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The most important thing to photography is light. The camera is a precise instrument for capturing light. The word camera in Latin means room. The name camera comes from the first invention towards capturing the world on film, the camera obscura or dark room. This invention came about in the 14th century and was used by such artists as Da Vinci and Michelangelo to more accurately draw their subjects onto paper. The invention of this box, made way for more advancements in cameras and photography.

There are five essential items in cameras that make photography possible. They are exposure, refraction, plane of focus, angle of view and aperture. Exposure is the amount of time a camera lets film be exposed to light. Refraction is the bending of light through the lenses of a camera. Plane of focus is the area where light reforms an image in the film. Angle of view is the angle created on a lens when you take the two most outer points you can see through a lens and diverge them to the exact center of the lens. The angle created will be the angle at which the camera can take pictures at. Aperture is the amount of light a lens allows into the camera.

The camera obscura, as mentioned previously, was a large box or even a whole room. There would be a small hole in one side, where light could enter. It would be pitch black inside the box except for where the light shined though the hole. An artist would sit inside the box while the subject would sit between the hole and the light source. As light would travel through the hole, the hole would act as a lens. The artist could then trace the subject with greater accuracy than if done freehand. This also helped perspective come more easily to the artist.

There are two individuals that made it possible for photography and cameras to advance forward as much as they have today. One was Joseph Nicephore Niepce. Niepce is credited with making the first successful photograph in 1826. Niepce was experimenting with the new form of print making called lithography. While doing this, he discovered that a material called bitumen reacted to light, and he could make exact duplicates of lithographs. Using this light sensitive material called bitumen, he coated a plate of either glass of pewter with this material and placed it in the back of a camera obscura and exposed it to light. He now had a template for the printing of duplicate lithographs. Niepce was anxious to share his findings with someone else. That someone else was a theatrical designer and owner of a theater in Paris named, Louis Jacques Mande Daguerre in 1829. He was the other individual responsible for the camera and photography. Daguerre had also been experimenting with the camera obscura to help produce images, but had little to no luck, until Daguerre and Niepce got together. Daguerre s most important discovery came only two years after Niepce s death in 1835. Daguerre s discovery was that of another light sensitive material more sensitive than bitumen. This was silver iodine. The problem with this was that the compound darkened over a period of time. This was eventually solved by washing the plate coated in this compound with warm water and table salt.

Digital photography took the world by storm in the 1990 s and was starting to quickly replace the conventional camera in the field of photojournalism and advertising. Digital cameras are now readily available to the general public for a couple of hundred dollars. There are more sophisticated types of digital cameras the professional photographers use. These work just like SLR s, but record the picture in a set of ones and zeros via a scanner instead of using 35mm film. All digital cameras use the binary system to record their pictures. Amateur photographers use digital cameras in the same way as a PAS camera. The more sophisticated the camera, the higher the resolution, that is the amount of pixels there are in the shot, is. A pixel is a digital dot of color created by a series of ones and zeros. Also the higher the resolution, the more money it is.

Cameras have been with us since as early as the Civil war and have flourished ever since. As the technology expands so will the capability of how well a picture will become. There has been more of a jump to the digital side lately, but there still is no comparison, yet, to the quality and freedom of conventional cameras. Most people have been taking pictures since they were kids and cameras and photograph has been a major part of American culture because of it. Not only is it a part of American culture, it is part of world culture. For this, photography will live on for ever. Who knows what the next step forward is. It could be anything, because in this day and age anything is possible.


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