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ben egbert wrote:
I would be happy to just get close to what I see.
The problem with that is that the eye/brain has physiological capabilities that are different from what the camera can do. The two can be fairly closely matched for "routine" things ... but when it comes to illumination levels / DR or WB, the camera can't come anywhere close to the amount of accommodation that we impart into what is actually there. Conversely, the eye cannot come close the the resolving power we are able to obtain from quality optics (esp. macro / tele).
In this regard, they are two very different tools, albeit with similar intent. Without recognizing these technical differences, a person can drive themselves to frustration trying to get one to act like the other ... kinda like using a spade vs. a backhoe to dig with. Both are digging devices, but neither can fully perform the way the other one does. Whenever we realize that there is a gap analysis in play between two things (whatever they may be), we can either accept the variance, or construct means to bridge the gap ... but expecting the two to do the same can be a recipe for frustration, aggravation, despair, lunacy and a loss of they joy we derive from our craft.
For me, I simply accept that the camera cannot see things as I see them in many instances. I accept that the camera sees things as it does and that will either be "very close" and acceptable ... or I'll have to change things so that it does emulate what I "think I saw". But for me, it isn't as much about what I think I saw, as it is what I want to show my viewer ... and what the camera captured is merely the starting point.
Think of it this way, our eyes capture the scene, then that is passed on to our brains where the post-capture processing begins. So now, we have our brains imparting interpretive information that produces an image in our minds that is not indicative of "reality" ... but rather "representative" of it.
Take that and toss on the fact that the leaf on a red maple can look dull purplish-burgundy in one light and vibrant fiery orange-red in a different light. The leaf is still the same color, it didn't change. What changes was
a) the color (and quality) of the light
b) our physiological response to the light being reflected off the subject
I can go out in my front yard and look at the same leaf throughout various times of the day, and I will see it as different colors ... even thought it never changed. I say all this to point out that chasing reality and associating it to as you saw it are not one in the same thing. The reality is that the leaf is exactly the same color @ 6am, noon, 6pm or midnight ... while what "I saw" each time was very different.
The camera's luminance and spectral response is different from our eyes & brains, but we can process the captured information to transform / align it to what we desire it to be ... whether that is something that emulates what we think we saw, what is deemed to be "reality" or what we want to convey to our viewer. If I am also the viewer, then what I "think I saw" and what I want to show the viewer (i.e. me) can be inherently aligned on such occasions. On other occasions, one has to decide what it is that they want to present.
This is in part why I espouse the "What's the point?" / "What is the message that you want to convey to your viewer?" In the case of the red maple leaf, I can present it in a variety of colors based on the lighting it reflects (with full integrity), or I can present it with a corrected neutral WB, or otherwise. If I'm shooting for a technical basis, I'd likely want to shoot it in full spectrum, neutral lighting. If I'm shooting for aesthetic reasons, golden hour is quite popular. But, the "reality" is that the leaf (itself) is the same color no matter what lighting I use. My "perception" of the leaf's color varies ... thus, what I see is not necessarily equitable with reality.
So, which is reality, what did I see, what do I want to present to my viewer? These are variables that are predicated upon active decision making, and depending upon the conditions and objectives, gap analysis of our tools may require a degree of intervention / modification to what our tools are capable of to achieve our goals.
To me, expecting the camera to present things as you saw them is like trying to fit the square peg into the round hole. If I accept the peg (or hole) as being malleable (little or much) ... and am willing to do so ... I can make the two fit nicely together ... otherwise, they never will.
Now, if the thought of intervening with reality is bothersome for someone, consider this ... choosing which film to load into a camera is intervening with reality. Loading Ektachrome, Kodachrome and FujiChrome into your camera will give you different results, predicated upon the profile the engineers designed into each. The same can be said for Tri-X, Pan, Agfa, etc.
The only reality with respect to photography is that photography is a representation, and no film, or canned profile can consistently record the world as we see it in the varying conditions that our eye/brains were designed to be so accommodating for. Thus, we are often required to perform gap intervention to bring the representation to how we want to present it to our viewer. In the matter of digital, this is the reason that it was designed with a linear raw gamma ... so that we could each become our own "film design engineer". Choosing how we want to PP to represent what was captured is no different than choosing to load EktaChrome instead of KodaChrome ... it is purely a matter of representative choice.
Edited on Oct 18, 2012 at 02:35 PM · View previous versions