It’s ironic to the point of being tragic to think that one of the pioneers of digital camera technology was Kodak. Now bankrupt and licensing off their brand to mysterious companies, it’s easy to forget that it was Kodak that hit many of the initial milestones where digital imaging is concerned.
One of those milestones was the Kodak Tactical Camera, one of the first digital cameras ever made and very likely the oldest practical (read: semi-portable) digital camera in existence today. According to a fascinating article in the Democrat and Chronicle, however, we almost just lost this piece of camera history to a dumpster. Read more…
Everyone is a photographer these days, and it is estimated that 380 billion photographs were taken last year, with a huge percentage of them created with the 1 billion+ camera-equipped phones now floating around. The New York Times’ James Estrin has some interesting thoughts on where this radical-shift in the practice and definition of photography is taking us:
Just as access to pens and paper hasn’t produced thousands of Shakespeares or Nabokovs, this explosion of camera phones doesn’t seem to have led to more Dorothea Langes or Henri Cartier-Bressons. But it has certainly led to many more images of what people ate at lunch.
[...] A photograph is no longer predominantly a way of keeping a treasured family memory or even of learning about places or people that we would otherwise not encounter. It is now mainly a chintzy currency in a social interaction and a way of gazing even further into one’s navel.
He thinks the strengthening torrent of digital images will have one of two possible effects: a culture that is more aware and appreciative of photography, or a society in which it’s impossible for any photo to rise above the flood of images.
BBC Research has released a new report stating that the digital photography industry has an annual growth rate of 3.8%. Valued at $68.4 billion last year, the global market will reach an estimated value of $82.5 billion by 2016. The study defined the market as a combination of camera equipment, printing equipment, and complementary products. While the photo printing industry is predicted to struggle and lose $300 million between now and 2016, digital cameras and lenses will reportedly do just fine: they have a healthy annual growth rate of 5.8%.
If you’re a fan of learning things through Khan Academy, then you might enjoy learning about how ISO works in this similar-styled tutorial by Dylan Bennett. Bennett might not have Salman Khan’s soothing voice, but he does his best to break down the magic of digital camera sensors into easy to understand ideas. For a more detailed and comprehensive understanding of how things work, check out Cambridge in Colour’s excellent tutorials.
Marc Levoy, the Stanford professor behind the “Frankencamera” project, teaches a course on digital photography called CS 178. The class website is a treasure trove for anyone looking for some great free education in photography:
An introduction to the scientific, artistic, and computing aspects of digital photography – how digital cameras work, how to take good pictures using them, and how to manipulate these pictures afterwards. Topics include lenses and optics, light and sensors, optical effects in nature, perspective and depth of field, sampling and noise, the camera as a computing platform, image processing and editing, history of photography, and computational photography. We’ll also survey the history of photography and look at the work of famous photographers.
Think you know all there is to know about digital photography? Try answering these 10 final exam review questions (answers can be found here). Leave a comment telling us how many you got right!
Reddit user geft created a useful primer to get newbies started in digital photography. It’s a single image measuring 1045×5480 pixels that covers sensors, aperture, shutter speed, ISO, and camera controls. This would be a great thing to print out, laminate, and give as a gift to someone who’s looking to learn.
Did you know that the first digital camera invented in 1975 didn’t actually produce the first digital photograph? The first digital photo actually came almost two decades earlier in 1957 when Russell Kirsch made a 176×176 pixel digital image by scanning a photograph of his three-month-old son. The low resolution was due to the fact that the computer they used wasn’t capable of storing more information.
Earlier today, photographer Chase Jarvis announced his partnership with creativeLIVE, a free, live online class site. Each class presentations is filmed live, to an in-person audience in Seattle, and streamed on the creativeLIVE website.
“The goal here is to help democratize creativity,” Jarvis wrote on his blog.
Jarvis said that he had been working on the site for the past year, in order to create a live, interactive classroom. As an innovative model, Jarvis is offering the actual live, streaming footage for free, but the recorded versions of past classes must be purchased. The revenue goes towards supporting the site and the instructors.
The growing list of instructors boasts some pretty big names: Vincent Laforet tweeted that he will be leading a live three-day HDSLR workshop at the end of the month, and Zack Arias said he will be leading a studio class.