Light, shadow, and 256 shades of white?
There is a door in my house that at certain times is partially bathed in sunlight streaming through a window. The door is painted in a uniform, warm, near-white shade. At all times it looks like the same color to me. As you look at this photo, you too will likely see it as a light-toned color.
When you look at the histogram of the image there is a full range of tones, every shade is there from solid black to full white.
Surely the camera records clearly what is there. Yet in real life, as well as in photos, we see things entirely differently. The human cognition system adds past experience as an interpretive tool. We perceive a newspaper as white with black print under any light. Even when only part of it is fully illuminated. Even in photos, if there is enough context, will we “see” the correct colors and shades, regardless of light and shadows.
Notice that I said, “if there is enough context”. We need to recognize the circumstances before we can fully interpret what we see. In the above photo we see an off-white door with splashes of full sunlight and shadows bringing out the details of the construction. We also see the underlying texture of wood, brought out by the light.
In photography and art we take advantage of how we see to create visions in the viewer’s mind. Sometimes we don’t even realize what is happening. Artists will intentionally use the quirks of the way we see to present images with depth and space on a flat surface. Sometimes technology gets the better of us and we come up with unintended results.
I will have more to say on this topic in future posts.
Your thoughts and comments are invited. Let me know what you think.
.:. © 2022 Ludwig Keck