Contrast Detectors...

by Pino Pino September. 12, 2018 843 views

I distinctly remember seeing, truly seeing, the shape and quality of the light.

I don’t even really recall seeing the bird or the table specifically… I remember specifically seeing the light and the shadows.

That is what we are always told in photography – to see the light.

I knew that.

I practiced that.

I've even tried to teach it.

But that was the day that truly, deep in my photography soul, it … clicked.

Wow! I didn’t even see that pun coming, but it was AWESOME when I looked back and found it just sitting there starting back at me.

That is what a photograph is – a record of the light present at any given moment.

More specifically, a record of the shape of the light… the contrasts that create the shapes we perceive.

That’s really what we, humans, excel at – detecting contrast.

We are also AMAZING at detecting patterns… but that’s for another blog. ;)

We have a really hard time seeing a camouflaged animal because there is a lack of contrast. It’s much typically much easier for our eyes/brain to identify the contrast when we filter out the color and view the exact same image in b/w. Color is like noise to our eyes/brain and very distracting – which I believe is in part why so many people are still so drawn to b/w images.

By the same token, we don’t really sense movement – we are much better at sensing changes in velocity so we generally only sense movement when it is accompanied by a change in velocity. Thank goodness or we’d probably all be sick all day from the motion of the planet. The best relatable example of this is when you are on a train and it starts to move but you think the train on the next track is moving because your train is moving so smoothly that you don’t feel it moving – so your brain tells you that the other train is moving because it didn’t feel a change from stationary to moving on your train.

So, getting back on track… (train pun - hah!)

I remember seeing the light in that moment.

I saw the shape of the light.

I saw the quality of the light.

I saw the light wrapping around Quincy.

I didn’t pick that name… it’s on his tag… but I think it fits. ;)

I physically saw, and recognized that I physically saw, the shape and quality of the light…

And I ran upstairs to get my camera.

I spent 2 minutes capturing 8 images.

9:52 – 2 shots – check exposure and composition.

9:53 – 2 shots – check exposure and composition.

9:54 – 2 shots – check exposure and composition.

9:54 – 2 shots – Got it!

I processed one – the last one… and only the last one.

It’s one of my all-time favorite shots…

But not so much because it’s a good shot.

Okay, a little bit because I think it’s a good shot, but I could be a tad bit biased.

More because every time I look at it I remember that moment... that moment when I saw the light.

And again with the puns… Truly, didn’t see that one coming either!
Qunicy - the little bird that helped me see the light!

Qunicy - the little bird that helped me see the light!

We are AMAZING at detecting differences, contrast, in all things, visual and audible.
Hmmmm… contrast… differences…
What about similarities.
Given the palpable tension in the air on so many topics these days, maybe we could all (humanity as a whole – yes, myself included) do with a gentle reminder that when we get all fired up and ready to fire both barrels at someone for making a statement based on a different perspective (Hmmm – I seem to recall someone recently wrote a REALLY long blog on that topic) that we should consider how drawn we are to contrast and what a difficult time we sometimes have seeing what is right in front of us. Maybe we should consider how easily we are distracted, even fooled, by extraneous ‘noise’. Maybe before reacting we could all benefit from applying a little filtering and cropping to get a more informed and composed view of what’s really in front of us.
Just an errant closing thought.
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There are 5 comments , add yours!
Sigrid Strohschneider-Laue 1 year, 5 months ago

Seeing the light - you and Quincey - put a smiling light in my face ...
Nevertheless I always want to see the shadow too.

1 year, 5 months ago Edited
Pino Pino Replied to Sigrid Strohschneider-Laue 1 year, 5 months ago

Absolutely - yin & yang...  city sunrisecity sunset

1 year, 5 months ago Edited
Sigrid Strohschneider-Laue Replied to Pino Pino 1 year, 5 months ago


1 year, 5 months ago Edited
Camellia Staab 1 year, 5 months ago

Your post put a smile on my face and then some. Great write up and a really fantastic photo of Quincy. Your build up to the photo was very good.....was waiting to see a "real" bird but when I finally did see the photo I understood what you meant about the light.

1 year, 5 months ago Edited
Pino Pino Replied to Camellia Staab 1 year, 5 months ago

Thanks! I'm glad I helped start your day with a smile!  smile

1 year, 5 months ago Edited