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Camera Obscura (Credit: Julia Vasile-Cozzo)

The Greenport Camera Obscura is officially open for visitors and available for viewing in Mitchell Park. 

This season, the door will be open to the public on Saturdays and Sundays from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. Donations are encouraged. 

Lily Dougherty-Johnson, a volunteer at the Marina for the camera obscura, says that not many people know about it, but people show interest when the door is open. 

Several locals have expressed curiosity about the attraction, with one saying, “I have lived here my whole life and never knew what this building was.” 

Being inside the building is similar to standing inside a camera itself. In its simplest form, a camera obscura is a dark room with a small hole in the wall. The hole allows light to come into the room, illuminating the outside, upside down on the walls of the dark room, or in this case, on the table. 

People can zoom in on outside objects, like passing boats and pedestrians, using the remote control camera and adjustable table. “I like watching people go by,” said Ms. Dougherty-Johnson. The clearer the skies, the better the image is presented.

The building was designed in 1999 by Shoples Architects Company at the request of John Serkin, a former Greenport resident.

After seeing the Giant Camera Obscura at Cliff House in San Francisco, Mr. Serkin’s interest peaked. He built his prototype in his backyard, showed it to the Greenport Board of Trustees, and received a permit to have the project ready for the public by the summer of ’99.The prototype was made out of plywood, held together by bolts and latches, with a box on the top that held a lens and a mirror to project an image down on the 47-inch white table. Although the backyard mock-up was portable, the Greenport Camera Obscura was designed to be permanent, larger, and have a view of the water.

Ms. Dougherty-Johnson hopes to get a sign on the door to inform more people of its great insides. She thinks it would be a great place for field trips and education for students in local schools. 

Those who wish to volunteer can email [email protected] for questions and information.