CLERA: Anton Orlov makes the dream of a transparent camera come true


Being able to look inside the camera while it is taking pictures is the dream of many photographers. The Russian-born US-American photographer Anton Orlov has now made this dream come true – with a fully-functioning, transparent camera. You are probably asking yourselves now how this is possible. Well, CLERA (short for “clear camera”) is an analogue camera with a case made of red polycarbonate. It utilises the collodium process and certain kinds of black-and-white photographic papers which are only sensitive in the wavelength range from blue to UV.


© Anton Orlov

As he is writing on his blog, Orlov had the idea when he was developing collodium wet plates and noticed that the light coming in through the red windows did not affect the film.

However, it is obvious from the first collodium wet plates that Orlov exposed using the CLERA that the camera was not perfect from the beginning. The low contrast and the slightly hazy reproduction pointed towards a leak where light was coming in.

Anton_Orlov_Clear_Red_Camera_Wires Anton_Orlov_Clear_Camera_Wires_Roof

© Anton Orlov

The subsequent search for the fault lead to the discovery that the cause was not the camera, but the Petzval lens that had been used. After the insufficiently dark coating in the lens had been identified as the culprit, Orlov was able to solve the problem quickly. The CLERA now takes high-contrast shots, irrespective of whether a collodium wet plate, a daguerreotype, or direct positive paper is used. 🙂

© Anton Orlov

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