Photography started with the daguerreotype. Invented by Louis Daguerre and Joseph Niépce, the camera alllowed light to hit a silver-coated sheet of copper and stay. The camera, called a "camera obscura," was the first photography medium. The inventor, Daguerre, may have had an idea that his scientific process could evolve, but likely not to the extent it has. Photography mediums now range from cameras that burn light onto film to highly "smart" digital cameras with automatic settings.
Film SLR (Single Lens Reflex) 35mm
The SLR (single lens reflex) camera lets photographers shoot with a handheld camera with automatic or manual settings. The SLR camera can have a medium or wide lens, which makes the viewfinder large. Photographers need to adjust the aperture -- an iris-like mechanism that "dilates" to a larger or smaller circle to let in more or less light. The SLR also has another feature, the F-stop, which controls how long the aperature stays open to gather enough light. The images burn onto film, which is later developed and chemically treated to produce a photograph. With an SLR 35mm film camera, a photographer is only allowed up to 36 shots, due to the length of the roll of film inside the camera.
Digital cameras are a very manipulable photography method. This camera technology allows a photographer to shoot hundred of pictures without worrying about running out of film. Instead of light buring on film inside the camera, light hits a "digital sensor array," according to a digital photoraphy expert on Nikonians, a website for Nikon camera enthusiasts. The image of the bird, house, river or portrait you took remains because the digital sensor is made of millions of tiny sensor points, or "pixels," a term short for "picture elements." When the image is stored by downloading onto a computer, the photographer can manipulate the photograph as much as she pleases. Post-processing like color enhancement, solarization -- a silver wash -- and adding or deleting images to the original shot is easy, compared to film cameras.
An instant camera, also called a Land camera, prints pictures instantly. When a photograph held the boxy camera with two hands, with one hand he adjusted the light meter to correctly read the lighting requirments to properly illuminate the tree or person he was shooting. After the photographer focused the lens, or let the camera focus itself on the subject, he took the picture. After flipping a switch and pulling back a large tab, the picture is ready to pick up from the camera's front. The self-developing film was mostly made by the Polaroid corporation, but it no longer creates the cameras, as of 2007 or the instant film, as of 2009. However, instant camera enthusiasts buy and sell old cameras and film and use the photography for art projects and collages.
A pinhole camera uses the same logic as the original camera obscura, though in smaller form. While the camera obscura was a large as a house and needed a mirror, a pinhole camera just uses a tiny hole and photographic paper to make a negative image. For example, a photographer can make a camera out of a tissue box, an emptied-out oatmeal cylinder or a cereal box. To make a camera from an oatmeal cylinder, in complete darkness, the photgrapher slips in a piece of photographic paper in the cylinder, on the side across from the hole. Keeping the hole covered with black tape, once the photograher sees something to shoot, she lifts off the tape and the light from the image burns the film inside the container-camera. After processing, a negative image appears, which can be turned into positive if desired.
Noelle Carver has been a freelance writer since 2009, with work published in "SSYK" and "The Wolf," two U.K. literary journals. Carver holds a Bachelor of Arts in literature from American University and a Master of Fine Arts in writing from The New School. She lives in New York City.