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The Physics of Photography Essay

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The Physics of Photography

The general population has become so accustomed to their simple point and shoot cameras that they do not either notice the poor quality of images that they are producing or do not have the knowledge to produce better images. For those who desire to take better photographs, photography will be an exciting life long adventure. There are many aspects to consider when taking a photograph. A good photograph is well thought out before the photographer snaps the shutter. Whether taking one’s portrait or shooting a landscape in the back yard, things must be lined up just right to get the best possible image. Different techniques are used to produce the exact feeling the photographer wishes to portray in his/her image. Depth of field is one way in which one can manipulate a photograph to produce the exact image desired. Depth of field is how much of the image is in focus from the front of the photograph to the back of the photograph. Emphasis can be placed on a certain subject by obscuring the foreground or background. There are three main features that can affect depth of field. Lens aperture (f-stop), distance from the camera to the subject, and the focal length of the lens (Heart 100).

In order to understand depth of field one must first understand how light works. We can view objects because of light rays reflecting off their surfaces. These light rays are reflected in innumerable directions. In order to capture an image onto film one must be capable of controlling the light rays that enter the camera. This is done through the lens. The lens consists of a mixture of converging and diverging lenses that bend the light so it reaches the film as a real image. The light that passes through the upper po...


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...of the light from the scene behind the subject must bend more to reach the film, causing the background to be blurred. When the photographer is farther away from the subject, all the light reflecting from the scene travels a straight path into the lens, making the index of refraction less and creating a sharper image from front to back.

There is a wide variety of information to learn in photography and depth of field is just one aspect. Learning the different methods for controlling depth of field such as aperture, focal length, and subject distance will help in the journey of taking great photographs. Gone are the days of taking roll after roll of terrible photographs from a point and shoot camera. With just a little knowledge, taking sharp, well exposed photographs is more that just something the professionals do but rather something one can accomplish oneself.


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