Science in daily life: From Camera Obscura to the cameraphone

Now it would be impossible to imagine a world without a selfie. t would be hard to imagine a world without a camera. What would be our world be like without our ability to capture chemically and digitally images?


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 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, (v) for security, (vi) And for preserving and remembering. It will probably be one of the technology we will have for some time.

Now, The answer whether it is good or bad lies in the hand that wields it.

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127 Responses to Science in daily life: From Camera Obscura to the cameraphone

  1. Micah Tan says:

    Tools have always been neutral, and the camera is no exception. The earliest humans have been existing on earth hundreds of thousands of years ago, but it is not until just a few thousand years ago that human history was recorded, through crude writings of ancient civilizations. This was the dawn of human history; the point wherein past events began to be recorded in texts and words, and in some instances through pictographs, leaving an almost permanent mark in the legacy of humanity.

    “If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a video is worth a million.”

    Fast forward to the present day, cameras are our tools for modern writings; but they are capable of documenting more than texts and words. They could capture a moment (by taking a picture), or a scene (by recording a video); they vividly replicate and illustrate an exact point in human history with unprecedented accuracy and detail.

    Cameras have definitely been an essential part of preserving an event in the past for the purpose of future viewing, deeper study of history, extended appreciation of what has passed, or just simply quaint reminiscing of a memory. It has undoubtedly improved by leaps and bounds the manner of how humankind records its history.

    Tan, Micah G.

  2. At the end of the day, camera is a tool. A tool wherein it can bring good things and bad things depending on the user who wields it. Now the question is, What type of user are you, what is your purpose of using the camera and how can you maximize the benefits the camera can bring in to your life?

    Personally, I use camera because I want to capture the memories worth having a second glance on.The past can be revisited and connection to the past can be established through the wonderful effects the camera brings.

    Now what you have to do is to capture every single moment in your life that you hold special. Shoot the things you find interesting. Capture the places you find breath taking. Maximize the benefits the camera can bring in to your life because at the end of the day, Father time is not our ally and we age every single day. Time is continuous and the only way to freeze the moment is through the use of the camera. We only have a single life and one ways to enjoy living is to capture the things worth remembering and celebrating.

    Power! Peace! Isko Out!

    Chua, Gabriel S.

  3. Aubrey Bello says:

    Camera is truly a magnificent invention. What would our lives be like if there were no cameras? I think we need to capture every important events through writing. There would be no films to watch and everything will rely on our memories and imaginations. That would be hard.

    Camera is certainly useful in our lives. It can capture every important and special moments in our lives like birthdays, bonding moments, weddings, graduation, etc.. It also contributed to history by capturing the historical events and historical persons through photography and videos. Cameras also bring forth to new hobbies like photography. Camera didn’t only yield photography, it also caused the start of production of moving pictures or films.

    Ever since its invention, it had continued to evolve and develop throughout the years. From chemical to digital, from manual to digital, from big to small, from a single function to multiple functions – camera had gone through a lot of steps until it reached the present-day camera. Because of this development, camera became one of the most useful technology ever invented.

    Bello, Aubrey C.

  4. Jemaima Cerise Mendoza says:

    Surely, these kinds of devices were crafted so that our daily tasks would be easier to do. Whether a device is good or bad all lies on the person. There are many things that became convenient upon its invention but there are certain crimes that also became convenient like crimes on sexual harassment. We must always establish ethical rules when there are new inventions made.

    Jemaima Cerise C. Mendoza

  5. Janelle Uy says:

    Cameras play an important role in our lives since the time they started producing ones that are portable. They can be used to record special moments in a person’s life. And now, people all over the world are not only using these cameras for special moments, but also for their daily life. We may not know what will happen in the future for cameras, but they most likely will remain a part of our lives for a long time.

    Janelle Anne Pauline Z. Uy

  6. chargozun says:

    Cameras are amazing tools to record a certain event and use the pictures taken for future purposes. The most striking part for me was the dilemma of the author if camera is a good or bad invention. My opinion is that cameras are good invention because it made our life easier. It only depends on the use and intention of a person.

    Gozun, Charlene C.

  7. Austin Dionne Catulong says:

    Cameras are important in daily life, especially now that we live in a modern age where documentation is very important. As the author shows the two sides of the coin, it also made me realize that invention is always a double edged sword. We should always think of how we use cameras and other gadgets as to not to harm anyone’s privacy, since these were invented primarily to help lives easier.

  8. Cameras are one of those pieces of technology that seem essential to modern life. One really wonders how the world could have operated before it.

    Sure, before the camera one could always have painted a picture, but that is both difficult and time-consuming. Cameras are used in all different kinds of aspects, may it be medical, legal, personal, social; One cannot just paint what a persons insides may look like. Imagine all the time you would waste drawing the mugshot for every suspect or criminal.

    You could always argue whether an invention was good or bad but in the end it doesn’t really matter since there are inherently good and bad people. The camera has made the world easier for everyone, regardless if you own a camera or not.

    Morado, Sebastian H.

  9. Jaime Immanuel D. Mejia says:

    Since time immemorial people are obsess with capturing a moment. This obsession has led to the art of painting. Paintings are not just done to express the human creative skill and imagination, but also to document a moment. As time passed and technology improved, documenting a moment became very easy. This was all thanks to the invention of the camera. With this invention people were able to capture simple and unbelievable moments. From a simple but meaningful family photo to the first picture of planet earth taken from the moon. People are now capable of documenting everything they want to explore.

    Mejia, Jaime Immanuel D.

  10. Eric Loyd Hilario says:

    Camera is a tool. And it is a very powerful tool as it can manifest the truth. One picture can tell you something happened or not. But also, we need to be wary of the pictures we are looking at because it may only show us one portion of the truth and it may not be true anymore. Also, camera is so powerful that it can fool us, that it can control what people see. Now that we are in the age that almost all the things that is happening can be captured by a camera, an important reminder would be shooting what is relevant, as a single piece of photo can change the world.

    Hilario, Eric Loyd

  11. Herald Pedregosa says:

    The camera is such a significant invention as it has allowed for moments to be captured and be looked at later, which was perhaps unimaginable back in the day. Recently, it has been widely used in social media to keep us posted with our circle of friends. Snapchat and Instagram have made such great innovations when it comes to the use of the camera, to the point where we even know what our friends from the other side of the world had for lunch. The access of “normal” people to cameras and the internet have made today’s society less dependent to traditional media — now, a simple live stream via facebook can have us updated about games or competitions for free instead of having to pay. It is now just a matter of policing and control because the camera can be also cause harm to others.

    Herald Pedregosa

  12. Angelo Parvez says:

    Long before, camera was used to capture memories and different moments. It captured many important events that are part of the history. And up until now, it is used in capturing different memories that, who knows, maybe part of the history. Nowadays, it is almost as if camera is a requirement to be a human. Almost everyone cannot lice without a camera, whatever the form of the camera is, it can be a pocket camera, a smartphone, a dslr etc. The use of such is actually good and bad. It can as mentioned earlier be used to capture memories and all, but at same time, we only see what was captured in that camera. We can’t see the whole scenario, what was happening behind the camera, and what was happening around it. It can cause a certain scenario beyond what is real. We should just be careful on using cameras for it can affect us and others.

    Angelo Parvez

  13. Katherine Mallari says:

    Through the years, the camera has indeed proven its worth and usefulness as a tool in our society. It has been used to capture the most significant and precious moments to an individual or to the whole world in general. It is evident how a lot of people have utilizing this tool, may it be in their everyday simple tasks, or in the complex ones such as scientific discoveries and the like. However, it can be also be seen as a powerful tool that can be used to deceive and control what people see. The question on whether a camera is good or bad is more likely to be incorrect since it is merely a tool, and that the person using it would be the one to determine whether to use it to do good or bad.

    Katherine Mallari

  14. Julian Manzano says:

    The camera is useful for many purposes. Whether it be for immortalizing memories, or simply using it to capture the message we wish to portray, the camera continues to be used worldwide. Like any technology, however, it must be used only responsibly and possibly, to bring good to the world.

    Manzano, Julian Mikael B.

  15. Denise Ajose says:

    Just like what the article says, I firmly believe that the success or failure of a technology depends on us, its users. Camera is undeniably ubiquitous nowadays; and it serves many purpose in our daily living. In fact, it plays a vital role both in the fields of Arts and Sciences. However, we cannot also deny the fact that camera has been utilized in ways that perhaps destroy the society. This goes to show that even how magnificent these innovations are, we humans have the capacity to use it beyond its potential and limitations.

    Denise Ajose
    STS- WFX

  16. Even during the early times, people have already been concerned with immortalizing whether an event, a person, an object, etc by creating an image of it. It is just that with the camera, this process is made easier and accessible to more people (before, you need to be a an artist/painter to be able to depict something. And depicting something via painting takes time as opposed to the camera nowadays wherein you can click and produce an image already)

    Without the access to the camera, the world would go back to the early times wherein you would need drawing/painting skills to depict something and since not everyone has this kind of skill, less people would be able to represent the world through images

    Esteban, Erica Joanne

  17. bead says:

    I believe that cameras have done more good than bad. It has been used for humanity to grow and learn more culturally, politically, practically and creatively. In my opinion, it is one of the most enjoyable tools/gadgets that has ever been made, especially as an avenue for self-expression, sharing of ideals or current events, and remembering of memories. It is also an exhibit of technological progress through the years, whether in size, specs, capabilities, and even design.

    Despite this, it must be remembered that the value of something, whether in worth or in morality, is still up to the beholder. I think that cameras can be used for both good and bad; even “too much” of camera usage can affect us (e.g. dependence, focusing more on being able to Snap or Instagram live an event than actually immersing oneself in the experience). Thus, it’s up to us to keep ourselves in check, both individually and in the context of a larger society.

    Dazo, Bea S.

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  19. Ralph Justin Tayaban says:

    Ultimately it is the photograph that matters. Is it simply a recorded shot of an event or does the photographer have something to say?
    Where once a photo was something to be valued, something you could hold, today thousands bombard our senses. Anyone under the age of 10 will inherit thousands of pictures documenting their developmental years – how, in these vast archives, will they locate those special moments? The notion of a few dozen Kodachromes documenting a life is long since gone.
    Breaking through the sheer volume of pictures can be tough, but there are many remarkable photographers out there with plenty to say. As the late Eve Arnold put it: “If a photographer cares about the people before the lens and is compassionate, much is given. It is the photographer, not the camera, that is the instrument.”

    Tayaban, Ralph Justin P.

  20. Allysa M. says:

    Camera is a tool and I am pretty sure that it is one of the greatest tools that ever existed, especially for us who are part of the Millennial generation. It has done good and also not so good things. With camera, we are able to capture feelings. We are able to preserve memories. Photographs taken can boost our confidence. But at the same time, makes us dependable to it.
    These days, people tend to validate their existence, their beauty, their position in the society by the number of likes their picture gets on facebook, by the number of shares they get, and so on.

    Let us always remember that the value or the effects of the things that surround us depends on the one using it. These tools are invented in order to lessen the burden of our lives, to make our works easier. Don’t let the good intentions of the inventors be put into nothing.

    MALUBAG, Allysa Margarette R.
    2015 – 13657

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