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Black and Blue over an Ugly Dress
By Gloria Diaz
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Fort Wayne Reader
If on Friday, February 27, you smelled something burning, it was probably the Internet. No, Putin wasnít murdered, Obama didnít twerk, and the Kardashians didnít adopt a highway.
It was about a dress. And an actor.
A poorly lit, poorly photographed dress turned friends into enemies, and divided families. Unfortunately, for the rest of us, someone had to make the ultimate sacrifice to get our minds off it. As my friend Kathy Moseley observed on Facebook, ďLeonard Nimoy gave his life so we could finally stop talking about that goddammed dress.Ē
The dress, in case you havenít noticed, is a rather ugly frock. At first glance, it looks white with gold trim. One picture I saw on Friday had the dress as white and gold, then another photo was white balanced, and I canít remember the colors, then the third picture showed it as black and blue.
Iíve studied photography, so when I looked at the snapshot, my first thought was ďwhat a lousy picture.Ē The photo was back lit, with two-thirds taken up with a shoulder-to-thigh shot of the dress. The last third of the picture was taken up with an over-exposed background of clutter. In that particular shot, Iím in the white and gold camp.
The company who made the dress, Roman Originals, claimed it was black and blue. In the professionally photographed photo, itís obviously black and blue, no question.
The episode reminds me of an article I read recently on the Internet warning not to buy incredibly cheap dresses online. The victim, who ended up giving the clothes to her daughter (because they were sized to fit your average seven-year-old girl) showed how the items were shown online, then took pictures of them when they arrived at her home. The items were hilariously off-kilter, but when someone advertises a ball gown for $20, and it was made in China, realize that it IS too good to be true.
In one of my jobs, lighting plays a huge role when it comes to color. I urge people to buy samples of their proposed paint colors, because florescent lighting twenty feet up is not the same as having an incandescent lamp on an end table. The same color will look different. The pink paint in my room looks brighter and lighter in the sunlight, as compared with the wall across the room, painted the same colorówhich looks like an entirely different color. Is it bright pink, or a rosy pink? Itís both! Itís Olympic Muted Fuchsia, and I love it.
The dress debate is a reminder of the importance of good photography skills. It seems that cameras have taken the guesswork out of taking a good picture, but apparently not. Those who lament digital photography making it easier on people really donít need to worry that all people have to do is press a button. Despite technology, terrible photography continues its blurry, washed-out existence. I tell my customers to take a picture of their living rooms at night, without flash, but with the lamps on. Then, I tell them to take the same picture, but use a flash. The photo without the flash will make the room seem overly yellow or red, and look warm. The picture taken with the flash is much closer to how things actually look. It has to do with the temperatures of the lighting used. It boils down to science, but maybe Neil Degrasse Tyson will explain the whole thing in a hip, interesting manner. Or maybe not. We have more important things to worry about.
Meanwhile, Roman Originals is getting a boost in sales due to a world divided and a crappy picture. A self-portrait I did with my smartphone several months ago was so flattering, I decided Iíd use it for my Facebook profile, and the business cards Iím designing. The photo is in black and white, so my hair looks black without any gray, my skin is white without freckles, and the angle hides my double chin. In other words, it doesnít look the way I look most of the time. Where did I shoot it? In the handicapped bathroom stall of a bookstore on the southwest side of town. I felt like I was radiating good portrait karma, and my hair looked killer, so I took a few shots until I found one I liked. Despite the florescent lighting (which makes even supermodels look terrible), I looked really good for once. Whatís my secret? Knowing the angle which makes me look good, having a good hair day, and shooting the picture in black and white. Too bad the rest of the world canít see me in my black and white glory in real life 24/7.
The only thing that would have topped the dress debate was seeing Bruce Jenner wearing it. I fully expect someone will make a knock-off of the gown (which retails for fifty pounds, or $76.99 U.S.) with a white and gold side, and a blue and black side. Whoever originally uploaded the shot of the dress which divided a world should get a kickback from Roman Originals. A terrible picture put the company on the mapóand the one color they are no doubt seeing a lot of right now is Money Green.