A brief history of digital photography
Throughout history, man has attempted to record his exploits for whatever reason or occasion. These early attempts were simple carvings or drawings that can be found throughout the world. Contrary to what many believe, the concept of capturing an image as the world has come to know it is not a process that is relatively new. The basic ideas have been around for centuries. “An Arab, Alhazen of Basra, observed sometime in the, tenth century at light passing through a small round hole, perhaps in a tent flap or wall, would create an image of the outdoor scene on an interior wall or screen. He used this to obese eclipses of the sun. Many others, including Aristotle, had observed, this optical phenomenon, which was later used in what the Italians called the camera obscura (literally dark room). From this we got our word camera.” (Rhode, 1)Order now
Even though the basic elements of capturing light and image was in the hands of early man, it was centuries before the light image was able to be saved without the need for paints or carvings. “By 1700 the portable camera obscura had become standard equipment for many professional artists who etched image the lens cast on the ground glass. No one knew of any popular method of recording the image. Then, in 1727, Johann Heinrich Schulze, a German university professor, revealed that he had discovered that the blackening of silver salts (such as silver iodide, silver, bromide, and silver chloride), observed by others before him, was caused by light, not by heat or air. Thus the two basic steps needed for the development of photography were known: light could be used to cast an image on silver salts that would be chemically changed by the light, thereby recording the image. But a century more elapsed before anyone successfully created a permanent image with the photochemical reaction. (Rhode, 4)
Still, it was more than a century later before the science of using silver salts as a permanent way to capture a light image. By the middle of the 1800s photographers like Jacques Mande Daguerre were conducting numerous experiments and soon perfected, for the day, the photography fixing process. Daguerre revealed the daguerreotype process. In brief, the daguerreotype was made by coating a copper plate with silver, which was then polished and exposed to iodine fumes. This iodized silver surface was then placed in a camera and exposed to light projected by the lens. The image on the exposed plate was developed (made visible) by placing it over a pot of heated mercury; the bright mercury adhered to parts of the plate in proportion to the amount of light exposure each part had received. The visible image thus created was fixed (made relatively permanent) in a solution of sodium thiosulphate and, finally, washed. (Rhode 4,5)
The Daguerreotype process had two major disadvantages. First it was time consuming with exposure times lasting g many minutes and second it subjected the photo developer to a variety of hazardous chemicals involving hot mercury and iodine fumes.
Over the years professional photography expanded due to peace and war operations, pushing amateurs more and more to also have avenues to capture memories. “Photography appeals to some of us because of its immediacy and realism and to others for the artistic interpretation it allows. And for almost everyone, photographs are mementos of occasions and people who mean something to us.” (Robertson)
Photography has evolved into a medium allowing the average person to add a personal touch to the documentation process. “The world of photography is a personal one. We take pictures to express our feelings about people, nature, and the world around us. And as in any art of communication, be it writing, music, or art, we experience great pleasure when the results of our efforts communicate what we set out to say.” (Hoy) Today, there are literally hundreds of different camera and digital image storage options. The options can include cameras prices from a dollar disposable to a professional model priced in the thousands of dollars. There are also the many different types of photo conversion processes to include film scanners, flat bed photo scanners and photo slide scanners. Again, these options range from the minimal priced to the ten’s of thousands of dollars.
It’s one thing to have the desire to make good photographs, it’s quite another to have the training and equipment to make good photographs. Over the years cameras have evolved from the simple box cameras with a pin hole to the newest high resolution digitals. Training has evolved away from only being available to professionals. These days, cameras and training are at costs that just about anyone can produce professional looking photographs. Many of the newer photographs and now being made with the latest digital cameras. “When the world of computers collided with the world of photography, a new type of photography was born in Digital Photography. With the advent of the digital age, we as photographers have been introduced to an entirely new set of toys.
Powerful computers, along with digital cameras and scanners, have led the way to new possibilities for image capture, enhancement, and manipulation. Yet, whether it’s digital photography or photography with metal plates and mercury fumes (as pioneered back in 1839 by photography’s inventor Louis Jacques Mande Daguerre), the serious photographer eventually moves on to a higher plane-to a fascination with the art of digital photography.” (DeLaney)
Modern photography has been around for a couple hundred years, but as a science it is ageless. Whether its classic film photography or the newest gadget in the digital age, it all comes down to having a desire to make and store a memory. The equipment and training mean nothing without a desire to capture a memory and save it forever.