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The moon was so bright last night, that it could be photographed hand-held. 1/200 of a second at f/8, to be exact. For those at home keeping score, that's bright. There's no denying it's beauty, but there's also a burning question: if it's so bright, why can't the full roundness of the moon be seen? Perfect! Glad you asked. Last night, the moon was at about 3/4 visible, as you can see in the photo. This happens when the moon is more than half past earth to either side, as figure 3.1 illustrates.
Now, add the moon's position to our vantage point from earth, and then throw in some curvature, and the result is that only 3/4 of the moon is hit by the sun's light. So, here it is: the difference between what is in the light and what isn't is so large that what's not in the light becomes invisible. Let's look at another example.
This image was taken in a studio. We can all agree that there are at least four walls that make up this studio. The reason they can't be seen behind the kind gentleman above is because they're well outside of the light needed for this specific exposure. They are there, though, just as the moon is round. Capisci?
What does photography mean? In 1839, John Herschel coined the term “photography” as photo means light, and the suffix -graphy means writing. Herschel came up with it, but offered it to William Henry Fox Talbot who was pushing his photographic process (calotype or Talbotype) as “photogenic drawing”. I know, right? Herschel is also credited for giving us the terms “positive” and “negative” as he was an extremely generous man and only interested in scientific development, as opposed to Talbot who was always me, me, me. The funniest part is that the name “photography” had already been used years earlier by both the Brazilian Hercules Florence and the German astronomer Johann H. von Maedler. Uh oh! At its birth, photography was all chemistry and math. However, the photographic process changed more often than the Kardashians are on TV, as scientists and photographers were discovering new chemistry to cut down exposure time and produce a more user-friendly (aka sellable) process.
Today it would be ludicrous to purchase a camera only to get it home and attempt to improve its image capturing ability. People can simply get on their computer and order a brand new camera, with all the bells and whistles, that’s far superior to the camera they just bought a week ago. The best part, of course, is that most don’t even understand why one camera might be better than the other. Major camera manufactures – 27, mass of consumers – 0.
With today’s cameras, or God forbid… phones, there’s absolutely no place for chemistry or math, and from some of the images I’ve seen on Facebook, logical thought process, either. So what’s left? What have the major camera manufactures left in the hands of many unaware consumers (for now)?
Lighting. Lighting is the one thing that’s still very user discretional. You can have the most expensive camera in the world, but if ya ain’t got light, ya ain’t got no image. So in conclusion you can have a nice camera, you can have a great idea, you can have all the models in the world, but they’re nothing without the ability to write with light.
Let us pause now and review some images that could’ve been taken with any camera in the world.