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A pretty view, yes?

I thought so, and I chose this picture to be my entry in the gift exchange that we are having at tomorrow's work holiday party. It's a slight variation of the one I put up earlier here, taken on Duck Lake in the Kootenay Valley, British Columbia near the town of Creston.

So I set about printing it on a large 13" x 19" semi-gloss photo paper. I use a Canon Pixma Pro 9000 printer that produces high quality images. However getting from what I saw on my screen to what I saw on my print was quite an adventure. My efforts were compounded by using a recently purchased flat-screen LCD monitor that shows a beautiful, vibrant image. Unfortunately, this crystal clear and color rich image is the product of the factory default settings and the monitor (because I switch it between different computers) has a habit of defaulting right back these settings even though I have calibrated it to a more natural tonal range.

It did so again last night and for a while there was quite a divergence between what I was looking at and what was coming out on the printer. All the while using up ink and paper. Eventually I twigged the problem, and ended up with an image much closer to what I saw on screen. Not exactly though – and probably can never be so given the color profiles of a monitor vs. those of an ink printer.

But certainly good enough. However what literally caught my eye as I looked at the print was how much more alive the image was compared to my screen. The reason was light. On a screen you can be pretty sure that what you see, backlit by the monitor's light source, is going to remain consistent. The print, on the other hand, passed under the fluorescent light in my basement office, under another fluorescent light of a cooler color tone on the way up the stairs and into the halogen light lit living room with a now warmer tone. As I passed under each of these light sources, the print changed with blues coming to the fore or receding and the same for the reds and yellows. The intensity of the ambient light affected the contrast and grain of the print as well.

This morning it's lit by daylight coming through the window, bringing the blues out again.

Now all of this might seem very obvious, but I hadn't thought about it much before, at least not in this context. It made me realize, once again, that all we see is light. And the light that any of us sees has, by its very physical nature, to be unique to our view alone. None of us ever see exactly the same thing, even though we like to think we do. I find this thought to be a little sad.

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