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Laterna Magica

     This journal entry records my initial contact with the artistry and magical whimsy of the 'Laterna Magica', the Magic Lantern.  The word 'fanciful' I believe, best applies to the very imaginative use of the Magic Lantern, an optical instrument which is believed to have appeared sometime at about 1420.  The Magic Lantern, whose operating principal, optical projection, was the reverse of the camera obscura, was used to project illustrations for an incredible 400 yrs. until the advent of photography and modern cinema.

     As a photographer, I was unaware of all this, unaware of the Magic Lantern, until as chance would have it, I became interested in the imagery being produced by many contemporary photographers using the Petzval lens, a lens designed by James Petzval.   The Petzval lens was used not only on Magic Lanterns, but on cameras, and later more modern projection devices.

     In researching the background behind a T.H. McAllister lens of Petzval design I'd purchased, I learned that T.H. McAllister had been the only U.S. based manufacturer of the Magic Lantern.   After this research, I'd become 'smitten' with the Magic Lantern, yes, I was bitten, and there seems to be no cure.

     Additional research led me to the Magic Lantern Society and their books on the Magic Lantern.  I was able to get in touch with Mike Smith, Honorable Secretary of the Magic Lantern Society, and I purchased their book, 'Iconography of the Magic Lantern, 1420-1880'.

     An incredible book with the most beautiful illustrations, this is a book I heartily recommend to anyone wanting more on the subject of the Magic Lantern.

     I've talked in only the most general of terms discussing this subject matter, because I'm completely new to it, and I believe anyone reading this and wanting more, would be better served by obtaining literature from the Magic Lantern Society.

     With the permission of Mike Smith, Honorable Secretary of the Magic Lantern Society, I've reprinted an engraving with illustrations of 3 camera obscurae, a Magic Lantern, the optical system, and a four image panoramic slide.

Ackknowledgements:  Reprinted with the kind permission of the Magic Lantern Society.

 

MLTNFV2.jpg

 

 

ngravingfv3.jpg

 


 

 

 

Posted on Wednesday, October 10, 2007 at 09:54PM by Registered CommenterJonathan Brewer in | CommentsPost a Comment | References44 References

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