The Magic Mirror of Life at the Magic Lantern Society
July 12, 2008 in Washington DC

We were pleased to receive an invitation to show our camera obscura tent at the 13th International Magic Lantern Convention held by the Magic Lantern Society of the United States & Canada. The prospect of a July installation in Washington DC gave us some pause since the setting up of the tent is warm work even in cool weather. We decided to accept the invitation since the venue was close to us and we enjoy sharing the experience with other enthusiasts of optical instruments.

As we approached the date of the installation the weather and the forecast was uniformly gloomy and wet. We began to be quite pessimistic but the day before we left for the convention the weather cleared and the forecast became excellent. The Saturday of the installation was beautifully clear and bright with the temperature in the 90s. Cooler temperature would have made the installation more pleasant for us but otherwise the day was about as perfect as we could have asked for. The day after the installation the rain was back so we were lucky to have a perfect window of good weather.

We installed the camera obscura on the lawn of the Historical Society of Washington, DC. It was a perfect setting with a wonderful 1902 building that was a public library in an earlier life, the trees and park setting, and the modern buildings and busy street scene of K Street around us. We had a very able assistant, Jarred, who was a quick study and invaluable in setting up and helping us throughout the day. Without his help we would not have been able to install and take down the tent.

On the right Jack and Jarred stand inside the tent before the front wall is added.

Below is a view of the front of the Historical Society of Washington DC with the tent in the grass at the right.


In addition to the large tent we set up our small one-person tent and a table with a box camera obscura and a group of posters on the camera obscura. These can be seen in the picture below where a group of conference members eat a box lunch as they wait their turn in the tent.

Also below is a photograph of the table with a view toward the Historical Society building.

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What is a camera obscura?

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Frequently Asked Questions about the Camera Obscura (please check this page before sending email questions)

Links and a Bibliography about the camera obscura

Map and illustrated diary of
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US camera obscuras

Map and illustrated diary of
our 1996 trip to
Great Britain camera obscuras

Images of camera obscuras from our collection.

Some Images from our collection
Trade Cards with Camera Obscuras
Lost UK Seaside Camera Obscuras
Other Lost UK Camera Obscuras
Lost US Seaside Camera Obscura
Lost US Park Camera Obscuras
Other Lost US Camera Obscuras
No, it's not a camera obscura

Portable and box camera obscuras from our collection.
Wooden Camera Obscuras
Metal Camera Obscuras
Camera Obscuras with the Lens at the Top
Cardboard Camera Obscuras
A French Artist's Camera with supplies
Vermeer's Camera, a 1934 teaching camera
Camera Obscura Publications

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Modified 7/2008