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Celluloid Straight

Celluloid Scales Flame Testing

Introduction to Photography

Introduction to Photography

 

Photography entails the manipulation of light to create permanent impressions and visual images. The ability to write with light is made feasible by the use of a light tight mechanisms/cameras of varying designs and capacities and often, using equally light sensitive materials to preserve images captured by the camera.

 

Photography covers the making of both the still photographs you keep in your albums and motion pictures both on cinema and tapes. The name motion picture is an expression descriptive of the effect of the quick passage of photo frames when its reel passes through a projectory apparatus that displays it on the television screen.

 

Although modern technology permits for the use of digital equipment in photography and therefore implies ease, the best of photographers/photojournalists are those who have a good grasp of the film based conventional photography. Thus, this article intends to provide you with practical and technical knowledge about photography/photojournalism.

 

Basic Photographic Materials

The innovation of modern digital cameras with in-built memory notwithstanding, conventional photography that depends on the use of these materials has continued to persist, and will do so until such a time when modern technology is able to proffer a better alternative. These are the basic materials required at different degrees to make photography possible:

  • The camera
  • Celluloid film
  • Battery
  • Developer
  • Printer
  • Printing paper/surface.

The Camera is a light sensitive but light tight machine that has three major parts working together to make light writing possible. These are: the lens (comprising of adjustments measured in F-Stops and S-Factors), the flash light (while some cameras have in-built flash lights, most reliable cameras for professional use have detachable flash guns), and the camera body. The body has most of the controls and features, which include; the film chamber (where film is loaded), the view finder (for cameras that are not reflex), the battery section, the shutter knob, the film queue lever and the film rewind knob, among others. How these elements interrelate to make light writing possible is explained in basic photographic process below.

 

The Photographic Film is a light hyper-sensitive plastic reel containing chemicals, the reaction of which creates permanent images ‘burnt' to the plastic base of the reel. A photo film has three layers, each performing a distinct, indispensable function. See illustration as follows:

 

 

 

Light reaching the gel in the centre section is trapped between the plastic base and the coating. Silver halides coating trapping the gel on to the base is light penetrable while the gelatin is the element that reacts to light by ‘burning'. Its degree of burning determines the volume of light reaching it. Thus, an object in bright colour attracts a deeper reaction than that in deep colouring.

 

Basic Photographic Process

Taking a photograph begins when you aim your camera lens at an object, any object, and push down the shutter knob. However, before this could be done, you would have loaded a celluloid film or a video tape into the provided location on the camera. Also, you would have fixed batteries of adequate size and capacity into the light writing machine.

 

Bear in mind all the time, that light is the most essential ingredient of photography, without which your camera and film would be pf no use.

 

When the camera is aimed at an object/subject, its eye/lens picks everything within view range and this sight is transferred as light towards a pin-hole at the centre of the camera, which serves as link between the lens system and the dark chamber where the film is readily prearranged and waiting in queued frames.

 

There exists a relationship between the camera aperture (pin-hole), the shutter and the influx of light that determines the quality of the photo frame: a well lit centre of focus (volume of light hitting and passing through the lens) results in a very brisk movement of the shutter and along with it, the reflex opening and closing of the aperture. The camera is built in such a way that the pin-hole is the only way through which light enters the film chamber to  cause series of chemical reactions in the pre queued section (frame) of the film.

 

When film is exposed, its chemical content reacts in a manner similar to burning, in varying degrees, depending on the intensity of light to which it is exposed. A frame once exposed, is wounded to another section free from further light, while a fresh frame is queued behind the aperture for exposure.

 

At the end of the day, exposed film is developed/washed using chemical agents and water, leaving only the latent images burnt to the plastic base of the film reel, while the silver halides are completely removes as are unexposed sections of the film.

 

Latent images are permanent and can be enlarged to desired sizes and printed on either gloss or matt printing papers or on canvas.

 


Elements of a Good Picture

A picture, they say, is worth a thousand words. This let us modify to say that it is only a good picture that is worth a thousand words. Lots of times as a commercial photographer, your clients may return photos to you in rejection of their quality. Often they may not be able to point out to you what in particular they dislike about the picture, yet they may even be angry at you because the picture you have produced for them is not good. So what makes a photograph good or bad?

 

The professional as well as the amateur photographer needs to provide answer to the question above, and let that answer stick to his/her brains to be remembered each time the camera is aimed at an object/subject. Elements that determine the good or bad status of a photograph include, but are not limited to the following:

 

Composition: this refers to the positioning of objects/subjects within the photo frame. The photographer must bear in mind at all times, the relevance of head room and nose room, as these affect how appealing or not your photographs turn out to be. Compare the following examples:

 

 

Fig. 1                           Fig. 2                           Fig. 3                           Fig. 4

 

Fig. 5

 

If you were asked to choose between figures 1 and 2 above, your choice would have most certainly, be similar with mine. Why? Because a sooth sayer is not required to know that when taking a side view of a subject, the space (nose room) in front should be more than the space behind, because his/her front is the centre of attraction. Similarly, the portrait labeled figure 3 is unacceptable compared to figure 4 because why the latter has ample space (head room) between the tip of the subject's head and the border of the frame, the former hasn't.

 

Exposition: when pictures are either too white/blur or too dark, it means that they have not been properly exposed. This is dependent on the photographer's ingenuity in manipulating the features the camera in synchronizing aperture to shutter speed in response to available light. The camera transfers light to the frame. Thus, the amount of light transferred determines how bright or not the photo will be. Over exposed pictures always turn out white and blur while underexposed ones turn out dark. It is both technically and professionally wrong for instance, to take out-door picture at mid-day with the camera flash light on, as this will always give over exposed result. Yet many free focus auto cameras have uncontrolled flash guns. The onus is on the photographer to select the best equipment to use.

 

Focus: there are three factors a photographer will have to consider when the need arises to focus a camera lens. These are: the far field/background, which spans from the immediate back of the object/subject of focus to the end of sight. Concentrating here leaves the background better lit and brightened than the centre of focus, and therefore, results in a bad picture. However, this can be a suitable strategy of achieving special effect of blurring the fore-field and centre of focus in order to direct attention to an object in the far-field.

 

The centre of focus on the other hand, is (and should always be) the object/subject at which you aim the lens of your camera. Fore-ground refers to the space between the camera stand and the object/subject of focus. Making the fore-ground over bright relinquishes the object of interest, but can, like the background, be a special effect.

 

Like the human eye once again, the camera sees objects that are either too close or too far vaguely therefore, the photographer should endeavour always to set the lens and other factors to a point where the object of interest is most clear.

 

Camera Angles: this refers to the position from which the camera picks an object, that is; up, down or straight level. This is measured in degrees. The primal base for measuring camera angles is fixes at the human eye level of 90°. Anything below this is called a high angle shot while above this is seen to be a low angle shot.

The relevance of camera angle to the photo frame can not be ignored, as this determines the status of "importance" or not of the object/subject in the photograph. Summarily, a low angle shot reduces the size and relevance of an object in frame, while a high angle shot does the exact opposite. See graphic illustration below.

 

 

 

 

 

F-Stop, S-Factor Calculation

The relationship between the shutter speed (S-Factor) and the F-Stop (lens width adjustment), as they affect aperture can be summarized in the following statement: the brighter the light, the smaller the aperture, the faster the shutter speed. Or the dimmer the light, the wider the aperture, the slower the shutter speed. The implication of this is that like the human eye, when you are taken from a well lit space to a dark room, you open your eyes wide on order to see well and when you return to a well lit environment from a dark room, you tend to narrow your eyes to be able to see meaningfully.

 

While some camera speed and aperture are pre-calculated and fixed, others are left for the manipulation of the photographer. While calculating this, the time and weather of the day, as well as the location (whether indoor or outdoor) should be taken to cognizance and so should the type of flash gun. Where there is need to move the S upward, the F should also go in opposite direction, to such a proportion as prevailing circumstance shall dictate.

 

Photo Editing

Like any creative writing, photo journalism requires editing for several reasons. These include:

  • For better communication and ease of understanding
  • To fit into available space
  • To lay emphasis
  • For beauty.

 

Photos are edited by captioning, cropping, adjusting colour and composition, altering of unwanted sections, adjusting brightness and by adding special effects. When captioning pictures, the obvious should not be stated, as this under estimates your viewers and discourages their interest.

 

About the Author

Dreg En Ay is an author of twelve poems, including the globalisation piece, MEGGIDO, and three prose works currently undergoing publishing in the United States of America and in Africa. He renders consultant services in all forms of writings, social communications research and creativity, delivering public lectures on similar subject matters. He is a seasoned journalist and blogger. full profile

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