Exploring Color Photography Fifth Edition: From Film to Pixels / Edition 5

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Overview

The classic book on color photography is back in print and completely revamped for a digital photography audience!

Learn from step-by-step instruction, illustrative charts, and unbelievably inspirational imagery in this guide meant just for color photographers. World renowned artists give you insight as to "how they did that" and the author provides challenging assignments to help you take photography to a new level.

With aesthetic and technical instruction like no other, this book truly is the bible for color photographers.

Be sure to visit the companion website, featuring portfolios and commentary by contemporary artists:

www.exploringcolorphotography.com

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"This book provides a stimulating introduction to the approaches, techniques, images, and history of color photography. The resources presented are based on experience. In this account chapter ordering has been revised to encompass the latest photographic trends, with digital imaging giving priority over analog methods. Exploring Color Photography features technical instruction, conceptual and pioneering aesthetics; a multidimensional approach to image-making that combines digital and analog system; innovative and diverse images by 250 international artists, professionals, teachers, and students; a full-color pullout timeline of vital color photography and historical events, and more."—NeoPopRealismJournal.com

"Exploring Color Photography is an attractively packaged book by a highly credentialed author filled with voluminous information about the history, theory, processes, and application of photography in general and color photography in particular. Now in its fifth edition, a discussion of digital photography has been added to extensive coverage of more traditional film and wet darkroom methods and practices. Such an effort is a huge undertaking in both scope and style, and the results are a bit of a mixed bag.There is a great deal of valuable information on color photography from every conceivable angle in this book. Consider it a middle of the road reference for the serious image-maker. Someone just starting out might be better served by a few shorter volumes concentrating on narrower ranges of topics discussed in greater depth and detail."—akappleug.org

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780240813356
  • Publisher: Taylor & Francis
  • Publication date: 2/21/2011
  • Edition number: 5
  • Pages: 356
  • Sales rank: 439,449
  • Product dimensions: 10.90 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Robert Hirsch is a photographer, writer, and the Director of Light Research (lightresearch.net). His books include Seizing the Light: A History of Photography, Photographic Possibilities: The Expressive Use of Ideas, Materials, and Processes, and Exploring Color Photography. Hirsch is a former Associate Editor for Digital Camera (UK) and Photovision Magazine, and a contributor to Afterimage, exposure, Buffalo Spree, Fotophile, FYI, History of Photography, Ilford Photo Instructor Newsletter, and The Photo Review, as well as former Director of CEPA Gallery.

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Read an Excerpt

Exploring Color Photography

FROM FILM TO PIXELS
By Robert Hirsch

Focal Press

Copyright © 2011 Elsevier Inc.
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-240-81336-3


Chapter One

Color Photography Concepts

Newton's Light Experiment

From the time of Aristotle, common wisdom held that the purest form of light was white. In 1666 Englishman Isaac Newton debunked this belief by demonstrating that light is the source of color. In an elegantly simple experiment he passed a beam of sunlight through a glass prism, making the rainbow of colors that form the visible spectrum (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet, and the gradations in between). Newton then passed the rainbow back through a second prism, which converted all the hues back into white light (Figure 1.1). From this experiment he determined that color is in the light, not in the glass prism, as had been previously thought, and that what we see as white light is actually a mixture of all wavelengths of the spectrum visible to the human eye.

A prism, such as the one Newton used, separates the colors of light through the process of refraction. When light is refracted, each wavelength of light is bent to a different degree. This separates light into the individual color bands that make up the spectrum. It is the wavelength of the light that determines its visible color. Newton's presentation also serves as a reminder against reductionism, for what appeared to be simple on the surface—a beam of white light—was, when examined more deeply, beautifully complex.

Separating Light

The colors of light are also separated by the surfaces of objects. We perceive the color of an object by responding to the particular wavelengths of light reflected back to our eyes from the surface of the object. For example, a red car looks red because it absorbs most of the light waves reaching it but reflects back those of the red part of the spectrum (Figure 1.2). An eggshell appears white because it reflects all the wavelengths of light that reach it (Figure 1.3).

When light is filtered, it changes the apparent color of any object that it illuminates. If the white eggshell is lit only by a red-filtered light source, it appears to be red. This occurs because red is the only wavelength that strikes the eggshell, and in turn, red is the only color reflected back from the eggshell (Figure 1.4). Objects that transmit light, such as color transparencies (a.k.a slides), also absorb some of the colors of light. Transparencies contain dyes that absorb specific wavelengths of light while allowing others to pass through. We perceive only those colors that are transmitted, that is, that are allowed to pass through the transparency.

Dual Nature of Light: Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle

In 1803 Thomas Young, an English physician and early researcher in physics, demonstrated that light travels in waves of specific frequency and length. This had important consequences for it showed that light seemed to have characteristics of both particles and waves. This apparent contradiction was not resolved until the development of quantum theory in the early decades of the twentieth century. It proposes a dual nature for both waves and particles, with one aspect predominating in some situations and the other predominating in other situations. This is explained in Werner Heisenberg's paper "The Uncertainty Principle" (1927) that places an absolute theoretical limit on the accuracy of certain measurements. The result is that the assumption by earlier scientists that the physical state of a system could be exactly measured and used to predict future states had to be abandoned. These lessons were reflected in new multifaceted ways of visualizing the world as seen by artists such as Pablo Picasso, Marcel Duchamp, and David Hockney.

Young's Theory/RGB

In 1807 Young advanced a theory of color vision, which states that the human eye is sensitive to only three wavelengths of light: red, green, and blue (RGB). The brain blends these three primary colors to form all the other colors. Young's ideas later formed the basis of the additive theory of light: white light is made up of red, green, and blue light, which is also the basis of color reproduction in the digital world. Theoretically all the remaining colors visible to the human eye can be formed by mixing two or more of these colors (see The Additive Theory in Chapter 2). When all three of these primary colors are combined in equal amounts the result is white light. Young's theory has yet to be disproved, even though it does not seem to fully explain all the various phenomena concerning color vision (see The Additive Theory section in Chapter 2). It continues to provide the most useful model to date to explain all the principal photographic processes in which analog and digital color images have been produced.

How We See Color

It is rare for us to see pure color, that is, light composed solely of one wavelength. Almost all the hues we see are a mixture of many wavelengths. Color vision combines both the sensory response of the eye and the interpretive response of the brain to the different wavelengths of the spectrum. Light enters the eye and travels through the cornea, passing through the iris, which acts as a variable aperture controlling the amount of light entering the eye. The image that has been formed is now focused by the lens onto a thin membrane at the back of the eye called the retina. The retina contains light-sensitive cells known as rods and cones, named after how they appear when viewed with a microscope. The cones function in daylight conditions and give us color vision. The rods function under low illumination and provide vision only in shades of gray. The rods and cones create an image-receiving screen in the back of the eye. The physical information received by the rods and cones is sorted in the retina and translated into signals that are sent through the optic nerves to the nerve cells in the back of the brain. The optic nerves meet at the chiasma. Visual images from the right side of the brain go to the left and images from the left side of the brain go to the right (see Figure 1.8).

Humans can see a spectrum of about one thousand colors that ranges from red light, which travels in long wavelengths, through the midrange of orange, yellow, and greens, to the blues and violets, which have shorter wavelengths. The distance from wave crest to wave crest determines the length of the light waves. The difference between the longest and the shortest wavelengths is only about 0.00012 of an inch.

How the Brain Sees Color

In the brain this visual information is analyzed and interpreted. Scientists have not yet discovered the chemical and neurological reactions that actually let us perceive light or color. It is currently believed that the effects of light and color on an individual are dependent on our subjective emotional, physical, and psychological states and our past experiences, memories, and preferences. It appears the brain is an active and dynamic system where all data are constantly revised and recorrelated. There is nothing mechanical or camera-like, as every perception is a conception and every memory a reconception. There are no fixed memories, no "authentic" views of the past unaffected by the present.

Seeing color is a dynamic process, and remembering it is always a reconstruction as opposed to a reproduction. It has been proven that when a group views a single specific color, the individual responses to it vary considerably (see Color Is a Personal Experience, page 13). Although color can be defined objectively with scientific instruments, we lack this ability and see color subjectively rather than quantifiably. The act of experiencing color and light involves a participatory consciousness in which we feel identified with what we perceive.

This brings up the toughest problem in neuroscience: consciousness. We know what red is, but one will never know the character of another's experience of red. This denotes that our understanding and interpretation of color is based on neurological phenomena, their relationship to physiological mechanisms, and their integration with philosophy of mind.

Color Blindness

We the sighted, who are able to build our own images so effortlessly, believe we are experiencing "reality" itself. Color-blind people remind us that reality is a colossal act of analysis and synthesis that involves the subjective act of seeing.

Irregular color vision most commonly manifests itself as the inability to distinguish red from green, followed by the inability to tell blue from yellow; rarely is there the inability to perceive any color. Color blindness affects approximately 8 percent of males and 0.5 percent of females. A mother transmits the genes that affect color vision. The reason for this anomaly is not certain because there appear to be many causes. It is possible to learn how to make accurate color prints with mild to moderate color blindness, but it is not generally advisable for people with severe anomalous color vision to take on situations where precise evaluation is of critical importance. Some imaging software programs offer a simulation of various types of color blindness, which can be useful in understanding and overcoming its effects.

Young's Theory Applied to Color Photography

Current techniques for creating digital color photographs make use of Thomas Young's theory that almost any color we can see may be reproduced optically by combining only three basic colors of light: red, green, and blue (RGB). For example, a typical color film consists of up to 20 layers that precisely combine about 200 separate ingredients supported by an acetate base (Figure 1.9). Each of the three basic emulsion layers is primarily sensitive to only one of the three additive primary colors. The top layer is sensitive to blue light, the middle to green light, and the bottom to red light. Blue light is recorded only on the layer of film that is sensitive to blue, green light on the green-sensitive layer, and red light on the red-sensitive layer. All other colors are recorded on a combination of two or more of the layers. Some films have a fourth emulsion layer that improves the film's ability to record the green portion of the spectrum, which can be valuable under fluorescent, artificial, and mixed light situations.

How Film Produces Color

During development each layer makes a different black-and-white image that corresponds to the amount of colored light that was recorded in each individual layer during the exposure (Figure 1.10). The developer oxidizes and combines with the color chemical couplers in the emulsion to create the dyes. The red-sensitive layer forms the cyan dye, the green-sensitive layer the magenta dye, and the blue-sensitive layer the yellow dye. During the remaining stages of the process, the silver is removed from each of the three layers. This leaves an image created solely from the dyes in each of the three layers (Figure 1.11). This is a significant difference between color and black-and-white films where the image is physically formed by clumps of silver in the emulsion. The film is then fixed, washed, and dried to produce a complete color image (see Chapter 10 for details).

How Digital Cameras Record Color

One-shot digital image capture, as in commonly used digital cameras, also is based on RGB. Most sensors use a color filter array, a pattern of RGB squares, also known as a color filter mosaic (CFM). Each pixel is covered by either a red, green, or blue filter. One common array is the Bayer pattern, invented at Kodak, in which 25 percent of the pixels are red, 25 percent blue, and 50 percent green. This formula favors the more sensitive green range of human vision by sacrificing the data in the red and blue ranges. To fill in the gaps of missing information, a computer-imaging program in either the camera or host computer takes an average of the neighboring pixels utilizing algorithms based on visual perception to fabricate an acceptable representation known as interpolation. Interpolation works because the eye is more sensitive to variations in luminance (brightness) than variations in color. Using a scanner to capture an image from film or a print provides more accurate and complete data because it makes multiple exposures, one for each RGB color, which limits it to recording still subjects. There are also medium- and large-format cameras with scan backs that make use of the multi-shot method.

(Continues...)



Excerpted from Exploring Color Photography by Robert Hirsch Copyright © 2011 by Elsevier Inc.. Excerpted by permission of Focal Press. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents

Chapter 1 Color Photography Concepts Chapter 2 A Concise History of Color Photography Chapter 3 Exposing the Light Chapter 4 Filtering the Light Chapter 5 Seeing the Light Chapter 6 Visual Language of Color Design Chapter 7 Working Color Strategies Chapter 8 The Interaction of Color, Movement, Space, and Time Chapter 9 Digital Input Chapter 10 Color Films Chapter 11 Digital Output Chapter 12 Color Printing Chapter 13 Color Projects Chapter 14 Photographic Problem Solving and Writing Chapter 15 Presentation and Preservation

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