Camera Obscura.

Camera Obscura - Giant Pinhole Camera

Field review by the editors.

San Francisco, California

The camera obscura is a very old, pre-photography concept for a seemingly magical box or structure, where outside light reflected through a fixed aperture or pinhole renders an upside-down image on a large screen.

San Francisco's Camera Obscura was created as a tourist and theme park entertainment in 1946, part of Playland At The Beach. Playland is gone, but this spectacle in the shape of an upturned snapshot camera continues to operate from its spot just below the Cliff House. Jutting out on a raised plaza overlooking the Pacific Ocean, the 25 by 25 ft. building is topped by a copper pyramid, which contains a rotating mirror that reflects scenic images down onto its parabolic screen. It's ideally positioned for a scene of waves crashing against Seal Rock, with best viewing on a sunny day or at sunset.

The small building can hold about a half-dozen people, and also displays holograms along its inner walls.

Camera Obscura - Giant Pinhole Camera

1096 Point Lobos Ave., San Francisco, CA
Point Lobos Ave. and Merrie Way, along beach.
Daily 11 am - 5 pm. Weather permitting. (Call to verify) Local health policies may affect hours and access.
$3, 12 and under $2.
Save to My Sights

Nearby Offbeat Places

Cliff House Totem PoleCliff House Totem Pole, San Francisco, CA - < 1 mi.
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Beach Chalet: WPA Frescos, Undersea StairsBeach Chalet: WPA Frescos, Undersea Stairs, San Francisco, CA - < 1 mi.
In the region:
Railroad Car House Boat, Sausalito, CA - 6 mi.

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