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Dead medium: The Camera Obscura (Part Two)
From: (Richard Kadrey)

Source(s): Robert Leggat,

(((bruces remarks: This Working Note continues an excerpt from Leggat's online hypertext history of photography.)))

"Though some, including Joshua Reynolds, warned against the indiscriminate use of the camera obscura, others, notably Algarotti, a writer on art and science and a highly influential man amongst artists, strongly advocated its use in his *Essays on Painting* (1764):

"'The best modern painters among the Italians have availed themselves of this contrivance; nor is it possible that they should have otherwise represented things so much to the life... Let the young painter, therefore, begin as early as possible to study these divine pictures...

"'Painters should make the same use of the Camera Obscura, which Naturalists and Astronomers make of the microscope and telescope; for all these instruments equally contribute to make known, and represent Nature.'"


"Gerolomo Cardano (1501- 1576), an Italian mathematician, introduced a glass disc in place of a pinhole in his camera, and Barbaro also used a convex lens.


"The first cameras were enormous. Anastasius Kircher (((sic))) (1601-1680) in a book written in 1646, described one which consisted of an outer shell with lenses in the centre of each wall, and an inner shell containing transparent paper for drawing; the artist needed to enter by a trapdoor.

"Other versions also appeared. Sedan chairs were converted, and tent-type cameras were also in use == even up the beginning of the nineteen hundreds. Then smaller, portable ones were made. Thus the camera obscura, as it came to be known, became a popular aid to sketching."

Richard Kadrey (