The word "photography" comes from the French photographie which is based on the Greek φώς (phos) "light" + γραφίς (graphis) "stylus", "paintbrush" or γραφή (graphê) "representation by means of lines" or "drawing", together meaning "drawing with light." Traditionally, the product of photography has been called a photograph, commonly shortened to photo.
Photographers control the camera and lens to "expose" the light recording material (such as film) to the required amount of light to form a "latent image" (on film) or "raw file" (in digital cameras) which, after appropriate processing, is converted to a usable image. Digital cameras replace film with an electronic image sensor based on light-sensitive electronics such as charge-coupled device (CCD) or complementary metal-oxide-semiconductor (CMOS) technology. The resulting digital image is stored electronically, but can be reproduced on paper or film.
In all but certain specialized cameras, the process of obtaining a usable exposure must involve the use, manually or automatically, of a few controls to ensure the photograph is clear, sharp and well illuminated. The controls usually include but are not limited to the following:
Many other elements of the imaging device itself may have a pronounced effect on the quality and/or aesthetic effect of a given photograph; among them are:
Camera controls are inter-related. The total amount of light reaching the film plane (the "exposure") changes with the duration of exposure, aperture of the lens, and, the effective focal length of the lens (which in variable focal length lenses, can change as the lens is zoomed). Changing any of these controls can alter the exposure. Many cameras may be set to adjust most or all of these controls automatically. This automatic functionality is useful for occasional photographers in many situations.
The duration of an exposure is referred to as shutter speed, often even in cameras that don't have a physical shutter, and is typically measured in fractions of a second. Aperture is expressed by an f-number or f-stop (derived from focal ratio), which is proportional to the ratio of the focal length to the diameter of the aperture. If the f-number is decreased by a factor of , the aperture diameter is increased by the same factor, and its area is increased by a factor of 2. The f-stops that might be found on a typical lens include 2.8, 4, 5.6, 8, 11, 16, 22, 32, where going up "one stop" (using lower f-stop numbers) doubles the amount of light reaching the film, and stopping down one stop halves the amount of light.
Exposures can be achieved through various combinations of shutter speed and aperture. For example, f/8 at 8 ms (=1/125th of a second) and f/5.6 at 4 ms (=1/250th of a second) yield the same amount of light. The chosen combination has an impact on the final result. In addition to the subject or camera movement that might vary depending on the shutter speed, the aperture (and focal length of the lens) determine the depth of field, which refers to the range of distances from the lens that will be in focus. For example, using a long lens and a large aperture (f/2.8, for example), a subject's eyes might be in sharp focus, but not the tip of the nose. With a smaller aperture (f/22), or a shorter lens, both the subject's eyes and nose can be in focus. With very small apertures, such as pinholes, a wide range of distance can be brought into focus.
Image capture is only part of the image forming process. Regardless of material, some process must be employed to render the latent image captured by the camera into the final photographic work. This process consists of two steps, development, and printing.
During the printing process, modifications can be made to the print by several controls. Many of these controls are similar to controls during image capture, while some are exclusive to the printing process. Most controls have equivalent digital concepts, but some create different effects. For example, dodging and burning controls are different between digital and film processes. Other printing modifications include:
Commercial advertising relies heavily on photography and has contributed greatly to its development.
Photography is the result of combining several technical discoveries. Long before the first photographs were made, Ibn al-Haytham (Alhazen) (965–1040) invented the camera obscura and pinhole camera, Albertus Magnus (1193–1280) discovered silver nitrate, and Georges Fabricius (1516–1571) discovered silver chloride. Daniel Barbaro described a diaphragm in 1568. Wilhelm Homberg described how light darkened some chemicals (photochemical effect) in 1694. The fiction book Giphantie, by French author Tiphaigne de la Roche, described what can be interpreted as photography.
Photography as a usable process goes back to the 1820s with the development of chemical photography. The first permanent photograph was an image produced in 1826 by the French inventor Nicéphore Niépce. However, the picture took eight hours to expose, so he went about trying to find a new process. Working in conjunction with Louis Daguerre, they experimented with silver compounds based on a Johann Heinrich Schultz discovery in 1724 that a silver and chalk mixture darkens when exposed to light. Niépce died in 1833, but Daguerre continued the work, eventually culminating with the development of the daguerreotype in 1837. Eventually, France agreed to pay Daguerre a pension for his formula, in exchange for his promise to announce his discovery to the world as the gift of France, which he did in 1839.
Meanwhile, Hercules Florence had already created a very similar process in 1832, naming it Photographie, and William Fox Talbot had earlier discovered another means to fix a silver process image but had kept it secret. After reading about Daguerre's invention, Talbot refined his process so that it might be fast enough to take photographs of people. By 1840, Talbot had invented the calotype process, which creates negative images. John Herschel made many contributions to the new methods. He invented the cyanotype process, now familiar as the "blueprint". He was the first to use the terms "photography", "negative" and "positive". He discovered sodium thiosulphate solution to be a solvent of silver halides in 1819, and informed Talbot and Daguerre of his discovery in 1839 that it could be used to "fix" pictures and make them permanent. He made the first glass negative in late 1839.
In March 1851, Frederick Scott Archer published his findings in "The Chemist" on the wet plate collodion process. This became the most widely used process between 1852 and the late 1880s when the dry plate was introduced. There are three subsets to the Collodion process; the Ambrotype (positive image on glass), the Ferrotype or Tintype (positive image on metal) and the negative which was printed on Albumen or Salt paper.
Many advances in photographic glass plates and printing were made in through the nineteenth century. In 1884, George Eastman developed the technology of film to replace photographic plates, leading to the technology used by film cameras today.
Many photographers continue to produce some monochrome images. Some full color digital images are processed using a variety of techniques to create black and whites, and some cameras have even been produced to exclusively shoot monochrome.
Color photography was explored beginning in the mid 1800s. Early experiments in color could not fix the photograph and prevent the color from fading. The first permanent color photo was taken in 1861 by the physicist James Clerk Maxwell.
One of the early methods of taking color photos was to use three cameras. Each camera would have a color filter in front of the lens. This technique provides the photographer with the three basic channels required to recreate a color image in a darkroom or processing plant. Russian photographer Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii developed another technique, with three color plates taken in quick succession.
Practical application of the technique was held back by the very limited color response of early film; however, in the early 1900s, following the work of photo-chemists such as H. W. Vogel, emulsions with adequate sensitivity to green and red light at last became available.
The first color plate, Autochrome, invented by the French Lumière brothers, reached the market in 1907. It was based on a 'screen-plate' filter made of dyed dots of potato starch, and was the only color film on the market until German Agfa introduced the similar Agfacolor in 1932. In 1935, American Kodak introduced the first modern ('integrated tri-pack') color film, Kodachrome, based on three colored emulsions. This was followed in 1936 by Agfa's Agfacolor Neue. Unlike the Kodachrome tri-pack process, the color couplers in Agfacolor Neue were integral with the emulsion layers, which greatly simplified the film processing. Most modern color films, except Kodachrome, are based on the Agfacolor Neue technology. Instant color film was introduced by Polaroid in 1963.
Color photography may form images as a positive transparency, intended for use in a slide projector or as color negatives, intended for use in creating positive color enlargements on specially coated paper. The latter is now the most common form of film (non-digital) color photography owing to the introduction of automated photoprinting equipment.
Ultraviolet and infrared films have been available for many decades and employed in a variety of photographic avenues since the 1960s. New technological trends in digital photography have opened a new direction in full spectrum photography, where careful filtering choices across the ultraviolet, visible and infrared lead to new artistic visions.
Modified digital cameras can detect some ultraviolet, all of the visible and much of the near infrared spectrum, as most digital imaging sensors are sensitive from about 350nm to 1000nm. An off-the-shelf digital camera contains an infrared hot mirror filter that blocks most of the infrared and a bit of the ultraviolet that would otherwise be detected by the sensor, narrowing the accepted range from about 400nm to 700nm. Replacing a hot mirror or infrared blocking filter with an infrared pass or a wide spectrally transmitting filter allows the camera to detect the wider spectrum light at greater sensitivity. Without the hot-mirror, the red, green and blue (or cyan, yellow and magenta) colored micro-filters placed over the sensor elements pass varying amounts of ultraviolet (blue window) and infrared (primarily red, and somewhat lesser the green and blue micro-filters).
Traditional photography burdened photographers working at remote locations without easy access to processing facilities, and competition from television pressured photographers to deliver images to newspapers with greater speed. Photo journalists at remote locations often carried miniature photo labs and a means of transmitting images through telephone lines. In 1981, Sony unveiled the first consumer camera to use a charge-coupled device for imaging, eliminating the need for film: the Sony Mavica. While the Mavica saved images to disk, the images were displayed on television, and the camera was not fully digital. In 1990, Kodak unveiled the DCS 100, the first commercially available digital camera. Although its high cost precluded uses other than photojournalism and professional photography, commercial digital photography was born.
Digital imaging uses an electronic image sensor to record the image as a set of electronic data rather than as chemical changes on film. The primary difference between digital and chemical photography is that chemical photography resists manipulation because it involves film and photographic paper, while digital imaging is a highly manipulative medium. This difference allows for a degree of image post-processing that is comparatively difficult in film-based photography and permits different communicative potentials and applications.
Digital point-and-shoot cameras have become widespread consumer products, outselling film cameras, and including new features such as video and audio recording. Kodak announced in January 2004 that it would no longer sell reloadable 35 mm cameras in western Europe, Canada and the United States after the end of that year. Kodak was at that time a minor player in the reloadable film cameras market. In January 2006, Nikon followed suit and announced that they will stop the production of all but two models of their film cameras: the low-end Nikon FM10, and the high-end Nikon F6. On May 25, 2006, Canon announced they will stop developing new film SLR cameras.
According to a survey made by Kodak in 2007, 75 percent of professional photographers say they will continue to use film, even though some embrace digital.
According to the U.S. survey results, more than two-thirds (68 percent) of professional photographers prefer the results of film to those of digital for certain applications including:
Because photography is popularly synonymous with truth ("The camera doesn't lie."), digital imaging has raised many ethical concerns. Many photojournalists have declared they will not crop their pictures, or are forbidden from combining elements of multiple photos to make "illustrations," passing them as real photographs. Many courts will not accept digital images as evidence because of their inherently manipulative nature and they could be completely fake, do they only take solid evidence. Today's technology has made picture editing relatively simple for even the novice photographer.
Recent changes of in-camera processing allows digital fingerprinting of RAW photos to verify against tampering of digital photos for forensics use.
Commercial photography is probably best defined as any photography to which money exchanges hands. In this light money could be paid for the subject of the photograph or the photograph itself. Wholesale, retail, and professional uses of photography would fall under this definition. The commercial photographic world could include:
The market for photographic services demonstrates the aphorism "one picture is worth a thousand words," which has an interesting basis in the history of photography. Magazines and newspapers, companies putting up Web sites, advertising agencies and other groups pay for photography.
Many people take photographs for self-fulfillment or for commercial purposes. Organizations with a budget and a need for photography have several options: they can employ a photographer directly, organize a public competition, or obtain rights to stock photographs. Photo stock can be procured through traditional stock giants, such as Getty Images or Corbis; smaller microstock agencies, such as Fotolia; or web marketplaces, such as Cutcaster.
During the twentieth century, both fine art photography and documentary photography became accepted by the English-speaking art world and the gallery system. In the United States, a handful of photographers, including Alfred Stieglitz, Edward Steichen, John Szarkowski, F. Holland Day, and Edward Weston, spent their lives advocating for photography as a fine art. At first, fine art photographers tried to imitate painting styles. This movement is called Pictorialism, often using soft focus for a dreamy, 'romantic' look. In reaction to that, Weston, Ansel Adams, and others formed the f/64 Group to advocate 'straight photography', the photograph as a (sharply focused) thing in itself and not an imitation of something else.
The aesthetics of photography is a matter that continues to be discussed regularly, especially in artistic circles. Many artists argued that photography was the mechanical reproduction of an image. If photography is authentically art, then photography in the context of art would need redefinition, such as determining what component of a photograph makes it beautiful to the viewer. The controversy began with the earliest images "written with light"; Nicéphore Niépce, Louis Daguerre, and others among the very earliest photographers were met with acclaim, but some questioned if their work met the definitions and purposes of art.
Clive Bell in his classic essay Art states that only "significant form" can distinguish art from what is not art.
There must be some one quality without which a work of art cannot exist; possessing which, in the least degree, no work is altogether worthless. What is this quality? What quality is shared by all objects that provoke our aesthetic emotions? What quality is common to Sta. Sophia and the windows at Chartres, Mexican sculpture, a Persian bowl, Chinese carpets, Giotto's frescoes at Padua, and the masterpieces of Poussin, Piero della Francesca, and Cezanne? Only one answer seems possible - significant form. In each, lines and colors combined in a particular way, certain forms and relations of forms, stir our aesthetic emotions.|
On February 14th 2006 Sotheby’s London sold the 2001 photograph "99 Cent II Diptychon" for an unprecedented $3,346,456 to an anonymous bidder making it the most expensive of all time.
The camera has a long and distinguished history as a means of recording phenomena from the first use by Daguerre and Fox-Talbot, such as astronomical events (eclipses for example) and small creatures when the camera was attached to the eyepiece of microscopes (in photomicroscopy). The camera also proved useful in recording crime scenes and the scenes of accidents, one of the first uses being at the scene of the Tay Rail Bridge disaster of 1879. The set of accident photographs was used in the subsequent court of inquiry so that witnesses could identify pieces of the wreckage, and the technique is now commonplace in courts of law. The set of over 50 Tay bridge photographs are of very high quality and when scanned at high resolution, can be enlarged to show details of the failed components such as broken cast iron lugs and the tie bars which failed to hold the towers in place. They show that the bridge was badly designed, badly built and badly maintained. The methods used in analysing old photographs are known as forensic photography.
Between 1846 and 1852 Charles Brooke invented a technology for the automatic registration of instruments by photography. These instruments included barometers, thermometers, psychrometers, and magnetometers, which recorded their readings by means of an automated photographic process.