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5.9 - What You See Is

NOT What You Get

What you see is not always what you get on your photograph.

We saw how light can appear differently in photographs compared to our eyes.

The contrast is always higher in photographs.

That is, shadows are always darker on photographs than they are when looking with our eyes.

Do an experiment.


1) Photograph a still life with a bright light to one side.

2) Take a second picture after you've placed a reflector (piece of white cardboard, newspaper, etc.) on the side of the still life opposite from the light.

Reflect the light from your light back onto the still life.

The shadows will appear brighter by using the reflector.

3) Leave the still life set up while your photographs are printed.

4) Compare the still life with your two photographs of the still life.

The photograph with the reflector will be more similar to the way the still life looks with your eyes.

We'll explore this topic in depth below.