Most of the photographers don’t even know what Camera Obscura or even Shutter speed is.

In this blog, we shall have a look at some very early photographs and camera techniques that were used to take them. It was really a surprise for me to know that before photography was created, people already knew the principles of how it eventually got to work. They could process the image on the wall or piece of paper, however, they had no idea that the images could be printed at that times. But you got to accept it was a really a great accomplishment to the people to process pictures at that time. However, most people thought it was black magic and did not accept this technology. There were times when people were punished for performing any experiments as such. However, that couldn’t stop the evolution of photography anyway. The very initial instrument that people used for processing pictures were called Camera Obscura. Which was basically a dark room/box with a small hole to let light pass on.It is believed that Camera Obscura was invented between 13 and 14th Centuries however there is a manuscript by an Arabian scholar dated 10th century that describes principles of which Camera Obscura works. More surprising is that the analog Camera we use in modern days still works on the same principles.


A typical camera obscura at the beginning of the 19th century. Image via


How Camera Obscura works

As told before, Camera Obscura is a dark, closed space in the shape of a box with a hole one side of it. The hole has to be small enough in proportion to the box to make the camera Obscura work properly. It basically works on the optical laws, the light coming through a tiny hole transforms and creates an image on the surface that it meets(Like a wall of the box or a paper on the other end of the hole). However, if you remember physics class in school, you would remember that light class where the light passes through a lens projects an upside-down image on the wall. That is the same thing that will happen inside Camera Obscura. Basically, this is the same principle that we use in today’s Analogue Cameras but we did update the technique by adding few mirrors and the film which is used to capture and preserve the image created by the light.


Camera Obscura



The optical phenomenon of camera obscura normally produces an inverted (upside down) image


Three-dimensional diagram showing the way image is inverted back to its right-side-up position using a mirror positioned at a 45 degree angle. – via


In the beginning, Photography was misunderstood by people some even believed that photography was going to kill fine art. However, there were some artists who started used photography widely in mid 16th century. An Italian scholar Giovanni Battista Della Portacebtury, wrote an essay on how to use Camera Obscura in aid of making the drawing process easier. He projected the image of people outside the Camera Obscura on the canvas inside of it and then drew over the image. If you are an animator you already would have understood that this is the same method which we use in the Retroscope drawing. Giovanni Battista had to drop the idea after he was arrested and prosecuted on a charge of sorcery. Today we can state that camera Obscura was a prototype of the modern photo camera. Even though it seems useless today, many people like me still find it amusing. So with that, it’ll end my very 1st blog on the history of Photography.

Hope you enjoyed our post. If you think we forget anything please let us know. If you enjoyed our article, Spread a word about us like, share, comment or give us a rating, do anything you love. 🙂 Still have Questions? or Any Suggestions..!! You can discuss with us. We’re happy to hear something from you. In my next blog, we shall be looking at some basic introduction about photography and how your digital camera works.

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