How does a camera work?
When you press the button on your camera to take a photo it briefly opens the shutter (like opening a curtain), allowing light to pass through the lens on to the film or sensor inside.
In daylight situations the shutter may be open for just 1/200 of a second, in darker situations the shutter needs to stay open for longer, perhaps a few seconds, or even much longer in dark, nighttime environments.
Why is my photo blurry?
Tiny camera movements that occur while the shutter is open often cause blurred photos, this is more likely to happen in dark environments where the shutter needs to stay open longer to collect enough light. It’s almost impossible for humans to hold a camera perfectly still for even just one second so using a tripod in low light situations is a good way to avoid this problem.
Sometimes blurred photos are the result of movement in the scene you are capturing rather than camera shake. A fast shutter speed in bright sunshine may ‘freeze’ someone running for example but a slower shutter speed may produce a blurred effect against a still background. A photographer can also create a sense of speed by panning the camera and following the subject, blurring the background but keeping the subject in focus.
How about focus?
Usually when you take a photo, you want to have the subject (a person, object etc) in focus, this occurs when light from the subject is bent by the lens so it hits the same place on the film or sensor inside the camera.
Sometimes you need to move the lens backwards or forwards to achieve a clear, sharp image. This can be done by manually turning a ring around the lens or using an autofocus system that most modern cameras feature.
Digital or film?
Despite the conveniences of digital, many photographers still prefer using film. This system uses film inside the camera to record images before they are later developed into negatives and prints of various sizes.
What are those large lenses for?
Professional photographers (and amateurs) sometimes use large telephoto lenses, these are lenses which have a shorter physical length than focal length. They can be used to make objects appear much closer than they really are, perfect for sports or wildlife photography!
There are a lot of strange sounding words related to cameras and photography, find out what they mean in simple English with our comprehensive list of easy definitions and information.
History of Cameras:
The history of cameras features a wide variety of innovations that have pushed technology forward in new and interesting directions, learn more by checking out our timeline which explains what happened and when.