Photography is both a science and an art. Luckily, you don't have to enroll in a physics course to be able to take good pictures. Today's cameras — both film and digital — are sophisticated electronic devices with tiny computers built into them. These little brains figure out the many variables involved in taking pictures so you don't have to. They allow beginning photographers to take the sort of photos that master photographers could barely achieve a century ago.
We have come a very long way technologically in a short time, and there is every reason to believe that we will achieve breakthroughs that are even more amazing in the near future. However, all of the innovations in the world cannot replace the human element in photography. Only the human factor can breathe true heart and soul into a picture. The vision and enthusiasm of the photographer are what truly make all photos come to life. Only practice and perseverance can give the photographer the experience necessary to capture a moment in time.
Integral to the process is one important insight: Photography is not just record keeping; it is an art form that speaks to the ages. As twentieth-century photographer Henry Cartier-Bresson said, “I suddenly under-stood that a photograph could fix eternity in an instant.” Only when photographers have achieved this insight can their work become something truly extraordinary.
More than ever before, modern photographers have the opportunity to express themselves and explore the many possibilities of their photographic worlds. Formerly, we had to worry about many technical factors and undergo a long and sometimes complicated process to take a photo from conception to execution, from inspiration to completion.
We have come a great distance both in time and technology since the world's first photograph, “View from the Window at Le Gras,” was taken by French photographic pioneer Joseph Nicéphore Niépce, using a process he called heliography. The photographic plate exposure required about eight hours. How many of us would undertake photography if we had to deal with bulky photographic plates and lug a large view camera around, as early photographers like Dorothea Lange and Ansel Adams did?
Whether you are just dabbling in photography or looking to polish your photographic skills, you will benefit from the support this book provides. All photographers will find useful information within these pages, from an overview on current photographic technology to handy and practical tips about everyday shooting.
If you think you would enjoy taking pictures but have been hesitant to get started, this is your chance to take inspiration from the world around you — just pick up your camera and get shooting!
There are few things in life that are as immediately rewarding or constantly inspiring as photography. It isn't necessarily hard or expensive to get started, and once you start shooting, you may be amazed at the world of possibilities that open up for you.