You’ve probably taken a photograph before, and you might even be doing it on a regular basis if you’re a selfie addict, for instance. You probably know how to handle a camera too, and if you’re reading other photography blogs you might even know a thing or two about how a photo is made. If you don’t, however, you’re in the right place! This blog will give you a brief introduction into how a photograph is made. And no – it’s not going to be complicated!
PART 1: What you need is a camera. Duh, right? But what IS a camera? For starters, did you know that “cameras” have been around for ages? The idea of a camera is simple – a dark room (area) with a small hole on one side to allow light in. The light coming in through the hole will form an image on the opposite side of the same room or area. This concept applies regardless if you’re using a sealed shoe-box with a hole on one side, or a Eur 6,000 digital SLR (Single-Lens Reflex) camera. The main advances over the years was on where the image forms, that is, how one can record that image. Finally, did you know that recording the image is where the word “photography” comes from: it means “painting with light”!
PART 2: How it works…today! I’ll focus this part on “modern” cameras – that is, cameras that use either film or a digital sensor to record images. I said “modern”, as film-cameras haven’t changed much since their introduction. What digital cameras have done was to replace film with a digital sensor that behaves just like a roll of film, without needing you to replace it every so often! Back to how it works though…
I have already explained that a camera lets light in from one side, so that an image forms on the other side – this other side is where the film or sensor resides. When the light hits the film or sensor, the image forms and is recorded. In technical jargon, this is called “exposing the film or sensor to light”, or simply, recording an exposure. Immediately, three important factors play a part in determining what this exposure results in – firstly, the length of time that light was allowed into the camera, secondly, the size of the hole on the camera, and thirdly, the type of film or sensor used, especially its sensitivity to light (that is, how quickly it records the light). Simple, right? But how does knowing this change your photography to the better? Stick around – we’ll deal with this in the next article! Before I conclude, however, I’ll give you three terms to remember for the next article:
1. The LENGTH OF TIME mentioned above refers to Shutter Speed;
2. The SIZE OF THE HOLE, in turn, is the Aperture; and
3. The SENSITIVITY, with film and digitial sensors, is commonly referred to as the ISO (sensitivity) rating.
We’ll see in the next article how knowledge of these three factors, (and the ability to manipulate them), will help you get good images that are both well lit and focused/blurred where you want them to be!
NB: Diagram from the “Camera” article on wikipedia, which can be found here.