I love the colours of Amsterdam. The 17th century structures along the city’s canals are made from materials that are deep maroon, red and rich purply black.

Amsterdam Colours imagined

I put the above colour field together to simply represent the lovely palette of this city.

Amsterdam Colour Field Real

The second graphic represents the “real” colours of Amsterdam, and was made using digital photographs of the city and Adobe Illustrator’s eye-dropper tool. The eye-dropper lets you select colours from digital images and use them to colour other objects in your project.

Screen shot 2013-02-16 at 6.12.43 PM

(The second graphic, the real colours of Amsterdam, are much more dull. Maybe it’s because my camera wasn’t able to capture the scene well, or maybe it’s because reality is a lot more vibrant when imagined.)

I like the eye-dropper tool. It is the digital equivalent of the photo-mechanic process that gave analog photographs so much aura. As they are essentially traces of light that entered a camera when it was pointed at a particular time and space, analog photographs are fundamentally connected to their subject matter. The presence of the photographed, the aura of the moment when it was captured, can be felt.

Digital photographs have lost their aura: they are less fundamentally connected to their subject matter. The digital process of visually recording space is complicated, obscuring the connection between the photographer, the camera and the photographed. Also, the mass- reproducibility of a digital image makes it seem far less connected to its subject. If not printed, where does a digital photograph exist?

After these thoughts is a good opportunity to reconsider the second colour field, the one of the “real” colours of Amsterdam. Can you feel its aura?

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