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COLOR CORRECTION, DIGITAL CAMERAS, AND WEB PICTURES
Part of the reason for this site is that the pictures of exotic woods on the Internet are often not really representative of the wood. I'm no great expert, but I have a great love of exotic wood and I've accumulated as much of it as very limited time and budget have allowed over a period of 35 years.
Some of the misrepresentation on the Internet is due directly to digital cameras and/or careless photography. In my own somewhat limited experience I have found that digital cameras produce slightly too much red in many pictures, and sometimes greatly overemphasize the yellow. That observation seems to be supported by the composition of many of the wood shots that I see on the Internet, where there is too much red or yellow. None of this is done through any intent to misrepresent the wood, it's just that it's an effort to make the pictures come out with really accurate color. It's not a LOT of effort, when it can be managed at all, but I can understand that many people don't want to put in even a little effort, and of course some people are not technically inclined and would not consider the effort to be "little" at all.
As an example of uncorrected pics not really looking like the true wood, see the bottom of the purpleheart page on this site where there is an excellent demonstration of both how (1) digital cameras add too much red to the wood and how (2) a little effort can make the picture look like the wood.
Anyway ... as I said, there are a lot of pictures on the web that don't really reflect the way exotic woods really look. What's also true is that there are at least a few vendors who seem to feel that the wood itself isn't attractive enough, and that it needs a little help in the form of color "correction" of a very MISrepresentative sort.
Nowhere is this more obvious than in the pictures from one particular vendor on eBay. This vendor is a class by itself in two regards, one extremely good, the other extremely bad. First, they generally sell very good quality exotic wood on eBay AND they package it better than any other vendor I'm aware of for shipping. They are very expensive, but mostly worth it. Second, they are by far the most egregious example I have seen anywhere on the web of how badly wood can be misrepresented by just tweaking a few values in the simple photo editor that comes with Microsoft Windows. You don't need fancy software to do what they, and other vendors, do. I have no idea what they use, but they use SOMETHING! There just isn't any possibility that the pictures they take really come out looking like what they post. I've researched this and played with a digital camera quite a bit and you just cannot get real untouched pictures to look like what they show.
Someone told me that on a MacIntosh computer from Apple, the standard color "gamma" settings are quite different from those on a PC and that this could be the reason for the difference, but I had a friend check this out and he tells me the pics (both mine and the vendors) all look the same on both types of computer, so that's not it.
The examples here are SO extreme that you should keep in mind that I chose this vendor for that very reason. There are other vendors, especially on eBay, who do this to a lessor degree (but none that I'm aware of who do it as much or more).
I have taken three of the most obvious examples of the really egregious vendor's work to use as illustrations for my comments (see below). In each case, the wood is excellent and I'm happy to have it. Why this vendor feels the need to so grossly misrepresent their merchandise is beyond me. The "corrections" I made to my own shots to show that it is easy to get their kind of picture were, as I said earlier, not difficult to do, but they did involve making color changes that were fairly extreme, which supports my contention that there just isn't any way this could have happened by accident. They didn't trip over a log on the way to the photo lab and end up with too much red/yellow in their pictures.
Why, you might ask, don't I use their name. Well, eBay has a very simple policy. Vendors can ban anyone from their auctions for any reason. Vendors also have a very simple policy. Annoy them and they ban you from their auctions. I may want to buy wood from these folks again. I already have purchased from them, knowing full well how badly they misrepresent their wood, because once you know what they do, you have a reasonable idea of what the wood really looks like, and also, as I said above, this vendor is a class act except for the doctored pics.
On the left is the vendor's picture as posted on eBay, in the middle is my shot of a piece cut from the same plank and on the right is my shot after I REALLY "corrected" it to make it look as much like the vendor's shot as I could get it. My raw shot is a VERY accurate representation of the wood and no color correction was needed, HOWEVER, this is a sanded piece. The untouched board from the vendor did have some hints of red on the surface. Nothing like what their picture shows, but slightly more than the sanded piece shows. As you can see from my "corrected" pic, you don't have to have a board with any red in it to make the picture look as red as you want, and I can ASSURE you that you cannot get this outrageous misrepresentation by accident.
On the left is the vendor's picture as posted on eBay, in the middle is my shot and on the right is my shot after I REALLY "corrected" it to make it look as much like the vendor's shot as I could get it. My raw shot is too dark --- see directly below.
In trying to get as close as possible to the same angle as the vendor's picture above, I had to move away from the wood and then crop the needed portion of the pic and my lack of strong lighting made my picture come out darker and duller than the wood really is, so I've included an uncorrected, but very accurate closeup shot here to show what the wood really looks like. Again, it is not even remotely possible that they obtained their results by accident. You have to really go out of your way to doctor a pic so much is reaches this degree of misrepresentation.
On the left is the vendor's picture as posted on eBay, in the middle is my shot of the same secton of wood and on the right is my shot after I REALLY "corrected" it to make it look as much like the vendor's shot as I could get it. My raw shot is a VERY accurate representation of the wood; no color correction was needed.
below are two more sets of shots of the same piece. My raw shots are too dark and don't do justice to the piece (which is a REALLY nice piece of tulipwood) but they are certainly more representative of the actual wood than the vendor's shots.