Story and Photography by Paul Burwell
We received an email question about choosing a good monitor. The photographer who asked the question wondered why it was that after photographing gems and jewellery all the colours looked about right, but the “sparkle” was missing. Let’s tackle this question.
While thinking about this problem, my first thought jumped to dynamic range, which describes a range of tones from dark to bright. As you know, our pupils widen or shrink for different degrees of brightness. Human eyes can have a dynamic range exceeding 24 stops of light (in photographic terms, a stop of light is the halving or doubling of light). Most modern sensors in digital cameras only have a dynamic range of between 10 and 15 stops of light.
The implication of this is that our digital cameras can’t capture the same dynamic range that we’re used to seeing with our eyes. That’s one of the reasons that the technique of creating HDR (High Dynamic Range) photos was created, where images are made at different exposures (one exposed just right, one a bit dark and one a bit bright, often using a feature called Exposure Bracketing built into many cameras) and then blended together to create a final image with more dynamic range than the camera could create on its own.
To read more of Paul Burwell’s column “Where Does the Sparkle Go?” and to read about other factors affecting image punch, please pick up the Summer/Fall 2015 issue of OPC, or subscribe today to never miss an issue!