These two pictures are both of the same place, they were taken moments apart, and yet they look entirely different. The only difference is the change that a camera can make.
I went outside at about midnight hoping to take pictures with my camera flash that would reveal what I could not see in the darkness. But I have to admit, I did not stray too far from my dorm realizing I become scared of the dark after 12 am. The thing is, all the buildings are illuminated during all hours of the day and night and there are light posts everywhere. While you cannot see as well as during the day, there is decent visibility in the Commons area. However all those lights cat shadows all over the freshman campus.
I stopped by some stone stairs and the shadow of a handrail on the wall because It struck me how all of the straight lines intersected each other. But I forgot to turn off the flash on my camera before the first shot, and so the image was returned to me without the shadows that I wanted to capture. I turned off the flash in order to get the picture I actually intended to capture and saw that the images were even more different than I thought they would be. It wasn’t just the shadows that were changed by the flash, every color was altered by the artificial light brightening the picture.
In part XVI of The Work of Art in the Age of Its Technological Reproducibility, Walter Benjamin states, “In most cases the diverse aspects of reality captured by the film camera lie outside the normal spectrum of sense impressions” (Benjamin 118), but after I took these two photos, I cannot be sure that that is true. What is the normal impression I get of these stairs that I see every day? I cannot tell if it is more true to my senses to see the shadows cast by artificial lights in the middle of the night or if the flash of my camera can imitate the brightness of a normal day. Are the bricks more reddish or washed out; are the stairs lighter gray with multicolored stone or darker with lighter colored stones. Before I never cared enough to take notice. The pictures even with different amounts of technology employed (flash versus no flash) revealed to me details beyond my normal perceptions.