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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A Christmas in Edinburgh….by Cameron the Camera Obscura Bear


I am so excited that it is nearly Christmas.  Our shop is all decorated.

Camera Obscura shop - small

Christmas has come…to Camera Obscura


Christmas in Edinburgh is very exciting.  The Christmas Market has just opened.   I ate some lovely food (well…treats!)

germantitle - edinspotlight

German Market Treats…photo by Edinburgh Spotlight

There are also rides and an ice rink.  I love ice skating!…WHEEEEE!


Ice Skating…photo by Marketing Edinburgh


In Edinburgh, people celebrate Christmas with their family.  They eat turkey, sing Christmas carols and open presents on Christmas Day.

Cameron presents 2 - small

My Camera Obscura family are from all around the world.  I love to find out how they celebrate Christmas.

Camera Obscura Family - small

So I am going to travel the world and visit many different countries to see how Christmas is celebrated there….

Visiting Camera Obscura with Cameron the Bear


For those of you who have not been to Camera Obscura yet, I decided to show you what an average visit is like. It can take two hours to see everything, so make sure you have enough time!

First, you find us on Castlehill, just before the castle:

Cameron the Camera Obscura Bear

The Camera Obscura Entrance

Get a ticket at the reception desk. This is where you get a time to see the camera obscura, which is the only exhibit that needs a guide.


‘Your show in the camera obscura starts at 10 o’clock.’

My camera obscura show was ten minutes later, so I started to climb the 98 stairs. It is very difficult with little legs like mine.



One step down… 97 to go…

When I got to the top, it was time to see the camera obscura.


There are no photos in that room, as the light from phones and cameras can affect the camera obscura picture.

Afterwards, you can leave your email address to take part in the visitor survey. I do not have an email address, but I am well-known enough to just write Cameron the Bear and they know who I mean.


Leave some feedback

You can look around the rooftop and try the binoculars and telescopes. There are some translations of the information panels if you need them.



Next up, there are four floors of illusions to look around. I hope you have brought your camera to get some funny photos!


Where has my body gone?


If Cameron the Bear were Cameron the Chimp


Almost as tall as a small human!

Twins Exhibit

And then there were two


See things close up with the microscopes


So many of me


I feel a bit sick now

Once you have seen the camera obscura, you are free to look around the World of Illusions at your own pace. If you don’t want to see all the exhibitions at once, you can even get a hand stamp from the desk and come back later in the day. Or you can have a look around the shop!


Hope you have fun!

Referendum Relief

Scotland decides on 18 September whether or not to be independent or remain within the United Kingdom.

The Camera Obscura has seen many changes. When the building was first constructed, Scotland was a separate country, but shared a King with the rest of the island, Charles II.  When the Camera itself was installed, Scotland formed part of the United Kingdom.  Since then it has seen the rise and fall of the British Empire, two world wars and the industrial revolution and technical age develop.  And we have stayed open throughout.


Whatever the result on 18 September, we will continue to bring world-class illusions and Victorian technology at its finest.  We are even open on polling day for people who wish to escape the canvassing and campaigning.  Schools close at 3.15 p.m., we close at 7 p.m., polls close at 10 p.m.  So if you want to escape with the kids, or find somewhere to take your mind off the vote, then come on in.

But, while as a world of illusions we can change perceptions, please note that we cannot change the vote, the results, or people’s decisions.  Therefore here is our handy guide on what our exhibits can and cannot do on 18 September.

Our twins exhibit can make two of you, but this will not give you two votes.


Our severed head exhibit will not actually decapitate your opponents.


The Ames room will grow and shrink you, but not the vote percentage.


You may get lost in the mirror maze, but please do not put it in front of any polling station to confuse voters.


Our shadow wall allows you to leave an imprint of your shadow, but it will not make your political opponents a shadow of their former selves.


Our giant pinhole camera may flip you upside down, but it will not turn arguments on their head.


So there is a long list of thing that we cannot do for the election, but we do have some election treats.

With our viewcams you can see the last-minute campaigning on the Royal Mile, or even zoom onto Calton Hill where the BBC are set up to cover the election.


Use our magic floor to create fireworks over the Castle if you get the result you want.  If the vote goes the other way, use the fireworks to cheer yourself up because everyone loves fireworks.


So on Thursday 18 September, come and escape the politicians, polls and politics with family and friends of both the yes and no persuasion, and enjoy a fun visit on neutral territory.

Whatever happens, in 161 years’ time, we will still be here.

Top Ten Exhibits in Under an Hour

An average visit to Camera Obscura and World of Illusions takes an hour and a half to two hours. Some visitors come and go all day with hand stamps, whereas some are looking to fill time before dinner. Some arrive too late for the Camera Obscura show and have limited time before closing. For those who find themselves with less than an hour to spend here, these are the top ten exhibits you cannot miss, as voted for by staff and visitors alike!


1. Rooftop, Level 6

Start your visit on the top floor of the building on the rooftop terrace. We have incredible views of Edinburgh, particularly on a clear day:




2. Electricity Room, Level 5

On the next floor down, the Magic Gallery, you’ll find the electricity room. See the giant plasma dome, the only crackle ball in Europe and chat to the Luminglass (like in Star Trek).



3. Mirrors, Level 5

You might have been drawn in by the crazy mirrors outside, and here you’ll find more.



4. Shadow Wall, Level 5

Make like Peter Pan and capture your shadow.



Now it’s time to head downstairs again to the…


5. Ames Room, Level 4

This is one of the most unusual and yet recognisable photos you’ll take away from your visit. Shrink and grow like Alice in Wonderland in the Ames Room.



6. Morph Machines, Level 4

Have you ever wondered what you’ll look like aged 60? As a man (or woman, if you’re not)? As a chimp? Of course you have, and you can find out just how pretty a chimp you’d make with the morph machines.


As you head downstairs again to level 3, follow the ‘way in’ sign into the exhibitions so that you can walk through the Infinity Corridor on the way to the next exhibit.



7. View Cameras, Level 3

These powerful cameras provide amazing views of the city. See boats on the Forth and trams on Prince’s Street, or just spy on people on the Royal Mile.



8. Heat Camera, Level 3

Find your hot spots with the thermal camera.



Now it’s time to head down to the final floor, Bewilderworld. (Make sure you’re there at least ten minutes before closing to enjoy these exhibitions.)


9. Mirror Maze, Level 2

Don’t get too lost in there…!




10. Vortex, Level 2

You cannot leave Camera Obscura without a walk or stumble through the Vortex tunnel. See why this is one of our most popular exhibits – even if you decide not to venture into it!



Do you agree with these choices? What were your favourite exhibits at Camera Obscura and World of Illusions?

Contrasts at Camera Obscura

We thought we’d get involved in this week’s photo challenge because Camera Obscura and World of Illusions is an amazing place for contrasts. Here are just a few…


Ames Room

Tall and short


Giant lens

Big and small



Rooftop Crystal Ball

Upside down and right way up


Thermal camera

Hot and cold


Mirror Maze

Lost and found


Plasma Ball

Light and dark


Camera doors

Old and new


Did you find any other contrasts during your visit?

Picture Perfect

Camera Obscura and World of Illusions is a great place for photos. Visitors leave with photographic evidence of having shrunk during their visit (in the Ames Room) or their friend’s head on a plate (Severed Head). However, for those interested in photography, the World of Illusions can produce many great shots – even if it’s a challenge to capture them! Come along early one day to escape the crowds and see if you can come away with pictures of any of these:

Mirror maze. Test your skills by seeing if you can get a photo in the mirror maze – without you in it. I couldn’t quite manage, but this is my best effort:


It is incredibly difficult to take a good photo of the Vortex tunnel. The flash makes the lights disappear, but it’s so dark in the room that cameras don’t always cope well. Use a high ISO and a tripod if you can.


Hidden in the Middle. The image in this exhibit can only be seen by moving your head quickly from side to side. Can you capture it with a camera? Use a tripod and a long shutter speed, then move the camera from side to side to get the photo.


Infinity corridor. Similar to Hidden in the Middle, adjust the exposure to one or two seconds, then move the camera as the picture takes to transform photos of the Infinity Corridor.


Electricity room. I’ve tried countless times to take a good photo of the plasma dome for this blog, and it’s difficult. Mess about with the ISO and spend a bit of time editing to make these photos look their best.


Bendy Mirrors. This isn’t your average self-portrait.


Light tunnel. Like the infinity corridor, we have the ladder to Australia and this light tunnel that make use of lights and mirrors.


Whether the weather is bright and sunny or gloomy and grey, the view from our rooftop is one of the best in the city. You can create picture-perfect postcards of Edinburgh here.

Rooftop 2 24.03.14 small

Camera Obscura and The International Facial Attractiveness Study

A visit to Camera Obscura and World of Illusions got a whole lot more academic this week as the team from The University of Edinburgh’s Psychology Department moved in. For the first time ever, visitors to Camera Obscura are being given the opportunity to participate in an international research study that measures what you think is attractive, across different cultures.

example of study pic

Which face are you most attracted to?



This is an international project, led by Dr Barnaby Dixson, a Research Fellow at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia. Across the world, in 25 different locations, similar research is being carried out by local universities. Here in Edinburgh the study is being run by The University of Edinburgh, Dr David Carmel and seven student volunteers.


The scientific community has already amassed a lot of research on face perception; pareidolia, infant recognition, symmetry, the golden ratio. Despite all of this research we know very little about how people’s perceptions of attractiveness vary across cultures.


pareidolia 2

Pareidolia, for example, is seeing faces in inanimate objects! Which pepper do you like better?

“This study aims to explore what determines our attractiveness judgments of the opposite sex.”By collecting data from many people that represent a wide variety of cultures it is hoped that the study can look at the similarities and differences in facial attractiveness across these cultures.


Every afternoon for the next 3 weeks the students will be collecting data at Camera Obscura and World of Illusions. Come and take part!


Because it’s so interesting!

But, seriously; “The aim of this research is to quantify the facial characteristics that men and women find most physically attractive.” 2

This is such interesting stuff because being able to tell what people find attractive tells us a lot about why evolution may have favored these characteristics. This may give us a reason behind our love of a chiseled jaw line or blue eyes or chubby cheeks, or whatever it is you are into!


Taking part in this study is really easy. You look at a series of faces and select the one that you find most attractive.

The research has been going for three days and, with over 40 participants so far, is proving to be a popular addition to our exhibition area!

For more information please contact:

Dr. David Carmel from The University of Edinburgh | 0131 650 3455 |

Alyce Paton from Camera Obscura and World of Illusions | 0131 226 3709 |


Written by Alyce Paton.


1 & 2:,d.ZGU&psig=AFQjCNEVHPuHsWNjADmClwjyrPeazL_84A&ust=1393066141430771


Box with Face:

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

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 those with a weak stomach after the Vortex even queasier.

Lightpainter at Camera Obscura & World of Illusions

Forget star-gazing. Stare into infinity (kind of) together.

Infinity Corridor

Make him feel like the tallest man in the (Ames) room.

Ames Room

Get a hug. There are tons of creepy holograms and bugs under microscopes that you can pretend to be/actually be scared of, as well as the height of the rooftop.

Spider Hologram

Make like Leo and Kate with Titanic moves on the rooftop.

(No one would pose for a photo for this!!)

No likey, no lighty! Sparks will fly in the electricity room. Have your date touch the plasma dome with one hand and hold yours with the other. Put your other hand on the fluorescent tube to turn the light on.

Plasma Dome

Autowed. See if his/her intentions are true by confronting them with Autowed. For just £1, this machine will spit out a marriage certificate and two rings to bind you (not-at-all-lawfully) in marriage. If you’re already married, you can renew your vows.


Musical Stairs. Serenade your date with a tune on the stairs… or make sweet music together.

Greg Macvean

And what if it turns out to be a truly awful date? Lose them in the mirror maze!

Mirror Maze

We hope to see you here with your date this Valentine’s Day!

Written by Lauren Robertson