With a visual art such as photography, the most important trait that a participant in it can have, is the ability to “see”.
I am not speaking of eyesight per say, or even being able to spot that butterfly or that bird when needed, although all of that can be important. I am speaking of another type of “seeing”.
Seeing tones and lines and color separations, and seeing textures and depth is all a part of being a photographer.
Understanding (understanding is a form of seeing) our subjects will also aid us in our endeavor to make satisfying pictures compositionally.
Knowing why an animal does what it does, helps us to “see” something more than the obvious. It causes us to stay with an animal, as we anticipate what will happen next.
I think learning to see photographically, has helped me see other things in life beyond photography.
In life in general, I try (sometimes I fail) to look a little deeper than I did way back in time. All is not always what it seems. In fact, I would suggest that it is rarely what it seems. Photography helps create the desire to look deeper.
In photography and in life, the more we see, the more we see. So to speak.
Hearing can be a part of, or at least an accomplish to seeing.
Certainly hearing the call of this species of bird or that one, can send us racing for our cameras. Sometimes we get fooled. It might not be the bird we think it is.
In life, it pays to listen carefully for what someone is “really” saying. What’s on the surface often differs from the reality that is deep down inside.
Back to seeing.
Seeing clearly, is a synonym for understanding.
Seeing literally, is a prerequisite for finding a Jackrabbit alongside a road. This is a pretty pedestrian sort of image, although notice that compositionally there is more room in the direction the critter is looking than the reverse. Simple rules of composition are oft times all we have to make an image palatable. Most rules of composition are based on how we actually “see” real life things in the real world. They work, however there will come a time when those rules can and/or should be broken as to make an image special.
I enjoy looking at this photo of a hare, but there is nothing special about it.
The ability to look and see might come in handy in spotting something like a Bald Eagle posed in a tree on a blue sky day. The ability to see artistically might help you make a composition that is as much about balance, feeling and instinct, as it is about the subject.
I knew this bird had a fish in its talons when I photographed it, but did not see the band on its right leg until I looked at the photo at home. When you get home, always look to see what you might have missed when you clicked the shutter.
Sometimes creating a simple and informative image from what is obvious and right in front of you, can become an emotional exercise. One that requires patience, and waiting for the perfect moment. Click the shutter all you want, but see in your mind’s eye, what might happen. Our compositional visions are often given to us as a gift from the subject in front of us. In other words, they give us the comp, we just need to “see it”.
As I photographed this mother and baby Red Fox, I kept visualizing in my mind’s eye, something more unique. I never gave up and eventually, the interactive image below was given to me by the subjects. A gift to match my vision.
I was making lift off pictures of White Pelicans in a marsh and enjoying myself thoroughly. My compositions were of course somewhat depended on what my subjects did. Eventually I began to see vertical stacks from within my horizontal compositions. When the birds were tight in the picture frame like this one, I decided I would shoot with my camera tipped in the vertical position. If they were small in the viewfinder, I would shoot horizontal, which I find easier, and crop to vertical when I got home,
Either way, if I would not have seen in my mind and with my eyes, those vertical stacks, I would have missed making a picture that spoke differently than the usual horizontal action picture that I make.
I have created a lot of sunrise pictures with my photography, and many of them were made along the shores of Lake Michigan. I was going about the business of doing so one more time when suddenly the focus of my vision switched to nothing but the surf. No sand and no sky. Just a color saturated surf, with backlight.
We cannot see, if we do not look.
I was in the Badlands of South Dakota near sunset. The light was lively and growing warmer with every second that passed. Most photographers would understandably attempt to find ways of keeping seemingly obnoxious shadows from infiltrating their images. I saw something strange, the shadows separated areas of the scene, and therefore added dimension as well as contrast to the subject. It was one big shadow running through the middle areas of sunlit rock. To me, it was interesting and beautiful. I am glad that I “saw it”.
Each of us sees something different from one another when we look. After I satisfied myself with that shadow-laden landscape, I looked down. The mudflat beneath my feet was bathed in the golden sunset, and flattered by you guessed it, shadows that divided it into sections, and produced texture by its very existence.
The only way to see what’s beneath our feet, is to look down.
The moments before sunrise or after sunset, carry with them their own magic. From warm gold, to a cool purplish blue.
This predawn image of Lake Michigan, a rock, and some lights from the city of Racine, WI, drips in atmosphere. I pre-visualized this image before it ever existed. I saw it before it happened.
We can see before there is anything to see. We just need to look with our minds and hearts as well as with our eyes.
As an aside to today‘s post, I’ll answer a question I have been asked from a friend. I care very little about the perfections of the grammatical process of writing. I write as I speak and that does include placing commas exactly where I would pause if I were giving a speech. That means many of my posts, are filled with commas.
I appreciate your stopping and have a great day and see everything you can.