June 10, 2013

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I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don’t notice it.  – Alice Walker, The Color Purple

FOCUS:  Color (Purple)

Purple. Regal. Rich. Luxurious. Exotic. Mysterious. Magical.

Oh…Illusive Purple – I have chased you all day!  Of all the colors to capture in a photograph, purple has been the most challenging for me.  Not only is purple somewhat rare to find, today I learned that it is an exceptionally difficult color to photograph.  Consistently, the camera wishes to turn the various shades of purple either too red or too blue.  Throughout the day I found myself having virtual arguments with my camera… “No, that’s not right!  That is not how I see it!”  I fiddled with exposure, white balance, spot metering and other tricks but I still found the color purple difficult to capture accurately – especially in low light situations.  So, determined to learn why this was happening, I did a little research and I found out the most amazing fact:  THE COLOR PURPLE DOES NOT EXIST.  Yes, that’s right folks, purple isn’t actually a real color – at least as far as the light spectrum is concerned.  You see, visible light ranges from the deepest red to the deepest blue (called violet – but violet actually has no red in it at all).  After that there is only ultra-violet, which the human eye cannot see.  So then why do we ‘see’ the color purple?  It turns out that our brains interpret the combination of deep blue (i.e. violet) and deep red as the color purple; but what we perceive as purple doesn’t really exist in the light spectrum.  Since photography is literally ‘painting with light’ it is difficult for both digital and film cameras to interpret what we see as ‘purple’ into a true rendering of the color.  This is especially true in low light situations.  The ‘geek’ in me finds this totally fascinating!  If you’d like to read more, there is a very good article on the science behind this phenomenon here.

But I digress… In the end, today was dedicated to purple.  I believe that through both in-camera and post-processing techniques I was able to accurately capture this truly exotic and mysterious color.  What do you think?

 

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