Life in Pictures

It’s amazing how much the things we take for granted have changed over the years. Photography is a good example. My daughter, who used to be a librarian, told me about patrons who would come in asking for a photograph of some historical figure–like Cleopatra. She would gently explain that there were no photos of the Egyptian queen because the camera had not yet been invented.

There were some experiments in the early 1800’s with transferring images to photographic plates, but the breakthrough came in 1839 with the daguerreotype–which needed an exposure time of only a few seconds. This leap forward made commercial portrait photography possible. You’ve probably seen old-time portraits of stiff-looking people posing for the camera. And you have probably also seen some of Matthew Brady’s Civil War photographs which demonstrated that the medium could be used for more than portrait photography. He was the first person to document a war in such a fashion. He had no battle scenes because the technology still required that the subject remain still.

Back then, a camera was a heavy box that rested on a tripod. Each picture was taken on a large glass plate. The next big breakthrough was in 1889, when George Eastman created the roll of film. This made it possible to shoot multiple pictures one after the other, making snapshots possible. He released the new product through his company, Kodak. And in 1900, Eastman introduced the Brownie camera to go with the film roll. The Brownie 2, which took bigger pictures than the original model, came out a year later. These inexpensive Brownies were the first cameras that ordinary people could easily carry around. Of course, unless you had a home darkroom, you had to send in the film for processing. Almost all of this early film was black and white. I do remember seeing color snapshots from the 1940’s, but the colors on these early prints faded easily.

Today, it’s a whole new ball game. Almost everybody carries around a mobile phone that doubles as a camera. Not only does it take still shots but also videos that often record events like car crashes, floods, and explosions. And you don’t have to send in any film for processing. The digital pictures are right there in your phone as soon as you take them.

Like the rest of us, I assume that I can capture almost anything I see, if I can power the damn thing up quickly enough. Recently I was at a writers’ conference in Florida, where I kept on the alert for nature pictures of interest.

Here’s a heron in the little stream that surrounds the resort where the conference was held.

Perhaps this is the same guy. I followed him around for a while and realized he was snapping up and eating the little lizards that were all over the property.

One of the joys of being at a tropical resort facing westward is catching the magnificent sunsets. My husband took this picture that looks to me like a group of people standing at the end of the world.

And on the last night of our stay, I captured this gorgeous sunset from the balcony of our room. In times past, only artists skilled with brush and paint could capture the beauty of nature. Now we can all aspire to being artists.

The latest boxed set in the Unforgettable collection is Unforgettable Protectors–-9 great romantic suspense novels.

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About Rebecca York

NY Times & USA Today best-seller, Rebecca York, is the author of over 150 books. She has written paranormal romantic thrillers for Berkley and romantic thrillers for Harlequin Intrigue. Her romantic-suspense series, Decorah Security, is set at a detective agency where agents have paranormal powers or work paranormal cases. She also writes an Off-World series where each story is a science fiction romance taking place on a distant planet in the far future.  She also writes the Unbound series for Changeling Press.  View website

One Reply to “Life in Pictures”

  1. The young generation who grew up with free photos takes oodles of pictures, while we older folks still haven’t developed the habit of opening our phones and taking a photo. This is a good reminder of how fast our world is changing. Thanks, Ruth.

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