Regulus (α Leonis)

Regulus is a camera exposing quarter size vintage glass plates inside a hardcover book whose pages have been carved out to form a hollow.


In the modern world where photography is omnipresent, even with the great variety of designs cameras are all to often very conspicuous objects, easily recognized as cameras by passers by. While pinhole cameras look very different from modern digital cameras, many of the commercially made designs are still all to obviously cameras. In fact pinhole cameras often stand out, attracting attention from people simply by virtue of looking unusual. There can be many scenarios where it is undesirable to have the camera attract attention, whether it is to discourage interference from those who might spot it, or to avoid influencing behaviour of those who are in the scene, or something else entirely.

When hand making their own pinhole cameras, the photographer has the flexibility to produce an almost arbitrary design. While pinhole cameras can have accessories such as film winding knobs, shutter release mechanisms, film counter windows, and more, none of these are mandatory to have. Likewise pinhole cameras are often designed as plain rectangular boxes, or to mimic the shape of classic cameras. Ultimately though, the only constraint is probably the need to have an unobstructed space between the pinhole aperture and the imaging sensor (whether film, paper, digital CCD or something else), whose dimensions are determined by the size of the sensor and the choice of pinhole diameter.

In the modern environmentally conscious world people’s minds are opening to the possibilities of recycling and adapting existing objects to serve a new purpose. Indeed there can be great satisfaction in taking an object designed for one tasks and re-purposing it to serve an entirely ludicrous alternative task. Books are traditionally held up as the foundation of humanity’s knowledge, to the extent that the burning of a book can be a very emotive issue signifying the destruction of knowledge. Despite this the reality of the modern book industry is that millions of brand new books are pulped every year, for lack of sales. Second hand books donated to charity may suffer a similar fate if they’re a title that is overstocked relative to demand, considered unacceptably damaged for resale. Most tragically, with the explosion in popularity of the ebook market, ever more book sellers are going out of business and physical printed books have at times looked like they could become an endangered species

With this all in mind, it was felt that a book could be an interesting starting point for construction of a pinhole camera. Films have often featured books which have been hollowed out to conceal a gun, a flask of alcohol, or some other important object. This concept can be used to enable construction of a pinhole camera, hollowing out the interior of the pages to allow a suitably sized space between the pinhole aperture and the image sensor. A traditional glass plate negative is one possible image sensor that can be used in such a camera, the quarter size plates being a very convenient size. Such a camera could be simply left on the book shelf to surreptitiously capture photos of unsuspecting subjects.