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The Power Of Photography Essay

2136 words - 9 pages

Have you ever taken a picture or been looking through a photo album and felt a sudden rush of emotion? Do you wonder what caused that emotion? Many find themselves captivated by a photograph and overwhelmed by the emotions that the photograph arouses. Believe it or not the arousal of emotion from those photographs was not caused by the content of the picture but by certain elements within the photograph. When a photograph is viewed it is not only the subject that triggers the overwhelming emotional response, it is the length of time that the film was exposed to sunlight, the way lighting is used and played with, and the strong detail of colors or lack thereof. While many believe that the subject acts as the primary stimuli to emotions, the above elements take that role leaving the subject as still a stimuli but a secondary one.
There are multiple components that make up a photograph, and understanding each of them is essential to creating different effects and achieving that certain "je ne sais quoi" that artists aspire for. The exposure of a photograph can be defined as the amount of light that film is “exposed” to or that the film is receiving (Davies 18). The lighting of a photograph may vary depending on the scene, for example the fluorescent lighting in schools, the bright sunlight of midday in the summer, or the lulled grey light that comes with a cloudy, rainy day. Both lighting and exposure rely on certain settings of a camera; these settings are called shutter speeds and apertures. The shutter speed determines how long the lens of the camera will stay open while taking a photo. Shutter speeds range from “b” which is as long as you hold the shutter release, all the way to 1/1000 of a second (Davies 18). When deciding on how wide a photographer wants his/her lens to open he/she will choose an aperture. Camera apertures go from f2, being the largest opening, to f32, being the smallest opening, not only determining the size of the lens opening but also the depth of field, so in plain terms determining the focal point of the photograph. Lastly, a huge component to a photograph that aids in arousing emotion is color, bringing out different emotions whether color is present or not.
When talking about emotion it seems a fairly simple topic and immediately "feeling" words come to mind; sad, happy, and confused. These are basic emotions and easy to understand. What isn't so simple about emotions is their process and how they form and work. Emotions are reactions to sensory information like sight, smell, taste, touch and sound (Tracing Emotion’s Pathways 94). However, it is not that simple; an emotional reaction or response is made aware of and understood by a part of the brain called the sensory cortex. These emotional responses or reactions to sensory stimuli are processed by a part of the brain called the amygdala (What’s An Emotion). The amygdala is a huge asset to the cognitive factors of emotions because in processing emotions you become...

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