Friday, November 5, 2010

The Eye, the Brain and the Camera

The eye and the brain and the magical interconnections between them creates wonderful light recording system, or its the one we have become accustomed to. The eye only sees detail at about the size of the thumbnail on a fully extended arm. The rest of the field of vision is ever decreasing resolution (less cones) as it moves out from the centre of vision whereas the camera for the most part has perfect resolution across field of view. 

Where the eye really has it though, is when unmeasurably small refocusing speeds our eyes over the full field of view which makes it appear as one image. It's the brain that processes the eye's information, in a manner that appears to us, as infinite DOF and resolution through field of view. The brain is very complex in its processing of visual information. We really don't see all the detail that we think we do.
There is a great book 'Vision of Seeing' the biology of seeing.

It's no wonder, at times, that the image captured by a camera does not quite fit in with what we remember we saw, which is different from what we actually saw. This is the great part about enhancing photos. It allows us to bring to life those parts that captured our imagination.

The soft blue/purple of the stones compliment well with the yellows/oranges in the highlights.

On one Friday evening I was heading out to the Byward Market in Ottawa to hopefully get some interesting B&W shots of dark alleys with lots of mood and mystery. At least that was my goal.
I arrived at 7:30pm in order to find a parking spot and even then it took a while, as by 9:00pm the market, which by then are the bars and bistros, start to hum with people.

At sunset, about 8:30, I started to scout out suitable alleys or courtyards for my image theme when I came across this man sleeping on a bench in a courtyard under a canopy of trees.

It wasn’t completely twilight dark at this time but even with a fast 2.8 VR lens set at ISO 640 @ f4.0, at 100mm I would still needed a tripod, as the shutter speed was 1/9 s.

The above photo is a camera RAW image and as you can see, it is a bit brighter due to large amount of dark areas going to mid-grey value with exposure readings. This turns out to be a benefit as when the image is darkened, those areas will have its noise reduced proportionally.

In my mind I had a different picture; darker surrounding areas with a light streaming on the gentleman. Darker foreground and removal of the cigarette butts.
The problem was, it was not quite dark enough when the photo was taken. When I returned in about 20 minutes later, the man was getting up so there was no opportunity to retake this shot and you have to go with what you captured.

Below is the Layers I used to achieve the effect.

I tend to use a separate layer for each effect or localized area that needs to be adjusted. This is why it is easier to fine-tune the image as a whole.

As I am examining image possibilities with design ideas I save a version (cntrl-alt-sft-E) I like. See top of stack.

This is a B&W version blended with a more contrasty colour I also enjoy.

Niels Henriksen

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