Just the other day I was aimlessly browsing the internet. As usual I didn’t even know where to begin or what to search for. Eventually my journey into cyberspace lead to me struggling to keep my mouth closed as well as gasping out a few “wows” more often than not. No, I didn’t stumble upon some dodgy porn site, I stumbled onto the photograph section of the National Geographic website and what I found was quite astonishing. The pictures that some of these guys and ladies captured were so awe-inspiring that I just could not stop looking at them. Even more so, I wanted to learn more about the incredible devices that we use to capture these amazing moments in time. I have always just taken photographs for granted, but now I found myself interested in the science of it all. This article will give a small glimpse into the workings of a camera.
When taking a photo there is quite a lot of stuff happening on the inside of that camera of yours. If there is no light, there can be no photo. The source of the light comes from an object, going through the camera’s lens, then through the aperture and shutter and lastly onto the camera’s sensor. This is the long and short of it. We will look at this process in a little more detail next.
The camera lens is made up of a series of differently shaped glass. This is the place where the light enters, and from here it meets the sensor. If you are not in focus, the light will not meet the sensor. Most cameras are what are called a single lens reflex or SLR.
The aperture is an opening that directly controls the amount of light that is let through to meet with the sensor. Controlling this device on your camera can have a major effect on the type and style of photo you want to take. If there is no light, the flash on a camera will project light onto the subject/s in order for the sensor to be able to read a picture from the scene.
Next we get to the shutter. This is the part of the camera that controls the amount of time that the sensor is exposed to light for. It can be fast meaning static photographs, or it can be slow meaning photographs that show motion. If the time period is short, the image will appear frozen in time as pictures taken with standard cameras. If the period of time is extended, the image will appear as if it is in motion. This can be done by moving the camera itself or if the subject is moving. Think of a bird flying away while you are taking a photo. If the shutter speed is slow, the bird will be caught in motion leaving a so-called trail on the photograph.
Now that some light has been shed on the basic inner workings of the camera, you might find yourself in the same position that I did a few days ago. I have gained massive appreciation for the art of photography and the photographers who make ordinary happenings look extraordinary.
Waldo van den Berg is passionate about learning photography and only uses canon cameras.