camera obscura

camera obscura

[ob-skyoor-uh]
noun
a darkened boxlike device in which images of external objects, received through an aperture, as with a convex lens, are exhibited in their natural colors on a surface arranged to receive them: used for sketching, exhibition purposes, etc.

Origin:
1660–70; < Neo-Latin: dark chamber; see camera, obscure

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Collins
World English Dictionary
camera obscura (ɒbˈskjʊərə)
 
n
Sometimes shortened to: camera a darkened chamber or small building in which images of outside objects are projected onto a flat surface by a convex lens in an aperture
 
[New Latin: dark chamber]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Etymonline
Word Origin & History

camera obscura
1725, "a darkened room;" c.1730, "a device for project pictures;" see camera.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Encyclopedia Britannica
Encyclopedia

camera obscura

ancestor of the photographic camera. The Latin name means "dark chamber," and the earliest versions, dating to antiquity, consisted of small darkened rooms with light admitted through a single tiny hole. The result was that an inverted image of the outside scene was cast on the opposite wall, which was usually whitened. For centuries the technique was used for viewing eclipses of the Sun without endangering the eyes and, by the 16th century, as an aid to drawing; the subject was posed outside and the image reflected on a piece of drawing paper for the artist to trace. Portable versions were built, followed by smaller and even pocket models; the interior of the box was painted black and the image reflected by an angled mirror so that it could be viewed right side up. The introduction of a light-sensitive plate by J.-N. Niepce created photography.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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