An online book of Common Sense Photography, by Rhett Stuart

The Camera Brain and Visualization


The brain part of the camera will increasingly improve and be part of the evolution for new digital cameras. More and more software is being used right in the camera to improve the image immediately after the picture is taken. This mimics the processing your brain does as you observe. The human eye sees at about 80 mega pixels right in the center of our vision: but with eye movement, stereo vision, and brain processing the image mega pixel of our eye is probably about 500 mega pixels!

A good example of image processing is our own eyes and brain. Close both eyes and what do you see? Blackness. Now open one eye and what do you see? Light! Our brain instantaneously shuts off the image from the eye that is shut! We don't see half black and half light with one eye shut.

Here is another example. Look at the 3 dots on the screen.

Now close your right eye and look at the dot on the right about 4-8 inches away from your left eye. Keep looking directly at the dot on the right with your left eye. The dot in the middle disappears! Now look at the dot on the left with your right eye open and your left eye closed about 4-8 inches away again. The dot in the middle disappears again! Why is this? The optical nerve attaches to the retina right where the middle dot disappears. Our brain “fills” in this area with surrounding images. So your brain filled in white where the black dot disappeared since it couldn’t see the dot anymore. Your brain figures that area should be white since everything around the dot is white.

The point is our brain does a lot of image processing automatically to help us visualize, and we should use cameras and software the same way. Photographs often need some help to show what we actually see, and what captures our imagination.

The brain is what I call the electronics and programs in your camera and any software you use on your computer later. The brains of photography equipment process the image to improve the photograph so it will resemble what we actually observe with our own eyes. The brains of photography replaced the print editing once done in dark rooms for film cameras.

Photoshop® is a very popular photo processing software program used by many photographers who process the pictures on a computer later.

Why use Photoshop® and why process digital pictures on the computer? To mimic what you visualized, or what you see and what you want to express with the photograph. The human eye can see about 100 times better then a digital photograph. For example, you take a photograph of your friend in the middle of a sunny afternoon in the sunlight when the lighting is terrible. You look at it later and it is very disappointing, their face is all dark. That is not what you saw when you took the photograph! Your eyes adjusted to the difference in shading. The camera just recorded what was there on the sensor with its limited ability.

The human eye constantly adjusts to the lighting and is much more sensitive to light and dark then digital cameras, it has more dynamic range! Dynamic Range is being able to tell the difference between shades of lightness and shades of darkness. Photographers use Photoshop to adjust the lighting. We lighten the shady areas, darken the bright areas, adjust the color, and maybe improve the distortion. We do this to make the picture similar to what we visualized when we took the photograph.

Photographers in the old days used filters, tilt and shift techniques to change perspective, and dodge and burn with print processing. The same thing and a lot more is done now, but just with software. Image processing on a computer is much easier, and you can undo it and try again if you don't like it!

Photoshop® Elements 5.0 and later versions can do dodge and burn. Dodge is used to lighten dark areas of a photograph and reveal details. Burn is used to darken light areas of a photograph.

Use the Camera Brain to help reproduce what you visualized!