When I was young, the Sunday funny pages had a kids’ section that included two line drawings, apparently identical. However, there were twelve (or fifteen or ten) differences between the images, and the puzzle was to identify all the changes. A list of all the alterations was printed in small type at the bottom of the section. Many of them were on the order of “the man’s bowtie was changed to an octopus.”
What’s that got to do with this photograph? Simple: you may think you’ve seen it before in this blog, but you’d be wrong. There are three differences between this version and the one originally published. I’ve put the original at the bottom of this post so you can compare. And I’ll give you a head start: the crop is slightly different.
Ready to find the other two? Go!
Okay, I saw you looking for the solution at the bottom of the post, which is exactly what I’d do, but it isn’t there. To keep you from thinking about cheating, I’ll give you the answers now. There’s a bit of husk missing on the leftmost ear of corn in the bucket, and the line marking the change from the black background to the table top is lower.
I realize this isn’t the most important thing you’ll learn today. It’s not even the most interesting thing you’ll have learned in the last thirty seconds, but the exercise taught me an important lesson.
That bit of extraneous husk really was distracting. Why didn’t I see it when I pressed the shutter or reviewed the image? I didn’t slow down to look.
In the original, the transition line between the table and background neatly matched the top of the onion, and as a result effectively merged the onion with the table. I’ve heard this error described as a “tangent,” meaning the two areas became one because they matched each other at an edge and did not overlap. Again, I didn’t slow down and look.
I was able to fix the problems to a certain extent in Photoshop, but it would have been so much easier if I had done it when I took the shot. A quick snip with scissors would have solved the husk problem, and moving the black foam core I was using as a background a few inches forward would have saved me a lot of time fixing it later.
I could have slowed down. I didn’t.
It wasn’t until I had printed the image and tacked it on my wall that I carefully examined the content. I find that if I do that…and live with a photograph for a bit…every error is amplified. Three days of looking a photograph is almost guaranteed to convince me that selling my gear and taking up stamp collecting might be the best gift I could give to humanity.
Instead, I posted the image on my blog and on Facebook within minutes of taking it. Now I’m stuck with two versions in the internet memory, one not quite as good as the other. Why didn’t I proceed with caution?
Slow down. Now if only I’ll take the time to actually apply the lesson.