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Chapter 1. What Is Digital Photography? > How Film Photography Works

How Film Photography Works

The film in a standard camera is a roll of plastic that has been coated with a gel (called the emulsion) that contains microscopic grains of silver halide spread evenly through the emulsion. The silver halide reacts when exposed to light.

This reaction is revealed when the film is soaked in a chemical (the developer), which turns the specks of silver halide dark where the light was brightest. This process produces a negative, which can then be used to print a positive image (a print). (The process works in reverse on film that produces a positive image—such as slide film.) The picture results from the varying reaction of the specks. The areas of the film that received the most light will have the highest density of dark specks; areas that got the least light will have the lowest.


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