What We See, What We Think We See

Snow is white, yes?

Well, not really.

The blue photo of this branch up in Yosemite National Park is what the camera saw. I knew it was bluishbut I didn’t think it was that blue. Our eyes — or really our brain I suppose — cause us to see things differently than truth. (One can apply that to more than sight, as many of us have learned.)

Here, have some blue, as the camera saw the snow and branch:

Snow and a Branch, 12.31.16Snow_and_a_Branch,_12.31.16.jpg

Dan has explained all of this to me — about the snow reflecting this color (if I’m remembering correctly). And a site that is clearly set up for teachers has this  and more:

There’s a scientific reason that snow is white. Light is scattered and bounces off the ice crystals in the snow. The reflected light includes all the colors, which, together, look white.  While your red sweater absorbs all colors except red and reflects red back out for people to see and a yellow tennis ball absorbs all colors except yellow and reflects yellow back out for people to see, snow reflects all colors. And all the colors of light add up to white.

But snow can also look blue or purple or even pink depending on how the sunlight hits it and whether it is in shadow. Some artists try to avoid using pure white paint in their paintings entirely and instead think about what colors they actually see instead of what colors they expect to see. Mixing a little white with other colors might look more like the snow that they see.

What I thought I was seeing was a bit more like this … and still it isn’t truly white:

Snow and a Branch (white adjustment), 12.31.16Snow_and_a_Branch_(white_adjustment),_12.31.16.jpg

Sometimes, though, I give up. Did I really see it the way I’m remembering? After all, this was nearly a year ago! I can always just give up and make it black and white.

Snow and a Branch (B&W), 12.31.16Snow_and_a_Branch_(B&W),_12.31.16.jpg

4 thoughts on “What We See, What We Think We See

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