So we were driving along University Ave. in Peoria, IL, and my eye was caught by a gaily painted house. I asked my brother to park at the next available space, and I walked back with my camera. This is a tale of photography, imagination, and processing run amok.
So, this is pretty much what my eye perceived driving by the place:
I pointed my camera at the place, let the light meter do its thing, and took a picture and this is pretty much what I got, not nearly as dramatic as what my naked eyes saw:
I think there is something in our eye-brain connection, our individual sense of color, and our experience and imagination which contributes to how vivid the world seems to us. It may actually be a survival trait, seeing the beauty and drama of what’s in front of us may help us decide whether there’s danger here, or food, or whatever. Cameras don’t have all that. Light meters have certain fixed characteristics, and photo sensors (or film, whatever that is) have the light-and-color catching characteristics which were built into them. To get the house to look as colorful and dramatic as I remembered it, I had to do a bit of processing (Photoshop). The first picture above is a result of blending three images (properly exposed, underexposed, and overexposed), and then trying to get the result to look “natural” to me. I’ve discussed that before and it’s called HDR (High Dynamic Range). Enhancing color is not the primary goal, actually, getting detail in dark areas (the shaded porch) and the bright areas (the sky) is the first goal. Our eyes have much greater dynamic range than film or photo sensors, and a gently-processed HDR tends to let us see detail in the photo we actually saw with our eyes.
But the fevered imagination sometimes goes a little wild. Fortunately post-processing is ready for that, with or without the HDR methodology. So, once I saw my idealized image (the first one above), I thought if a little was good, more was better, and came up with:
When the image got this colorful, and the dark sky got this dark and dangerous looking, I thought of a TV show I’d seen the night before I did the processing. A really wicked-looking clown murdered someone on “The Mentalist.” Then I thought of the evil clown in a Steven King novel (was that It?), and the serial killer John Wayne Gacy, who had a clown schtick going, etc. I decided this little house, which looked so colorful and happy, had a dark side. So, I produced the following: