Camera history – interesting and fascinating

So I’m still stuck in the facts about cameras and everything there is to know about them. I’ve now come to the history, since I got a bit curious about how the camera really works and how it came to be the cameras we know today.

I got into Wikipedia again, and I started to read about the history. I wanted to see how the evolution went and how the cameras got better and better. Maybe I’ll get a hint of how it will look in the future. However, this is some things I’ve learnt that I thought you might be interested in as well.

Old cameras, but not the oldest ones

The first camera ever was called the Camera Obscura, which means “dark room” in Latin. This camera used the light from outside to create an image on to a surface, for example a wall or some kind of screen. Its very simple and has an extremely basic function to it. It takes some rays of light that gets into a small hole in a wall or a box. The rays then creates an inverted image that is both backwards and up side down. It’s the absolutely first version of projecting a picture, and it is still found in the cameras today.

The next camera made it possible to save and transport the taken picture. This was not possible with the Camera Obscura, but Nicéphore Niépce made a smaller camera that could save the image. He took a paper covered with silver chloride, which darkened when it was exposed to light. This made the image stay, but after a while the whole picture became black since all the silver chloride was still on the paper and continued to blacken.

Later on, Niépce’s partner continued the evolution. He made the former technique a little better by making the picture more enduring by using other materials. He managed to get the technique a bit further, and Henry Fox Talbot perfected it even more a few years after. This time ht user could adjust the focus with an extra box behind the original box. It was a manual way to take a picture, with taking caps on and off, and waiting a few minutes for the light to imprint the plate.

Next in the evolution came dry plates, which made the photographing even better and easier. After this the tripod was no longer needed, since the cameras was small enough to carry by hand. This was also when detective cameras started being a thing, and cameras was made as hats and other things, because it was so small. The evolution took another large step in the right direction, and soon Kodak would come along and make their famous cameras. The 35 mm film was right behind Kodak and soon the cameras was a lot like the ones we use today.

I wonder what is next when it comes to cameras. We already got action cameras that are small, tough and takes decent pictures. Well, I guess it’s up to future to decide what is next.

How does a camera really work?

We all use cameras, whether it’s with your phone or an a advanced camera. We take for granted that they work and does just the thing we expect them to do – but do we really think about how they work?

I often find myself prancing around to get the best photo, avoiding the over- or under exposure, trying hard to get the perfect picture. Even after many years as a professional photographer, I still get both confused and fascinated over the fantastic wonders of how the cameras work. I also find it frustrating to not really understand – why doesn’t the camera do as I tell it?!

When doing some usual browsing on Wikipedia, I got a bit lost – as I always get. I start reading one article, then click to the next and the next and then I’m suddenly on dancing cat’s or something like that. This time however, I stayed at the article about how cameras work. I found a video which you will find just under this paragraph. Even though I understand most of how a camera works and what the different settings do, it was really informative and interesting to watch.

I started thinking about the whole mechanism and the procedure that goes on in the little box of magic. It turned out I just had a brief idea, and that there was much left to learn. I have still not figured everything out completely, since it’s a lot to grasp. The facts about how the cameras evolved was however a very interesting thing to learn more about. I knew the principle about how the cameras with film worked, since I learnt it during some of the classes I’ve taken in photography. The fact that digital cameras came very late in comparison to other technology was for me very new and it made me realise just how advanced this technique really is.

So, now I’m stuck on YouTube as well, trying to learn more about how cameras do their magic stuff and how on earth it can process light to an virtual image. And, most of all, how it can fit into a small compact camera! It’s certainly a fascinating thing with a lot to learn, if I ever undertand everything about it.

Choosing the right camera

Choosing the right camera may be harder than you think. Or actually, it’s just as hard as you make it. I must say it gets a lot easier if you know kind of what you want. If you have an idea of what kind of camera you want, you’ll have a much bigger chance to find something quick, and get pleased with your choice. Once you’ve decided, it’s all about finding the one that fits in your frame.

To make this a bit easier, we’ll start by dividing the cameras into two categories – system and compact. The compact cameras has a fixed object that you cannot change and replace. System cameras has an changeable object and gives you much more room to experiment with you pictures. The compact is just as it sounds – more compact. The system cameras however, can give you more tailored photographs and a different depth of field. Although, the main difference is the sensor, that decides how the camera sees the surroundings.

The compact camera gives you a smaller sensor, and when talking about depth of field, it’s easier to get a sharp picture, but it’s hard to get a blurred background. with such a sensor. There is aslo a wider range of water resistant compact cameras, than there is system cameras with the same feature.

System cameras has a bigger sensor, that gives you more options in your sharpness. It is also a bit different when it comes to auto focus, where these are a bit faster. When taking a picture of a moving object, the system cameras is a tie better as well, even though the difference is marginalised thanks to the technique of our modern times.

The main functions are very important when it comes to the differences. The size of the display, for example, is now a bit more even. The evolution has so far led to that most cameras has a display with a site of 3 inches. The quality and resolution, however, is a bigger difference. The most important when it comes to displays are that it’s clear and easy to see all the small details. If you are unsure of which is the best, try to use it in sunlight. If you can’t see anything, it’s not worth buying if you are to use it outside. For work inside it may work, but it becomes limited very quickly.

To find the right camera, try to think about what you are going to use it for. Is it portraits, nature, landscapes, parties…? Sort it out in filters, as in price, what it is suitable for, what you want to do with it and of course, how much you like handling it. It’s also wise to think about what your current camera gives you and what you want more than it, if you have one. Remember, it’s never necessary to ask for help in a store – they can most likely give you a hint to what you need.

Working with pictures in RAW format

Editing a file as RAW

When taking a picture and saving it, you save it in one specific format. It can be jpg, png, gif or any other format ,depending on what firmware you use. It makes it easy to work with, and easy to deliver to a platform or a customer. However, not all information fits in the different formats.

This is why we sometimes use RAW as a format. This is not one single format as jpeg, it’s a combination of over a hundred different formats. The jpeg for example, can only hold and show so much information. The raw format holds all the original information, just like the camera does before it converts a picture to another format. The RAW is the camera’s own language, and in this file every single detail and piece of information is available. A lot of the information disappears when converted to any other format, leaving just what that is designed for and what you need to see.

When you want to work wth a photo and edit it, it’s often better to use the raw file. This allows you to use the files full potential, and you can make very much more without it becoming bad quality. When saving in RAW, you also adjust the white balance directly in the camera. This is because you want the raw file to be as well balanced as possible, and reflect exactly what we see. The point of the raw file is that is should have all possible colours, details and balances, because it is the pure original.

When you decide to work with the raw file, the programme does not change the raw file itself. It takes a copy and saves it in a suitable format that also contains all needed information. It allows you to work more freely and get a better result after editing. It also makes it easier to edit and save, since you don’t loose any necessary information.

Even though it’s a very short explanation about saving as RAW, I hope you get something out of it. As with everything, the best way of learning is doing!

Balace the white right

A cameras job is basically to try to remake the picture as mush as the real motif as possible. It tries to make it as identical as possible to us, but it does not always succeed. This is because the camera sees the light different than us, and it’s sometimes hard for it to balance it as we see it. This is why we sometimes need to balance the white in the photos manually, to get the perfect picture we want.

When taking a picture, our eyes see the light as white, no matter what kind of light it’s lighted by. The camera on the other hand, sees light different depending on what light source you are using. Lightbulbs gives one light, sunlight one and your camera flash gives one. For us, it’s the same thing, since it’s what we call white. But the camera reacts on the different wave lengths in the light, and it sees it differently.

Sometimes the camera makes the picture appear much more yellow than it actually is. This is because of the wave lengths int the light. It’s at this times that you need to manually adjust the white balance, to get the kind of white you want.

As an example, you want to take a picture on a white surface at home. The camera’s setting is on auto, for the white balance. Your lighting is not the best, but you’ve got all the lights in the room on and your motive is lighted. You think your surface and background is completely white, but still your picture gets a very yellow tone to it.

At this point, it’s time to get on the computer and get the picture in an editing program of your choice. Adjust the white balance manually, and with a little time you’ll soon get it more white. Just as it sounds, it’s a balance. You don’t want to over do it and ruin the picture, but you still want the yellow tone to disappear.

As an alternative to adjusting it manually and shooting with the auto setting, you might change the setting in the camera. Depending on what camera you have, it might be better or worse. However, if your camera is at least a little bit advanced, you’ll be able to get pretty good footage. The setting you want to shoot with if you know the auto doesn’t do the trick, is the setting for adjusting measured white balance. It might have different names on some cameras, but you’ll clearly see what setting it’s about.

With this adjustments and a decent light, you should be able to get very white pictures. If not, try to change the light or edit the final things in your computer. A better light in the setting makes a huge difference and if you can afford it, I can really recommend learning more about it and buying the kind you need for your footages.

Make the white white, not yellow

The basics of backlight

Photo with backlight

Taking a picture with a backlight can be fantastic. But it can also end up in complete failure. Of course, one of this is wanted and the other is not. But controlling this by your selfe is not always that easy. Footage in backlight has its own ways of working.

Taking a photo with backlight most often means bad setting and surroundings for those who aren’t familiar with the technique yet. Many people just changes the angle or the settings to avoid it. Although, these people are often very new and unskilled and their photos does not always get the magic they are after. At this times the backlight can actually help you. Considering you have the right hardware of course.

Backlight creates magic in the photos, it gives the living touch and the true feeling of what you are photographing. It creates a different dimension and makes it more unique. It can mainly be done in two ways, to create this feeling. The main difference is more or less the hardware, that either has or hasn’t a filter.

Of you want to take a nice backlight photo without the glare and reflections, it’s best to not use the filter that you may have added behind your objective. This filter normally protects your front lens and it can be very useful to have. In situations like this, though, it’s better to remove it. The glares and reflections in the photo often comes from this filter, that makes the light bounce in unwanted directions. This is what causes glares and if you want a simple photo, it’s bye bye with the filter for a while.

Although, this glares and reflections can also make a nice twist to a photo. Use the glares and create beautiful and interesting effects in the photo. Play around with it a bit and find the vision you want. Combine this with a playful motive and you suddenly have a whole different kind of picture. Here, the filter may help you to get the glares.

This glares or glare-free photos also has a lot to do with your aperture. A smaller aperture gives you more glares and a more direct, harsh light. The source of the light becomes very distinct. With a bigger aperture the light becomes softer, more of a bright spot than a harsh point. The shorter creates more effects, and the bigger creates a more lighter background.

It’s also good to know about the two main versions of a backlight photograph – silhouette or coverage. The two is kind of self-explanatory, but it never hurts with a quick explanation.

The silhouette with backlight is basically when you expose the picture after the sun/light source and the motive becomes a darker silhouette. The light source therefor takes over since you decide just how bright it should be. The other version, with the coverage, is just about the opposite. This time, you expose the picture after your motive and the bright part will take over from the background. It ends up with a motive in your preferred lightings, and a very bright background. Both can be fantastic sets of footages and you might as well take the same picture with different exposure, to make the results completely different from each other.

No matter what method and what photo you are after – backlight can be extremely fun to play with. It takes skill, practice, decent hardware and a whole lot of imagination!