Photograph can “to be or not to be” testifying to the reality…

Photographs vs. Reality

Part 1

In the modern world you barely can surprise anyone with a photograph, we just pull out your phones and snap a picture. Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest… Our life is overflowed with photo content. In the courtroom photographs excepted as a legitimate evidence. But sometimes when I take a picture of a beautiful view it is just not the same! There are physical factors, like optics and photometry, and personal like sensory and cognitive perception.

Today we would look at optics and photometry.

But first let’s figure out how we receive the picture itself. How does camera works?

Optics. In simple terms it is the same principle as camera abscura which was used more than five hundred years ego to create vivid paintings by greater european masters. The only trick is that the light goes in the pinhole with the different angles. So the projection we get on the pane is upside down. Modern cameras fix it with variety of lenses so we can see the picture on our screens the right side up.


Light is a key for human vision and it very much affects how we see the world around us depending on how light/dark it is. But modern camera sensors always have the same light sensitivity.

That’s where photometry comes in handy. It is the science about measuring human visual response to light. This response changes with light wavelength, and to an extent, from person to person. Brighter eye colors have less contrast vision so it is harder to see in the bright day light, and darker eye color has more contrast vision so it is harder for the person to see at night. To the camera, on the other hand, all this details do not matter – it has it’s own settings of contrast which solely depend on photographers using it. In this case camera could see much more that the person.

Or much less?

For example, if you stare at one word in the middle of the this sentence and do not move your eyes, you can perceive that the other words are there but they are not clear.  This is the case of focus point. As soon as you  look at the any out-of-focus part it becomes in focus. But you can control the camera perception.

Dandelion Seed

What makes photography so attractive is the fact that people prefer images that show them what they cannot see, some new world which is very similar to one they live in, but dramatically different at the same time. Art is subjective and photography it’s big part, so images that are considered good differ from person to person.


Articles which inspired me and may been used as a references:

Photographs vs. Reality: Seeing Is Deceiving

David Hockney research ob camera abscura

Learn About Cameras: Make a Camera Obscura

Principles of Photometry

Why does your camera see things differently than you?


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