What is the true color of this Cattleya Triumphans? A photo experiment

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terryros

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I am not a vision or camera expert, but I know that my eyes perceive colors differently depending on the illumination. My only camera is in my smartphone (iPhone), which is also affected by the lighting source.

The color temperature of a cloudless summer noon is said to be 5600K, which is a bluish white, to our eyes, while earlier in the morning or later in the evening the color temperature becomes warmer/redder (lower K numbers). Photography at clear noon outdoors is difficult because of shadows. Some experts recommend outdoor flower photography in the middle of an overcast day – I am not sure what color temperature that might be. Then, there are folks who like direct sun at 45 degrees to the flower.

Living in Minnesota, I don’t have the luxury of being able to photograph all of my blooms outside at a particular time of day to achieve optimal or consistent lighting. I need to be able to take pictures in my indoor plant room. The only way I can have a black background for the pictures is with black velvet on a wall behind one of my LED lighting panels. I found that the black background usually works better than a white background.

The LED panel by my black velvet is 2 feet x 2 feet and comes from LEDone corporation. It has variable wattage input settings (I use the highest 29W setting) and three different color temperature settings (3500K/4000K, and 5000K). I did a test with Cattleya Triumphans and the 3500K and 5000K light settings of the panel and compared these to two different outdoor lighting situations.

I used the automatic iPhone settings without activating adjustments with a screen tap. I didn’t zoom but I did modestly crop each photo afterwards to about the same size flower. I did no other photo adjustment.

This first photo was taken outside about 9:00 am on a clear day in the middle of May 2021 with the sun behind me at about a 45 degree angle. The light was bright and some shadowing is present. I didn’t measure the light intensity but at this time of year full sunlight at noon is about 2,000 micromoles/m2/sec in the PAR spectrum range so the intensity at the time of the photo must have been at least 1,000.
morning.jpg
Next is a photo taken outdoors at 2:00 pm on fully overcast May 19, 2021. The light intensity in the PAR range measured 380 micromoles/m2/sec with my Apogee full spectrum quantum meter.
overcast.jpeg
Next is an indoor photo on May 19 with the 5000K LED panel setting. The light intensity measured 190 micromoles/m2/sec at the top of the dorsal sepal.
5000.jpeg
Finally, here is the 3500K setting. The light intensity remained 190.
3500.jpeg
The flowers looked different to my eyes under each of the illumination conditions and I think the photos show this. I have no idea how the iPhone adjusts to the different light spectra and intensities. What is the true color of Triumphans? There probably isn’t one because it all depends on the light. If I wanted Triumphans to appear the most yellow I would pick the 3500K setting or early morning direct sun outdoors. The 5000K light setting indoors is sort of in between the outdoor overcast sky and morning direct sun results.

I think any photo of an orchid flower, including award photos, are influenced by the illumination. Making comparisons between different orchid photos is likely unreliable. I think I will standardize things and use the indoor black background/5000K panel setting for my pictures. I will know that the photo is only an approximation.
 

SouthPark

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I sometimes take advantage of late afternoon sun to get more colour 'effects' in some orchid flower pics. Capturing orchid flower pics under various lighting conditions to see the variations in colours and intensity etc - and capturing orchid flowers from various different angles ------ to preserve the moments and the beauty --- and sharing that beauty -- is what it's all about. It is nice to see the variations under different lighting conditions. Even how much light we allow through the lens, and the dynamic range of the camera's sensors have roles in the photo results.
 

SouthPark

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It is true that our vision system is quite interesting. For example ----- everyone has probably seen this one too --- but 'clearly' --- the colour of region A is not the same as region B, right? hehehe .... wrong.
 

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abax

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Very interesting comparison of light's effect on color. I prefer the first photo.
 

My Green Pets

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I like photo 2, where it's more pale and creme-colored. I think that's the most accurate as the petals are more evenly illuminated from the front and behind.
 

terryros

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I sometimes take advantage of late afternoon sun to get more colour 'effects' in some orchid flower pics. Capturing orchid flower pics under various lighting conditions to see the variations in colours and intensity etc - and capturing orchid flowers from various different angles ------ to preserve the moments and the beauty --- and sharing that beauty -- is what it's all about. It is nice to see the variations under different lighting conditions. Even how much light we allow through the lens, and the dynamic range of the camera's sensors have roles in the photo results.
I would really be in trouble with a full-fledged camera with many setting options. I couldn’t change a flower’s shape, but I could really vary coloration to match my biases.
 

terryros

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I like photo 2, where it's more pale and creme-colored. I think that's the most accurate as the petals are more evenly illuminated from the front and behind.
I think that is why I settled on using the 5000K indoor setting under the diffuse light of the panel. I think the 190 micro moles/m2/sec light intensity indoors versus the 380 outdoors explains at least some of the remaining difference in the photos but I can’t get high-frequency than 190 under the panel. I suppose I could fiddle with the photo a little to see what adjustments would bring things closer to #2. To my eye as I see the flower in different lighting, I think it is a bit more yellow than photo #2 is showing.
 

PeteM

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It would be interesting to get the perspective from someone who takes the actual photos for an AOS judging center and see what guidelines the society provides and what the photographer finds works best to relay what we see in person vs on the screen.

Depending on where you are viewing these images (phone, monitor) there is an awful lot of different setups one could have, which would dramatically impact the output image as well.
 

terryros

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It would be interesting to get the perspective from someone who takes the actual photos for an AOS judging center and see what guidelines the society provides and what the photographer finds works best to relay what we see in person vs on the screen.

Depending on where you are viewing these images (phone, monitor) there is an awful lot of different setups one could have, which would dramatically impact the output image as well.
I agree and would like to know any standards for award photos that get published by AOS. Certainly a lot of older award photos I see on the site are not so good. For all of my photo work I use my desktop 27 inch monitor iMac. I acquire the photo on the iPhone and import to the iMac for cropping only and uploading to the forum.
 

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I would really be in trouble with a full-fledged camera with many setting options. I couldn’t change a flower’s shape, but I could really vary coloration to match my biases.
I have also noticed that - when I look at an orchid flower with my own two eyes ----- the view with the pair of eyes can be quite different from the view from a single lens camera - for 'close-up' shots in general. I think the eyes are able to see more of the flower - because we have two lenses - spaced apart, as compared with the regular camera's one eye. For example, when I look at the lip of cattleyas with my eyes ----- the lip often looks 'wider' and more spectacular than seen in a photo image.
 
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PeteM

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I agree and would like to know any standards for award photos that get published by AOS. Certainly a lot of older award photos I see on the site are not so good. For all of my photo work I use my desktop 27 inch monitor iMac. I acquire the photo on the iPhone and import to the iMac for cropping only and uploading to the forum.
This issue seems to have enough substance to be a webinar, as many in the hobby are in the same boat. I have not checked in with the AOS webinars since COVID started but before that, there were none on this topic. Might be good to check and then email Ron McHatton, see if this is something that could be organized, I know they are always looking for interesting topics to present to the community.
 

terryros

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I agree that having a resource that gave practical tips for inside and outside photos with both fancy cameras and smartphones. We would want it to include practical lighting suggestions as well. Maybe even practical and “fair” adjustments to make with cameras and smartphones and in photo software if a picture clearly is off from what our eyes see. I am wishing for a lot!
 

DrLeslieEe

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Likely the AOS will use the 3rd photo for the award system. It looks more like the colors expected in this hybrid.

There is a guideline for AOS photographers but ultimately how the flower looks in natural light is what they aim for. Since most photos are taken indoors on a black background, they adjust the settings to match actual flower color and try to take several to compare. Sometimes the judging team will review to see if acceptable. The only rule is that the photo cannot be manipulated after with color saturation edits. I think this needs to be addressed. A training webinar is a great idea from good AOS photographers like Ramon et al will help tremendously.

For many of my awards, I usually double check with the photographer to see if it is a true rendition that matches the award description.
 

SouthPark

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Here's an example of where my camera lens just cannot capture how wide and big the lip of one of my recently opened catt flowers actually is. Even with front-on shots ----- close-up to the camera, the camera doesn't get the same 'effect' that we see with our eyes. Because we have two eyes ---- we get a 'better' or wider view of things when looking at the flower - can even 'peek' or see 'around' the flower a little bit ----- where-as the camera can't do it. Maybe a stereo lens will get the job done - except I think they still have issues with calibrating a stereo lens system.
 

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terryros

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Here's an example of where my camera lens just cannot capture how wide and big the lip of one of my recently opened catt flowers actually is. Even with front-on shots ----- close-up to the camera, the camera doesn't get the same 'effect' that we see with our eyes. Because we have two eyes ---- we get a 'better' or wider view of things when looking at the flower - can even 'peek' or see 'around' the flower a little bit ----- where-as the camera can't do it. Maybe a stereo lens will get the job done - except I think they still have issues with calibrating a stereo lens system.
Which is why depth is gone with a picture, which leaves us with no sense of the "volume" of the flower. What about the coloration of the flower? Do you think the picture captures what your eyes are seeing?
 

SouthPark

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What about the coloration of the flower? Do you think the picture captures what your eyes are seeing?
The colour in this picture is quite an accurate representation of what I saw at the time. But I do have some pics where the early morning sun was shining on it ----- which looked amazing to the eyes ---- much different from when shaded. The camera doesn't seem to have the dynamic range to handle the range of light levels (or something) that our eyes can handle.
 

Ozpaph

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if you want the 'true' colour you need to photograph the flower besides a colour card and then do the corrections (too hard).
use 'auto white balance' and just compare the picture to the flower in bright/light shade
 

terryros

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I don't have a third-party camera app for my iPhone so I think I only have the auto white balance of the phone itself. I think that makes me more dependent on the ambient light than someone who can manually adjust. My reading says the iPhone will have the most troubles at the extremes of color temperature. Shade or overcast sky may be too "cool" (high K) and produce a photo that is a bit too "blue" while early morning or late afternoon sun may be too warm (low K) and give a bit too much red. Maybe that is why my eye was most satisfied with the 5000K light temperature. The iPhone may have the easier time producing what my eye sees with this light.
 

Ozpaph

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iphones are designed to make pictures 'warmer' and much more 'contrast'. That's what the populous like; "retina display".
You can only do what you can with the equipment you have.
 

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