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Playing with color and shadows to remove 3D perception in living sculptures


jorgeparraphotography
 

Gang, I may of course be wrong about the relevance of this link, but it really got my attention how this painter has been working with sets and people whom she paints with certain colors, mostly to either emulate or contrast with the background colors,
and the end result is a painted set with people posing inside the seats but the images look totally 2 dimensional. The Artis claims she has been working on this matter, remove tridimensionality to her work while working on 3D scenarios.

IMHO, there is an interesting interplay with colors so the standard "3D feel" of a normal studio set gets reduced to look like a painting or a photo before capture. In some of her work the process is just visually incredible.

So I wonder if the color experts may have a say as to what is really going on here, since it may have interesting application for some photo and video projects, and of course, creative retouching, where color will be king.

here is the link to the website and a comment in Wired News I read recently. 

https://www.wired.com/story/alexa-meade-art/

She claims that she is making the shadows stronger and the highlights brighter in order to flatten the image, and that got my curiosity instantly, since this is counter to "digital logic" in terms of retouching. or is it not?

Interestingly, her project has got the attention of Google and other tech parties who are now collaborating into expanding this color interplay to more digital applications into Augmented Reality and VR, and to me , it is all an interesting interplay of colors.

Here is her website

https://www.alexameade.com

Opinions ? 

Cheers!
Jorge Parra






--
Jorge Parra 
www.jJorgeParraPhotography.com
Miami


Robert Wheeler
 

Watching the works in progress in the video, I conclude that abbreviating the technique to "making the shadows stronger and the highlights brighter" omits many really important elements of what is going on perceptually. I see her adding paint to normally flat surfaces (forehead, wall) with multiple colors and imitations of texture that make it harder for us to read the area as "flat." On curved areas it become more difficult to follow the "real" curves. More is going on to counteract perspective clues, but I am less certain which parts are most important. I have the feeling that the blotches of colors and misleading edges have some relationship to the ideas used in designing camouflage, but they are not exactly the same. I think she is exactly right to categorize this as a reverse fool the eye technique "reverse Trompe L'Oeil." It just involves many other methods than exaggerating shadows and highlights. Thanks for posting the links.
Robert Wheeler


Kirk Thibault
 

Interesting.  The application of brushed color essentially fixes the lighting, and can result in visually confusing results as the viewer’s point of view changes relative to the scene.  Also, the patterns of strokes and areas of color disguise or confuse the actual form of the three-dimensional subjects, similar to the camouflage patterns applied to naval warships, for example:


Or animal forms painted on a subject’s hands:


Perhaps the reference to increase of contrast in the shadows and highlights is more referring to the contrast between the individual strokes that attempt to portray shading or highlight rather than the absolute difference between shadow and highlight that we would commonly refer to as “contrast” ratio or dynamic range in a photograph.

Kirk Thibault

On Sep 11, 2020, at 11:38 AM, jorgeparraphotography <jorgeparraphotography@...> wrote:

Gang, I may of course be wrong about the relevance of this link, but it really got my attention how this painter has been working with sets and people whom she paints with certain colors, mostly to either emulate or contrast with the background colors,
and the end result is a painted set with people posing inside the seats but the images look totally 2 dimensional. The Artis claims she has been working on this matter, remove tridimensionality to her work while working on 3D scenarios.

IMHO, there is an interesting interplay with colors so the standard "3D feel" of a normal studio set gets reduced to look like a painting or a photo before capture. In some of her work the process is just visually incredible.

So I wonder if the color experts may have a say as to what is really going on here, since it may have interesting application for some photo and video projects, and of course, creative retouching, where color will be king.

here is the link to the website and a comment in Wired News I read recently. 

https://www.wired.com/story/alexa-meade-art/

She claims that she is making the shadows stronger and the highlights brighter in order to flatten the image, and that got my curiosity instantly, since this is counter to "digital logic" in terms of retouching. or is it not?

Interestingly, her project has got the attention of Google and other tech parties who are now collaborating into expanding this color interplay to more digital applications into Augmented Reality and VR, and to me , it is all an interesting interplay of colors.

Here is her website

https://www.alexameade.com

Opinions ? 

Cheers!
Jorge Parra




Robert Wheeler
 

When we look at normal objects, there are transitions from the areas we can see in front to the areas on the sides/behind that are hidden from view. When the edges are curved, we normally see a gradual transition with subtle gradients in shading from light to dark. Changing that to a visually abrupt edge imitates what happens at the edge of a flat surface. A flat piece of paper or plywood looks flat in part due to the abrupt edge transition and in part due to the flat area appearing more uniform. Making curved edges appear abrupt by applying exaggerated contrast (or even a black outline effect to an edge area) could help make something appear two dimensional. It also echos what we see in selected styles of painting. So, with this second look, I suspect that this work on curved edges may be part of what she has in mind when talking about the intentional increase in contrast. Very interesting in any case.


jorgeparraphotography
 

 Also, the patterns of strokes and areas of color disguise or confuse the actual form of the three-dimensional subjects, similar to the camouflage patterns applied to naval warships, for example:

 

I disagree with the comparison with ship camouflage entirely, since  the logic behind that type of deception is mostly based on Optical illusions created by graphical/geometrical elements, which BTW in most cases imply painting only with black grey and white paints, so this looks totally different to the interplay with colors and the massive elimination of shadows in the sets. I feel her comment about higher contrast applies only locally, this is, the local contrast between neighboring strokes, because the lighting in those images HAS to be totally flat in order to achieve the effect. So there is only contrast by color at a local level, with inclusion of diminished contrast of color in the big picture view, this is, making a contrast match between subject and background.  
 
This may not be the only perception process going on, of course, It still haunts me!!
 
 
Perhaps the reference to increase of contrast in the shadows and highlights is more referring to the contrast between the individual strokes that attempt to portray shading or highlight rather than the absolute difference between shadow and highlight that we would commonly refer to as “contrast” ratio or dynamic range in a photograph.
 
This is the same I understand, but as a photographer I have to insist: this can only happen when the set is lit evenly, a shadow-free setup that by itself helps with flattening the image and then contrast by lighting does not exist, or at most is a constant parameter,  and contrast by color is the only way to generate -or eliminate-  the perception of contrast in the overall image.
 
So, would this be the equivalent of faking an expansion of the dynamic range by massively reducing contrast?
 
When we look at normal objects, there are transitions from the areas we can see in front to the areas on the sides/behind that are hidden from view. When the edges are curved, we normally see a gradual transition with subtle gradients in shading from light to dark. Changing that to a visually abrupt edge imitates what happens at the edge of a flat surface. 
 
One of the interesting cases of “special" lighting is that  one called Axis Lighting, that creates a well-define shadow border or limb effect. One of the impressive things about this is how you totally eliminate other shadows and all textures just vanish. Properly used, a ring flash will create this effect, but you can obtain it with natural light too. The border contrast or limb effect is basically the only element that helps you separate shapes ( subject and background) in an image. If you remove the limb effect, things can be perceived as merging. Add  matching color to the shapes and you may be getting closer to what this painter is doing from a rather intuitive approach.
 
 What keeps me curious is how can we apply this to retouching/adjusting images, and that is when my ignorance takes place and you guys can say and  understand something I still don’t grab.
 
Thanks!!
 
Jorge
--
Jorge Parra 
www.jJorgeParraPhotography.com
Miami


B Rowland
 

To me, it seems that the subject line is just as "confusing " as this artist's painting is ;-)

It would seem that she is not "eliminating 3D" but, rather, introducing *so much* "local 3D" that the viewer's eye is so overwhelmed with competing "3D structures" that one loses all sense of "global" 3D references?

Make any sense?

Hope you are keeping well, and safe, and relatively happy!

A friendly Lurker
Barry Rowland


On September 12, 2020 7:12:07 PM GMT+02:00, jorgeparraphotography <jorgeparraphotography@...> wrote:

 Also, the patterns of strokes and areas of color disguise or confuse the actual form of the three-dimensional subjects, similar to the camouflage patterns applied to naval warships, for example:

 

I disagree with the comparison with ship camouflage entirely, since  the logic behind that type of deception is mostly based on Optical illusions created by graphical/geometrical elements, which BTW in most cases imply painting only with black grey and white paints, so this looks totally different to the interplay with colors and the massive elimination of shadows in the sets. I feel her comment about higher contrast applies only locally, this is, the local contrast between neighboring strokes, because the lighting in those images HAS to be totally flat in order to achieve the effect. So there is only contrast by color at a local level, with inclusion of diminished contrast of color in the big picture view, this is, making a contrast match between subject and background.  
 
This may not be the only perception process going on, of course, It still haunts me!!
 
 
Perhaps the reference to increase of contrast in the shadows and highlights is more referring to the contrast between the individual strokes that attempt to portray shading or highlight rather than the absolute difference between shadow and highlight that we would commonly refer to as “contrast” ratio or dynamic range in a photograph.
 
This is the same I understand, but as a photographer I have to insist: this can only happen when the set is lit evenly, a shadow-free setup that by itself helps with flattening the image and then contrast by lighting does not exist, or at most is a constant parameter,  and contrast by color is the only way to generate -or eliminate-  the perception of contrast in the overall image.
 
So, would this be the equivalent of faking an expansion of the dynamic range by massively reducing contrast?
 
When we look at normal objects, there are transitions from the areas we can see in front to the areas on the sides/behind that are hidden from view. When the edges are curved, we normally see a gradual transition with subtle gradients in shading from light to dark. Changing that to a visually abrupt edge imitates what happens at the edge of a flat surface. 
 
One of the interesting cases of “special" lighting is that  one called Axis Lighting, that creates a well-define shadow border or limb effect. One of the impressive things about this is how you totally eliminate other shadows and all textures just vanish. Properly used, a ring flash will create this effect, but you can obtain it with natural light too. The border contrast or limb effect is basically the only element that helps you separate shapes ( subject and background) in an image. If you remove the limb effect, things can be perceived as merging. Add  matching color to the shapes and you may be getting closer to what this painter is doing from a rather intuitive approach.
 
 What keeps me curious is how can we apply this to retouching/adjusting images, and that is when my ignorance takes place and you guys can say and  understand something I still don’t grab.
 
Thanks!!
 
Jorge
--
Jorge Parra 
www.jJorgeParraPhotography.com
Miami