Tell me something about Camera and Photography?


CAMERAS AND PHOTOGRAPHY



A camera is a device that records an image of a scene, either on photographic film or electronically as a digital photograph. Its main features are a light-proof body, a lens and a shutter. The lens gathers rays of light from the scene that the camera is pointed at and bends them so that all the rays from one point on the scene are focused to meet at the same place at the back of the camera. In this way it makes a small copy of the scene called an image. The shutter opens to allow light from the lens to reach the film or light sensors. Photographic film must be exposed to just the right amount of light in order to create a clear image on the film. The exposure is controlled by adjusting how long the shutter opens for (called the shutter speed) and the size of an opening behind the lens called the aperture.



In 1888 American inventor George Eastman introduced the first Kodak box camera. It helped to make photography a popular hobby because the films could be sent away for developing.



The forerunner of the camera was the camera obscura, used by artists, which made images with a lens, but could not record them. The earliest surviving photograph was taken by Frenchman Joseph Niepce in 1827. It was recorded on a metal plate coated with chemicals that changed very slowly where the image was light but not where it was dark. Photographic processes were soon improved by Frenchman Louis Daguerre, and Englishman William Fox Talbot. Talbot developed the negative-positive process, where the image is recorded as a negative in the camera, and is used to print positive photographs.



In a single-lens reflex (SLR) camera, a mirror and a pentaprism reflect the light from the lens into the viewfinder so that the photographer sees exactly what the image on the film will be. When the shutter-release button is pressed, the mirror flips up out of the way and the shutter opens to let light reach the film.



RECORDING AN IMAGE



Photographic film consists of a plastic strip coated on one side with a layer of light-sensitive chemicals. When light from a scene is focused on to the film in a camera, the chemicals in the bright areas of the image begin to change. The brighter the light, the greater the change. The chemicals remain unchanged in the dark areas. At this stage, the image is simply a pattern of chemicals. It only becomes visible when the film is processed. Colour film contains three layers of chemicals, one to record each of the primary colours of light, which are red, green and blue.



The lmacon high-speed research camera takes photographs just one billionth of a second apart. It can reveal what happens when a bullet hits its target.



DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY



A digital camera is a camera in which photographs are stored electronically in digital form rather than on traditional film. The lens focuses light on to a special microchip called a charge-coupled device (CCD). This divides the image into pixels, measures the brightness and colour of each one and digitizes the readings. The digitized image is stored in memory chips or on a floppy disc. The photographs are transferred to a computer, where they can be viewed on screen, edited, added to documents, used to make greetings cards, or attached to e-mails.



MOVIE CAMERAS



American inventor Thomas Edison built his kinetoscope in the late 1891 to show films shot by his kinetograph, which was one of the first movie cameras. The viewer watched the movie, which was on a continuous loop of film, through a slot in the top of the kinetoscope.



A movie film is made up of thousands of photographs called frames on a long roll of film. The frames are taken in quick succession by a movie camera (or cine-camera). A revolving shutter opens to let light hit the film, creating the image for a frame. Then it closes and the film is moved into position for the next frame. This sequence is repeated again and again to photograph 24 frames every second.



A movie projector does the reverse of a camera. It shines a bright light through the film and focuses the rays onto a screen, creating an enlarged image. It shows the frames in quick succession, which creates the illusion of movement.



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What is the amazing art of filming nature?



Nature photographers can catch the lightning tongue of the chameleon as it snatches an insect, or follow the growth of a plant through an entire season.



Time-lapse photography can make a plant appear to spring from the ground, flower and die in just a few seconds. A camera is fixed in position and programmed to take a series of pictures at intervals of minutes or hours. The film is then projected at the normal cine speed of 24 frames per second, speeding up the action thousands of times faster than reality.



It can take weeks to get a final minute’s worth of film, and the whole sequence can be ruined if the camera moves, or if anything obscures the object being photographed. Time-lapse photography needs scrupulously careful setting up and very reliable equipment.



At the other extreme is high-speed filming, which slows down action that is too fast for the human eye to see. The fastest modern cinecameras can take 11,000 frames a second, compared with the normal cine speed of 24 frames a second. The film moves past the lens at almost 200mph (320km/h), and the film spool is turning 33,000 times per minute. If anything goes wrong the camera is jammed with useless film in a split second.



Usually much slower speeds suffice: birds, bats and insects need 500 frames a second to show their wing beats and frogs leaping about the same, but it takes 1000 frames a second to capture the jump of the athletic flea. The highest speeds are needed for filming a drop of water splashing on a surface, a bullet penetrating glass, or a golfer hitting a drive.



 Filming animals in the wild is fraught with problems. Even with a zoom lens, just getting near enough to most animals is difficult. Before filming, photographers often watch the animals for some time, so they know their habits and can position themselves in a good vantage point downwind.



Photographers sometimes have to use tricks to fool their audience. Films showing animals such as foxes prowling at night are in fact often taken at dawn or dusk, when there s sufficient natural light. Then the film is doctored using filters to make it look as though it was much darker. Occasionally animals really are filmed at night, but even with image intensifiers that make them easier to see, the pictures are still not very clear.



Many films of ‘wild’ animals rely on using half-tame animals or even trained ones. Several photographers have looked after birds from instinctively follow them everywhere. By mounting a camera on a truck or on a fast boat, the photographers can take close-up film of the birds as they fly behind them.



Many animals are filmed in studios. Some animals cannot be trained, and it is not practical to film them in the wild. The surroundings of a trout spawning in a mountain stream, for example, can be convincingly imitated in a glass tank. Many of the most intimate scenes of small mammals giving birth and bringing up their young are achieved by building nests in the studio with clear windows which enable the animals’ private lives to be filmed. These nests are shallow, so that the animals remain within focusing range of the camera. When the film is edited and combined with other film taken outside, the viewer never suspects that some of the film has been shot in the studio.



Some of the toughest problems come in filming forms of life too small to see with the naked eye, like tiny bugs or insects. They have to be filmed through a microscope, but that reduces the light reaching the film. Extra lighting is needed but care has to be taken that the heat of the lights does not damage the tiny creatures being filmed.



Another problem with filming such small creatures is vibration. Even the tiniest movement between camera and object destroys the focus. This difficulty is overcome by an ‘optical bench’ which is a platform with the camera rigidly fixed at one end and the creature at the other. If a passing lorry causes vibrations, the camera and object vibrate as one, so the film remains perfectly in focus.



Some of the most dramatic film can be taken with an arrangement rather like an upside-down periscope. A typical project might be to film an insect, at its own eye level, as it wanders over the forest floor. It can be followed as it disappears beneath a leaf, or dives underwater. The periscope is suspended from a camera running on rails on an overhead gantry, so that it can be focused while it is rotated, tilted or moved backwards and forwards.



 



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How high-speed photographs are taken?



To freeze the beating of an insect’s wing needs a far shorter exposure than an ordinary camera can manage. Even at 1/1000th of a second the wings are a blur. Exposures ten or twenty times shorter are needed.



The British photographic pioneer W.H. Fox Talbot also pioneered high-speed photography as long ago as 1851. He attached a copy of The Times newspaper to a wheel, rotated it rapidly, and succeeded in taking a clear picture by illuminating the wheel very briefly with an intense spark of light which lasted only 1/100,000 of a second. If this technique is used in a blacked-out room, the camera shutter can be left open, and the film is exposed for an instant when the spark goes off.



The greatest difficulty is to arrange for the flash to go off when the subject is in exactly the right position. Often the best way is to make the subject – such as a bullet speeding through an apple – trigger the shutter or flash (or both) itself, by breaking a fine infrared beam or light beam that is focused on a reactive cell, for example.



A series of flashes may be used, with the film moving between each one. This technique was pioneered by an American, Harold Edgerton, in the 1930s. By using ten flashes a second and superimposing all the images on the same frame, he was able to show a drop of milk splashing into a bowl.



 



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I would like to pursue a career in Natural Photography



I’m a student of Std IX and would like to pursue a career in Natural Photography. What are the courses involved? Please suggest some good institutes in India. Is this a bright career option or not?



There are no formal educational requirements to enter this field, except for photojournalism and scientific or technical photography. But a proper training teaches broad technical understanding of this field and offers much needed practical experience with variety of cameras.



A good course my cover the following topics: Fundamentals of photography, Camera formats and applications (small, medium and large formats), Films and applications, Lights and Lighting (natural & artificial), Black & White photography and Zone System, Colour Photography and film processing, Digital photography and Post-production, Animation, Photojournalism, Small Business Management, Television Production, Typography.



Photography is a part of the course in mass communication and is also offered as a branch of specialization in most art colleges in their Applied Art/Commercial Art degree programmes. Certificate and diploma courses in photography are available at polytechnics, universities and colleges.



Admission is usually only through interview. Different institutes have different criterion for admission. Some of the institutes are National Academy of Photography, Kolkata; National Institute of Photography, Mumbai;



Film and Television Institute of India, Pune; Fergusson College, Pune; Academy for Photographic Excellence, New Delhi, Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi; Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan Centres; Mass Communication Research Centre, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi.



Photography, particularly commercial photography and photojournalism, is a highly competitive field. Modern life education, communication, entertainment, marketing, and research and development all use visuals in so many aspects that there is a good demand for experienced, creative photographers.



 



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