Thursday, April 27, 2017

Hyperceptivism: Why ·IsN't· The Sky Blue?

(this is follow on 1 of at least 4 from the original Hyperceptivism blog)

“Daddy, why is the sky blue?”

“Because, Darling, your eyes are limited.”

That’s not the answer your parents told you.  Yet it is factual.  Most kids are told the usual answers: The blue light is scattered by small atmosphere molecules, while the other colors come down from the sun directly. Or the trite, “to match your eyes, Darling.”

"Unseen filtering" of a sunset at the Orlando Eye (left) and Universal's park area (right)

Still the sky is not just blue, it’s many unseen colors.  Of course clouds can take on all sorts of color.  Twilight low atmosphere scattering can alter the sun’s path to give a dispersion of golden yellow, hot fuchsia, even eerie green.  However a hazeless, cloudless sky is just blue to the naked eye.  On a clear sunny day, if you look at a hard shadow (with sun adjusted eyes) it will at first look mostly bluish in color, until your eyes adjust to the shadow.  That blue color of the shadow is because the light reaching the sun-blocked area is from the rest of the sky—blue to our limited eyes—and why Shade White Balance is about 2000 degrees Kelvin bluer than summer sunshine (which itself is about 3000K bluer than the 2000K light of a sunset). What you won’t see is the near infrared, ultraviolet and more that do radiate from the sky into that shadow.
Full Spectrum UV-IR filtered photo.  Zoom in inset with increased saturation shows the shadow under the pavilion takes on a purple tone, which contains mostly UV/Blue radiance.

Our unaided eyes are severely limited in sensing properties of light—they cannot sense light phase, they cannot sense polarization*, they cannot sense ultraviolet or infrared.  Most photographers use polarizers to deepen the blue sky where it is polarized in a band across the sky-dome at 90-degrees from the sun’s current position, relative to our observation angle.  That’s technical talk for saying you use a filter to do what your human eye can’t—it has nearly no ability to see polarization without a pair of trendy sunglasses*.  But some insects, arthropods, cephalopods, octopi, amphibians and fish can and do sense polarized light (as well as a multitude of colors from UV to IR). Bees and dragon flies (among other creatures) use polarization to navigate.  More on that in another Next Eyes blog.

    [ *W. K. Haidinger found that the human eye can perceive a slight amount of polarization due to dichroism in a retinal pigment (i.e., Lutein) that contains light-sensitive long chain molecules oriented radial in the retina.]

Unseen filtering of a sunset behind Universal's Volcano Bay flanked by hotels

An interesting side note, already touched upon in the first post of this blog series, is that brown eyes block (reflect) more infrared light than blue eyes.  Some have speculated that mutations in the genes that code pigment holding retina proteins may allow eyes to have increased color range sensitivity.

The sky is filled with radiance that eyes, even insect eyes, cannot sense.  Spectral irradiance, caused by upper atmosphere airglow, is several times stronger at night in the 900 to 1700nm band than in the visible range at night. The sky in that band would appear almost as bright as a full moon when the moon is absent.

The atmosphere nightglow is as radiantly bright from 1.2-2.0um as a nearly full moon

The eye also cannot detect the x-rays, microwaves, radio-waves, thermal infrared emissions and neutrinos streaming down from space through our sky, day and night.

The title of this blog post uses the word Isn't on purpose in posing the question.  So why isn't the sky ultraviolet colored? Why isn’t the sky infrared colored? Why isn’t the sky thermal-emissions colored? Microwave colored? Or neutrino colored? Whatever that means. 

Unseen Filtering of a "Jackson Pollock" styled morning pre-sunrise sky

The father answered it at the beginning: The sky is blue because that is all you and I can perceive of all the different energies currently known radiating in our sky.  We have a very limited, narrow cone of perception.  Think about a long day of highway driving or computer monitor staring without much of a break. By the end of the day, your mind is still narrowly imagining the rushing road or the myopic window of that monitor. Your after-view is narrow.  In a sense our entire life is a narrow experiential tunnel due to being gravitationally tethered to a trillionth-trillionth percent of the universe (i.e., stuck on earth). Most of us don’t wander a few hundred or thousand miles out of our home land.

But you don’t need to wander past your own yard to experience the grandeur of light unseen and so beautiful it might alter your viewpoint.  Using filters to remove seen light and add light unseen, your own backyard sky will inspire.  You too can encounter and contribute art to the hyperceptivism movement.

Many photographers know that a fluorescent-light-correcting filter, denoted as FL-D or FL-W, can provide increased saturation of the blue and red end of the spectrum during sunsets or sunrises.  (I personally use the Hoya HMC FL-W.)  These optical filters remove a portion of the green spectrum from the visible range.  That pushes the light radiance in the camera to the twilight colors--purples, oranges, reds--we enjoy most. These are physical colors. We just removed a small portion integrated by the naked eye so it can emphasize warmer and cooler colors. And in fact, my memory of this sunset at Arches Natl Park is closer to the filtered photo.

Unfiltered sunset of Balanced Rock at Arches Natl Park

FL-W filter used at the same sunset moments later

The final sunset photo as the sky intensified to its peak and my memory of it. (FL-W filter)

More advanced optics can remove bland light and intensify unseen light, enhancing the sky's "imperceptivity" to our eye.  The radiance is a natural phenomena that our camera can sense with proper filtering, and reveal to our Next Eyes.  A bland sky at dawn can be translated into something far more appealing. (Side note: in camera HDR is not very appealing, this test showed.)

Visible (AWB, HDR in camera)

Visible with FL-W filter (FL WB, HDR in camera)

"Unseen" light with custom filter under development, cool and 
warm colors emphasized even more than with the FL-W

With filtering unseen light, it makes a drab sunsets/sunrise more amazing.  Over the course of one week in April 2017 at only a couple of miles from my home, from ordinary skies like the visible one above, I produced the following pre-/post-twilight photos that fall under hyperceptivism because they capture unseen light that is physical. 

Each of these filtered photos is unaltered beyond custom White Balance, auto-levels, resize and a jotted signature.  The camera recorded these photos nearly entirely as presented using a custom optical filter.  And I have several dozens more like them from the past week on my camera right now.

sunset April 16, 2017

sunrise April 17, 2017

sunset April 17, 2017

sunset April 17, 2017

sunset April 19, 2017

sunset April 19, 2017

sunset April 21, 2017

SUNSET April 22, 2017

SUNSET April 22, 2017

SUNSET April 24, 2017

SUNSET April 24, 2017

Tuesday, April 25, 2017


Photography purists hate this blog.

At least I think they do. Why, because of Hyperceptivism*.
 (pronounced: HIGH-perceptive-ism)

Hyperceptivism is a new word for a new style and art form movement that may become as big as impressionism was almost 200 years ago. 

Why would they hate this?  I won’t presume to speak for purists entirely.  The consensus on what it means to be a photography purist seems to be that, as a realist, your photograph should be as faithful as possible to what the eye sees.  But... 
Whose eye?  Which film—Kodak Ektar or Portra?  Fujifilm Velvia or Provia? Ilford or Agfa?  Which digital camera color-filter array—RGB or CYMK—Nikon’s or Canon’s?  Single exposure or high-dynamic-range akin to the eye’s exposure range?  Use Kelvin temperature adjustment? Which color white balance? Which monitor calibration method?  Which print process?  

This is all techno-babble for saying, your eye does not mirror the measurable differences in technology. Also, there are significant differences in the eyes and perceptions of individuals, from the near sighted to the color-blind.

Is self-developing black and white film a purist form? For whomthe completely color-blind? 

To those of us who shoot infrared, these questions are at least rhetorical and perhaps even pointless.   Infrared may not be what the eye sees, but it is real; it is physics. It can be considered just as pure as any recording made through the choices of Nikon, Fuji or the printer.

A better question might be, what artistic choices make our shot a photograph versus constructed, digital art?  Where does physics end and Photoshop begin?  I prefer to select filters and search natural phenomena for creating an impression of the scene I photograph, so that I use the least amount of Photoshop. To wit, I develop optical filters to give the effect I desire, and hopefully, very little needs adjusting in software.  Granted, digital cameras provide internal software for white-balance, exposure and contrast processing.  We accept that in the post-film era, as much as we accepted the choices of film and the methods used at the corner or national print lab.

My latest filter development

From one perspective, art photography is at a transition that painters reached between the realism to impressionism or even surrealism eras. Realists objected to Romanticism, since it did not represent reality as observed by the naked eye.  Photography, which could recreate reality as well as the best realist painter, but more quickly affordable, probably in small part pushed painters towards colorful impressionism.

Impressionists studied the dramatic effects of atmosphere and light on a scene, varying the chosen palette to depict fleeting moments and moods in the ephemeral scene.  Art author Lois Fichner wrote: “Through intensive investigation, [impressionists] arrived at awareness of certain visual phenomena. When bathed in sunlight, objects are optically reduced to facets of pure color…shadows are not black or gray but a combination of colors.”

Full Spectrum and Color Infrared photography are undergoing intensive investigation, in becoming aware of how unseen luminescence can be translated through optics, filters and digital sensors into an impression of a surreal experience—the world seen in a new light.  The full spectrum and color infrared photos in this blog used particular filters to create the contrasting colors as presented.  Only down-sizing, auto-luminosity-scale, sharpen-unmask were used in Photoshop for the presentation here.

Painting is more akin to Photoshop—the scene elements can be created from the mind; photography is first an act of discovery and second a palette choice of the light to represent nature. Infrared and UV are an expansion of the light pigments we use to paint our discovered scenes.

Photography of unseen light represents a transition to a sort of "photography impressionism" by translating imperceived light through new filters into moments of emotive beauty that transcends the limitation of our eyes while preserving nature in its basic form.  This is both new media and new subject matter for art. Only one of these is needed for a new art movement.

The full-spectrum/infrared photography medium is accessible by all artists.  Creating new art photography does not require waiting weeks at the most remote or vanguard sites and scenes for that perfect moment.  It refreshes the over-photographed tourist shots everyone captures, and brings a new view on tired places.  

Since this blog is about Next Eyes—the “seeing of unseen light” in our cameras and lives—the trend is clear.  We use modified cameras or specialized optics to channel the unseen into our digital sensors and offer an impression that mirrors our desires, attitudes and emotions.  The sunset photo in this blog used a custom filter (bottom photo) to include and remove (filter away) light from the sky that our eye integrates.  It offers new light and color separation that is more naturally vivid for our perception.  The luminescence is physical, not Photoshop and compares well against the bland sky our limited eye perceives.

Visible (FL WB, HDR in camera)
Proprietary filter, modified camera (Custom WB, HDR in camera)

Infrared photography art progression started in black and white about a century ago, and eventually developed into a single color infrared film in the 1960s at the Kodak labs.  Since the digital era, color infrared and spectral photography art have taken a broader route depending on what filter you use in front of the sensor, to limit which colors the full-spectrum color-filter array receives.  The choice of filter (and output color selection) is as legitimate for color infrared as the choice of color films, black-n-white filters and the color-correcting filters of film days.  After all, these choices revolve around nature—the pick of spectral bands within the full electromagnetic spectrumthe properties of natural light filtered and received.

Consider this my call to fellow artists:  Let's supplant digital Walm-Art with artful phenomena.  The latitude of new technology allows us to showcase hidden nature through physics in ways our natural eyes cannot, but which our Next Eyes reveal to us.

Impressionism was about a fleeting moment or mood.  

This new art movement I am proposing is an art form with both new media types (i.e., energy bands not used for art previously) and new subject matter (i.e., phenomena not seen by the unaided eye or heard by the human ear).  The incarnation I work in reveals invisible nature, using ethereal light—unseen, imperceptive luminescence.  Or with technology hyperceptive luminescence. The new art movement would include art forms capturing natural phenomena that are unseen by the naked eye, but translated using chemistry, physics or any technology into a depiction we can see.  X-ray art, Thermal-imaging art, Nuclear particle bombardment art, Full Spectrum photography and more which are imperceptive but visually translated for us are a new, hyperceptive art form for the 21st century. 

I would call this art form and movement hyperceptivism.

As now defined:  Hyperceptivism is a style or art movement originating with technology that records unseen aspects of subjects through energy, radiance, events or other phenomena, as new art media, and translate this into visual, audible, tactile or other recordings as an interpretation of appreciable art form.

The brown Monarch turns blue, like our brown eyes, when photographed in the infrared.

* the blog was formerly called imperceptivism, but I changed the name to reflect not a lack of perception, but a perception above, or hyper, human sensing.