|Camera obscura from "L'Encyclopédie"|
The camera obscura (Latin for dark chamber) was a novelty optical invention, and one of the ancestral threads leading to the invention of photography; photographic devices today are still known as cameras.
Simply do it yourself by building a box and punching a hole in one of the walls - voilà! With a small enough aperture, light from only one part of a scene can strike any particular part of the back wall; the smaller the hole, the sharper the image on the back side. With this simple do-it-yourself apparatus, the image is always upside-down, although by using mirrors it is also possible to project a right-side-up image. Some camera obscuras have been built as tourist attractions, though few now survive. Examples can be found in Grahamstown[?] in South Africa, Dumfries and Edinburgh, Scotland.
Camera obscura were used by artists in the 16th century, as an aid to sketches for paintings.
A small, hand-held version using photographic paper to record the image is known as the pinhole camera.