The photoresistor focal camera is an automated camera designed to take images within a predefined threshold of light within its environment. Once positioned within a space, the camera’s shutter opens only when sufficient light is available within the space to take the ideal image, as determined by the photographer. This custom-built camera follows an open-source modular camera prototyping system developed by Mathijs van Oosterhoudt. The camera body and lens are made of lasercut 3mm plywood. The lens includes two lenses taken from two separate disassembled cameras, allowing for the creation of a new frame size and focal point. A photoresistor, sensitive to the amount of light in a space, continuously take a reading of the lighting. Once a predefined threshold of light is reached, an attached Arduino controlling a servo-mounted shutter briefly opens the shutter for the image to be taken. The camera body is built for use with 120mm film.
The design of the camera suggests that there are ideal lighting conditions for a given image. Since the aperture and shutter speed are fixed, the photographer can only take an image when the lighting is ‘just right’. Of course, it is the photographer who must decide what the perfect lighting conditions are, revealing their own understanding of light in relation to image. As a custom-built camera, the camera itself takes a critical look at how cameras are constructed and the design choices embedded within their capabilities.