A Potted History of Photography

Photography involves the practice of creating images from photographic film or image sensors. Many equate photography to an art or science, mainly because of its ability to express a variety of emotions, thoughts, and situations with only a snapshot. In addition, it conveys a message from an objective point of view. Photographers specialize in creating durable images with cameras, or equipment used to create still and movable imagery. A camera typically has a lens that focuses the light reflected off objects. A digital camera uses an electronic image sensor to process and store pixelated images of objects. Photographers may employ a variety of methods and styles to create their desired imagery. Photography has many applications in business, manufacturing, health, construction, mass communication, education, recreation, and more.

History of Photography

Modern photography evolved from several technical discoveries. Photography originated from the minds of ancient philosophers, including Mo Di, Aristotle, and Euclid. They described a pinhole camera during the 5th and 6th centuries BC. During the 6th century AD, Anthemius of Tralles experimented with a camera obscura in his mathematical projects. Other contributors to modern photography include Ibn al-Haytham, Albertus Magnus, and Georg Fabricius. The camera obscura dates back to ancient China. The birth of photography spawned in an effort to retain an image produced by the camera obscura. A camera obscura is a dark chamber used to receive an image of an object through a small opening onto a solid surface, such as a stone wall, piece of paper, or plate.

The advent of modern photography made it possible for artists to capture detail more than other artistic mediums, such as painting and sculpting. Modern photography dates back to the 1820s, with the emergence of chemical processing. Nicphore Nipce, a French inventor, produced the first permanent photoetching in 1822. In 1826, he created the first photograph using a camera obscura. Nipce joined up with Louis Daguerre to find a faster exposure method using a silver and chalk mixture discovered by Johann Heinrich Schultz. Although Nipce died before his time, Daguerre continued to search for answers that would eventually culminate into daguerrotype. In 1838, Daguerre took the first picture a human when a pedestrian stopped for a shoe shine. France eventually paid Daguerre a pension for his formula. In 1832, Hercules Florence created a similar process called the Photographie. William Fox Talbot also experimented with a secret silver process during the time that Daguerre created his own. Daguerre's success inspired Talbot to refine his process to make it available to the masses. This led to the development of the calotype, a process that creates negative images.

John Herschel invented the cyanotype process. He also used common terminology, such as negative, positive, and photography. Other contributors include Frederick Scott Archer, George Eastman, Gabriel Lippman, James Clerk Maxwell, and Herman Vogel. The first photographs consisted of monochrome, also known as black-and-white imagery. Color photographs did not become commercially produced until 1907, when the Lumire brothers created Autochrome. Kodak introduced the first tripack of color film in 1935. Polaroid introduced instant color film in 1967. The digital camera made its entrance in 1981, when Sony unveiled the Mavica. In 1991, Kodak released the DCS 100, which is considered one of the first milestones in digital photography. Today, photography has taken on many forms, especially in digital form. People can snap photographs from their cell phone and upload them onto their computer.

Pinhole Photography

Pinhole photography employs a camera without a lens. It has a small aperture, or a light-proof box with a pinhole on one side. Pinhole photography works by allowing light from a scene to pass by through the pinhole. This projects an inverted image onto the opposite end of the box. Ironically, pinhole photography acts similarly to the human eye. The sharpness of the image depends on the scale of the hole; however, a smaller hole also produces a dimmer image. As a rule of thumb, the aperture should measure 1/100 or less in distance between it and the image. A photographer manually operates the shutter by covering and uncovering the pinhole. A common use for pinhole cameras is to capture the movement of the sun over an extended period of time. This makes them perfect for observing solar eclipses and other related phenomenon.

Film Photography

Camera film comes encased in a roll of celluloid. Celluloid is composed of chemical blends that help produce film negatives and photographs. The chemical coatings on the celluloid consist of silver halide crystals, a light-sensitive compound that creates visible images with exposure to varying photon frequencies. The effect of light exposure changes the silver halide crystals forever, which allows them to store images on the film for years. In order to take a photo, the film must be put into the camera and wound into place. The winding process carries the film across the interior of the camera and lies it directly behind the shutter. When the operator pushes the shutter button, the shutter opens and closes very fast. This allows the light photons to reflect off the objects in front of the lens. During this moment, the photons become absorbed by the silver halide to create the image on the surface of the film. In order to produce a hard copy of that image, the film must be immersed into a liquid chemical contained in a dark room. After exposing the film, it is put into a "stop bath" to freeze the developing process. Next, it is dipped into a "fixing bath" to remove any residual silver halide particles. Lastly, it is hung up to dry before being cut into negatives

Digital Photography

Digital cameras operate differently than traditional cameras. For instance, the lens of a digital camera "sees" light in the same way that a human eye does. The digital cameras of today work like the receptors in the human brain. It combines three colors to achieve light, including red, green, and blue to make white. The position of the camera must be angled perfectly to receive this color. In addition, if the camera can not pick up these colors, then it results in blackness. A multi-colored picture demands that the camera has high-intensity focus. This occurs when the camera channels different colors at varying brightness values. After the recording and storing the image, the photographer can print it using an ordinary computer printer.

Applications in Today's World

Modern photography has many application in virtually every facet of society. With the advent of the cell phone, entire photo albums can be accessed in seconds. No more flipping through countless dusty pages of old baby pictures. The recreational use will always remain valuable; however, the commercial use has definitely expanded its horizons. For instance, many advertisers use photography to sell a product or to market a campaign. An X-ray technician may use photography to capture pictures of broken bones or other ailments. Fashion and glamor designers use photography to promote their new clothing lines. Crime scene investigators use photography to document the evidence at the location of the crime. A photojournalist will use their cameras to capture current events as they unfold. Landscape designers use cameras to take pictures of locations. Movie directors use cameras to create cinematic masterpieces. The sky truly is the limit when it comes to photography.