Light and the Human Eye

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Lesson #3 Light and the Human Eye

Light and the Human Eye is the first of 10 lessons specifically designed for those just getting started in photography. We are so glad you decided to follow our photography courses and we hope you’ll be taking awesome photos in no time. That being said, let’s get started.

The Human Eye


The human eye looks basically like the illustration. The lens at the left side of the eye focuses light rays onto the retina at the right. The retina converts light rays into electrical impulses that are sent to the brain. Our brain then tells us we are seeing a bit of light.



The cornea is smooth and is clear as glass. It’s strong and it helps shield the rest of the eye from germs, dust, and other harmful matter (along with your eyelids, eye socket, tears, and sclera; the white part of the eye). The cornea is the eye’s outermost lens and it controls the amount of light into the eye. The Cornea behaves like the front of a camera lens. When light strikes the cornea, it bends (or refracts) incoming light onto the lens. The lens refocuses that light onto the retina.


The pupil is the round opening in the center of the eye. The Iris and Pupil act work just like the aperture of a camera. The iris is a muscle which, when contracted, covers all but a small central portion of the lens, allows adjustable control of the quantity of light entering the eye so that the eye can work well in a wide range of viewing conditions, from dim to very bright light.

Just like the human eye, cameras have a lens in front of the sensor to capture light rays. Light rays enter through the lens to the digital sensor; which is sensitive to light.




Eye vs Camera Video

We found a great video from Doodle Science that explains the difference between the eye and the camera. It runs just under 2 minutes.


About Light Rays

We have different labels for describing the rays we see. Here are a few basic ones:

  • Transmitted Rays: When you look at a stoplight, the top light is red, the middle is yellow, and the bottom light is green. That light is transmitted by putting a light source behind a colored filter.
  • Direct Rays: When you look directly into the sun, a camera’s flash unit, or a flashlight you are looking at direct light. The light you see is coming directly from the source.
  • Reflected Rays: When you look at anything, you can see that object because direct light is shining on it and being reflected back into your eyes.
  • Ambient Light: Think of ambient light as stray light – light rays that are being bounced around from all sorts of sources. If direct or reflected light on the subject is stronger your subject will appear clearer and less hazy.
  • Available Light: Available light simply means whatever light is present when not using a flash or other sources of light.



NEXT  Lesson 5: Photographic Lenses

Read MORE:



Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: