1708 – One Bright Star

In a comment to the last post, Colin noted that

It’s interesting that you notice a problem with green. With my LX5 and GF1 I often have a problem with blue skies that seem to have too much cyan in them. I often wonder if I am adjusting to what my own eyes see and whether that produces as pleasing a result for others that might look at my work. In other words, how do we accommodate for / identify whether we have any deficiencies in our colour vision?

Yeah, really, how do we? This question is related to the ages old dilemma of how to decide whether the world is only an illusion in our mind, or if there is something like objective reality.

In reality it’s impossible to decide. Maybe it’s in my mind (but what am I then?), maybe there is an objective reality, but I think it’s a waste of time to even care. Whatever there is, I can only experience it through my senses, and if I can’t be sure that anything outside of my mind even exists, how could I be sure that you and I, that we both experience the same sensations? And even if the “raw data” in form of electrical impulses on nerves were identical, how could we be sure that the processing in our brains led to the same result?

I talk about grass and green and yellow, and we certainly have a shared concept of grass. I can take an image of “it” and there are so many references, both inclusive and exclusive, that, given we accept the idea of our own existence and each other’s existence, I can be fairly sure that something exists that we collectively call “grass”, and that my understanding of that word overlaps to a high degree with each other’s understanding.

Colors are a tiny bit different. We can agree to call the color of grass “green” or maybe “yellow”. We can also assign color names to certain ranges of wavelengths, but we have no way to communicate our experience of seeing those colors. It could well be, that the existence of different “tastes” is really rooted in different experiences, but then maybe not. In a way all communication is based upon a hope for being understood.

We get feedback though, and if the feedback matches our expectations, we get an indication that some shared understanding has happened.

We can also try to match what we see in nature, with what we see in the pictures that we make of nature. In my own vision, as long as I don’t try to answer how others see (which I can’t), there is perfect consistency. I can’t tell how you see my pictures and how you see reality, but I know how I do, and I can strive for greatest overlap, or if I am not interested in that (which is often true), I can try to make the inter-relationships of colors within a certain picture consistent, and if I am not even interested in that, I can at least try to make them conform to an idea or a memory.

The Image of the Day is easy. I am certain that it does not look like what I saw, but in an image of such an artificial space, we severely lack clues to how the image “should” look. The original JPEG from the camera was fine and what I made of it is fine as well. In fact there is not much of a difference. I have increased global saturation a bit, but have pulled back the reds, because otherwise they would have dominated in an unbalanced manner. Thus we have a consistency of inter-relationships within an image, but due to the lack of a reference point, we can’t tell what’s “right” and what’s not.

The other image is a different case. On the left you see the original JPEG from the camera, and on the right is what I did to it in Photoshop.

Here I have tried to solve the problem of dynamic range by trading brightness for saturation. I have put warmth into the colors, but I have done more so in the center, around the sun. Saturation is also higher there. The result may not conform to any physical reality, at least not more so than the JPEG from the camera, likely even less, but it conforms better to my memory of what it was to look into the blinding sun.

The Song of the Day is “One Bright Star” from the 2008 Paul Weller album “22 Dreams”. See him live on YouTube.

One thought on “1708 – One Bright Star”

  1. That pair of photographs is a very good demonstration!

    For some reason I’m not much disturbed by how the green is rendered in my LX3, as long as it is internally consistent within a photograph. Blue sky, that is another matter – I often have to delete photographs where it just isn’t right. Greens – there is just so much variation in any case, depending on the amount of clouding, moisture, etc.

    For example, right now I have a spruce in front of the window, and it is really, really artificial-looking green, thanks to the rain we had at night and the moist air, and the thickly overcast sky which saturates the colors. Also, there are some bushes used in fences in which the leaves are artificial-looking, almost like plastic, and one sometimes wishes the camera would stress the greenness even more.

    What I find difficult are some subjects where there are really delicate greens; for example hazel leaves late in the evening where there is a little bit of clouding but not too much. The LX3 jpeg engine often produces photographs which differ greatly from each other even when taken seconds apart, and the results seldom are what one would like to have.

    Of course, one could fix things shooting RAW and doing work on the computer, but I just don’t like it. I have learned to live with what I can get with the LX3 jpegs.

Comments are closed.