Why brown? Not black?

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by OuttaHand, Mar 11, 2012.

  1. I have seen many cases of it in these forums, and now have seen it for myself.

    Why is it, that when you photograph a Glock, it often looks more brown, than black?

    I took some pictures of some of my toys earlier. Take a look:


    Top: Desert Eagle Mark VII .44 mag
    Left: Dan Wesson Model 15 .357 mag
    Right: High Standard "Plinker" .22
    Center (can't call it "Bottom"!!!): Glock 19 Gen 4

    Notice how the Glock looks so brown in comparison to the others. There's a part of the frame of the Desert Eagle that has a little brownish tinge, but not like the Glock.

    Any thoughts???
  2. Seawolf

    Seawolf New Member

    The tenefer finish on the new Gen4 guns is less reflective and has a rougher texture than the Gen3 models. Sometimes it can show up with a grey tone in certain lighting conditions compaired to the black frame. I actually like the Gen4 finish over the slick more reflective Gen 3 as it seems to be easier to get a grip on the slide with the Gen4 when doing press checks.




    Last edited: Mar 11, 2012

  3. SHOOTER13

    SHOOTER13 RETIRED MODERATOR Sponsor Lifetime Supporting Member

    Nice pics Seawolf !
  4. rivalarrival

    rivalarrival Are we there yet?

    Real camera guys will yell at my terminology but...

    It's because of automatic camera controls - white balance, metering, and exposure settings. Most point-and-shoot cameras look at the lightest spot in the view and call that "white" and the darkest spot and call it "black" - everything else is relative to those two shades.

    Digital cameras normally skew colors to adjust for the type of lighting. Standard incandescent bulbs put out a dirty brown light; digital cameras adjust by skewing everything toward blue, which makes the color rendition fairly accurate. Fluorescent bulbs are bluish; photos shot under them are skewed toward yellow to balance.

    In a fairly low-contrast scene, a camera can't get a proper automatic white balance, and skews the color based on what it *thinks* your lighting conditions are. So if you're shooting against a green background and the brightest spot on the scene isn't actually white (the brightest areas appear to be the reflections of the lights on the bottom of the revolver cylinder, and a line on the right side of each gun) it's going to shift everything a little bit to compensate. Neither the revolver cylinder nor the guns are actually white, but the camera pushes the brightest spot to be white, regardless of what it does to the rest of the image. There are also some spots in the green felt that show up white; the white balance might have skewed the whole image a little red, which would make the gun look brown.

    If you want good color rendition in this scene, you'll need to manually set the white balance and exposure, or make sure there is something that is actually white in the scene.

    Look at the photo of the stippled glock - the background has a lot of actual white in it: the white around the red cross, the white rocks... When the camera shifts these spots to "white", they are actually white, so the color is more accurate.

    The Gen4 Glock photo is washed out a bit. Look for the white in that photo - there isn't much and what is painted as white in the photo isn't really white in real life. The brightest spot appears to be a reflection off the slide above the slide-stop lever. The slide isn't actually white, of course, so for the camera to paint that section white, it has to skew the rest of the photo, washing out the rest of the image.

    On my point-and-shoot camera (Lumix DMC-ZS8), I have an option called "metering mode" - I can set it to "area" "center weighted" or "spot" - Setting it to "spot", if I pointed the camera at the bright spot on the slide of the Gen4, the photo would be much darker than if I pointed it at the trigger guard. "Spot" metering lets me focus on one spot and lock the automatic focus and exposure settings with a half-press of the shutter button, then shift to the scene I want to shoot and "fire". To shoot that Gen4 as accurately as possible without messing with the lighting, I'd lock the settings on the bright spot, then shift the view until it was centered as I wanted it. The quality wouldn't be perfect, but it would be an improvement over basic point-and-shoot with fully automatic settings.

    Seawolf is right - it's a PITA to shoot photos of glossy objects without carefully controlling the ambient light.

    Incidentally, photography (especially outdoor) and firearms handling have a heck of a lot in common, especially in handling. Trigger control, breath control, grip, stance, point of focus, etc. all carry over. The feedback of "trigger slap" on a digital camera is immediate - shooting photos with the automatic stabilization feature shut off made me much more aware of failures to isolate the trigger finger from the grip. When you can't go out and shoot at things with a gun, using a camera is a good alternative.
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2012
  5. Tape

    Tape New Member

    mine look black, or is my eyes going out

    Attached Files:

  6. Tape

    Tape New Member

    yours look the blackest of all, Outta, yours looks like its OD
  7. rivalarrival

    rivalarrival Are we there yet?

    Looks awfully brown to me, but you be the judge... The first is what you posted, the second is after I adjusted the color balance a couple points from red toward cyan.

    Outtahand, the third is your original, the 4th is the best I could do in 10 minutes with GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program)

    Attached Files:

  8. Tape

    Tape New Member

    rival, you did a good correction, now I see the brown vs black
  9. rivalarrival

    rivalarrival Are we there yet?

    Our eyes tend to see what they want to see. If you know the actual color of what you're looking at, your eyes do the white-shift thing automagically, and all you'll see is the real color. If you had a tough time seeing the difference before, I'd bet that you use mostly incandescent or "warm white" CFL lighting in your house.
  10. Rivalarrival I like your work on my original. Does GIMP work directly with the RGB values like Photoshop? I have only looke at GIMP once or twice.
  11. rivalarrival

    rivalarrival Are we there yet?

    Well, I'm not exactly a professional graphics artist here, and I have never used photoshop... From what I'm told, they are very comparable. Yes, you can work with the RGB values directly.

    I only played with it in GIMP for a few minutes, and then only with some of their more basic tools; someone who knew what they were doing could do a heck of a lot better job at it than I did.

    I think it's usually easier to use some of the photography tricks I mentioned (ensuring there's something actually white in the frame; using "spot" metering to get the brightness/contrast correct, then shifting point-of-aim; etc.) to get the camera to do what you intended for it to do in the first place than to go back later and try to undo the problems.