camera obscura

Ocean Beach from the Camera Obscura, Canon Digital Rebel

This is the beginning of a series of shots that I took inside the Camera Obscura at the Cliff House in San Francisco {next to Ocean Beach} It is one of the most beautiful places in the world. You enter a building that actually functions like a camera (and is built to resemble one).


When you enter the dark room (and your eyes adjust) you see a white round curved table shaped like a contact lens. On the table is a slowly panning live image of the ocean, rocks, beach and buildings outside. The light is somehow transformed and looks even more stunning than if you were to see it outside. It is mesmerizing and beautiful. I literally squealed with joy as I shot pictures inside here. It is truly magical.


*An explanation of how it works is here.

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Hi, I’m Andrea

On this blog you’ll be learning with me how to use our voices, share our creative superpowers and live life in full color.

As an artist, photographer, life coach + mentor, I’m redefining what it means to be a SUPERHERO — ‘cause in my world, it’s got nothing to do with capes, spandex or sidekicks and everything to do with tenderness, intuition & baby steps of bravery.



  1. Julia

    Wow! This is just about the coolest thing I have ever heard of! I’ll bet for a photographer like yourself, it was pure bliss. 🙂

  2. Pamela

    What lovely, graceful and lyrical photographs! I wonder if the Cliff House is the same place I remember having an elegant dinner at years and years ago–is there a restaurant attached. I remember the earthy, wet-sea smell of the restaurant (if it is the same place I recall), and the almost mystical feeling I had when I was there.
    I don’t remember this camera obscura … Now seems like a good time to tell you how vivid I find the content of your photography to be–always evocative, always pulsing with meaning, thank you.

  3. Marie

    Very cool! If you’re interested in camera obscura, you might be interested in the work of Doug Spowart and Victoria Cooper, two Australian photographers who have turned their van into a camera obscura and driven it all over Australia. Basically the image comes in via the windshield and is projected into the back of the van where it’s photographed (that simplifies it somewhat – they’ve obviously customised the van for this purpose!).
    Their website is located at

  4. Leonie

    that is
    all fused together to co-star with mother earth
    in a deliriously good show!
    thank u for sharing!

  5. Marilyn

    Reading this, all I could think was: how have I never noticed this when I’ve been at Ocean Beach??

  6. Sonia

    Hi Andrea, now I have a Blog: “Leaves of Grass”. I would like you make me a visit! Regards, Sonia, from S?o Paulo, Brazil.

  7. AGK

    So very cool! All the cool places are always somewhere else!

  8. Carrie

    Wow – that sounds way cool!

  9. LB

    You always make me jealous of people who live in Northern California! I love So. Cal. but it’s so different and fascinating and seemingly magical up there.

  10. G-Man

    Very cool! I’m looking fwd to the rest of the series!

  11. Stephanie

    I love this. The Camera Obscura is one of my favorite places in SF. I have taken my photo classes there on field trips. So glad they saved it when they renovated the Cliff House. Your very dreamy photographs of the “bowl” are stunning. There is something great about the low tech of the pinhole image then being rephotographed with digital. Full circle- love it!
    To see more unusual pinhole cameras (including several made out of vans and VW buses!) check out this local artist, Jo Babcock:

  12. The Random Complimenter

    Andrea is a goddess,
    Andrea is a goddess,
    ho ho ho
    YES! Goddess!
    A song in your honour!

  13. Terri

    I love Cliff House – But I love San Francisco and anything in it – Palace of Fine Arts is my favorite – Thank you Andrea for posting these!

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