A Book on Photography

11th Edition, July 2019

By David Salomon. A free eBook with 627 Figures. xx+1061 pages available here.

From the Preface

Goal of the Book

The fact that current compact cameras produce good (or at least, adequate) pictures in most photographic situations is at the root of this book. The main aim of the book is to show how such a camera can be operated and its controls tweaked to cover many different photographic conditions and requirements. (To put it another way, the chief goal of the book is to convince the reader that large, expensive cameras are absolutely necessary in only rare situations.) In addition, this book discusses the science of photography--including topics such as optics, lenses, colors, human vision, image sensors, exposure, and white balance--and explains the main types of cameras. Mathematics is used whenever it helps to illustrate a term or a concept, because it is my belief that the use of mathematics may greatly illuminate many subjects. However, the mathematical background required is minimal and is limited to angles, similar triangles, and basic algebraic manipulations.

Organization and Features

There are seven chapters and seven appendixes.

Chapter 1 concentrates on the basic concepts behind photography, namely light, the eye, color, and geometrical optics. The latter topic includes refraction, prisms, and lenses.

Chapter 2 explains how a basic digital camera works and follows with a discussion of basic photographic terms such as exposure, f-stop, depth of field, shutter speed, ISO, white balance, and auto-focus.

Chapter 3 is devoted to the principal types of digital cameras. This includes digital- single-lens-reflex (DSLR), twin-lens-reflex (TLR), digital-single-lens-mirrorless (DSLM and MILC), rangefinder, bridge, compact (point-and-shoot), and special types of cameras such as ultraviolet, infrared, 360 panoramic cameras, miniature and spy cameras, and 3D cameras.

Chapter 4 describes two compact cameras and shows how to use them in many practical situations. The intent here is to convince the reader that the compact cameras currently available are not significantly inferior to their more sophisticated (and also bigger, heavier, and more expensive) cousins the DSLRs and MILCs. The reader will learn, among others, how to obtain a shallow or a large depth-of-field (Section 2.6) by controlling the aperture size and how to handle situations with high dynamic range. (HDR, Section 4.6, is a measure of the lightest to the darkest tones in an image. HDR is important where the subject had very bright and very dark parts and we want all their details to appear in the final image.) How to shoot when motion is detected (Section 4.11), how to shoot a time-lapse sequence of images (Section 4.3), and how to mount detachable wide-angle and telephoto lenses in addition to the original, non- interchangeable lens of the camera. The chapter also shows how many Canon compact cameras, even old models, can be given a new life and coerced to perform "miracles" such as the following: (1) Work in shutter-priority and aperture priority modes, (2) output raw image files in addition to the standard JPEG, (3) work with very fast (in some cases up to 1/8000 s) and very slow (up to 64 s) shutter speeds, (4) display RGB color histograms, (5) detect motion, (6) take a group of exposure-bracketing photos, and (7) use the built-in timer to reduce camera shake and vibrations.

Chapter 5 is a detailed discussion of the important concept of high dynamic range (HDR). The term "dynamic range" is defined, the HDR problem is explained, and it is shown how to shoot a sequence of bracketed HDR images either handheld or with a tripod. The chapter continues with descriptions of the two main approaches to HDR, namely exposure fusion and tone mapping.

Chapter 6 is a wide survey of the history of photography. It also includes biographies of several eminent photographers and a detailed timeline of photography.

Chapter 7 is devoted to the new, exciting world of computational photography. The chapter offers much material on traditional methods for image processing as well as descriptions of several new, magical methods for processing photographs.

Appendix A describes the many controls found on a modern DSLR.

Appendix B is a glossary of photographic terms.

Appendix C is a list of the important features buyers should look for in compact cameras. This material is especially relevant to those who are looking to purchase such a camera.

Appendix D discusses legal issues that should interest any photographer or would-be photographer. The last two appendixes are for mathematically-savvy readers who would like to know the details of the JPEG algorithm and how a lens is shaped.

Appendix E tries to explain the basic steps of the JPEG algorithm in a non- mathematical language. This material is intended for readers who are interested in more than just using a camera and obtaining great pictures.

Appendix F employs several mathematical techniques and approaches to analyze the behavior of spherical lenses and to derive the equation of an aspherical lens.

Appendix G is devoted to pixels, their history, their properties, and their meaning.

Target Audiences

I planned this book with two audiences in mind, those interested in digital photography and cameras in general and those interested in getting the maximum out of their compact cameras. The former audience would be interested in the first part of the book, especially the material on optics and concepts of digital cameras. The latter audience would be interested in the material on compact cameras and what they can achieve. The appendixes should be of interest to all readers.


I would like to thank Nelson Beebe for many suggestions, improvements, and error corrections. His help has been invaluable.

I welcome any comments, suggestions and corrections. They should be emailed to [email protected]. An errata list and other information may later be added to this website.

Book Cover

Table of Contents

Preface vii

Introduction 1

1 Light and Optics 77

1.1 Light and Color 77
1.2 Color and the Eye 79
1.3 Color and Human Vision 80
1.4 Color Spaces 91
1.5 Luminance 96
1.6 Human Vision vs. a Camera 98
1.7 Natural Lighting and Photography 100
1.8 Optics 117
1.9 Mirrors in Photography 122
1.10 Refraction 128
1.11 The Pentaprism 134
1.12 Lenses 135
1.13 Compound Lenses 143
1.14 Zooming and Zoom Lenses 145
1.15 Macro Lenses 152
1.16 Fisheye Lenses 154
1.17 Fisheye Projection 156
1.18 Poor Man's Fisheye 160
1.19 Tilt-Shift Lenses 161
1.20 Anti-Reflection Coatings 168
1.21 Lens Aberrations 170
1.22 Printing Resolution, ppi and dpi 173
1.23 Halftoning 178
1.24 Dithering 180
1.25 Printers and the Longevity of Prints 189

2 Digital Cameras 199

2.1 Basic Components 199
2.2 The Viewfinder and Camera Types 201
2.3 The Shutter 207
2.4 F-Stops and Lens Speed 228
2.5 Aperture 247
2.6 Depth-of-Field 252
2.7 Depth-of-Field Equations 264
2.8 ISO and Image Noise 281
2.9 Exposure Review 289
2.10 Exposure Values 294
2.11 Image Sensors 299
2.12 White Balance 329
2.13 Output Files 333
2.14 Focusing, Manual and Automatic 340
2.15 Light Metering 364
2.16 Exposure Compensation 367
2.17 The Histogram 371
2.18 Lenses 385
2.19 Macro Photography 389
2.20 Lens Hoods 391
2.21 Vertical grips 391
2.22 Remote shutter release 395
2.23 Tripods and Monopods 396

3 Camera Types 401

3.1 Pinhole Cameras 401
3.2 Single Lens Reflex 404
3.3 Single Lens Translucent 409
3.4 Twin Lens Reflex 410
3.5 Rangefinder 412
3.6 View Cameras 415
3.7 Mirrorless (MILC) 418
3.8 Bridge Cameras 420
3.9 Micro Four Thirds (MFT) 421
3.10 Compact Cameras 436
3.11 Specialty Cameras 442
3.12 Infrared Cameras 449
3.13 Night Vision Cameras 451
3.14 3D Cameras 454
3.15 Panoramic Cameras 458
3.16 Miniature Cameras 468
3.17 Dash Cameras 469
3.18 Security Cameras 476
3.19 Drone Cameras 479
3.20 The L16 Multi-Aperture Camera 482

4 Compact Cameras 493

4.1 CHDK 494
4.2 Overrides in CHDK 505
4.3 Time-Lapse and CHDK 508
4.4 CHDK Intervalometer Script Examples 513
4.5 The Intervalometer as a Script 515
4.6 HDR 517
4.7 HDR with CHDK; No Script 520
4.8 HDR with CHDK Scripts 521
4.9 HDR of a Single Photograph 523
4.10 HDR Algorithms 524
4.11 CHDK Motion Detection 530
4.12 USB Remote 531
4.13 Zeikos lenses 535

5 High Dynamic Range 541

5.1 Definitions and Units of HDR 542
5.2 The HDR Problem 545
5.3 Shooting HDR Bracketed Images 550
5.4 Exposure Fusion 556
5.5 HDR Radiance Maps 559
5.6 Tone Mapping 562
5.7 HDR Software 567
5.8 Floating-Point Numbers 568

6 History of Photography 573

6.1 Early Attempts 575
6.2 Plates, Wet and Dry 608
6.3 George Eastman and Kodak 620
6.4 Leica and 35 mm Photography 630
6.5 SLRs, Nikon, Canon, and Pentax 636
6.6 The Digital Revolution 653
6.7 History of Smartphone Cameras 659
6.8 Distinguished Photographers 664
6.9 First-in-Class Photographs 724
6.10 History of Photography Timeline 738

7 Computational Photography 759

7.1 Point Operations 763
7.2 Image Blending 771
7.3 Filters 774
7.4 Edge Detection 782
7.5 The Hough Transform 790
7.6 Edge Sharpening 794
7.7 Morphological Filters 796
7.8 Discrete Convolution 800
7.9 Dual Photography 808
7.10 Light Field (Plenoptic) Cameras 813
7.11 The Discrete Fourier Transform 826
7.12 Coded Aperture 837
7.13 Face Detection 844

A DSLRs Controls 851

B Glossary of Photographic Terms 859

C Compact Cameras Feature Guide 877

C.1 Good and Bad 878
C.2 Main Features 878
C.3 Advanced Features 886

D Legal Issues 889

D.1 Public and Private Places 890
D.2 Privacy Issues 892
D.3 Restrictions on Subjects 894
D.4 Protect Your Work 900

E JPEG and TIFF 905

E.1 Image Redundancy 905
E.2 Image Types 907
E.3 Summary of JPEG 908
E.4 Image Transforms 912
E.5 TIFF 923
E.6 Facsimile Compression 925
E.7 PackBits Compression 929

F The Shape of a Lens 931

F.1 Spherical Lenses 933
F.2 Aspherical Lenses 939

G Pixels 955

G.1 Point Samples 955
G.2 Real Optical Devices 958
G.3 Pixel Interpolation 959
G.4 Replicating Rows/Cols 961
G.5 Replicating Pixels 961
G.6 More About Image Scaling 963
G.7 Bilinear Interpolation 966
G.8 Bicubic Interpolation 967
G.9 The Sampling Theorem 973

References 981

Answers to Exercises 993

Index 1029


What I have to say about this book can be found inside the book. --Albert Einstein

Last Updated 28 July 2019