A Book on Photography

10th Edition, June 2019

By David Salomon. A free eBook with 600 Figures. xv+1008 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 67
1.1 Light and Color 67
1.2 Color and the Eye 69
1.3 Color and Human Vi70sion
1.4 Color Spaces 79
1.5 Luminance 84
1.6 Human Vision vs. a Camera 86
1.7 Natural Lighting and Photography 88
1.8 Optics 105
1.9 Mirrors in Photography 110
1.10 Refraction 116
1.11 The Pentaprism 122
1.12 Lenses 123
1.13 Compound Lenses 131
1.14 Zooming and Zoom Lenses 133
1.15 Macro Lenses 140
1.16 Fisheye Lenses 142
1.17 Fisheye Projection 144
1.18 Poor Man's Fisheye 148
1.19 Tilt-Shift Lenses 149
1.20 Anti-Reflection Coatings 156
1.21 Lens Aberrations 158
1.22 Printing Resolution, ppi and dpi 161
1.23 Printers and the Longevity of Prints 166

2 Digital Cameras 175
2.1 Basic Components 175
2.2 The Viewfinder and Camera Types 177
2.3 The Shutter 182
2.4 F-Stops and Lens Speed 202
2.5 Aperture 222
2.6 Depth-of-Field 226
2.7 Depth-of-Field Equations 239
2.8 ISO and Image Noise 254
2.9 Exposure Review 263
2.10 Exposure Values 268
2.11 Image Sensors 273
2.12 White Balance 303
2.13 Output Files 306
2.14 Focusing, Manual and Automatic 313
2.15 Light Metering 337
2.16 Exposure Compensation 341
2.17 The Histogram 343
2.18 Lenses 353
2.19 Macro Photography 362
2.20 Lens Hoods 367
2.21 Vertical grips 367
2.22 Remote shutter release 369
2.23 Tripods and Monopods 370
2.24 A Shock 373

3 Camera Types 375
3.1 Pinhole Cameras 375
3.2 Single Lens Reflex 378
3.3 Single Lens Translucent 383
3.4 Twin Lens Reflex 384
3.5 Rangefinder 386
3.6 View Cameras 389
3.7 Mirrorless (MILC) 392
3.8 Bridge Cameras 394
3.9 Compact Cameras 395
3.10 Specialty Cameras 401
3.11 Infrared Cameras 406
3.12 Night Vision Cameras 408
3.13 3D Cameras 411
3.14 Panoramic Cameras 415
3.15 Miniature Cameras 425
3.16 Dash Cameras 426
3.17 Security Cameras 433
3.18 Drone Cameras 436
3.19 The L16 Multi-Aperture Camera 439

4 Compact Cameras 449
4.1 CHDK 450
4.2 Overrides in CHDK 461
4.3 Time-Lapse and CHDK 464
4.4 CHDK Intervalometer Script Examples 469
4.5 The Intervalometer as a Script 471
4.6 HDR 473
4.7 HDR with CHDK; No Script 476
4.8 HDR with CHDK Scripts 477
4.9 HDR of a Single Photograph 479
4.10 HDR Algorithms 480
4.11 CHDK Motion Detection 486
4.12 USB Remote 487
4.13 Zeikos lenses 491

5 High Dynamic Range 497
5.1 Definitions and Units of HDR 498
5.2 The HDR Problem 501
5.3 Shooting HDR Bracketed Images 506
5.4 Exposure Fusion 512
5.5 HDR Radiance Maps 515
5.6 Tone Mapping 518
5.7 HDR Software 523
5.8 Floating-Point Numbers 524

6 History of Photography 529
6.1 Early Attempts 531
6.2 Plates, Wet and Dry 564
6.3 George Eastman and Kodak 576
6.4 Leica and 35 mm Photography 586
6.5 SLRs, Nikon, Canon, and Pentax 591
6.6 The Digital Revolution 608
6.7 History of Smartphone Cameras 614
6.8 Distinguished Photographers 619
6.9 First-in-Class Photographs 677
6.10 History of Photography Timeline 690

7 Computational Photography 711
7.1 Point Operations 715
7.2 Image Blending 723
7.3 Filters 726
7.4 Edge Detection 734
7.5 The Hough Transform 742
7.6 Edge Sharpening 746
7.7 Morphological Filters 748
7.8 Discrete Convolution 752
7.9 Dual Photography 759
7.10 Light Field (Plenoptic) Cameras 765
7.11 The Discrete Fourier Transform 777
7.12 Coded Aperture 788
7.13 Face Detection 795

A DSLRs Controls 801

B Glossary of Photographic Terms 809

C Compact Cameras Feature Guide 827
C.1 Good and Bad 828
C.2 Main Features 828
C.3 Advanced Features 836

D Legal Issues 839
D.1 Public and Private Places 840
D.2 Privacy Issues 842
D.3 Restrictions on Subjects 844
D.4 Protect Your Work 850

E JPEG and TIFF 855
E.1 Image Redundancy 855
E.2 Image Types 857
E.3 Summary of JPEG 858
E.4 Image Transforms 862
E.5 TIFF 873
E.6 Facsimile Compression 875
E.7 PackBits Compression 879

F The Shape of a Lens 881 F.1 Spherical Lenses 883
F.2 Aspherical Lenses 889

G Pixels 905 G.1 Point Samples 905
G.2 Real Optical Devices 908
G.3 Pixel Interpolation 909
G.4 Replicating Rows/Cols 911
G.5 Replicating Pixels 911
G.6 More About Image Scaling 913
G.7 Bilinear Interpolation 916
G.8 Bicubic Interpolation 917
G.9 The Sampling Theorem 923

References 931

Answers to Exercises 943

Index 977


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

Last Updated 29 June 2019