Reverse Windows

Eight minutes before this image was made, these light rays emerged from the sun, where they traveled at light-speed through space, scattered off the surface of the Earth, and burst into my apartment. Notice how the blue light rays in the image above are on the bottom, and the green and brown rays are on top. This is literally the sky and the earth observable inside the light as it travels.

Commonly known as a camera obscura, i.e., a dark room, the view from outside my window is being projected onto the walls of my apartment – upside down – via a hole roughly the size of a dime. Ultimately what I’ve done here is transform my living room into a pin-hole camera large enough to walk around in. The principles of this physical process have been known to man since antiquity, and it is largely debated as to how many works of art throughout history this process may have aided.

Just like our eyes, light enters through the pupil (or aperture) and a tiny upside down image of the world outside is projected onto our retinas. Our brain naturally corrects for the inversion, and flips the image right side up in our minds. Cameras do the same thing, albiet electronically.

Class: History of Photography / Greg Voight

This image shows the light rays seamlessly reconstructing a “real” image in the reflection in the window glass on the left. It feels like you’re looking out a window, but in this case, the outside world is actually looking back at you. Like a prism, the reflected light enters at different wavelengths and frequencies according to what it’s it’s come in contact with. It’s important to note that this image and the image below have technically been flipped upside down in Photoshop to allow the viewer to see the light in a more natural orientation. The image below also demonstrates how a multi-disc diffusion panel can act like a screen when placed in front of the pin-hole, creating an image viewable from either side.