The Wonder of Camera Obscura

giant camera

Yesterday I mentioned that I did some touristy things in San Francisco recently when friends were visiting like checking out Sutro Ruins. This historic spot is located next the to also-historic Cliff House restaurant, behind which you can find Camera Obscura. I had seen the outside of this thing many times over the years but never gone in until this visit. It’s this amazing strange creation that is totally worth the $3 it costs to check it out.

What is Camera Obscura?

camera obscura description

The truth is that I have a lot of trouble really defining what this thing is even though I’ve not only been to it but read about it online. Basically the best I can explain it is that it is a large camera that you can actually walk inside of and then look into the mirrors and lenses. The effect is that you can see close-up detailed images of a 360 degree of everything that is happening outside of the building by looking onto this plated table. The invention has a long history but is most often considered a Leonardo DaVinci design. This particular Camera Obscura was installed here in the 1940s. Learn more.

outside camera obscura

In both photos below you’re looking at an image of the ocean outside in real time as I’m looking at it from inside of The Giant Camera:

ocean in camera obscura lens

ocean outside camera obscura