Listening Script Vocabulary
(Section 4: You will hear a talk explaining the history of cameras. First, you will have some time to look at questions 31 to 40 [20 seconds]. Listen carefully and answer questions 31 to 40.)
Good morning, all. Thanks for getting here on time for the first lecture of the semester. I’m pleased that so many of you are have signed up for the theory course to complement the practical photography module. I feel very strongly that a good grounding in the theory will help you become better photographers in the long run. Whether you’re a professional or an amateur photographer, knowing a bit more about the history of the camera can help you appreciate photography and the tools that you use a little more.
Now, today’s session is going to start with a brief overview of the history of the camera, and you will have seen the timeline on the handout you received on the way in.
First things first…what is a camera? Before getting into the details, let’s understand what a camera is. In the simplest terms, a camera is a device used to take photographs and is the main tool used for the art of photography. Photography comes from the Greek words ‘photos’ which means ‘light’, and ‘graphein’ which means ‘to draw’.
A camera, therefore, is a device that captures light and records the images by the action of light on a sensitive material. A camera makes use of lenses, mirrors, its own light source, and the media on which the captured image can be saved. So now we know, in basic terms, what a camera is, let’s get into the history of the camera in more detail.
The very first versions of the camera, although considered ingenious in their time, were very crude instruments of photography compared to the advanced and even smart cameras that people have today. The very first camera was the camera obscura, or the pinhole camera. This device in the timeline of photography history is said to date back to the ancient Greeks and the ancient Chinese. The device makes use of a pinhole to project the image but the resulting projection is upside down. It is said that Alhazen or Ibn Al-Haytham, a great authority in the field of optics, was later on known in photography history as the one who created the pinhole camera in 1000 AD.
In the earliest days of photography history, the camera obscura was used for watching solar eclipses, most notably done by Reiners Gemma Frisius from the Leuven University in 1544. Giovanni Batista della Porta recommended using this device as an aid for scientific drawings in 1544. It was in 1685 when Johann Zahn envisioned the first small and portable camera which is closer to the smaller gadgets known today. Although crude, the camera obscura which was the first device in the history of the camera that showed the first signs of the makings of a more advanced device which would lead to the development of cameras as we know them today.
The camera obscura was around for many years, but no one was able to preserve the images in a photographic form. It was only in 1827 that Niepce used the camera obscura for coming up with heliographs, or sun prints, which made it the first tool used in photography history. It can be said that these heliographs were the prototype of today’s modern photographs, which used light to draw the picture.
The resulting photograph was very different from the photographs we know today though. Niepce made use of an engraving and a bitumen-coated metal plate, which was then exposed to the light. The darker, shadowy parts on the engraving were able to block light, but lighter areas allowed just enough light to react with the chemicals on the metal plate. The image had initially been invisible, but after placing the metal plate in a solvent, it produced the image of the engraving. There were two major cons to this method though: it required eight hours of exposure to create the image, and it faded quickly.
In photography history, cameras have long been known to use films, which would give a negative of the image. Film has been a major part of the history of the camera and despite being used years ago, it is still actively used today. Over the course of photography history, the techniques for developing photos improved, and the production of colour photographs was made possible.
George Eastman was the man responsible for pioneering the use of photographic film in 1889. His first camera was called the ‘Kodak’, and this name is still a major one recognized as a major player in the development of the camera and camera film. It was a simple box camera that had a fixed focus lens and just a single shutter speed. This relatively affordable device came loaded with film enough for a hundred exposures, which would then have to be sent back to the factory to be processed.
The Brownie was another camera made by Eastman, and this was what introduced the snapshot. It became very popular and was still on sale around 1960 but the major downside was that the Brownie wasn’t too big to carry around. Comfortable handling and more portability was needed to make cameras more attractive to more buyers who were interested in creating photographs of their own.
In 1928, the Rolleiflex TLR or twin-lens reflex camera was released and it was known to have been the first practical reflex camera. TLRs and SLRs or single-lens reflex cameras had been available for decades but both were even bulkier than the box-type Kodak and other more portable cameras. The Rolleiflex was different though, and it was compact enough to gain popularity in the mass market. The TLR design then became popular for high as well as low-end cameras during those years.
The next main event was the development of the instant camera. The Kodak required film to be taken back to the factory, and the same applied for many other cameras when it came to developing the photographs. But in 1948, a completely new kind of the camera was released. The Polaroid Model 95 was the very first instant-picture camera in the world. It made use of a patented chemical process to come up with finished prints of the photos within just a minute! You can imagine just how different and modern this concept was back then and it became a really huge success because of this innovation despite the hefty price tag.
Now, let’s move on to the digital cameras we use today …