To filter or not to filter?

filtersAccurate colour representation, strictly speaking re-presentation, on screen-based devices is, I have now decided, impossible. But before I get bogged down in the philosophical depths of reality and the perception of reality, let’s just say that we don’t all see the same colour in the same way.

Shades of pale blues and pale greens are well-known for instigating disagreements between two people both looking at the same blue or is that green? I selected Colour One and Colour Two below from the pictured scarf and have placed them on different backgrounds – personally I’d call Colour One duck egg blue! Any takers?

Blue-GreenAnd, as any other folk who regularly take photographs will know, the ambient light certainly makes colours appear different. It is also why there are a selection of lens filters (and photoshop equivalents) to adjust for the ambient light.

But one thing I didn’t particularly notice until I was reading about how we see colour is that (and this is blindingly obviously really) the same coloured object will look different against a different background!

This brings me back to presenting my work online using photographs. Silk has a lustre and this lustre varies with the weave. A crepe de chine has a subtle sheen and a flat crepe de chine almost no sheen. Satins and charmeuse silks are so lustrous that they could be called shiny whereas silk twills and taffetas are somewhere in the middle.

Silk-surfaceIn the blurb accompanying my online shop I try to explain that silk looks different in real life not least as the slightest movement makes a lustrous scarf reflect light in an ever changing subtle way. Add this information to the variety of screens people use to shop online and people’s individual perceptions of colour I conclude that accurate re-presentation of my work is not possible.

Hetty-pink-green-box-new copyApplying these observations to the wider world of online shopping in general (and I am sure most people have already realised this) if you are considering buying anything online and a precise shade or colour match is of paramount importance then either ask for a sample, a swatch or an off-cut, or read the returns policy so if it’s not right for you it can be sent back and you will be refunded. One small point unlike big retail brands, ASOS, Herm├Ęs and Liberty and so on, most small businesses, crafters and artisans are unable to offer free returns.

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Where’s The Drama? It’s all in the Lighting

Often the first line of advice from any professional photographer to us aspiring amateurs is ‘lighting, lighting and, probably, the lighting’, with the specific recommendation to use natural daylight whenever you can.

arabian night dahlias targazer lilies arrangement
Flowers – internal shot taken at dusk with no post-production colour adjustment .

Obviously, it is not always possible to get the shot you are after with the available natural light in your chosen setting which is a great pity but sometimes unavoidable – so you end up trying out photographic lights.

However, as an amateur I find natural light really is by far the best when photographing flowers especially when you are trying to capture that little essence of nature. Now, as I’m sure we all know all daylight is not equal, but I was really quite surprised by the difference between mid-afternoon and early evening when I tried out this small experiment taking internal shots of my mantlepiece.

afternoon photo flowers
Mantlepiece – photo taken in the middle of the afternoon (15.30)
evening photo flowers
Mantlepiece – photo taken in the early evening on the same day (19.15)

Ah yes, I hear them spinning in their graves and their groans of boredom as all the Old Masters mutter on about aspects of windows, geographical location and time of year . . .