We traveled to New York City by train on August 18, 2000 to visit
the spectacular private camera obscura built by Charles
Schwartz on the top floor of a 17 floor
apartment building overlooking the Central Park Reservoir. We had
been in contact with him for some time and had read an article published
in the New York Times on May 7, 2000 about this camera obscura.
Charles extended an invitation to us to visit and we arrived on
a gray and rainy day. We spent several very enjoyable hours in the
camera obscura and came away impressed with the planning and dedication
needed to bring this major project to a successful conclusion.
The camera is housed in a specially designed
room that is also an office and workroom. It is covered with copper
for lightness and when the camera obscura is in use blackout shutters
cover the windows. The optics are housed in a copper turret on the
roof and project through a hole in the ceiling onto a 42 inch round
white table. At the side of the table is a bank of buttons that
control the shutters, the tilt of the mirror and rotation of the
turret. We learned that it is equipped with an 8-inch lens with
a 12 1/2 foot focal length and a 12-inch mirror and brings in a
15-degree slice of the world outside. Sharp focus if possible from
infinity to 400 feet. The optics were designed and built by George
Keene of California. Jack was familiar with George Keene's work
from an article in Sky and Telescope.
Even though the day was gray and rainy the
image was bright and sharp and the views over the city and Central
Park were spectacular. We were enchanted and hope to return for
a visit on a sunny day when the quality of the image must be breathtaking.
Charles is using the camera obscura to make photographs both by
exposing material on the table and by photographing the projected
image. He showed us a selection of these images and loaned several
for our camera obscura exhibition at Loyola College in Baltimore
in October, 2000.
For more information on Charles
Schwartz camera obscura and to see examples of his photographs
visit his web site.