Of all the arts man engages in creating and admiring, photography is probably the most science-rich and difficult to master. Yet, in spite of it being one of the harder art forms to become competent with, it’s the one which changed the face of almost every other art form overnight.
The Day Artists Were Free
With the advent of photography, painters and sketch artists were freed from the shackles of necessary realism, to pursue new and inventive styles. Without photography, Picasso wouldn’t have had the freedom to invent abstract art, and Van Gogh’s ground breaking work in the art of impressionism would have fallen to the wayside forever.
It seems like a simple concept, pointing an image capture device at something, pressing a button, and having the photos developed (or printing them if digital). And, at its core, that’s true. Cameras are very easy to operate and understand on a fundamental level.
However, it’s a grasp of angle, lighting, lens type and a host of other facets which enable true photographic art, versus family photo album fodder.
As a species which cherishes memories, we’re wont to photo document every important occasion in the journey of life. Birth days, holidays, weddings and graduations are just some examples of memories we simply can’t help but photograph.
Needless to say, camera hire is a big business, and probably will be forever. While disposable cameras are extremely affordable, and nearly every portable device contains a shoddy webcam, there’s nothing quite like the quality of an expensive, professional camera.
What difference does one box capturing light make, versus another?
Multiple Environments, Multiple Cameras
First of all, professional cameras come in a wide variety of designs, suited for a whole host of environments. There are cameras specially designed to maintain operability in hostile climates such as high altitudes, scorched deserts and even the vacuum of space, where other cameras would break or take over-exposed useless pictures.
Speed is of the Essence
Still other cameras have varying shutter speeds, ideal for capturing sporting events, living nature and anything else that won’t hold still. Slower cameras will quite simply take blurred, useless images of such things.
Through a Looking Glass Darkly
Along with durability and shutter speed, it’s important to choose cameras with the proper available lenses. Lenses, in photography, are one of the key determining factors for the type of image a camera will capture.
On top of this, these lenses affect the image type in more than the obvious way. While the shape of the glass in the lens will determine distortion or lack thereof, as well the angle width of the image, many also allow special forms of imagine.
Night photography, especially in environments where flashes aren’t usable for various reasons, requires lenses which can boost the strength of incoming light, and even filter it where necessary. In some cases, thermal imaging or night vision equipment is the only way to achieve the fidelity required.
Of course, there is also the design of the camera itself. Portable cameras have advantaged that stationary tripod cameras do not, and vice versa. Stationary cameras allow the photographer to properly line the angles properly, and set the stage for the picture ahead of time. This permits them to capture the image they desire when the light is just perfect.
However, only portable cameras are efficient in rough terrain, tight spaces or on the move.
To Be Digital or Not to Be Digital
Finally, there is a lot more to the choice between film cameras and digital cameras than people often expect. While there is a bit of a polarizing debate among photography hobbyists and professionals about the loss of character with digital, it’s not without its advantages.
Digital cameras can help the various lens types mentioned above to perform even better, and allow for a much crisper, higher resolution image than film could ever permit. However, digital cameras are less common in the rugged forms needed for some environments. This is gradually changing, of course.
Film cameras, however, have a charm to the images they produce. Comparing a digital photograph to a very high quality film photograph produces an odd psychological effect. While the digital will have a higher fidelity no matter what, its nature as a grid of colored dots (pixels) gives a subconscious sense of “fakeness” that film does not produce.
As any professional photographer will agree, the best images can only be taken by those with the right camera for the climate and lighting, along with the right shutter speed, lens setup and of course, the human element of understanding how these all work together.