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Mar 29, 2022

prints & screens/monitors

viewing a photograph as a print and on a screen or monitor are two very different visual experiences.  it can be helpful to explore a little of the technical aspects to understand this difference.

when looking at a photo printed ink on paper, our eye/brain registers light reflected, bouncing off the printed surface.

viewing a photograph on a screen or monitor, our eye receives light shinning through colored dots on a transparent surface.

the qualities of color, luminance, saturation, hue, brilliance are vastly different with each of these methods.  if you are interested in more technical details, here is a link to start with.

one practical implication of this dynamic is that an ink on paper print cannot look like what is seen on a digital screen.  choosing a photo based on online viewing can only be an approximation of what the printed version will look like.

compounding this is the wide variety of screen types, sizes, resolutions, accuracy and reliability over time.  (yes, the screen of your device degrades over time.) a 24" x 60" panorama of dawn breaking over 10,000 foot mountain peaks is not going to be accurately portrayed on a cell phone screen. different devices can also interpret the same digital photo file with widely different qualities of colors and saturation.

i choose to make ink on paper prints because this most closely represents the landscape/wildlife experience i see in nature.  there is no light shining from behind and through these subjects. sun, moon, and star light bounce off these subjects to our eye.

over the last two decades more of our viewing experiences have been dominated by screen/monitor time. so much so that our brain/visual processing has become conditioned to this quality of light.

one, of several, implications of this process is that we are constantly exposed to increasing levels of saturation and amplification of colors which, over time, may lead us further away from the actual visual experience in nature.

professional photography is becoming dominated by the digital presentation online.  it seems fewer prints are being made. those that are must navigate a tricky process of digital files and editing on a monitor that is calibrated to look as close as possible to the ink on paper version, but doesn't exactly succeed. ultimately, through a lot of trial and error, we learn to calibrate our eye to translate from monitor to paper.

i've posted these photos online so people have a convenient way to access and view the portfolio. i've done so with a little reservation as the quality and accuracy is so variable. if you are interested in an ink on paper print, i highly encourage you to see what it looks like with your own eyes.

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