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Archive for the ‘Photos’ Category

The camera never Lies, or does it?

I should stress at the beginning that I am neither a doctor nor an optician so if I use the wrong terms, consider the source.

I have however been fascinated by photography since getting my first SLR in my very early teens. That was followed by a few years of getting my hands covered in chemicals as I learned how it all worked. The move to digital was a no-brainer but offers so many possibilities.

They say “the camera never lies”.

There is a world of difference between the camera and your eye and I will use that to challenge the above statement (ignoring of course the wider truth that some “CGI” is now indistinguishable from reality – and if you still believe that CGI is not “real” take a look at this stunning piece of video – the first few seconds defy believe).

When a camera takes a picture, let’s say outside in the brilliant sunlight (clearly not in the Northeast of England) with some trees and dark shadows, it records faithfully what it can… and therein lies the rub – “what it can”.

The camera stores images in digital memory. It stores 3 colours – red, green and blue and it stores them with a limited dynamic range – that is, the range from the lowest brilliance to the highest brilliance and that is FAR from complete. Technically there are only so many digital “bits” and so only so many “levels” of any of the colours – the range is just not wide enough for reality – and it would not make any difference if it was – because your screens you view the images on are ALSO not capable of reproducing the brilliance of sunlight.

So I will firstly argue that the camera DOES lie in that it does not show you the complete range from the darkest shadow to the brilliant sunlight.

That is the first issue with “normal” photos and though there are ways to improve this (RAW images contain more bits-per-pixel than JPG – and HDR photos take multiple exposures to try to “cluge” a wide dynamic range picture) the result is often beautiful and WELL worth pursuing but far from perfect and the mechanism (as described above) for displaying the image is also far from perfect as it, too is unable to display the brilliance of sunlight down to the darkness of the deepest shadows (we’re ignoring the fact that the image is flat rather than 3D – that’s a WHOLE other discussion).

But this is only the beginning.  When you use your EYES to look at a similar scene of high contrast, your eyes and brain cheat in many ways, NONE of which are replicated by the camera.

a) You see a combination of the truth and what you expect to see. That is why people sometimes see “ghosts” – if we are not sure what it is we’re looking at – the brain desperately tries to create sense out of disorder.  There is a video out there that demonstrates this.

b) The individual sensors in your eyes can selectively desensitise to give you a non-linear image of wider dynamic range than a camera would manage. i.e. areas of strong light are suppressed over time – dark areas are magnified – one would guess the history of this is – if you spotted the animal in the shadows that was coming to get you – you survived.

When you look at an image on a screen, your eyes do not work the same way that they do when looking at real life – because the screen image does not have the dynamic range from dark to light to trigger the same responses in the cells.

Don’t believe me? Do you squint when you see a photo of bright sunlight? No. If you look at a photo of darkness will more detail emerge from that photo the longer you look at it? No.

Beautiful piece by Matthew Sullivan in HDRSo when someone comes along with a beautiful HDR photo and the photographic “experts” complain about HDR not being “pure” it reminds me of the people who say that valves are best (generalisation – the old ways are best) – I find myself smiling.

I take photos with the best equipment I care to carry around (more often that not a modern Android phone) and I often use photo tools to render those images to as near as what I THOUGHT I saw or I WANTED to remember and that, at the end of the day is what matters – unless of course you’re selling the images and even then – the image on the right is nothing like reality – but it would still look lovely on a wall. A “pure” photo can never reproduce reality exactly – so treat the camera as an artistic tool and enjoy.

A note for Android lovers… “Camera FV-5” app promises RAW format images. If you have something like a modern Samsung or similar phone with high grade camera – you’re in for a treat! RAW will allow a greater range of post-editing as there is more information to start with.


A Weekend “Up North”

Spent part of the weekend up North with friends – here are a couple of photos I took while we were there – early in the morning – amazing how spending time in the countryside can cheer you up. I’m all set for my trip to Brussels this morning – though to be fair – it’s probably warmer here than it is over there.

Early morning Northumberland

Early morning Northumberland by Peter Scargill

Early morning Northumberland by Peter Scargill

So, today I’m travelling from Newcastle to London then off to Brussels – back in a couple of days, got a meeting with some ESCO colleagues from around Europe to attend to. Hoping to grab a pizza from my favourite place in the square. Currently battling with a Chinese supplier to get some code that works for a little phone-type colour display. They are trying hard but I think they’re reading my emails via Google translate and we’re not getting very far!

A late Winter?

by Peter Scargill

I remember a couple of years ago, about this time – I was stuck in the house for a week due to horrendous snow. Here’s a reminder of it… great fun for cats, not much fun for the rest of us.Winter 2010 in Wark

Well, despite warnings, we got about an inch of snow this morning which then immediately disappeared – meanwhile we’ve had lots of fog which makes for interesting photos. Here’s a couple of shots I took at the weekend nearby (below).

Winter 2012-2013

Winter 2012/2013

So for all our complaining it’s no-where near as bad as a couple of years ago.. unless you really hate fog.

A foggy start to the day

Onto my third FSB-meeting-fest day in Blackpool and after an early evening last night, an early start this morning. Knowing I’d be spending the rest of the day in a stuffy room full of directors where we mull over serious stuff for hours and hours, I got up first thing and went out with the camera.

Southern Blackpool was enjoying freezing weather and fog in the early hours which made for a kind of surreal atmosphere, made even more strange by the constant sound of seagulls in the distance. Can’t manage the sound here but I hope my pics convey the really interesting atmosphere first thing.

Early morning down at the sea-front

Like a scene out of Jack the Ripper

Incidental Pictures from Spain and France

Just a bunch of assorted images that didn’t make it into the Spanish Blog the first time around.  From our summer visit to Spain and France. These images will all expand if you click on them. Hover for descriptions – which also show in the expanded versions.


Motorway café in Spain

Selection in Carrefour in France

Estate agent in SEES in France

Passing view in France

Back in England... rain and traffic jams