camera obscura

[Day 6 of a 30-day non-poetry experiment. – Owen]


When the room is darkest, and only the smallest amount of light can get in, we sometimes see things most clearly, albeit upside down.

This is the principle of the camera obscura, the ancient “dark room” (which is what “camera obscura” means, literally) where a lens and pinpoint hole for light would project an entire panorama of the outside world onto the wall, only upside down. The original photographic cameras used the same principle to project light onto a light sensitive plate (later film).

People still view eclipses using a form of this method. There are also artists who work with camera obscura as a medium.

Our own eyes are a form of this, as well, which is why physiologists say the images our eyes see are actually upside down in the eyes, and our brains turn them rightside up.

The principle has applicability in many situations, and it’s worth noting it’s features.

The room is dark. In order to see something clearly, we have to turn the brightness on everything else down.

Only a pinpoint of light gets in. The truth must come in small, pure, and concentrated doses.

The light must go through a lens. It is only through focus that we truly see.

The entire panorama can then be seen. All that is truly out there – the good, the scary, all of it – can be visible this way.

It will, however, be upside down. Even the purest focus brings in some form of distortion we have to think through and correct for. What we seek is not in people or things or events, it is in how we interact with those people and things and events through our minds and hearts, in bringing a well-focused view of everything we can see into right balance.

It probably wouldn’t hurt a lot of us to clear away distractions, and to refocus our attention and minds periodically on what matters in our worlds. To look into the eyes of the people we love, free of electronic and other diversions, and provide our hearts with more images of the moments that we truly love the best.

And so theirs will be the faces we see when our rooms are at their darkest.

Author: Owen Servant

Owen "Beleaguered" Servant (a/k/a Sibelius Russell) writes poetry mostly, with an occasional pause to have a seizure.

4 thoughts on “camera obscura”

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