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Photo Professor Turns His Classroom Into a Giant Camera Obscura

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A photography professor in Oklahoma recently had an awesome idea for teaching his students about the beginnings of photography: he turned his classroom into a giant camera obscura.

Photographer Mark Zimmerman is an associate professor of photography at the University of Central Oklahoma. This semester he’s teaching a class titled “History of Photography to 1945.”

“I always challenge myself to make this class interesting and visual, as opposed to just showing them power points and lecturing all semester,” Zimmerman tells PetaPixel. “After reading about Abelardo Morell’s work, I have always wanted to convert a classroom into a camera obscura for my students, especially in my history of photography class.”

Using aluminum foil and duct tape, Zimmerman covered up all the windows of the classroom.

He left a hole in the foil covering the center window of the room to serve as the camera obscura’s lens.

The result was a classroom that had scenes of the outside world beautifully projected onto its walls (upside down).

Here’s a timelapse video of the classroom camera obscura in action:

“This generation has only known digital photography, so I want them to see and smell the early days of photography,” Zimmerman says. “The ‘smells’ come from my demonstrations with the wet plate collodion process the third week of class.”

The students in the class will also shoot with an old Kodak Brownie camera, create and shoot with a pinhole camera, print their own cyanotype, and shoot a short motion picture using a LomoKino camera.

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