From Camera Obscura to Cellphone Cameras

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.

This entry was posted in Stories and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to From Camera Obscura to Cellphone Cameras

  1. mjlfernandez says:

    The invention of camera really propelled humanity into doing, surprisingly, a lot of things that we could not imagine doing with just a brush, paint, and canvass.

    With the development of the technology, the use of camera was not limited anymore to the hands of the few: only those who can afford and have the professional knowledge on the then new technology. But look at us now. Cameras are now so affordable and easy to use that most of us humans have it, whether it be DSLRs, digital cameras, or phone cameras. Being part of the generation y (those born from the 1980’s to 1990’s), I have witnessed the dramatic change in the cameras, albeit in ust a short period of time. Before, we used to take pictures at home with my siblings because the remaining negative film that would merit us a few shots would be “sayang”. After all, we still had to finish the film rolls before we were able to bring it to the store and have them developed. Sure, it was a long process which required a lot of waiting. But as expected, camera technology would not be left behind in a world where everything becomes “instant”.

    Now, we can take pictures and print them in the comforts of our own home. But now that we can take as many pictures as we want, some prefer not to print them but to upload them in their social media accounts. And look what we have now, a whole new culture (with a new set of vocabulary) of selfies, live updates, selfie sticks, and group shots.

    Mary Joy Fernandez
    2012-35490

  2. Niobe Vidal says:

    A very interesting turn in contemporary camera culture is the rise of the GoPro. Usually (in the beginning) associated with adventure and extreme sports, the GoPro is now being used by many people–camera professionals and non-professionals alike–to chronicle life in its fullest motion. In an article for the New Yorker, Nick Paumgarten read this phenomenon as a manifestation of human desire to beat memory and forgetting. The GoPro’s features offer a means of limiting the gaps (time delay and image accuracy) between experience and recording.

    “As he worked, half a dozen guests held their GoPros up to the window to film the Jumbotrons in Times Square, which NASDAQ had leased for the occasion in order to display GoPro videos. Among the cavalcade of images was an underwater shot of Woodman’s toddler son learning to swim: a private event now magnified into mythology in the hall of mirrors that is our world of cameras and screens.”

    Ref: http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2014/09/22/camera

    Niobe Vidal
    2012-03453
    STS THX

  3. Yzzabel Danganan STS THY says:

    Cameras have always been an interesting topic for me. Being a selfie-person makes me curious of how the use of it began and why, in the first place. Today, we cannot deny that camera is not just a thing for special occasions, we now use it on a day to day basis, specially on the emergence of the cellphones that have cameras on it. Upon reading this and knowing that the camera that I used to know has this kind of history, the camera obscura? which is witty, plus because of the humans’ great minds that has evolved it, creating today’s cameras, it seems that cameras have been taken for granted today. Nevertheless, I love cameras, and I hope that they do love me too.

    Yzzabel Danganan
    STS THY
    2015-03634

  4. Yzzabel Danganan STS THY says:

    Cameras have always been an interesting topic for me. Being a selfie-person makes me curious of how the use of it began and why, in the first place. Today, we cannot deny that camera is not just a thing for special occasions, we now use it on a day to day basis, specially on the emergence of the cellphones that have cameras on it. Upon reading this and knowing that the camera that I used to know has this kind of history, the camera obscura? which is witty, plus because of the humans’ great minds that has evolved it, creating today’s cameras, it seems that cameras have been taken for granted today. Nevertheless, I love cameras, and I hope that they do love me too.

    Yzzabel Danganan
    STS THY
    2015-03634

  5. Yzzabel Danganan STS THY says:

    Cameras have always been an interesting topic for me. Being a selfie-person makes me curious of how the use of it began and why, in the first place. Today, we cannot deny that camera is not just a thing for special occasions, we now use it on a day to day basis, specially on the emergence of the cellphones that have cameras on it. Upon reading this and knowing that the camera that I used to know has this kind of history, the camera obscura? which is witty, plus because of the humans’ great minds that has evolved it, creating today’s cameras, it seems that cameras have been taken for granted today. Nevertheless, I love cameras, and I hope that they do love me too.

    Yzzabel Danganan
    STS THY
    2015-03634

  6. Yzzabel Danganan STS THY says:

    Cameras have always been an interesting topic for me. Being a selfie-person makes me curious of how the use of it began and why, in the first place. Today, we cannot deny that camera is not just a thing for special occasions, we now use it on a day to day basis, specially on the emergence of the cellphones that have cameras on it. Upon reading this and knowing that the camera that I used to know has this kind of history, the camera obscura? which is witty, plus because of the humans’ great minds that has evolved it, creating today’s cameras, it seems that cameras have been taken for granted today. Nevertheless, I love cameras, and I hope that they do love me too.

    Yzzabel Danganan
    STS THY
    2015-03634

  7. Ericka Rose Forbes says:

    Cameras play a major role in everyone’s life today. Camera’s just don’t serve as device for entertainment but also for business, for research, for recording or preserving memories, for education and even for securities. I, myself is aware that cameras back then were big and heavy and I am really amazed on what technology can do. Cameras today are lighter and have higher megapixels than before and most importantly, cameras today are now attached to cellphones. And because of this, many photo sharing sites are made like snapchats, instagrams, flcker, tumblr etc. And according to what I see online, people took photos of everything today including trees, flowers, books, shoes, clothes and everything else. And also because of cameras taking videos is now easier. Mostly people who watches performance and concerts took videos and miss the opportunity of watching it live. People tend to think if you have a copy of the performance you would be so happy but what they failed to see is that watching the performance live is what would make us happier and would make the performance more enjoyable. Remember our mind also has the ability to store memories and our eyes also has a lot more pixels than your camera, about 130 million pixels, does your 24-megapixel camera is feeling humble now?

    ERICKA ROSE FORBES
    2015-10518
    THY

  8. Allen Renaldo O. Cruz says:

    Together with the decreasing in size of cameras comes the decreasing in price of these powerful instruments. It was highlighted in this blog the importance of cameras especially in preserving events and at some point time traveling them through pictures. The decrease in price of cameras has made the benefits of these devices more widely spread. Now, almost everybody has at least one camera. From the big things of capturing important moments of everyone’s life, to the small things of bringing convenience to each and everybody, cameras have been more important in a human’s everyday life

    Allen Cruz
    2012-32153
    STS THX

Leave a Reply