How Do Cameras Work?
Start writing a post
Lifestyle

You Won't Believe The Mechanics Behind That Insta Photo You Just Posted

We've tamed the fastest thing in our universe in order to always have those moments that give meaning to our lives.

9
Man
William Khayyo

Cameras. A glimpse into a meaningful memory at a moment's notice, capturing the emotion, scenery, and ambiance of a road trip or the awe instilled by Niagara Falls. Since 1816, we have used cameras in order to immerse our posterity in the nostalgia instilled by more distant memories. How do these wondrous machines capture such a crisp image and what role does light play in the phenomena?

Film cameras are dependent on the use of a plastic laced with various silver, light-sensitive chemicals. The film is wrapped in a cylindrical fashion in order to protect the film and placed inside the camera. Once you press the button on the camera, a shutter system is activated to open an aperture on the front of the camera. Light can then enter through the lens and onto the film, beginning a series of chemical reactions to store the image.

The film has to be filled before you can develop it, which is typically conducted within the confines of an automated machine. The film is removed and immersed in developing fluid for the pictures to initially appear. However, these pictures would appear dark in areas where the photo had a lot of light, and vice versa. These negatives are used to print the finished versions of the photo.

The issue of using film is that when you need to capture one moment, you cannot print it out until you fill the entire roll of film. This can be a particular nuisance since it would already take days to develop the film and receive it through the mail. A common—and preferable—alternative to film cameras are digital cameras.

Digital cameras work in a completely different mechanism from the classic film cameras. Similarly, pressing the button opens the aperture for light to enter. Either a charge-coupled device (CCD) and or CMOS image sensor processes the light rays as electrical signals. Light from the object you're photographing hits the sensor chip, dissipating it into millions of pixels, converting photons to code.

The CCD/CMOS image sensor of digital cameras functions by a grid system. When an image is presented, they store the details in a grid of squares, measuring the color and brightness of each pixel. The details are then stored in a sort of binary code, stringing millions of characters for one image alone. Compression remediates this issue by squishing the images in order to save memory by using fewer numbers in the code. You've probably heard of different methods of storing images as JPG files. The higher the image's resolution, the more memory is occupied.

In every way, digital cameras prove to be superior to film cameras. Conversely, the annual sales of cameras have decreased in tandem with the rise in sales of smartphones, most of which have a built-in quality camera. The size and quality of image sensors are vital in comparing the validity of purchasing a camera versus using a smartphone. Simply put, while smartphones claim to have clearer images—harboring 13 megapixels in an imaget—the smaller sensor chip handicaps the resolution in comparison to the digital cameras.

Now, I have been babbling about the mechanisms that govern the utility of cameras, but one thing shared among each type is the information taken in by light, one of the most fascinating phenomena in physics. Learning its characteristics could help you manipulate it to create beautiful images.

The picture above was taken on a trip of mine to Governor's Island in New York City. It was a fairly rainy day and this one location, surrounded by brick buildings and luscious trees, had a lake-like puddle commandeering the walkway. The picture appears to be edited with two overlapping images varying of opacity. In truth, the only editing I did was change the filter to create a lime green color in the trees. I took advantage of specular reflection in order to create a surreal ambiance in the photo.

When light travels in a medium, such as water, some light reflects back at a fixed angle. In still water, the light would come in contact at what's called an angle of incidence and reflects back at an angle of reflection. These two angles are congruent and tangent to one another. A normal line can be drawn to differentiate the two angles. While some of the light reflects back, other light passes through via refraction.

The light would refract in an angle complementary to the angle of incidence (meaning they sum to 90 degrees.) The speed of light (3.0 x 10^8 m/s) stays constant even when it travels through the water, yet the frequency of the wave may vary. Simply by abusing the reflection of light, I was able to take a stellar image.

And how does refraction play a role? Since some of the light passes through the water surface, it reaches the concrete and is absorbed, hence why the light reflected is an image that has a lower opacity. The background image is simply the concrete floor, giving a nice texture to the background.

Another cool thing about light is that it is the fastest thing in the universe. They always follow the quickest path—which isn't always the fastest. Imagine there is a muddy path and an asphalt plank. Typically, a diagonal path would be the shortest path, but the quickest would be a balance between spending the least time in the mud as well as traveling the shortest distance. If you were to take a circle and trace its path, a cycloid curve forms.

Following that arc length with respect to gravity and force would produce the quickest path. Imagine the mud was water, the asphalt was a vacuum of air, and you were light. Light follows this algorithm in tandem to this dilemma, called the Brachistochrone Paradox. There's a video explaining how mathematically possible this curve is if you are interested.

Overall, imaging and light are two phenomena, synergizing the manmade with the natural to preserve what we find special. The snippets of memories and expression are preserved by using light and technology to our manipulation. I feel that this is one aspect at which we've tamed the fastest thing in our universe in order to always have those moments that give meaning to our lives.

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
Swoon

23 Pandemic-Approved Date Ideas That'll Send Sparks Flying From Six Feet Apart

There's a safe way to date right now and yes, it includes masks.

91696

While some people would rather opt out of dating altogether during the pandemic so they don't have to wear a mask on a first date, others are choosing to listen to both guidelines and their heart in order to find love during the time of coronavirus (COVID-19).

Should you be one of the individuals welcoming romance right now, there are pandemic-approved dates you can go on that still adhere to guidelines (and yes, you'll have to wear a mask).

Keep Reading... Show less
Tasia Sli

Tasia Sli and Anna Yang met in quintessential New York fashion at a chic rooftop event, nurturing and docile Anna gravitating towards bubbly extrovert Tasia.

Keep Reading... Show less

In our patriarchal society, men hide from their feelings, but toxic masculinity is literally killing men. They swallow the pain and move on so that they can look, feel, and act "tough."

But, strength is derived from asking for help and voicing your struggle and, trust me, working on your mental health is one hell of a struggle. The real way to "man up" is to acknowledge the downfalls in unjust societal norms. Mental health problems do not mean that a man is weak, they are neurologically-based disorders that require professional treatment.

Keep Reading... Show less

Two of my favorite things in life are reading and books. Obviously, they go hand-in-hand. In my life, I've realized that there is nothing better than learning about the current world or getting fully immersed in another world. Reading can inspire, teach, and entertain you.

For me, the feeling of opening a book and smelling that fresh book smell can't compete with anything else.

Keep Reading... Show less
Politics and Activism

Sorry, But 'I Don’t Care About Politics' Is Not A Valid Excuse For NOT Voting

The younger generation of voters is so crucial to the upcoming election because our vote is going to shape the world that we are about to enter as adults.

23192

When I ask my friends if they are voting this term most of them respond with "no" followed by an explanation of "I don't care enough," "It doesn't affect me," or "I don't keep up with politics," etc. I get it, as a college student I know that there are many other things to be concerned about like school, relationships, work, and friends. I also understand that keeping up with politics can seem like trying to keep up with an over-exaggerated reality show that has way too many seasons. Not to mention most news stations and websites are biased so it's hard to decipher if what you hear is true or fake.

However, despite all of this annoyance, as the next generation of Americans, we have to remember that we owe it to ourselves, our families, and to our futures to care.

Keep Reading... Show less

Expecting mother and wife to singer/songwriter John Legend may have accidentally slipped up and revealed the gender of her and Legend's third baby today on her Instagram story.

Keep Reading... Show less
Photo by Anna Hernández-Buces

"Do you have big parties on Cinco de Mayo?"

Keep Reading... Show less
Lifestyle

20 Books About Latin And Hispanic Heritage Absolutely Everyone Should Have On Their Bookshelf

Any ally of the community needs to be reading these incredible reads.

6701

I go through phases when it comes to what I like to read. I am typically reading two books at any given time: one serious nonfiction and one escapist fiction novel to have on hand and open up depending on my mood.

What remains consistent, however, amongst most of my fellow bibliophiles is a desire to try new and different authors and genres. I, as an Indian woman, have been partial to reading books written by fellow Indian and Desi writers since I first got a library card.

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

I Asked 46 Women What They Thought About The Term 'Plus-Size', And Here's What They Had To Say

It's 2020, where change is inevitable and norms are not only questioned, but challenged.

3391

We live in a world where it's become customary to push boundaries, break rules, and question standards upheld by society. Though try as we might, some of these standards are harder to conquer than others — body image is one of the top contenders.

For years, the body positivity movement has pushed for the acceptance of all marginalized body types not represented or celebrated in the media. Recently, we've gotten better at appreciating and accepting all body types, but one thing that's still lingering is the stigma of body image in the fashion industry — more specifically, the term "plus-size."

Keep Reading... Show less
Entertainment

Taylor Swift Sang 'betty' At The ACMs And It Was The Perfect First Live 'folklore' Performance

I guarantee that Inez is spreading rumors about how fire this performance was.

2934
CBS

The Academy of Country Music Awards were last night and the performances were wonderful, but Taylor Swift's live version of "betty" from her newest album "folklore" really took the cake for me.

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

9 Reasons I Unfollowed All The Fitness Influencers On My Instagram Feed

I don't need to feel bad about myself because of who I follow on social media.

1665

Throughout quarantine, something that a lot of us picked up on was working out. With all the free time, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to work on that "dream bod" you've been wanting for years, or to just feel good about yourself.

A common way to stay motivated and keep yourself on-task is to follow fitness influencers on various platforms. For some people, yes, this can be a healthy and helpful way to keep your drive. In other cases, however, this can do more harm than good.

Keep Reading... Show less
Lifestyle

The Ultimate Guide To Being A Latinx And Hispanic Community Ally

Educate and celebrate their culture to lift the community up.

1896

It's well known that the Gen-Z and millennial generations are more passionate about social justice and conscious about their decisions as consumers as any other generation to come before us.

For these generations, making mindful decisions about where we like to allocate our money, who we choose to follow on Instagram, and even the books we like to read are extremely important to us. With the rise of the digital age, we are constantly consuming media and content, and so there's no longer an excuse for being uneducated if we want to be educated on a wide range of cultures.

Keep Reading... Show less

With fall 2020 already around the corner, it's time to bring out the flannels, thermals, button-ups, and sweaters that have remained untouched for almost a year. Fall 2020 is all about individuality and authenticity, so style these clothing items in whichever way you please.

That being said, I also included a few styling tips for each item to help you get some inspiration and create a mental lookbook. The following fifteen sweaters range from neutral, color block, stripes, cable knit, cashmere, cardigans, and more.

Keep Reading... Show less

It was a day we all knew would possibly come but hoped it never would. The day the outbreak hit.

I remember, back in March, I was just about to return home from a socially distanced vacation in my Florida home with my mom and grandpa, when my dad called to tell us he was feeling sick. At the time, President Trump hadn't closed the borders, my school was still going back after Easter, and sheer panic hadn't yet flooded our news outlets. We were meant to return home on Saturday, but when the borders closed on Thursday, things got a little more serious.

Keep Reading... Show less
Facebook Comments