It is the 21st century, the era where TikTok, and technology are taking the world by a storm. A time where the majority of the planet has a smartphone equipped with a front-facing camera and a rear-facing camera. Where everything from your Sunday brunch to Monday morning blues is recorded and uploaded onto your Instagram highlight reel.
Cameras have become a part of our everyday lives, but how did cameras and photography come about? Whether you enjoy photography as a hobby or are simply struck by the subject, follow along to learn more about its role in the human experience.
Invented in the 1800s, photography was used to describe the recording of an image through the action of light. The word “photography” derives from the Greeks root words, phós (light) and graphé (drawing or writing). Chinese and Greek philosophers studied the idea of recording an image with the sensitivity of optics thus giving life to the concept of a camera.
It wasn’t until French inventor, Joseph Nicéphore Niépce achieved the first image using a camera obscura. Niépce’s images took around eight hours to develop and although they quickly faded, his impression of photography did not. Fast forward to the 1970s, when Steve Sasson invents the first digital camera. The camera weighs a whopping 8 lbs. and shot a scanty 0.01 megapixels (MP). Today our pockets and purses are packing a smartphone that is equipped with a 12 MP camera and weighs under 0.5 lb.
You have had a brief history lesson on photography, now let’s enrich your fountain of knowledge with the basics. There are three elements that one should consider when snapping a photo. The triangle of photography is made up of ISO, aperture, and shutter speed. The ISO is most important because it affects the lightness or darkness of an image. The ISO on a Digital Single-Lens Reflex (DSLR) camera typically ranges from 100 to 1600 but can be as low as 50 and as high as 25600.
Note that increasing the ISO will increase the noise or graininess of the image, resulting in a lower quality photograph. To preserve the quality of an image manually adjust the shutter speed to a faster one and keep the ISO low. It’s important to note that if you change one of the three settings to achieve the desired exposure and image, you may have to adjust the other two elements.
As Candice Madrid, owner of CDM Creative Photography stated, “Do your best to take a great photo, you don’t want Photoshop to make your photo”. However, if needed, you can always go back and adjust the exposure in Photoshop. It’s important to develop a solid understanding of ISO. Doing so will help further your abilities to adapt to the scene around you and increase the greatness of the photograph.
Next, you must decide the type of photo you want to snap. Are you aiming to capture the mountains and sunset or a bird on a fence post with the mountains blurred in the background? Determining your vision for a photograph is crucial when you are setting the aperture. The aperture is the depth of field and ranges from f/ 1.2 to f/22, as the number decreases the wider the lens opening will be. A wider opening will allow more light and can be used to add a blurry element to a photograph. F/16 is great for group photos or landscape photos, it will preserve the crispness of the image. To make a single subject standout the aperture will need to be set to a lower number such as f/4.
Finally, what does the shutter speed need to be set at? If the objective is an action shot of a cowboy swinging a rope at an open jackpot, the shutter speed needs to be set at a faster speed. Shutter speed ranges from 1/2, being the slowest, and 1/1000, being the fastest. The lower the shutter speed, the blurrier the image will be. We highly recommend that you experiment with the settings on your camera to capture that picture-perfect moment. In moments of frustration, remember that photography is visual art that requires patience, passion, and practice.
The beauty of photography is that it captures so much more than what is happening in that moment. Photography captures events that are rewriting history for future generations to look back on. It tells us stories, relays messages and ideas that are universal. Using light as an expression of art, we capture observations that inspire and move us. And so, friends, we encourage you to freeze time one photograph at a time.