Cleaning anticlimax

I took this “before” picture in daylight from the window, to have a record of this picture’s appearance in its pre-cleaning state. Oh, how the camera lies! All of the colours and contrasts are pumped up, quite different from the actual painting.

This particular shot was done with an iPad Pro and shows Apple’s belief in oversaturated colours.

I thought that cleaning might have the effect of bringing the canvas more in line with what the camera saw, but no. I have only completed cleaning of a third of the surface, but I can already tell that the difference will be very subtle. A little bit of yellowish dirt (probably cigarette smoke from the bad old days) came off, but the change is barely perceptible.

Above is a truer representation of what the painting will look like, finished. Actually, I like it this way. The camera’s exaggeration has coarsened its appearance. All modern consumer cameras do a little processing “magic” to the images they capture, usually warming up the warms, tweaking the vibrancy and contrast. What you see is  not what you are intended to get. Camera makers rig the game, hoping that you’ll like what you get better than what you see.

I am surprised that the 54 year-old painting hasn’t acquired more dirt, but I am convinced that what was there is coming off as I clean. Most of the colours are mixed, but there are some spots of white and they look white when I’m done.

BTW, I have no real idea if you’ll see a difference between the two images above. Screens all show colours in difference ways and with varying levels of sharpeness, just as cameras do.


3 thoughts on “Cleaning anticlimax

  1. Do you have a Canon point & shoot? I find that my Canon hardware does not add the kind of effects you describe. I have several Canon cameras and they are pretty consistent in this regard.

  2. That’s interesting. I have a Sony Cybershot and before that mostly Olympus cameras. I’ll compare Canons, next time I’m shopping.

    I am not a fan of oversaturated colour, exaggerated contrast or even too much sharpening. I think we are been trained to expect our eye candy to be hyped and unnatural.

    Just a matter of personal taste, of course. It’s always a juggling act, compensating for the limitations of digital reproduction.

  3. I agree Brian. Canon seems to have accurate contrast.

    Digital photos don’t go to print as often, this is where the oversaturated colour shows its flaws. RGB vs CMYK.

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