What exactly does a camera do? Of course, different cameras have different functions. But these are just variants of a central feature that all cameras have and without which a camera does not work.
In this photo, only the battered wall of a riding hall can be seen. Not a very exciting motive. Only the light makes the difference.Cameras record traces of light. No more and no less. Light is the only thing that gets into the camera via the lens and changes a sensor or a film. The light leaves its mark on the electronic sensor or on the film, on which they are then made chemically visible. The electronics stores the different brightnesses and the color of the light as digital information. Strictly speaking, we usually work exclusively with the light waves, which the human eye can also perceive. This is only a small part of the full spectrum of light waves, but on it the sensor of the camera is adjusted. The sensor of the camera imitates the human eye, which is blind without light waves of a narrow section of the light spectrum.
Whether a camera is expensive or cheap, simple or complex, small or big, nothing can change that simple fact. A professional camera stores more subtle differences, sharpens the details or has more variations over time, aperture and photosensitivity. But she does nothing but the simplest or the oldest camera from the beginnings of photography.
Whatever we have in front of the lens: only the light passes as a reflection or directly from a light source to the inside of the camera. Photographers draw with light. You capture it from a certain angle, with a specific focal length and depth of field and for a specific period of time with your camera. What does not belong to the category “visible light” has no influence on the result. Objects in front of the camera act only as reflective or absorbing surfaces for the light. Either they swallow the light or they steer it into the camera.
The same motifs give completely different pictures in different light conditions. Different materials have different surfaces even with exactly the same shape and the same lighting conditions and therefore influence the light differently. A piece of polished metal handles the light differently than a piece of dull wood.
For a photographer, the light available, its distribution in space, the brightness and contrasts are the materials he can work with. He uses the settings to manipulate his camera and lenses as he works with the light.
Therefore, the first step for a photographer is the perception of lighting conditions. This mingles with the meaning that the scene depicted has. But not the scenery decides the result, but the scenery is designed by the existing light and thus receives a specific statement.