Harry Potter 20th Anniversary

For all you muggles out there that have been hiding under a rock you may not have notice the magic in the air last weekend. We had a great time here at Camera Obscura joining in the celebrations for Harry Potter’s 20th anniversary! Whether you are a brave Gryffindor, a kind Hufflepuff, an intelligent Ravenclaw or a sly Slytherin there is something for you at Camera Obscura!

During the weekend we enjoyed reliving our childhood magic by having sorting hat ceremonies throughout the day, where lots of new wizards and witches were sorted into their appropriate houses, Harry Potter face painting so you too could have the mark of he who cannot be named, and lots of fabulous Harry Potter gifts and sweets to buy, including a competition with one lucky winner!

It truly was a celebration of 20 Years of Harry Potter Magic!

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written by Christine McCleary

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Happy Halloween

Happy Halloween……. We love everything weird and spooky here at Camera Obscura, so you can tell why we’re very excited for it to come along! Every year we decorate our building with everything Halloween related so we can join in the fun! We’re always trying to add a little spook and scare into our already weird and wonderful building!

Our shop love Halloween so much they’ve got some Halloween bits that you can pick up for yourself! Here are some staff favourites, if you’re looking to add to your Halloween decoration collection or looking for a gift with a theme!

First favourite product chosen by staff are these amazing firefly jars. They come in all different colours and would make great home decorations all year round! Even better they’ve been reduced in price by 25%, so are the bottles are now only £7.50 and the jars are only £3.50!

If you fancy getting your hands on some of these Lenticular photographs, we have around 20 different ones to choose from! They are £10 each, but are currently on offer for Buy One Get One Free! If you fancy a book of Witches’ Spells, these lovely little books cost £4.

And last but not least… an X-Ray book.

This book features a vast amount of real life x-rays of humans, animals and all things odd… very spooky and only £14.99.

If you like the look of this book, any of the other favourite picks or want to have a look at anything else we have on offer, stop by our shop!

We hope everyone has a Happy Halloween!

A Great Body of Work

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The Human Chameleon – Body paint Artist Johannes Stoetter

A new exhibit in the Magic Gallery features images created by visual wiz Johannes Stoetter. The world renowned body painter tricks the mind by creating body paintings that transform his living models into objects inspired by nature including animals, fruits, flowers and more. According to the World Body Painting Championship 2012, body-painting to him is a way of “creating a unity between an image and a person”, and is made especially unique by the fact that the artwork is alive and able to move. Each of Stoetter’s art pieces are painstakingly planned and take up to 5 months to design and up to 8 hours to paint. Unlike canvas paintings however, these body-painting’s only exist for a few hours. Steal a peek behind the scenes of Stoetter creating his famous paintings The Chameleon and The Parrot. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-yHkAac-KG0 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TMwvsePCvPM

 

written by Maria Grenman

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

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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 http://prideedinburgh.org.uk/march/ 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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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: bbc.co.uk/news

 

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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.

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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.

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.

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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!

Teeny Tiny Toddler Fest Schedule of Special Events

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Creativity Workshops

These will be located on the 4th floor of the World of Illusions. This is a drop-in activity that one child at a time can take part in. Experiment with unusual objects, discover new ways of using them and help the researchers at Edinburgh University learn more about imagination and the development of creativity in toddlers.

For more information please ask the researcher at this station.

Language Workshops

These will be located on the 3rd floor of the World of Illusions. This is a drop-in activity that one child at a time can take part in. Play with some unique toys, make up a story and help the Edinburgh University learn more about the way language develops in toddlers.

For more information please ask the researcher at this station.

Talks on the Science of Learning and Discovery

From Monday to Friday, researchers from the University of Edinburgh’s Developmental Science group will be discussing the amazing mechanisms that allow babies and toddlers to learn to make sense of the complex world around them. Please ask at the reception desk when you buy your tickets if you would like to have a place reserved for you in one of these sessions.

Stories in the Shop

On the hour at 12.00, 1.00, 2.00 and 3.00 our creative shop team will be sharing the story of Cameron the Bear’s adventures in a snug little corner under the stairs. No need to book, just walk down the musical staircase and find us at the bottom.

 

For more information or to book your tickets, call 0131 226 3709 or email alyce@camera-obscura.co.uk

Teeny Tiny Toddler Fest ’15: How do babies’ senses develop?

Humans are born with all five senses virtually fully developed. However, slight changes and improvements happen to these senses as a baby develops and grows and this happens at a different rate for each of the five senses.  For example, by eight months a baby will have developed an understanding of a full range of sound frequencies, but it takes until the age of two for a child to develop adult perception in terms of vision. Sensory development can refer to the improvement of the five senses but it also refers to how a child reacts to the input from these senses and how they then form an appropriate response.

So, how does this all fit in with Camera Obscura and the World of Illusions?

participantWell, believe it or not, babies can be fooled by illusions from as young as five months! In 2005 the University of Bonn decided to see at what age babies begin to decipher information on distance based on perspective. The test was simple, place two toys on a chessboard background which was drawn to look like it was receding away from the babies. The toys were placed at different heights to make it look like one toy was closer to the baby than the other.  The researchers had worked out that a baby would naturally grab the toy that was closest to them. The test was repeated several times with 20 seven month old babies and 20 five month old babies, all of whom had one eye covered; this improved the perspective of the drawing and helped the babies make a more informed choice about which toy was “closer”.  The toy that was placed lower on the drawing, and therefore looked closer, was the favourite with 19 out of the 20 seven month old babies and, even more surprisingly, with 16 out of the 20 five month olds. Until this experiment was carried out, it was believed that babies could not process information on perspective.  Researchers now believe that the ability to process this information could kick in even earlier.

So, what better place to bring your little one than to Camera Obscura and World of Illusions? We’ve been fooling adults for the last 160 years…let’s see how your toddler can handle our illusions!

The event will run from the 12th-18th of January, so make sure you don’t miss out!

To book tickets call 0131 226 3709.

You can also get 20% off your ticket for the event by completing our Teeny Tiny Toddler Fest survey: http://tinyurl.com/pkofjla

 

Reference:

University Of Bonn. “Even Babies Can Have Optical Illusions.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 April 2005.