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17 April 2018

Once upon a time -- and it wasn't long ago -- we walked by the yellow house and saw an older fellow installing the white picket fence, board by board. It got a fresh coat of paint and made a happy little scene.

The years passed by and one picket or another failed but the older fellow didn't return to do any repairs. Mold grew on the pickets and several fell off. By then, there wasn't much sign of life at the place any more.

Next door an unpainted picket fence displayed a "Beware of Dog" sign long after any dog inhabited the place. But its yard was tended for a while longer and, who knows, the sign might have provided some level of inexpensive protection.

Passing by week after week for years, we noticed the decay certainly but we also felt some sort of compassion in the air. As if one neighbor were saying to the other, "Don't worry about it on my account." And the white picket on the ground, far from symbolizing decay, represented that empathy.

One, perhaps, does not go without the other.


Expressing that in an image is harder than snapping a photo, though. We've taken a few of this scene and are never satisfied with the capture.

One problem is that it's a bit overgrown and chaotic. Your eye has trouble navigating the scene.

When we look at it, we notice the fallen picket because that's what we notice when we walk by. Only when we studied the image did we notice the "Beware of Dog" sign.

Otherwise, we like this view of the scene. The unpainted pickets seem to be reaching out to their painted cousins, which are predominant, emphasizing the gap in them.

The color version looked murky. And while we shot it on mostly overcast days, it's always in the shade and less visible when the sun is shining. Except perhaps at 11 in the morning when the sun sneaks between the two buildings to light up the fallen picket.


Nevertheless we worked on a color version. And just for kicks (since this is about neighbors), we used several image editors, making as many of the same adjustments as possible (not everything permitted perspective control, local adjustments or the same non-sRGB ICC profile).

Think of this a s blind tasting. Which color image do you prefer?

None of the above, we said. So we developed the black and white version at the top of this story, adding a vignette to help focus on the fallen picket.

The most obvious difference in the renderings is perspective control, otherwise they do look very similar. We've always felt that there's no particular mystery about wringing quality out of Raw data.

The trick, really, is providing comfortable tools to do it. And the catch (because there always is one) is that the operator has to know what they want and can get out of the image.


Still, we're not happy with it. We'll have to go back at 11 a.m. one of these days and reshoot.

Legend: In order of appearance: 1) Exposure X3, 2) DxO Optics Pro 11, 3) ON1 Raw Photo, 4) Photoshop CC, 5) DxO PhotoLab and 6) Capture One Pro 11. The large images were done in Photoshop.

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