— Bringing Photo Know-How to the Masses —

Lesson One: Light in the Box – In the beginning there was light.

Welcome to my First Blog Post Ever.
I will do my best to take you through my knowledge and perspective on the vast subject of Photography.

I am going to start off with the very basics of the medium, but don’t be fooled.
Read on and you may just learn something.


Lesson one:  Light in the Box

As with most subjects, to begin to understand the fundamentals of photography we must look back to it’s invention.

Before digital cameras, before film cameras, even before cameras existed,  people were using the principal rules of light to expose themselves to sights and spectacles that the human eye could not see in it’s over perfected design.  As far back as 470 BCE (source: wiki) philosophers and scholars were telling tales and staging demonstrations of the new “Tech” of the times : The Pinhole Camera.  In short a Pinhole Camera is a light-tight box with a small hole at one end and a piece of film or photosensitive paper at the opposite end (inside the box). When light enters the box through the pinhole, it is captured on the paper in the form of a Photograph.      How? … Well it’s mostly magic.

Pinhole Cameras were the first in the long lineage of the camera, but as time and technology has managed to shift every facet of photography, the simplicity of the Pinhole Camera and the principles of light remain unchanged.  Even the most expensive professional camera of today is just a glorified pinhole camera with every bell and whistle crammed onto that light-proof box.  ~  Obviously some of these bells are necessary to produce the photos we’ve come to expect, but most of the whistles just get in the way.
If we could strip the camera down to it’s most basic of parts, we would have a clearer view of what strange Disney magic is making the picture we see on the screen or film.

In an attempt to better understand how something might work, our instinct (as scholars) is to get inside and study up close.  We could wait for Nikon to make a house-sized Digital SLR so we could climb inside or maybe if we stick to that low-fat yogurt we could hope to fit into a D300 by Easter…
On the other hand, we could look to the past and make our own house-sized pinhole camera and climb right inside.
It’s not new, but it’s probably one of the least know phenomenons to most, including the amateur photographer, though most if not all serious photogs will have heard the term… Camera Obscura.

The Camera Obscura is usually a giant light-proof box, a room with a window on only one side works well.  The room must be completely light-proofed (by blocking out all light from the window) and through a small hole poked in the covering of the window an image will appear upside down on the back-facing surface. This is a camera box that you can stand inside of. Traditional painters of the past would use giant Camera Obscura setups to paint scenes with precise detail.
It was this simple design of  “the projection of light” that sprung the entire invention of photography.

~   The process of funneling light for the purpose of retention is build within us all. We are cameras, it’s what our eyes are designed to do. They do it with such precise accuracy that we often fail to realize that the world, as we see it as humans, is only part of the picture.  In fact a whole world exists to us in perfect detail, as we scan from one side to another our eyes focus and balance for changes in light intensity.  Our brains have a great built-in system to make this all happen without any real thought on our part.  As do cameras; the AUTO feature of your camera is a great asset when shooting fast moving subjects or at times where fumbling with settings is impossible. But if we are to really understand how images are made; we must put our brains and cameras in MANUAL mode.   ~  If your brain doesn’t have a Manual setting or you don’t know how to turn it on… Upgrade or consult your owner’s guide.

In order to make consistent photos in every condition, we must put aside the AUTO feature and get in the driver’s seat.
Taking control of your ~Aperture~ ~Shutter Speed~ ~ISO~ and setting or judging light intensity and direction should become second nature  to you if you are to become a master photographer. As we progress through the blog I will present you with the knowledge to take control of all of the different aspects of the camera and photography as a medium.

I don’t want to complicate this lesson beyond it’s intended moral:
If you leave this lesson with one bit of knowledge it should be this…

To make a Picture: ~  Light goes in one end of a light-proof box through a tiny pinhole – It makes an image on the surface opposite the pinhole.
It also flips the image as it condenses it through the pinhole (see photo)

Light… It’s magic really.

For fun = Check out Google’s image results for ~ Pinhole Camera


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