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Digital photography

Digital photography

Taking digital pictures
In digital photography, the traditional photochemical surface is replaced by a photosensitive electronic component that translates light into an electric signal. The signal is converted into a series of numeric (or digital) values recorded on the memory card in the camera to create an image file.

The electronic sensor inside a digital camera is in fact a grid of individual photosensors sensitive to the entire spectrum of visible light. Color is recorded thanks to tricolor techniques, using a screen of colored filters: each photosensor is associated with a filter of a single color so that it only receives information regarding one of three primaries—red (R), green (G) or blue (B). The camera or software for processing the original “Raw” files renders the colors of the subject by electronically converting the color data recorded by each group of RGB photosensors.

The total surface area and number of individual photosensors composing a camera’s electronic sensor are crucial to the quality of the images recorded. The “pixel” (a contraction of “picture element”) is the smallest element by which a digital image’s definition can be measured. It is also the unit used to describe the definition of digital sensors and of image display screens.

Digital prints
Digital images can be rendered using many types of media. They include prints on various materials (paper, fabric, metal, etc.) using an ink-jet or a thermal printer. It is also possible to employ traditional photosensitive processes (gelatin silver, chromogenic, dye destruction, etc.) thanks to digital enlargers such as the Durst Lambda, the Océ Lightjet or the Fuji Frontier. The images produced in this way are referred to as digital prints, and their authors often specify the brand of the enlarger used (“Lambda print,” “Lightjet print,” etc.). Another possibility is to print the image on a transparent surface to obtain a negative that can be used to make photographic contact prints. The whole range of historical processes then becomes available, contributing to the current revival of many alternative processes.

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