The Floating Camera Obscura

APRIL 2023

We will be open to visitors on the following day(s): TBC

Location: TBC

Visits last 15 minutes starting on the hour. £3.00 per adult (over 16)

What is a Camera Obscura?

In its simplest form, a camera obscura is a dark (Obscura) room (Camera) with a small hole in one wall. When it’s bright outside, light enters through the hole and projects an upside down image of the outside world into the room.

The earliest known written account of a camera obscura was provided by a Chinese philosopher called Mo-tzu (or Mozi) in 400BC. He noted that light from an illuminated object that passed through a pinhole into a dark room created an inverted image of the original object.

Camera Obscuras vary in size. There are large ones in buildings and there are portable ones that artists have used used over the centuries. Modern camera obscuras use a lens in place of a pinhole. Barge Fiodra houses the only floating camera obscura in the UK.

Find out more on Wikipedia

A unique way of seeing the waterway

The projected image from a camera obscura is strangely fascinating. Using simple optical principles the image appears on a screen that is moved to change the view and focus. On Fiodra we can mount a lens in any of our six portholes for views of the waterway. To get an all-round view we have built a lens and mirror into a special rotating turret on top of the barge.

The science is equally fascinating. Each viewing is accompanied by an explanation of the optical principles and the history of the Camera Obscura. To an audience who, often, have only experienced digital photography using mobile phones, the experience unveils the origins of analogue and digital photography.


Opportunities to visit - Open Days

Barge Fiodra and the Floating Camera Obscura will be travelling the waterways of London and southern England during 2023. To find out where we will be, send an email to Our next location will be Hackney Wick in March 2023. On our Open Days, entry tickets are: Adults £2.50, Children (under 16) £1.

Workshops for Schools with Pinhole London

I liked "Learning about cameras because it was like a trip to the past!"  - school pupil

Day workshops (split-class) are available for schools. The workshop introduces the fundamentals of image creation (projection) with the camera obscura and image capture (photography) using simple pinhole cameras. Students get to make a camera, take a picture (a negative) and develop it all within the session. We provide all the materials and instruction for students. Digital positive images are supplied to students with 48 hours. These workshops are delivered in partnership with Pinhole London. Enquire by emailing

Visits, workshops and team building for groups

If you would like to arrange a group visit to the Floating Camera Obscura please contact us at We also offer our Pinhole Camera workshops as a Team Building or Social Event for organisations

Project creators and supporters

Barge Fiodra is a multi-purpose floating venue and platform for artists. Barge Fiodra is owned by Bob Chase who had Fiodra purpose-built in Poland. She was launched in 2017 and has hosted many projects around the UK waterways. Bob studied photography at Westminster University and has a professional background in arts management and digital technology.

Pinhole London is a diverse community project that programmes workshops, events and exhibitions with a focus on enabling community participation in the arts. It specialises in the innovative use of Pinhole Photography. This award-winning independent venture aims to engage a wide audience by providing collaborative approaches to creating artwork with local residents, schools and organisations.

We are grateful to the Canal and River Trust who have commissioned our pilot workshop with Gainsbourgh Primary school in Hackney, East London. March 2023