DA VINCI'S CAMERA
Italy of the Renaissance dominates magic shadow development--Leonardo da Vinci describes in detail the camera obscura -- Inventions are by Alberti, Maurolico, Cesariano and Cardano.
TO THE GIANT of the Renaissance, Leonardo da Vinci, must go the credit for being the first to determine and record the principles of the camera obscura, or "dark room", basic instrument of all photography. Da Vinci lived in a wondrous age, Michelangelo was painting and sculpturing his unparalleled creations. Raphael was at work. The. Italians of the Renaissance led the world in a new culture. The torch of learning and art once held high in Greece, then at ancient Rome, later by the Arabs, was carried high in Italy of the late Middle Ages.
Together with the general Renaissance in Italy there was a rebirth of interest in optics and especially light and shadow demonstrations and devices. The new activity had come after a second "dark age" of nearly two centuries, from the time of Roger Bacon to da Vinci. After this "dark age" the room box-camera was "rediscovered" in Italy. Of course, as noted above, since the camera had never been invented in the usual sense of the term, it was not actually "rediscovered" either. It is likely that da Vinci and others received their stimulus in this general subject from Bacon and perhaps Alhazen or Witelo.
The renewed interest in scenic beauty in the Renaissance suggested work with a portable camera, as it was found to be an excellent aid in painting and drawing the beauties of nature.