Photograpy Edinburgh

History Of The Camera

Edinburgh Photographer John McKenzie offers an insight into the history of the modern day camera including the latest digital SLR cameras and digital editing and print.

A camera is a device that records images, either as a still photograph or as moving images known as videos or movies. The term comes from the camera obscura (Latin for "dark chamber"), an early mechanism of projecting images where an entire room functioned as a real-time imaging system; the modern camera evolved from the camera obscura.

Cameras may work with the light of the visible spectrum or with other portions of the electromagnetic spectrum. A camera generally consists of an enclosed hollow with an opening (aperture) at one end for light to enter, and a recording or viewing surface for capturing the light at the other end. A majority of cameras have a lens positioned in front of the camera's opening to gather the incoming light and focus all or part of the image on the recording surface. The diameter of the aperture is often controlled by a diaphragm mechanism, but some cameras have a fixed-size aperture.

A typical still camera takes one photo each time the user presses the shutter button. A typical movie camera continuously takes 24 film frames per second as long as the user holds down the shutter button.

The forerunner to the camera was the camera obscura. The camera obscura is an instrument consisting of a darkened chamber or box, into which light is admitted through a convex lens, forming an image of external objects on a surface of paper or glass, etc., placed at the focus of the lens. The camera obscura was first invented by the Arabic scientist Ibn al-Haytham (Alhazen) as described in his Book of Optics (1015-1021). Alhazen's work appeared in Latin translation as De Aspectibus ("Concerning vision") in about 1200, and the book influenced Roger Bacon's reflections on producing images using pinholes. Bacon's notes and drawings, published as Perspectiva in 1267, are partly clouded with theological material describing how the Devil can insinuate himself through the smallest of spaces by magic, and it is not clear whether or not he produced such a device. On 24 January 1544 mathematician and instrument maker Reiners Gemma Frisius of Leuven University used one to watch a solar eclipse, publishing a diagram of his method in De Radio Astronimica et Geometrico in the following year. In 1558 Giovanni Batista della Porta was the first to recommend the method as an aid to drawing. The actual name of camera obscura was first applied to the technique by mathematician and astronomer Johannes Kepler in his Ad Vitellionem paralipomena of 1604; he would later improve the apparatus by adding a lens and making it transportable, in the form of a tent. Irish scientist Robert Boyle and his assistant Robert Hooke later developed a portable camera obscura in the 1660s.

The first camera that was small and portable enough to be practical for photography was built by Johann Zahn in 1685, though it would be almost 150 years before technology caught up to the point where this was practical. Early photographic cameras were essentially similar to Zahn's model, though usually with the addition of sliding boxes for focusing. Before each exposure, a sensitized plate would be inserted in front of the viewing screen to record the image. Jacques Daguerre's popular daguerreotype process utilized copper plates, while the calotype process invented by William Fox Talbot recorded images on paper.

 

The First Permanent Photograph

The first permanent photograph was made in 1826 by Joseph Nicéphore Niépce using a sliding wooden box camera made by Charles and Vincent Chevalier in Paris. Niépce built on a discovery by Johann Heinrich Schultz (1724): a silver and chalk mixture darkens under exposure to light. However, while this was the birth of photography, the camera itself can be traced back much further. Before the invention of photography, there was no way to preserve the images produced by these cameras apart from manually tracing them.

The development of the collodion wet plate process by Frederick Scott Archer in 1850 cut exposure times dramatically, but required photographers to prepare and develop their glass plates on the spot, usually in a mobile darkroom. Despite their complexity, the wet-plate ambrotype and tintype processes were in widespread use in the latter half of the 19th century. Wet plate cameras were little different from previous designs, though there were some models, such as the sophisticated Dubroni of 1864, where the sensitizing and developing of the plates could be carried out inside the camera itself rather than in a separate darkroom. Other cameras were fitted with multiple lenses for making cartes de visite. It was during the wet plate era that the use of bellows for focusing became widespread.

The first colour photograph was made by Scottish physicist James Clerk Maxwell, with the help of English inventor and photographer Thomas Sutton, in 1861

John McKenzie Photography - Photographer Edinburgh