The Story of The Climb-in Camera

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by Sam White

In 2011 I started the Pinhole Pedallers. Together with some friends I built a camera obscura that was big enough to climb inside, and took it (solely by bike!) on a tour of the landscapes and cities of the South West, UK. Along the way we photographed landscapes and invited members of the public inside, offering simple, inspiring workshops on photography. The project made me realize the huge number of ways a camera obscura can be used for education, entertainment, inspiration and as a creative tool.

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Spurred on by the positive response it received all along its journey, I began to plan the second obscura and have started www.light-play.org . As well as delivering workshops and attending events, I now use this obscura for my personal work to shoot directly onto light sensitive paper. A darkroom is set up within the camera, allowing me to capture unique images onto paper negatives, that are then inverted by shining controlled amounts of light through them.

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Working in this way allows you to be more directly involved in the image making. It is fast developing as I experiment, applying more and more traditional darkroom techniques to the obscura, dodging and burning a live image, pre-flashing paper, applying contrast filters to all or parts of the image and lots more. As the light is hitting the paper at the same scale of the print, the quality that can be achieved is incredible. I am currently getting familiar with the process before taking it out and trying to shoot large, immersive landscapes with the camera. This video explains the process up to now : http://light-play.org/2014/03/03/light-fixing-a-darkroom-inside-an-obscura/

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