The Camera Obscura that Charles Schwartz and I used for our New York Camera Obscura project was built on his roof overlooking New York City’s Central Park was built by George Keene, a brilliant man who was a scientist, engineer, craftsman and man of all ages. The Camera Obscura was beautifully designed, engineered, and built by George in his workshop in California then disassembled and shipped to NYC where it was installed in 1998.
Still, it required some maintenance and cleaning. The optics: a large lens, front surface mirror (which we did not touch!) and glass aperture would get dirty and the image quality would get fuzzy and lower contrast. Despite being well sealed, dust and dirt would get in. The environment was incredibly harsh: strong winds, extreme summer heat, frigid winter days, rain, snow and everything that nature could throw at it. Every now and then it was necessary to open up the machine and clean it. I spent a few hours on the roof opening up the tin man shaped device and cleaned the lens and front cover glass. I would make sure the servo motors and control mechanism were lightly lubed and then seal it up.
What a joy to see George’s craftsmanship and to be up there on the roof with a superb panoramic view of New York.
In July 2004 I also had the wonderful experience of spending time with these two great men and their magnificent mechanism.
George Keene’s website is worth spending some time browsing – he was an amazing man.