How to Make a Refrigerator Box into a Camera Obscura

©1998 Exploratorium

 The fun of being able to be inside a large box where you can see large, reversed images of the world outside gives some additional ways of thinking about why pinhole images are reversed. These boxes are easy to get and easy to turn into "camera obscuras". They work best on sunny days.



  • Refrigerator box-An appliance stores is the cheapest source for a large box like this, but you probably will have to alert them to save one for you before they collapse them for recycling. You can also buy large wardrobe boxes at moving companies.
  • exacto knife or utility knife
  • 8-1/2" x 11" sheet of white paper


Making the Camera Obscura

Cut a hole in one side of the box, approximately 4" x 6" at eye level.


To Do and Notice

Ask two people to tilt the box far enough so that someone can crawl in. Lower the box slowly while the person stands up inside.

Give the person in the box the sheet of paper, and then shut the top flaps so that it is dark inside.

After waiting for a few minutes so that their eyes are adjusted to the darkness, tell them to hold the paper up to the hole, and move it back and forth until they locate the image.