A Book on Photography

9th Edition, February 2019

By David Salomon. A free eBook with 540 Figures. xiii+931 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 six chapters and nine 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.

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 describes a typical algorithm used by cameras to detect faces.

Appendix H is a short introduction to image processing methods.

Appendix I 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 65
1.1 Light and Color 65
1.2 Color and the Eye 67
1.3 Color and Human Vision 68
1.4 Color Spaces 76
1.5 Luminance 81
1.6 Human Vision vs. a Camera 83
1.7 Natural Lighting and Photography 86
1.8 Optics 103
1.9 Mirrors in Photography 107
1.10 Refraction 114
1.11 The Pentaprism 118
1.12 Lenses 119
1.13 Compound Lenses 127
1.14 Zooming and Zoom Lenses 129
1.15 Macro Lenses 136
1.16 Fisheye Lenses 137
1.17 Fisheye Projection 140
1.18 Poor Man's Fisheye 144
1.19 Tilt-Shift Lenses 144
1.20 Anti-Reflection Coatings 151
1.21 Lens Aberrations 153
1.22 Printing Resolution, ppi and dpi 156
1.23 Printers and the Longevity of Prints 161

2 Digital Cameras 171
2.1 Basic Components 171
2.2 The Viewfinder and Camera Types 173
2.3 The Shutter 177
2.4 F-Stops and Lens Speed 195
2.5 Aperture 214
2.6 Depth-of-Field 219
2.7 Depth-of-Field Equations 230
2.8 ISO and Image Noise 246
2.9 Exposure Review 255
2.10 Exposure Values 260
2.11 Image Sensors 265
2.12 White Balance 294
2.13 Output Files 297
2.14 Focusing, Manual and Automatic 303
2.15 Light Metering 327
2.16 Exposure Compensation 331
2.17 The Histogram 333
2.18 Lenses 343
2.19 Macro Photography 352
2.20 Lens Hoods 357
2.21 Vertical grips 357
2.22 Remote shutter release 359
2.23 Tripods and Monopods 360
2.24 A Shock 363

3 Camera Types 365
3.1 Pinhole Cameras 365
3.2 Single Lens Reflex 367
3.3 Single Lens Translucent 371
3.4 Twin Lens Reflex 372
3.5 Rangefinder 373
3.6 View Cameras 376
3.7 Mirrorless (MILC) 379
3.8 Bridge Cameras 381
3.9 Compact Cameras 382
3.10 Specialty Cameras 388
3.11 Infrared Cameras 393
3.12 Night Vision Cameras 396
3.13 3D Cameras 398
3.14 Panoramic Cameras 403
3.15 Miniature Cameras 408
3.16 Dash Cameras 409
3.17 Security Cameras 416
3.18 Drone Cameras 419
3.19 The L16 Multi-Aperture Camera 422

4 Compact Cameras 433
4.1 CHDK 434
4.2 Overrides in CHDK 445
4.3 Time-Lapse and CHDK 448
4.4 CHDK Intervalometer Script Examples 453
4.5 The Intervalometer as a Script 455
4.6 HDR 457
4.7 HDR with CHDK; No Script 460
4.8 HDR with CHDK Scripts 461
4.9 HDR of a Single Photograph 463
4.10 HDR Algorithms 464
4.11 CHDK Motion Detection 470
4.12 USB Remote 471
4.13 Zeikos lenses 475

5 High Dynamic Range 481
5.1 Definitions and Units of HDR 482
5.2 The HDR Problem 483
5.3 Shooting HDR Bracketed Images 487
5.4 Exposure Fusion 495
5.5 HDR Radiance Maps 498
5.6 Tone Mapping 501
5.7 HDR Software 505
5.8 Floating-Point Numbers 507

6 History of Photography 511
6.1 Early Attempts 512
6.2 Plates, Wet and Dry 545
6.3 George Eastman and Kodak 557
6.4 Leica and 35 mm Photography 567
6.5 SLRs, Nikon, Canon, and Pentax 572
6.6 The Digital Revolution 589
6.7 History of Smartphone Cameras 593
6.8 Distinguished Photographers 598
6.9 First-in-Class Photographs 649
6.10 History of Photography Timeline 663

A DSLRs Controls 683

B Glossary of Photographic Terms 691

C Compact Cameras Feature Guide 709
C.1 Good and Bad 710
C.2 Main Features 710
C.3 Advanced Features 718

D Legal Issues 721
D.1 Public and Private Places 722
D.2 Privacy Issues 724
D.3 Restrictions on Subjects 726
D.4 Protect Your Work 732

E JPEG and TIFF 737
E.1 Image Redundancy 737
E.2 Image Types 739
E.3 Summary of JPEG 740
E.4 Image Transforms 742
E.5 TIFF 752
E.6 Facsimile Compression 754
E.7 PackBits Compression 758

F The Shape of a Lens 761
F.1 Spherical Lenses 763
F.2 Aspherical Lenses 769

G Face Detection 785

H Image Processing Methods 791
H.1 Point Operations 792
H.2 Filters 800
H.3 Edge Detection 808
H.4 The Hough Transform 816
H.5 Edge Sharpening 820
H.6 Morphological Filters 822
H.7 Discrete Convolution 826

I Pixels 835
I.1 Point Samples 835
I.2 Real Optical Devices 838
I.3 Pixel Interpolation 839
I.4 Replicating Rows/Cols 841
I.5 Replicating Pixels 841
I.6 More About Image Scaling 843
I.7 Bilinear Interpolation 846
I.8 Bicubic Interpolation 847
I.9 The Sampling Theorem 853

References 861

Answers to Exercises 871

Index 903


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

Last Updated 9 Feb 2019