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The Challenge: Make a camera and film

Wandering around the prison site on Capraia, we found a rubbish dump with some pieces of broken glass bottles. We were amazed to find that when placed over the hole in the top face of the box, the bottle bottoms actually acted as lenses. You could experiment with different lenses; try spectacles or a magnifying glass.

bottle-bottom lens
bottle-bottom lens with rotating mirror in its housing

The screen is just a piece of tracing paper mounted on a moveable wooden frame. To focus the camera, the screen is moved up and down (in other words, nearer to and further away from the lens) until the image is as sharp as you can get it. Of course, it helps if the subject to be photographed is as still as possible.

Some light passes through the screen onto the lower mirror, which allows you to look at the image from a comfortable angle through the open side of the camera. This open side should be covered with two or three black bin-liner bags to keep the light out and to allow the operator in.