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What is Photography?
Category: Photography Basics
Updated Jun 22, 2018 by renan

The word "photography" can be traced back from the greek words "photos" which means light, and "graphe" which means lines or drawing. It basically means drawing with light as it is essentially light that actually creates the images that you see in a photograph.

Discussions often comes up claiming that photography is a form of science as it involves physics of light, angles, optics, mathematics and mechanical expertise. In the old days of film, it even involves the study of radiation and chemistry and effects in film and other substances used to produce positive images in paper. Digital photography has even more complex science into it as it employs a whole lot of electronics in almost every level of operation, from image capturing, recording, focusing, exposure control, to image correction, enhancement, and ultimately printing.

Photography is also often described as a form of art where the photographer is the artist and the film (or sensor) as their canvas. Considering how people often describe a photograph with certain emotional value, much like how an art enthusiast would describe a painting or a sculpture, I would say this argument has actual subjective merit. In fact most of the basic guidelines used in photography are also applied to architecture, painting, and other forms of art.

In practice, photographers will quickly learn that these two aspects are essential and will not work exclusively, whether they come across one or the other on purpose or as a consequence of an intended result. Some photographers will probably be too concerned about achieving technical expertise in getting the right equipment and properly setting them up to get their envisioned image, but ultimately ending up with a boring reproduction of a scene. On the other side of the fence, other photographers may have the "eye" for the perfect composition and great lighting but still hears comments about missed focus, distracting aberrations or flares, blurry image, or other comments related to equipment setup.

Photography should be approached with the perfect balance of technical know-how and artistic style, acquired or influenced by other artists. A perfectly executed photograph will relay to the viewers a certain emotion or "story" that the photographer wants to portray in his photograph and a good amount of knowledge on the equipment and settings will help you translate that vision into your pictures. Like any type of work it requires practice and patience to achieve that balance and along the way there will be "perfect pictures" which will mark as tokens for your progress, celebrate them. At the same time you will often get mediocre or totally bad pictures, don't worry, that is just part of the process. It is also a perfect opportunity to learn.

Have fun -- that's probably the most important rule!


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Difficulties in life are intended to make us better, not bitter.

-- Dan Reeves

Looking back, we see with great clarity, and what once appeared as difficulties now reveal themselves as blessings.

-- Dan Millman

Where the willingness is great, the difficulties cannot be great.

-- Niccolo Machiavelli

A pessimist is one who makes difficulties of his opportunities; an optimist is one who makes opportunities of his difficulties.

-- Reginald B. Mansell


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