- Slides: 33
Introduction to Photography
Photography literally Meaning The word photography derives from the Greek photos ("light") and graphe ("drawing"). The term was coined by Hercules Florence, a French painter and inventor, who used it in his diary to describe the process. Photos is also the root of words such as photon or photophobia (fear of light).
Definition 1. the process of recording images on sensitized material by the action of light, X-rays, etc, and the chemical processing of this material to produce a print, slide, or cine film 2. the art, practice, or occupation of taking and printing photographs, making cine films, etc
What Is Photography? Photography is the art of capturing light with a camera, usually via a digital sensor or film, to create an image. With the right camera equipment, you can even photograph wavelengths of light invisible to the human eye, including UV, infrared, and radio. The first permanent photograph was captured in 1826 (some sources say 1827) by Joseph Nicéphore Niépce in France. It shows the roof of a building lit by the sun.
“View from the Window at Le Gras” by Joseph Nicéphore Niépce
The main purpose of this lecture is to introduce the past and present worlds of photography. You will also find some important tips to help you take better photos along the way.
A Brief History of Photography and the People Who Made It Succeed Color photography started to become popular and accessible with the release of Eastman Kodak’s “Kodachrome” film in the 1930 s. Before that, almost all photos were monochromatic – although a handful of photographers, toeing the line between chemists and alchemists, had been using specialized techniques to capture color images for decades before. You’ll find some fascinating galleries of photos from the 1800 s or early 1900 s captured in full color, worth exploring if you have not seen them already.
These scientist-magicians, the first color photographers, are hardly alone in pushing the boundaries of one of the world’s newest art forms. The history of photography has always been a history of people – artists and inventors who steered the field into the modern era.
So, below, you’ll find a brief introduction to some of photography’s most important names. Their discoveries, creations, ideas, and photographs shape our own pictures to this day, subtly or not. Although this is just a brief bird’s-eye view, these nonetheless are people you should know before you step into the technical side of photography.
Joseph Nicéphore Niépce Invention: The first permanent photograph (“View from the Window at Le Gras, ” shown earlier) Where: France, 1826 Impact: Cameras had already existed for centuries before this, but they had one major flaw: You couldn’t record a photo with them! They simply projected light onto a separate surface – one which artists used to create realistic paintings, but not strictly photographs. Niépce solved this problem by coating a pewter plate with, essentially, asphalt, which grew harder when exposed to light. By washing the plate with lavender oil, he was able to fix the hardened substance permanently to the plate.
Quote: “The discovery I have made, and which I call Heliography, consists in reproducing spontaneously, by the action of light, with gradations of tints from black to white, the images received in the camera obscura. ” Mic drop.
Louis Daguerre Invention: The Daguerreotype (first commercial photographic material) Where: France, 1839 Impact: Daguerreotypes are images fixed directly to a heavily polished sheet of silver-plated copper. This invention is what really made photography a practical reality – although it was still just an expensive curiosity to many people at this point. If you’ve never seen daguerreotypes in person, you might be surprised to know just how sharp they are. Quote: “I have seized the light. I have arrested its flight. ”
A daguerreotype of Louis Daguerre. Today, this is known as daguerreoception
Alfred Stieglitz Genre: Portraiture and documentary Where: United States, late 1800 s through mid 1900 s Impact: Alfred Stieglitz was a photographer, but, more importantly, he was one of the first influential members of the art community to take photography seriously as a creative medium. He believed that photographs could express the artist’s vision just as well as paintings or music – in other words, that photographers could be artists. Today’s perception of photography as an art form owes a lot to Stieglitz. Quote: “In photography, there is a reality so subtle that it becomes more real than reality. ”
Dorothea Lange Genre: Portrait photography Where: United States, 1930 s Impact: One of the most prominent documentary photographers of all time, and the photographer behind one of the most influential images of all time (shown below), is Dorothea Lange. If you’ve ever seen photos from the Great Depression, you most likely have seen some of her work. Her photos shaped the field of documentary photography and showed the camera’s potential for power more than almost anyone else in history. Quote: “The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera. ”
“Migrant Mother, ” Dorothea Lange’s most famous photograph
Ansel Adams Genre: Landscape photography Where: United States When: 1920 s to 1960 s (for most of his work) Impact: Ansel Adams is perhaps the most famous photographer in history, which is remarkable because he mainly took pictures of landscapes and natural scenes. (Typically, famous photographers have tended to photograph people instead. ) Ansel Adams helped usher in an era of realism in landscape photography, and he was an early champion of the environmentalism and preservation movements in the United States. Quote: “There is nothing worse than a sharp image of a fuzzy concept. ”
“The Tetons and the Snake River, ” by Ansel Adams. Public domain
What Camera Do You Need for Photography? Apple became the world’s first trillion dollar company in 2018 largely because of the i. Phone – and what it replaced. Alarm clocks. Flashlights. Calculators. MP 3 players. Landline phones. GPSs. Audio recorders. Cameras. Many people today believe that their phone is good enough for most photography, and they have no need to buy a separate camera. And you know what? They’re not wrong. For most people out there, a dedicated camera is overkill.
Phones are better than dedicated cameras for most people’s needs. They’re quicker and easier to use, not to mention their seamless integration with social media. It only makes sense to get a dedicated camera if your phone isn’t good enough for the photos you want (like photographing sports or low-light environments) or if you’re specifically interested in photography as a hobby.
That advice may sound crazy coming from a photographer, but it’s true. If you have any camera at all, especially a cell phone camera, you have what you need in order to take great photos. And if you have a more advanced camera, like a DSLR or mirrorless camera, what more is there to say? This is the guide for you – it’s time to learn photography.
At This Point, What Other Camera Gear and Accessories Do You Need? Camera. If you buy a dedicated camera (rather than a phone), pick one with interchangeable lenses so that you can try out different types of photography more easily. Read reviews, but don’t obsess over them, because everything available today is pretty much equally good as its competition. Find a nice deal and move on.
Lenses. This is where it counts. For everyday photography, start with a standard zoom lens like a 2470 mm or 18 -55 mm. For portrait photography, pick a prime lens (one that doesn’t zoom) at 35 mm, 50 mm, or 85 mm. For sports, go with a telephoto lens. For macro photography, get a dedicated macro lens. And so on. Lenses matter more than any other piece of equipment because they determine what photos you can take in the first place.
Post-processing software. One way or another, you need to edit your photos. It’s ok to start with software already on your computer, or software that comes with your camera. But in the long run, a dedicated program will do a better job. Adobe sells Light room and Photoshop as a bundle for $10/month, or you can buy standalone software from another company if you prefer; there are tons of options. Whatever you pick, stick with it for a while, and you’ll learn it quite well.
Everything else is optional, but can be very helpful: A tripod. A landscape photographer’s best friend. Bags. Get a shoulder bag for street photography, a rolling bag for studio photography, a technical hiking backpack for landscape photography, and so on. Memory cards. Choose something in the 32 -64 GB range to start. Get a fast card (measured in MB/second) if you shoot bursts of photos, since your camera’s memory will clear faster. Extra Batteries. Get at least one spare battery to start, preferably two. Off -brand batteries are usually cheaper, although they may not last as long or maintain compatibility with future cameras.
Polarizing filter. This is a big one, especially for landscape photographers. Don’t get a cheap polarizer or it will harm your image quality. We recommend the B+W Kaesemann filter (of the same thread size as your lens). Flashes can be expensive, and you might need to buy a separate transmitter and receiver if you want to use your flash off-camera. Better computer monitor. Ideally, you’d get an IPS monitor for editing photos. Cleaning kit. The top item is a microfiber cloth to keep the front of your lens clean. Also get a rocket blower to remove dust from your camera sensor more easily. Other equipment. There are countless photography accessories available, from remote shutter releases to GPS attachments to printers and more. Don’t worry about these at first; you’ll realize over time if you need one.
The Three Fundamental Camera Settings You Should Know Your camera has dozens of buttons and menu options. If you pick the wrong camera settings, it’s possible that your photo won’t turn out the way you want. How do you make sense of all these options? And how do you do it quickly in the field? It’s not easy, but it’s easier than you might think. In fact, most of the menu options are things you’ll only set one time, then rarely or never touch again. Only a handful of settings need to be changed frequently, and that’s what the rest of this Photography Basics guide covers.
The three most important settings are called shutter speed, aperture, and ISO. All three of them control the brightness of your photo, although they do so in different ways. In other words, each brings its own “side effects” to an image. So, it’s a bit of an art to know exactly how to balance all three for a given photo. Shutter speed: The amount of time your camera sensor is exposed to the world while taking a picture. Aperture: Represents a “pupil” in your lens that can open and close to let in different amounts of light. ISO: Technically a bit more complex, but similar to the sensitivity of film for taking pictures in different lighting conditions.
Equipment: Nikon D 800 E + 20 mm f/1. 8 lens. Camera settings: 20 second shutter speed, f/2. 2 aperture, ISO 3200
First Selfie The first photographic portrait ever taken was a self-portrait, or a “selfie”. It was captured in 1839 by Robert Cornelius, an amateur chemist and photography enthusiast from Philadelphia.
The First Steps on Your Photographic Journey In photography, the technical and the creative go hand in hand. Remember the Ansel Adams quote from earlier? There is nothing worse than a sharp image of a fuzzy concept. If the idea behind a photo is weak, using the right camera settings won’t make it better. At the same time, camera settings are some of the most important tools you have at your disposal. In a way, every technical choice is really an artistic choice in disguise. These settings are worth learning. Your understanding of photography will improve tenfold when you understand how camera settings work.