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Thread: Perceptual Reality Question

  1. #1

    Perceptual Reality Question

    I was in London a couple of years ago and took some snapshots with a friend's camera I borrowed for the trip. Several weeks back, a fellow teacher at school introduced me to your site when he needed someone to assist his students in writing about photographs.

    Since then, he has been assisting me in learning about this thing you guys call post production and I am having some difficulties understanding if I am altering my image to an electronic vision because of some algorithm or is what I saw in the camera the real reality and I did see what I saw. (He is now the teacher in teaching me about editing.)

    In the example below, the left image was made using his CS5 software and doing it according to my Kelby book where I set white balance with the dropper tool and did some further adjusting with some of the other sliders but the image tended to be much more yellow that I remember. My impression of English summer weather (sorry if I offend), was grey skies and lots of rain.

    The example to the right was made using the only tools I have available in my program at home (CS2 on his old computer - though, honestly, I am using his program and computer right now so not sure if this is going to make a difference) but it looks closer to what I think I saw. If I put it to a histogram (he's big on using this as a guide), it shows a lot of movement toward the black side and looks to be okay on the white side but I think it looks okay on the screen. I am not sure if there is a measure for the gray side.

    The question is: how do I strike a reasonable balance between what I 'saw' and what the program tells me I should have seen? My friend and I are having lots of discussions about this (he's sitting across the room right now all puffy and red because I won't let him see what I am typing) and he leans more toward letting the programs sort out the big stuff and the camera reality and my reality should heed their suggestions first and then be an artist later.

    Which of us is most crazy?

    Perceptual Reality Question

    My parents bought me a D40 for Christmas when my daughter was born. I've not used it much and now, as a single mom, getting out is much harder. I figure if I can learn editing to some degree with older images, later when I start shooting my camera other than the millions of snapshot pictures I take of my daughter, I will be able to be much better. I am assured the D40 will shoot in RAW, though I have never shot an image that way or processed one.
    He just told me to tell you I was a film photographer for a long time and did a lot of studio work as an assistant. Oh, one other question. Will CS2 edit RAW or am I going to have to upgrade? He seems to think so but he is so immersed in assisting his Saturday workshop kids, I don't want to bother him right now.

    Thanks again,
    Mandy

  2. #2
    Shadowman's Avatar
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    Re: Perceptual Reality Question

    Hi Mandy,

    In my opinion, the reality of the scene is what you see with your own eyes, what you see in the viewfinder and the printed image are altered versions of what you saw. When viewing through the viewfinder, the scene is either zoomed in and shortening the perspective or altering the angle of view and changing how shadows and highlights appear. A good idea is to record on paper your best estimate of the hues you are most attractive to in the image, for instance a sunset could look orange in reality, but records through the camera as red or even pink. In your examples shown, was the color of the sky blue or gray? What colors do you remember from the ferris wheel, are they as they appear in the image or did you alter these by changing the white balance?

  3. #3
    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: Perceptual Reality Question

    Mandy

    I agree with John.

    The 'reality' is what your vision was of the scene at the time you saw it.

    You can get do and should understand, all about white balancing so that colour can be corrected. But the two things are not imcompatible. At the end of the day, your aim, unless you are aiming to do something 'alternative' is to represent what you saw that made you want to take the photograph in the first place. If that means a 'true' representation of colour as advised to you by the software you are using, so be it. If it is something different that what the software is suggesting, then so be it. Your opinion and decision is what is most important.

  4. #4

    Re: Perceptual Reality Question

    Faithful reproduction....impossible. Viewing the scene is only the first part of a chain reaction. Our brains process the image according ,initially, to our most base instincts. Is it food, is it a threat, is it receptive to reproduction These base instincts will trigger base reaction from the stimulation received. The intelligent bit is how we process the basic reaction around experience and learning. If we are not immediately threatened we subconsciously search for terms of reference. This will involve memory which in its search for the terms of reference will trigger further emotion and reaction. These are so different in combination that it will be impossible for two humans to see the same image since the physical act of seeing is intrinsic with the processing in the brain.

    With photography it is both simpler than this and at the same time more difficult. Since our intent is to capture what we see as an individual we must leave our own spraint on that captured image...if we are to convey the emotions we felt in viewing the original scene. So, the easy bit in theory is that we do not have to worry about technical perfection since it's benefit will be largely lost as the viewers brain seeks its own terms of reference. The difficult bit is that one of the terms of reference will be an expectation of a predefined benchmark of quality (again different in us all). This is the bit where our intelligence lets us down because it often dominates preventing our more basic instincts kicking in and allowing more abstract meanderings.

    The photographer must therefore 'guess' the quality that will allow the viewer to ignore this irrelevant component of the photograph. Once this is done we can then try to lead the viewer into an intimate insight to our own emotions. We can help this along by accentuating the components of the image that stimulated our own feelings. This is the grail like skill of the photographer. We must understand which components of the image trigger common initial reaction. The rest is down to the way the viewer processes these accents. PP is a massive help in accentuating the transmitter components - although much can also be done at the point of capture.

    In conclusion, reality only exists in our individual consciousness. There is no reasonable balance it is down to how much you feel you need to electronically adjust the image to accentuate the emotive triggers.

    A word of warning; in the past I believe some members assume I read all this and then get it all mixed up in transcription. The above is purely philosophical and is highly likely to be b*****ks....but it is what I believe

  5. #5
    arith's Avatar
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    Re: Perceptual Reality Question

    The second or one to the right dear. If you want abstraction you do what you want, otherwise it is all about getting it as close as you experienced.
    There isn't however a right way to do it, but there is some nasty trees in shot some of which could be removed, but it is a nice image Mandy. cheers.

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    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: Perceptual Reality Question

    Quote Originally Posted by Wirefox View Post
    A word of warning; in the past I believe some members assume I read all this and then get it all mixed up in transcription. The above is purely philosophical and is highly likely to be b*****ks....but it is what I believe
    Don't worry, Mandy. Whenever you read what he writes, you find out that the b*****ks actually makes so much sense that it something you want to save and hang on to.

  7. #7

    Re: Perceptual Reality Question

    "In conclusion, reality only exists in our individual consciousness. There is no reasonable balance it is down to how much you feel you need to electronically adjust the image to accentuate the emotive triggers."

    My thoughts, exactingly! Thank you for a most interesting and enjoyable answer. Not sure as Donald suggests this is ready to paste on my office wall, but I will keep it tucked away for future reference. It does, at least keep Mr. Stodgy at bay for a little longer.

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