Edinburgh Photo Library
- Camera Obscura and World of Illusions

Camera Obscura

Just a few yards down the Royal Mile from Edinburgh Castle, the Camera Obscura, set up in 1853, was adopted by Sir Patrick Geddes, the "father of town planning" in 1895. There are magnificent views from the top of the tower and to help you is what is described as the "most powerful public telescope in Britain". The Camera Obscura is an amazing device which was installed by an optician and entrepreneur, Maria Short, long before video cameras, using daylight and a powerful mirror and lens system to project a live picture of the views from the top of the tower onto a screen below. The ability to spy on and pick up passing pedestrians onto slips of card from the street below is quite amazing. The rooftop views are also spectacular, and distant sights are easily visible through free high magnification telescopes.

The building also incorporates the World of Illusions, three floors of hands on exhibitions and curiosities to do with light, colour and optical illusions, chock-full of amazing optical illusions which provide a lot of fun and fascination for all ages. In the 'Magic Gallery' you can catch your shadow, shake hands with your reflection, and walk on water and have a shocking time in the 'Electric Room'. In 'Light Fantastic', visitors are mesmerised by 3D holograms which come out into space, change then disappear. Here you can also find your hotspots in colourful live images from a thermal imaging camera. Lastly Edinburgh Vision includes early 3d images, Pinhole Photography, an infinity tunnel that goes on for ever, live viewcams you can control yourself and a morphing machine that enables you to change your age, race, sex or even morph you into an ape... The attraction, the oldest in the city, is open all day every day except Christmas Day.

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