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Photography Basics

Photography is the art of capturing memories; either onto paper (film photography), or digitally (digital photography). Photography is indeed an art, even a monkey can simply push the button on a camera and take a "snapshot". Photography is more than just clicking a photo, it is truly an art form.

The first cameras were simple pin hole devices. Literally, a pin hole would act as a lens, projecting an image into a light-proof box onto a plate on the rear that was coated with light sensitive material. Subsequent chemical processing would bring forth an image on the plate, a "photograph".

Later on, lenses were used to get a clearer image, and offered the ability to focus. The photo-sensitive plates were replaced by "film", which was essentially the same photo sensitive chemical coating but on a flexible sheet that was easier to handle and cheaper to make.

Still, only professionals were able to handle the devices they called "cameras"; large, bulky, and difficult to use. The chemical processing of plates/film also required skills in the "darkroom", where the negative images were developed and then transferred onto paper photographs (a positive image).

In 1888 George Eastman introduced the first personal Kodak camera. This innovative invention was literally a hand holdable size, and used a flexible film on rollers within. This allowed multiple exposures (pictures) without having to manhandle large plates or film slabs. It also allowed anyone to simply "take a picture".

Thus the hobby of photography was born. Anyone could take pictures, but again, the same maxim held true. While anyone could take a "photo", not everyone could take a "good photo". The art of photography remained an art form.

The first cameras were called "film cameras" because they used a photo sensitive film. Some professional cameras used larger format sheets of film (large and medium format cameras); but the mainstream "snapshot" cameras used a smaller roll of film coiled on a roller (35mm).

Large format film offered much higher resolution, since they captured more image area. Additionally, since professionals were using these, the photo sensitive coatings used on these were also higher quality (and harder to handle, but again, they were in the hands of professionals).

All film required chemical processing, or "developing". While most folks send their exposed rolls of film to a "film lab", the professionals did it themselves in a "darkroom".

An interesting twist in the art of photography came in 1963, when George Eastman (the Eastman Kodak company) introduced the Instamatic camera. This camera used a self developing cartridge that quite literally spit out ready (print) photographs within minutes. These are still in use today, even though film photography has pretty much gone the way of the dinosaurs.

In the 1990's the digital camera made its appearance - and photography changed forever.

The digital camera uses a photosensitive electronic element to capture images, well, digitally. No more rolls of film, no more chemical developing. One can simply "print out" images on any suitable color printer. Archiving pictures is so easy, just burn a disc (CD or DVD) or store a tiny memory card - no more bulky and delicate paper and celluloid folders.

Today virtually (for computers it means not really, but otherwise it means almost any) every camera is a "digital camera", and the art of photography is now known as "digital photography".

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