2015年01月05日

Eye Vs Camera - Different Perceptions Of The Same World

How many times have you taken a picture and then, when you looked at it, you got disappointed because it did not render the beauty you saw at the moment of shooting? Yet, the scene you shot and the scene you saw were exactly the same. This is no surprise, because a camera sees the world differently than our eyes. I will now try to sum up the major reasons. This will help you render reality more accurately in your photos or taking advantage of these differences for creative artwork.

For starters, we have two eyes, while the camera has just one lens! Thanks to our stereoscopic view, we can perceive depth. This is because we can see the world from two slightly different points of view. Each of our eyes sees reality from a slightly different angle (parallax angle). Our brain then elaborates the information coming from both of our eyes permitting us to perceive depth. This is impossible for a camera, and that's why pictures tend to be "flat" (actually they are). If you try to cover one of your eyes, you will get the point. In this case, of course, your reasoning will still tell you if an object is nearer than another (e.g. a nearer car will appear bigger than a further away one). However, you will not perceive depth as before. Try catching a ball someone has thrown to you: you will probably miss it!

Depth of field is something unknown to our eyes but always lurking in the camera. When we look at something, be it near or far away, we instantly focus it. The camera usually can focus either the near objects or the objects far away, but not all of them contemporarily.

Another striking difference between the eye and the camera is their ability to see contrasty scenes. In each scene we look at, there are some parts darker and other parts brighter. Our eyes are usually able to see correctly both of them, virtually simultaneously. But the camera can't. If you ever tried to photograph a person in the shadow with a bright background (see an example), you surely noticed that either the person was rendered too dark (underexposed) or the background too bright (overexposed). It was not your fault: it is inherent in the medium used to record the image, be it a classic film or a CCD sensor.

What about color? Colors are seen differently, too. Besides, diverse films or CCDs see colors differently. Even our field of view is different from the camera, because the camera's field of view depends on the lens mounted on it.

At the end of it all, are these differences good or bad? It depends. If you are struggling to make the scene appear the way it does to the eye you will have to work hard to overcome these different characteristics. On the other hand, if you want to be creative, these same dissimilarities are a precious opportunity.

Andrea Ghilardelli runs an online photo retouching service. To get your pictures beautifully retouched and for articles about photography, please visit his site: http://www.ilghila.com.
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