Does a photo always capture what your eyes see?

Do you ever get frustrated because a photo doesn’t excite you the same way that the original scene did in person?  Driving along a country back road one day, Mike and I came across this area of very tall grasses by a farmer’s field, and it was so beautiful that we had to stop and get the cameras out.  I was mesmerized by the scene before me because I had never seen grasses so tall, and the deep blue sky above was just the icing on the cake!  I also loved the little corner of old log fencing that I could see peeking through the grass.  Can you see it?

However, when I later reviewed my photos from that day, I was disappointed.  I know many of you will say that it is still a very nice capture, but it’s just not quite as striking as what I remember.  Even editing didn’t seem to help.  I believe they explain it well at in their article entitled Camera vs. the Human Eye where it says:

“Our eyes are able to look around a scene and dynamically adjust based on subject matter, whereas cameras capture a single still image. This trait accounts for many of our commonly understood advantages over cameras. For example, our eyes can compensate as we focus on regions of varying brightness, can look around to encompass a broader angle of view, or can alternately focus on objects at a variety of distances.”

Do you have any thoughts on this subject?

This entry was posted in Blogging, Flowers, Trees & Grass, Nature, Ontario, Photographic Challenges, Photography, Rural Photography and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

31 Responses to Does a photo always capture what your eyes see?

  1. Happens a lot Cindy… 😦 I completely understand your frustration!! 🙂 **

  2. do you always want your camera to capture what your eye’s see is the flip side to this question, yes sometimes we just want to capture an exacting memory, sometimes what we want is to capture the essence or feeling of what we saw. Don’t be dissapointed with the pictures that don’t quite work as you want them to, learn from them and come back to them from time to time they may just grow on you.

  3. Sometimes the magic that we saw in person makes it into our pictures, and sometimes it doesn’t. I’ve found that processing an image may restore some lost magic, but there are plenty of photographs I’ve taken that I wasn’t able to make convey what I saw at the time. Win some, lose some. Luckily there seems to be no end to the magic that’s out there waiting to be perceived.

    Steve Schwartzman

    • There is a great deal of magic out there for us to capture, and I’m just so thankful for digital photography so that I can experiment to my heart’s content without having to worry about wasting money on photos that don’t turn out the way I expected. Thanks Steve – I always look forward to your comments :).

  4. Northern Narratives says:

    This reminds me of taking photos of autumn scenery. The photo may be beautiful but it does not capture the memory and emotions of the day and the season.

    • I definitely agree!! I think it’s because when we are standing outdoors experiencing the beauty of the fall colours, our other senses besides sight are adding to the overall experience (sounds, smells, etc.) whereas the resulting photo only gives us the memory of what we saw. Does that make sense?

  5. That happens to me as well cindy and I know it can be very frustrating. On the other hand there are scenes that I know when be captured as I see it and that’s way I sometimes take multiple exposures to ensure I get the complete dynamic range of the scene. This way I can make it come to life in post processing. somtimes it works and then again sometimes it doesn’t.

  6. Colline says:

    I think this is so because our cameras are unable to capture the full essence of a scene – it only captures a piece of the physical and not the colours, sounds and scents that form a part of what we see.

  7. dorannrule says:

    My human eye says the photograph is dramatic and perfectly lovely.

  8. zelmare says:

    This happens to me all the time!! I’m blown away by a sunset or the light over the farm or a scene, and then when I look at my pics, they are so blah. I think it’s the 3rd dimension that is missing… 🙂 Lovely picture!

    • Yes, I have had that happen with sunsets too – the colours are just not the same! It’s nice to know I’m not the only one :). Thanks so much for your comment. I really appreciate feedback like this.

  9. Adam Allegro says:

    Happens all the time 🙂 Still a nice photo. Don’t worry about it, even the top pros go fishing and don’t catch anything from time to time 🙂

  10. Thank you and nice analogy!! Actually, it always makes me feel good when I read blogs by professional photographers who say that they take hundreds of photos to get one good one :). So, I know I’m not alone.

  11. Rick Diffley says:

    With digital imaging there is the rare “straight from the camera” image that does not need some editing tweeking. The more editing tools you have access makes a difference.

    I have numerous examples on my website of before & after images where I applied a few Nik software filters that turned a questionable keeper into a “wow” image.

    Another solution for your image would be to shoot for HDR. Three to five varying exposures and edit them using HDR software, like Photomatrix. PS has the ability as well, but it does an ok job, but not great. You don’t have to think of HDR processing as over the top saturation. Just a little can give a dull image a more nature look.

    Finally, while in the field shooting try using different white balance settings, exposures, shooting angles, full frame, etc. Maybe there is a better time of the day to shoot the image that caught your attention.

    Ok, those are my quick thoughts (-:

    • Your quick thoughts are amazing and I appreciate the time you take to make such an informative comment :). There is so much to learn, and I am trying to experiment a little bit at a time, but life does tend to get in the way LOL. I did do some experimenting tonight as a storm came through our area. I was taking shots of the clouds and I tried about 3 different exposures with each shot. It’s amazing what a difference that can make, but I do not currently have any HDR software. I looked up Photomatix, and it looks amazing. Can you tell me, is Photomatix Essentials enough to start with because it is very reasonably priced?

  12. Rick Diffley says:

    Here’s their website:

    You can download both programs for a free trail. I think you can use the free trail as long as you like, but if you print an image, “Photomatix” is stamped across the image. So, you could try both and see what you like.

  13. krikitarts says:

    Cindy, I think Mr. Bunny Chow is on the right track, but let me take it a couple of steps further . . . I very seldom make a photo with the intent to capture exactly what my eyes see. When I find a scene that inspires me to make a photo, I plan my shot (composition, crop, exposure, white balance, depth of field, shutter speed, etc.) so that my photo will reflect how I visualized/envisioned that it would appear as a print or on the screen. This is my favorite of the lessons that Ansel Adams taught us, and looking at our art from the other side like this can really open our eyes to new understanding and freedom. I do not see the camera’s capabilities as limiting our ability to capture what we see, but rather as enhancing our ability to use what we see to create something unique in accordance with our personal artistic vision.

    • that’s a far more eloquent version of what I was trying to say, very very well phrased krikitarts

    • Gary, you blow my mind! What you said makes so much sense. You see, I think my problem is that I am too bloody picky – you know everything has to be a certain way. So, it’s hard for me to think outside of the box. I need to learn to open up my mind and let the artistic visions through and not be limited by thinking that a photo has to be taken a certain way to obtain only one particular result. Thanks for inspiring me!!

      • krikitarts says:

        Cindy, you are so welcome. I really feel that part of our mission as empassioned artists is to help others to learn to be more sensitive to, appreciate, and share our impressions of this wonderful world around us. You are well on your way along this path.

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