Camera Obscura, Camera and Cameraphone

Using lenses an inverted image of a tree can be projected on a surface inside a dark room. Other objects of course could be reflected. This was the Camera Obscura. Aside from the novelty of the technology one of the practical uses was to copy images on a projected surface: A painter would trace the figure and voila! A near perfect depiction of the projected object. And this was the secret of a number of painters.

Of course the projection of an image via the Camera Obscura jumped technologically when it was discovered that you could burn the image on a reactive surface, leaving behind an image of the object. If the simple projection of an image via the camera obscure was in the realm of Physics. The burning or reaction of a surface to the projected image is in the realm of Chemistry. It is an example of how science can provide innovation and improve life.

When the camera boxes came out they were BROGDINAGIAN: HUGE and Expensive. Interestingly enough the two uses of the camera were in the realm of Science and Arts. Discoveries and phenomena were and are continually recorded by cameras. A number of these cameras were customised for this. The Fish-Eye lens was created to get to see everything in front of you with one shot. The first panoramic cameras were used to take snapshots of a field before and after it was bombarded by mortar fire. Cameras have and are attached to microscopes and telescopes. At the same time when the camera appeared another use was for aesthetic pleasure and purpose. The first cameras were used to recreate and adapt famous art works. Painting both classical and Impressionistic were re-interpreted. Not surprisingly, Painters were initially alarmed with the camera – would the camera replace them? History would prove that they had nothing to fear. Technology does not make one a Picasso. It was up to the skill and determination of the individual to harness and make use of the camera. An often quoted maxim among photographers – its the Indian and not the bow: Its not the technology but the hand that wields it that make it useful and successful.

As time progressed the technology of cameras evolved. Cameras shifted from glass, metal plates, to film and digital sensors. Cameras evolved from large box cameras to pocket-sized cameras able to fit in one’s eponymous pocket (Olympus Pen). Twin-Lens Reflexes, Single Lens Reflex, Range finders, and compact cameras came. Making the art and science of photography everywhere and to anyone. Kodak’s Brownie Camera made thing as simple as possible, just take a shot and bring to the Kodak store and Kodak print those shots for you. A few scores before the beginning of the 2000s the Instant Camera made it’d appearance and negated the need to go to the photoshop. And much nearer the beginning of the 2000s the first digital camera came and soon digital technology would envelope cameras of all sorts. Of course the camera phone handed this technology to the hands of a greater part of the human race – bringing about selfies, selfie sticks, wacky shots, OTD, group shots, flickr and Instagram.

The Ubiquity: The Constant Presence Everywhere of the camera from the cameras of photographers, the cameras of satellites in space and the cameras in cellphones and across time has been having a profound impact on Human Civilisation:

Portraits – formal, informal and even post-mortem have recorded and preserved our story. Probably one of the more poignant would be the image and moving image of the extinct Tasmanian Wolf.
Snapshots of Rubber Plantation workers mutilated, as a form of punishment, in the Belgian Congo because of the policy of the Belgian King was one of the factors that led to the worldwide condemnation and eventual dropping of the practice of the Belgian King as the feudal lord of the Belgian Congo.
Artworks produced like: Atomicus featuring Salvador Dali, several cats, water, chairs and other things. Works of Henri Cartier Bresson, Arthur Fellig, Ansel Adams, Diane Arbus, Robert Capa, Eugene Smith and others.
Preserving and Capturing the snapshot of human and nature events from the End of World War II, the Atomic Bomb Explosion; the Eruption of Mount Pinatubo; the foot print of the Astronaut who landed on the Moon: the first snapshot of a human being born; and countless snapshots of each human being with a camera.

For good or for worse the camera is now one of the essential parts gf Our Society. Whether it be anolog or digital and whether it is a big or a pocket sized, Humans: We use it (i) for enjoyment, (ii) for business, (iii) for research, (iv) for recording, preserving and remembering. It will probably be one of the technology we will have for some time.

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4 Responses to Camera Obscura, Camera and Cameraphone

  1. 2012-78957

    Coincidentally I was surfing the net about camera obscura, more on the main weapon or item used in the game called ‘Fatal Frame’ where you exorcise ghost with the camera obscura. The whole purpose the camera is to capture what is seen from the lens of the gadget. I like how camera used to be a giant box with a mirror inside and a glass panel, where you could trace your artwork, to the digital files you save in the computer. It just goes to show that some painters who live in the era where camera was first invented used these devices for a more reference use similar to what artists tend to do right now. The first fear when the invention started to spread around the world was always ‘are they going to be replaced?’ when really what happened was the other way around. camera adapted into an artist’s life by using them to capture that ‘moment’ that we could never capture while painting or drawing. I myself as an artist student, I never turn away from capturing the moment and infusing that scene into my artwork. Its more like steps into a new and evolved society as humans continue to invent more technologies that tends to become part of evolution within culture and society. Because man doesn’t simply invent these without a reason, the main purpose of the camera is to capture that moment that could not be repeated, a moment that neither man nor nature could replicate an event/scene/phenomenon that tend to give the first authentic reactions from any witnesses. .

    Marielle M. Espinosa
    STS THX 2:30-4 pm

    • Juned says:

      “Capture the moment”, reminds me of the quote of photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson about photography and capturing the decisive moment 🙂

  2. Kamille Tolentino says:

    I am no photographer, but I really hate it when people think photography and taking really great photos are all in the camera and as long as you have the latest model (or some even say, as long as you have an iPhone and the VSCO app downloaded) you’re good to go and pass off as a professional photographer.

    “Technology does not make one a Picasso. It was up to the skill and determination of the individual to harness and make use of the camera.”

    People have completely taken the camera for granted. From people thinking that merely having one makes them a “professional” to people taking snaps (of which I’m guilty of) all the time unlike before that photos were really there to preserve memories and were well thought of before taking a shot.

    Kamille Tolentino

  3. 2012-78834 says:

    “Photography is a form of time travel.” – Neil DeGrasse Tyson
    That quote is for me the best quote about photography. It is indeed a way of time travel. You capture the exact position of light particles at an instance in time, develop or print it, and let it travel through time. Seeing old photos, doesn’t only give me a view on the looks of my grandparents way back then but it also gives me a view of the past. I mean, isn’t it wonderful to think that when you are looking at a photo, you are looking at a window in time that a camera created?

    When it comes to the development in photography, I still prefer the filmed cameras rather than the digital ones. The filmed cameras have the element of surprise, you will only see the photo when it is developed so you don’t have any idea on how the photo looks like unlike the digital camera where you can retake photos. It’s just so sad to think that the old method already died.

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