Make Your Own Camera Obscura

A fun experiment to learn about the properties of light and how your eye sees!

What you need:
  • One empty smallish cardboard box
  • Tracing paper
  • Scissors
  • Large sewing needle
  • Tape

Look for a smallish box about 3" wide between what will be come the front and the back of your camera obscura. These snack-pack boxes work great!


Cut a viewing window open on one side of the box about 4"- 5", making sure to leave at least 1" of box around the opening.


Cut a piece of tracing paper to fit over the window, overlapping on all sides. Tape in place.


Tape both ends of the box closed tightly so that no extra light can enter the box.


Poke a pinhole in the center front of the box using a sewing needle. Be careful, and start small! If you make the hole too large, your camera obscura won't work.

To see if your camera obscura is working, hold it up to a really bright light source, like a light bulb. If you don't see an image, make your pinhole a little bit bigger until you do.

To use your camera obscura, point it at a very bright light source, like a sunny window...

Or drape a heavy, dark towel over your head and drape around the camera obscura to see much more detailed images.

Read more about camera obscura here, or follow this tutorial to turn a room into one GIANT camera obscura!


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