Monday, 5 March 2012

Photography - The Eye vs. Camera

Sabrina's back with some more photography wisdom for us today and an experiment.

Did you know that your eyes can see an estimated 2.3 to 10 million different colors! Is that amazing or what? Actually current research does not know exactly how many colors the human brain and eye can see and interpret. A couple of weeks ago we dove into the rule of thirds but I started thinking about that and from my studies most people do not start out with rules right out of the starting gate, so I have decided to take a few steps back and lay some groundwork for you.

As you begin your journey into photography it is important to note that what your eye perceives and what your camera sees through the light sensor are two totally different things.

The human eye receives light and hits the retina where it begins being processed. The retina is located at the back of the eye and consists of light-sensitive cells called rods and cones. These cells are mainly located in one part of the retina called the fovea and are responsible for processing the color and sharpness of what you are looking at, then sends the information to the brain.

A camera works in a similar fashion because as light strikes the lens it gets directed to a small area just like the fovea called the image sensor. The image sensor then processes the information and sends it to your digital cameras’ on board computer. From this point the computer then generates a preview on your LCD screen and writes the information on your media card when you press the shutter.

So far the eye and camera process light in a similar fashion right? Well the biggest difference in the two is that the brain processes light with “memory” and experiences and the camera processes the data it receives with predetermined equations, etc. Am I starting to lose you? No worries, here is an experiment for you to try.

Take a sheet of white paper or a book and begin reading it in a room with traditional light bulbs, incandescent for example, after you have been reading your book for a few minutes move to the light of a window. Note that there are different types of light because incandescent blubs and natural light do not have the same “temperature” or color. However, when you move your book from the different types of light the “white” page never changes colors! That is because your brain knows from experience that the page on the book is supposed to be white and it will correct this in your mind. However, a camera cannot learn experiences and can only capture what it is told too or has been programmed to capture. In this example if we wanted the page of your book to be white we would have to manually correct for White Balance but we will get into what this is in a later post.

Therefore, as you are taking photos do not be surprised if you take a shot that does not look exactly as you had originally pictured it. The eye and the camera may start out with a similar process but the end result will never be the same. Our challenge as photographers is to capture an image as close to what we really see as possible. Until next time happy shooting my friends!

Thank you Sabrina.

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