Finding Beauty in the Commonplace

What is the Real Colour in an Image?

Another post republished from the previous site.

I had a comment from a Facebook viewer a couple of days ago to the effect that she was disappointed in some images I had posted. Her complaint was to the effect that the colour in the images was not the real colour. My reply was that I find exact reproduction to be a boring pursuit in my photography. I create images that come close to matching what was in my imagination at the time I clicked the shutter. Here is a little sequence of stages in one image that illustrates my point.

The featured image is final product image that I might print. But it is far from the original RAW file that my camera recorded. The RAW image looked like the following:

This is what the camera recorded. I think everyone would agree that as it stands it’s a pretty disappointing photo. It is also not a reproduction of the “real” colours that my eye saw.

If the photo had been recorded as a JPG file it would have had the camera’s intervention. It would show what the camera interpreted as the “real” colours and would have probably looked something like this:

This was created by using the automatic basic adjustments in Lightroom. Definitely more lifelike than the RAW image but much bluer in cast and less interesting than my eye saw and much less interesting than what my imagination saw.

The next two images involve some processing to bring things to what my imagination saw.

Because of the backlighting in the photo, I reduced the foreground shadows in order to create some interest in the subject. I warmed the colours somewhat and managed a bit of translucency in the leaves. This matches my imagination of the light flowing through the gaps and highlighting the foreground leaves.

The last step toward my imagination was to filter in a bit of reduced realism.

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