especially with digital images

The 'camera don't lie" is a commonly held 'fact'.

Those who have been to the movies will know how wrong this can be, with the spectacular effects seen in some many. With the advent of digital photography, such trickery is becoming much easier for more people, those who have the need or imagination.

Orchid photography plays an important part in orchid growing, especially the orchid awards system, recording plants and flowers that have been selected as species. In the past transparencies have been used to provide a lasting record of those flowers, as this media gave the most accurate reporduciton. If duplicated they can be altered, but as most are processed by professional laboratories, most people would not do this.

Colour prints, now more widely lised, do not have the same colour accuracy. The quality of processing is not so good, and with the printing machines colour changes are easily achieved where there is a desire and a good (or poor) operator. also, different photographic emulsions can vary in their ability to record accurate colour; mauve in particular can cause problems for many.

Digital camers, usually suplied with colour enhancement software for use on a computer, are totally unreliable as far as colorur reproduciton is concerned, because of the ease changes to the image can be made even by those with minimal equipment.

Even with the very basic programmes, significants changes to colours are possible, and if you adopt sophisticated procedures, anything is possible. The following examples (except the first example) were all completed within seconds. If you want to rely on photographs to give a record of flower colour, then you need to appreciate what is possibe. Digital photography is great, but the results may destroy the very aspect you are trying to record, an accurate and reliable record of the colour. Other aspects of the flower are recorded, although even these can be readily distorted if required, as indicated by the last two images below.

If the original image includes a image of a standard colour card, with known controlled colours, then the reproduced image can be adjusted back to very near the original image, and this is what may have to be introduced to ensure integrity of the syspem and reliablity in the reference material.

Next tilme you see a spectacular colour image of a flower, you need to ask yourself 'is it genuine?'.

Examples have also occurred in this country where plants have been judegd in venues where the existing artificial light has been far removed from producing a 'natural' light spectrum. One shwo had the main exhibition hall with lignts almost totally lacking 'red' light, wilth the result that any plant with a red colour came out 'magnificantly' dark, but that is not the only show where lighting has 'confused' the colour judging process. Colour is a very important part of the judging process, with this making up some 30% of the final score in most systems. A large number of people seem to be unaware of the significance of the quality of light on perceived colour, but with many different light sources now available, there is a need for a greater appreciaiton of this element, expecially where flower colour is still considered so improtant. Remember, it is the quality of light, not the quantity that we are discussing here. There are natural spectrum lights available which will give a 'true' colour; most vidio and photographic lights fall into this category, and especially for final judging, perhaps sugh lighting needs to be used.

Remember, what you think you see may not really be what you see!!

I do not wish to suggest that there is dishonesty in the judging system or by photographers and owners, but people do need to be aware of what can be done, and with photography of awarded plants so important, there is a need to know some of the issues involved.

.Please note - images will take a few momnts to fully load !

The changes to the images in the following examples are in some cases extreme - but more subtle changes are harder to detect and can also produce desirable results if you want to 'improve' the original image. All the changes to the cattelya image took only a few seconds each to complete.

 An example of a retouched photo -using a imaging programme to 'repaint' the image.

The success of this is dependent on the time spent on creating and detailing the correct effect.

A 'normal' scanned image.

This image originally showed unsightly foliage and display material, which has been removed with a photo retouching programme.

 A colour photo educed to black and white

 A photo intensified by brightness and contrast. Most printed and screen illustrations will have this done, as the imiges are more striking in published material

 The use of hue and saturation controls to change colour

 The use of hue and saturation controls to change colour. Similar to above, but extreme

 The base photo altered by changing the colour controls hue and saturation, brightness and contrast) to achieve a major colour change to the image

 The base photo altered by changing the colour controls (hue and saturation) to achieve a major colour change
to the image 

How about something different. Come on you plant breeders, try this !!

Hue and saturaiton, plus partial repaint.

The base photo altered by changing the colour controls (hue, saturation, brightness and contrast) to achieve a major colour change to the image


 Even shape is no certaiiity, as the following distortions show

The top simply by changing the dimensions of the image

The second by digital distorrtion - in this case changing the flower image into a 'wedge' shape, reducing the lip to relative insignative .

The third image reverses the above (middle) distortion, emphasising the lip over the rest of the flower.

It is appropriate to note that what has been done here is not sophisticated trickery, but things that can be done by most readily and cheeply available photo manipulation packages using digitilised images (direct from digital camera or scanned images).

Perhaps it may make you think about the implications.

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