[argyllcms] Re: White Point

  • From: Ben Goren <ben@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: argyllcms@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Mon, 9 Nov 2015 15:51:39 -0700

On Nov 9, 2015, at 6:07 AM, Hening Bettermann <hein@xxxxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:

In landscape, however, my intention at least is to reproduce the color of the
light that was, not to neutralise it.

Yes, that's absolutely the goal of landscape photography. What's the point of
shooting in the golden hour if you turn the golden light noonday white?

So, first, it's entirely possible to, within relatively insignificant limits of
the gear, create a photograph that, when viewed, will reproduce the same
tristimulus values as what an observer at the original scene would have

The problem...is that human vision is much more complex than that. The
tristimulus values are just the beginning of the story. When you're in the
field with the camera, your surrounding environment is lit by the Sun of the
golden hour. It's a very rich perceptual experience...but, if you pull out
something white and look at it, you're going to superficially still see it as
white, even though the tristimulus values for that object in that light are
much more yellow than typical. Or, if it's in shade, it's much more blue than

So, you take your picture and it's recorded all those tristimululs values
(which, granted, require a fair bit to extract from the raw data). Now, you
look at the picture on your computer...but the computer's white point is much
different from that of the golden hour. What looked white in the golden hour,
in the context of your computer studio, now looks much yellower than you

But you plough ahead, confident that you've got the perfect workflow, and make
a print, and put it on the wall...across from the beautiful north-facing bay
window with its great light...and the colors are _really_ off now for all sorts
of reasons.

There are answers, but all involve various compromises. Ideal would be to
display the image in an otherwise-darkened room without any other lighting
cues...but that's impractical. Next would be to use a light source that's a
spectral match for the original scene...but, though theoretically possible,
that sort of thing is rather beyond practical (and affordable!) modern
technology. From there, it just goes downhill -- with the most common
presentation method these days, the Web, being about the worst imaginable.

So...don't give up, but also don't beat yourself up about it, either. Push
yourself, of course, but accept that you're not likely to achieve the goal.


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