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How it Works

Camera Obscura and World of Illusions - How it Works

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A magical experience? Definitely. But the Camera Obscura is powered by nothing but daylight. Part pinhole camera, part periscope. It was the first time the Victorians saw a moving image. Now you can see it too.

Look up in the viewing chamber and you’ll see a metal tube coming from the ceiling. This is where all the Camera Obscura’s secrets are hidden.

The tube passes through the roof of the tower and into the open air. Outside, it’s covered by a protective hood with a tiny window in one side – this lets the daylight in.

Once these light rays enter the tube, they hit a carefully-positioned mirror and beam downwards. Next, they pass through a set of three lenses – to focus a stunning image of Edinburgh on the table.

Did you know?

Traditional pinhole cameras flip images upside down – our Camera Obscura is different. We flip the image twice – upside down, then back again. The lenses and mirror work together to create an exact replica of what’s outside.