Function of Cameras

Photography has played an important role in our society since the process was invented over 150 years ago. Frequently, the eye and the camera are compared to each other. This comparison, although a useful fiction at times, ignores many important differences between the function of a camera taking still pictures using a film, and the human eye and brain viewing the world. Photographs are almost always seen as inherently truthful, an accurate recording of the events that happened when the photograph was shot. Certain functions and limitations inherent to photography not present in the human visual system can make an ordinary, unretouched photograph seem misleading. This paper will briefly discuss the nature of photography in our society and why photographs are seen as being truthful, and then will use specific photographs to point out the differences between the camera and the eye that lead to a photograph telling something less than the whole truth.

In 1827 Niepce fixed a photographic image for the first time, a view out of his window that required such a long exposure that there are shadows on the buildings on both sides of the street. In 1839 Daguerre patented his method, and shortly after that FoxTalbot perfected his technique of negative/positive photography and printing that is essentially the process used today (Newhall, 1986).

Photography was a child of the industrial revolution, and as such it has had an important role in the increase o



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