Video Production Sydney: The human eye is quite weak in comparison with the eyesight of many predators. Yet we can see more than any other creature because we have supplemented our eyes with extra lenses.
During the seventeenth century, the lens started a formidable revolution in our ability to explore our surroundings and increase our knowledge, and gradually made it possible to alter our circumstances in a positive way.
Video Production Sydney: The impact of Optical instruments
The new optical instruments brought rapid improvements in navigation, with dramatic results for trade and shipping. Telescopes scanned the heavens – and the old world view died. Microscopes sought out the smallest details – and a whole new world was revealed that we had had no inkling of before.
This was a completely new branch of the tree of knowledge, and it changed our lives in many ways. New instruments that provided new information were fundamentally to change our way of looking at the world, but the lens also contributed change in less dramatic ways.
When it comes to gathering information and assembling knowledge at an individual level, the longer one can continue the better the results. Until the seventeenth century, most specialists ceased their active working life in their forties or fifties when deteriorating eyesight made any detailed work impossible. Once simple spectacles came within their means it meant there was something of a trade revolution, because they could stay active for another fifteen to twenty years. This era marks the beginning of the rapidly accelerating accumulation of knowledge that was to become the technical basis of the industrial revolution in the eighteenth century.
Video Production Sydney: The elusive lens picture
Even the ancients knew that you could project a picture onto a wall when light shone through a little hole into a darkened room. Such large-scale pinhole cameras were in use in the fifteenth century. Sitting inside one, you could draw from the surprisingly bright images. When in the 1550s the hole was replaced with a lens, the brightness and definition increased so much that it became much more useful. In the seventeenth century portable camera obscura were constructed that employed the reflex mirror principle.
Of course people dreamed of being able to capture the ‘pictures from nature’ that the lens showed so beautifully, and there was an eager search for materials that reacted to light and could be used to record the images.