Gay Pride in Edinburgh 2016

At Camera Obscura we are excited to support Gay Pride here in Edinburgh as you can see with our colourful addition to our Rooftop.


Scotland’s national LGBT pride festival, starts with a March and rally, and afterwards is a festival encompassing live music from Scottish and international acts. It takes place on the 2 July 2016.

If you are looking to support Gay Pride in the city here are some events to look out for; of course the Gay Pride march that will take place here in Edinburgh. The March route will start later than previous years due to the Queens March taking place on the same day.

March Route this year will take place down Royal Mile, Past Scottish Parliament, Abbeyhill past the Regent Bar, Royal Terrace, down onto Leith Walk (onto the pavement at RBS at corner of London Road/Leith Walk Roundabout).The march will disassemble at The Omni Centre at Greenside Row at the top of Leith Walk.

The march is expected to take between 45-60 mins with a possible stop briefly at bottom of the Royal Mile to allow the Police to reopen the road at Parliament following the Queens Parade. This information and more is available at if you are interested.

At Camera Obscura we will add photos on the day is show the exciting events in Edinburgh and how our staff support Gay Pride 2016.


written by Christine McCleary


Teeny Tiny Toddler Fest ’16 Schedule of Events Out Now!

It’s finally that time of year again.  No, not Christmas or Hogmanay:  Teeny Tiny Toddler Fest is returning to Edinburgh!  To help you organise your visit, check out our special schedule of events down below!

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The wee ones need entertaining – there’s nothing new!

Those of you with a toddler in the house will know how challenging it can be to keep them entertained, especially over the holidays! Thankfully, there are plenty of places to visit in Edinburgh for a great family day out.  There are some fantastic open spaces to visit right in the City Centre.  How about a walk through Princes St. Gardens and a visit to the playpark? Royal Botanic Gardens is another gem to do some leisurely exploring in nature. Or why not grab an ice-cream and take a stroll along the Portobello Promenade?

But as we all know, the weather at this time of year can get a bit miserable, so chances are high that it will be cold, wet and windy when you venture out….here are some of the best family attractions to visit in Edinburgh if you would rather be indoors!

National Museum Of Scotland

Picture Source: National Museum website

From meeting a giant T-Rex in the interactive ‘Adventure Planet’ to exploring the Universe in ‘Earth in Space’ – there is so much to discover at the National Museum.  The kids will love the interactive ‘Imagine’ gallery, looking at colours patterns and shapes from around the world.  And currently you can see a fantastic exhibit on children’s toys over the last 150 years!  Free to enter, it is a great place to spend a day, for people of all ages. Check out their website for further information.

Our Dynamic Earth


Picture Source: Our Dynamic Earth website

A five-star visitor attraction in the heart of Edinburgh, learn all about Planet Earth through a series of interactive exhibits at Dynamic Earth.  There are many discoveries to be made as you explore the world and how it works – you can see everything from a watching a bubbling volcano to touching real polar ice! Fun for the whole family (and educational too!). Further information can be found here.

Camera Obscura and World of Illusions


There are an incredible six floors of interactive fun to explore here at Camera Obscura.  Check out some of the incredible optical illusions before exploring the Mirror Maze and the Magic Gallery.  With some incredible city views from the rooftop terrace, you can even spy on the city when you reach Camera Obscura…. a great place to spend a family afternoon together! Check out our website for further information and current opening times.

Museum of Childhood


Picture Source: Museum of Childhood website

A must-see for all ages, the Museum Of Childhood in Edinburgh is the first of its kind!  Kids can marvel at toys and games throughout the ages, with interactive games and even a dress-up station! And of course the grown-ups can get involved too – how many toys do you recognise from childhood? Bring the family for a free day out and catch the current exhibition “26 Children’s Winters”. Further information can be found here.

 Further great ideas for activities and events in Edinburgh can be found at

Camera Obscura’s Vortex Tunnel – the science behind the illusion!

Test your walking and balancing skills in our vortex tunnel. But be warned, you may be left feeling a tad dizzy!

This bizarre and exciting contraption works by tricking your mind and body into thinking and feeling like the ground beneath you is moving when in fact it is completely still and fixed in place.

So, to get a little more technical as to how your mind is tricked, we need to introduce the human senses of sight and touch. Contradictory messages from these two senses make it difficult for your brain to decide what is actually happening. Your visual receptors, your eyes, see that the outer tunnel is moving, while your touch sensors (in this case your feet) feel that the ground is completely still and you are not moving. These conflicting messages make you feel off balance and a little bit dizzy.

As sight is one of the most developed senses within the human body, the brain chooses to believe sight over touch. Therefore, even though you can feel the bridge is still, your eyes see the tunnel moving which causes your brain to automatically think you are moving.

Don’t believe us? Come and give it a try for yourself!!

Faces in Space: it’s just an illusion!

Last Friday, Edinburgh saw a spectacular and rare partial solar eclipse.  Over 90% of the sun was blocked out and, even though it was not a total eclipse, it did get rather dark and noticeably colder.  In Ancient China, an eclipse was believed to have been caused by a dragon eating the sun.  People would bang drums to scare the dragon away!

In a sense, an eclipse is just a giant illusion; it looks like the sun is disappearing, but it’s not and it will soon return.

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Face on Mars, picture source: wikipedia

Space is full of illusions. such as when the cosmos and other planets look like faces. Take the Face on Mars, for example….

This is called ‘pareidolia’ and is a human tendency to see faces in inanimate objects.   It stems from the fact that our brains only need a few features to identify a face, and when these are seen we perceive the face – an evolutionary hangover to help us identify our fellow species, and thus safety, in dark environments.

Mars is home to another occurrence of pareidolia, a more amusing one; the Galle, or ‘happy face’, crater:

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Picture source: wikipedia

With pop culture, social media and Internet memes becoming very popular, pareidolia can be used for other objects too, such as the heat signatures of Mimas and Tethys, two of Saturn’s moons, which bear an uncanny resemblance to Pac-man.

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Picture Source:


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Of course, you do not have to go to space to see pareidolia.  At the Camera Obscura, we have many examples on display, such as copies of work by the sixteenth century artist Giuseppe Arcimboldo.



You can also find examples in your own home!

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Written by Jen Cresswell

Watch the Eclipse at Camera Obscura, Friday 20th March

We are offering you the unique opportunity to watch the solar eclipse in our Camera Obscura!

We will be opening our doors extra early to give you the chance to see this rare spectacle in the Camera Obscura itself.  An immense 94% of the sun’s light is expected to be blocked by the moon in this Friday’s eclipse, which will be projected live onto our large round Camera Obscura viewing table, all through a piece of technology invented over two millennia ago. Looking directly at the sun can severely damage eyesight, so it is essential to watch the eclipse through a filter or reflection.


Even though the sun will not be completely covered up by the moon, this solar eclipse is not to be missed. The next partial solar eclipse is not for another ten years, and the next total solar eclipse observable from the UK will only occur in 2090.

Andrew Johnson, Manager said: this is the first time in my lifetime that we may have the opportunity to see an almost total eclipse on our camera obscura table. This is truly the best way to view it, as it is perfectly safe, and not obscured by anything.  The last time we had a partial eclipse the experience was incredible. Given clear skies, this will be even more so.

On Friday, the eclipse is predicted to begin just after 8:30am, which is why Camera Obscura and World of Illusions will be opening from 8.30am. The peak of the solar eclipse will occur at 9:35am, lasting just under 3 minutes, and it will all end at around 10:40am.

Doors open 8:30am, entry charges apply. Eclipse glasses will be available on the day and included in the ticket price (sorry, no more advance sales of glasses). Please allow enough time to climb the 6 flights of stairs to the rooftop! Tickets are valid all day.

Mesmerising GIFs!

So, today we discovered the amazing and entrancing work of visual artist David Szakaly, aka davidope (it’s taken us a while). Below are some of our favourites….be prepared to be mesmerised:









7356ceb141ada319b5d0b45c3f051e2aLike what you see? Check out more of his work at







The Mystery of the Ames Room at Camera Obscura

Did you know that you can shrink and grow at ease in our Ames Room? Here’s how!….

The first Ames Room was built in 1935 by American ophthalmologist Adelbert Ames, Jr. However, it is thought the concept of the Ames Room was inspired from the German physician Hermann Helmholtz in the 1800’s.

Here comes the spoiler alert…..the Ames Room isn’t actually cubic in shape, it’s trapezoidal! The walls and ceiling are sloped and the floors are built on an incline which creates a forced perspective. This, when viewed at the right angle, tricks your brain into thinking one person is considerably taller than the other.


The Ames Room – picture by Tony Marsh

It has proved so effective that it has been used to create special effects in many Hollywood movies. Ever wondered how they made the Hobbits look so small next to Gandalf? Yup, that’s right, all done using the same technique! (Sorry to spoil the Shire magic for you all!)

Want to share your photos of the Ames Room? We would love to see all the creative posing we know our visitors do!

Why You Should Bring a Date to Camera Obscura This Valentine’s Day

Camera Obscura and World of illusions

Flowers and chocolates are so 2013. Make your Valentine crazy about you with a date to Camera Obscura – or find out if they’re really the person you want to spend the day with…

How hot is your date? Find out – literally – with the thermal camera.

New Thermal Cam

What will your kids look like? Decide if you never want this person’s babies by merging into each other on the Swap Heads or Face Transformers exhibits. You can also use the morph machines to find out if you’ll still fancy your date when they’re old and wrinkly.

Morph Machine

The Vortex. Send them head over heels (almost) with the help of the Vortex Tunnel. They just might think it’s you that’s put their head in a spin.

mtb world cup

Put stars in their eyes… with the Light Painter. Or be like love-struck teenagers, and scribble your initials together inside a heart – just to make…

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Toddler Fest: Cameron the Camera Obscura Bear checks it out!



This week has been beary exciting (so far!) as it’s Teeny Tiny Toddler Fest ’15!!

I’m having great fun checking out the special exhibits and different workshops that are on.  This workshop looked at my interpretation of language!


And there were lots of me and my new duck friends in our new mini Kaleidosphere!


There is story telling in the shop. Now, not that I’m biased, but I think the story is beary good, possibly the best I have ever heard. It’s all about a brave little bear, called Cameron, and his adventures. You should check it out! What a classic!! You can even take a picture of me home….what more could anyone ask for?


There is even a quiet room which I have made great use of. I will be sad to see it go after Toddler Fest.

quiet room

The Quiet Room – photo taken by a Quiet Room user! (@kersti)


And look….. lots of my friends have come to check out all the fun too!…


PLUS, I hear there is going to be face painting on Sunday…. I wonder what I’ll get painted on my face?!