Sunday, July 24, 2011

SEEING WITH 'A PHOTOGRAPHER'S EYE'

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If you have a keen interest in photography you may see things a little differently than other people & tonight’s entire post is a collection of my thoughts gathered together from previous posts on, ‘Seeing With A Photographer’s Eye.’

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I first heard the term, ‘Photographer’s Eye years ago back in the old 35mm film days when I first developed an interest in photography around 1965. My eye for photography didn't develop right away but after a few years I began noticing things I had never paid much attention to before.  It was a seeing & learning process that just gradually worked it's way into my mind.

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I became aware of colors & shapes & how they interacted with the environment. Maybe it's how an old fencepost leans into the background or how the rusted color of an old hubcap stands out against the graying fender of an aging derelict car in a local junk yard. Maybe it's big billowing cloud formations on a bright sunny day or a radiant yellow Daffodil on an overcast day.

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Gathering storms take on a new beauty if you have a photographic eye. Bird formations overhead take on meaningful shapes & a cactus bloom backlit by the morning sun suddenly becomes an object of wonder. Lengthening shadows stretch across landscapes as gentle winds ripple across resting ponds begging for your attention. It's a world of beauty we live in & we just have to open our eyes & minds to see it.

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An interest in photography will greatly enhance that world for you.  Be aware & be prepared when a photo gently steps up & taps you on the nose.  Let the world around you become an unending source of inspiration as your photographer's eye constantly wanders through the environment around you whether it be subconsciously or in a deliberate search for the beauty that envelopes us.

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You do not have to have all kinds of expensive equipment to take great photos. Thanks to the digital age my photography interests returned about 12 years ago. My 35mm film camera days had ended years before that & my Pentax cameras sat unused in a closet for nearly a decade.

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After we bought our first computer in 1998 I slowly began to gain some interest & knowledge in something called, digital photography. Not knowing if this would interest me or not I bought a cheap little Hewlett-Packard 1 megapixel camera at a store in London Ontario.  As soon as I uploaded my first few pictures to the computer screen I was hooked. My head was immediately awhirl with all kinds of ideas & possibilities.

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I used that simple 1 megapixel camera for years before moving up to something better but it was this first little digital camera that renewed my interest in photography all over again. Of course the resolution quality wasn't there but it opened my eyes once again to the beautiful world around me. I began to see things once again in a photographic way. Couldn't change lenses with this camera but I knew about composition. Couldn't change shutter speeds or apertures, but I knew a bit about lighting. Couldn't afford a more expensive camera but knew I didn't need one at the time. It was first things first & the first thing for me was to get my photographic eye back. The art of seeing!! All the greatest camera gear in the world is not going to help you if you do not see or are not aware of your surroundings.

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Depending on their interests, a couple driving through a town will see different things. The lady may see the shopping mall on the right with it’s clothing stores, specialty shops & big bargain sign prices. The man, on the other hand will see the Golf course on the left & note the golfers, the golf carts & maybe any particular water or sand trap hazards. If I am in the back seat of that car the mall might only catch my attention if it’s an old town type mall with interesting architecture. But, for sure the Golf Course will catch my attention every time simply because of it’s beauty. The sweeping manicured greens, the swaying trees, flower colors, symmetrical landscaping, birds winging over the course & if it was in Florida, maybe I would be looking for Alligators too. And yes, I have seen Alligators on Florida golf courses.  With a photographer's eye you are going to see things differently than most folks around you.

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A Corvette Car Club member will spot all the Corvettes on the highway where I probably would miss them. RV'ers will notice other RV's where many non RVing people wouldn't give them a second look. Bird watchers will see birds in a tree where other folks may only see the tree. It is the same thing in the photographer's world. I see things that others don't see simply because my conscious & subconscious mind is attuned to the things that interest me.  And, that's the key.

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In regards to the photo above….Ten people standing in our sunroom looking out the window at the front yard probably might not have seen a small shaft of sunlight gently alight oh the Fuji Cherry blossoms coaxing them out of the darker background. The only reason I saw that is because of my 'photographer's eye.' Out of those 10 people looking out the window, one might be a bird watcher so it is the bird's at the feeders they will see. Another person's interests might be aggregates so they are probably looking at the many rocks in the gardens. Somebody else might be interested in old cars so their attention is triggered by the 56 Ford Crown Victoria going by. A horticulture person will notice all the shrubs, greenery & flowers. Out of all those things which I am aware of as well, my attention was grabbed by a moment’s ray of sunlight on a cluster of Fuji blossoms.  And, remember me saying earlier about being aware & prepared when a photo steps up & taps you on the nose:))

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In beach sunset photos a lot of people will see the sun & water & take a picture of that just as I did. However, my eye spotted a lone chair further down the beach & my mind immediately began calculating the position of the descending sun, the water, & the silhouette photo that combination could produce. This is one photo in a series of 10 that resulted because of, 'the photographer's eye.'

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Because I think in the terms of photography, I see in the terms of photography. Everything out there is a photograph to me. Shadows, cloud formations, colors, textures, foregrounds, backgrounds, people's faces, animals, birds, etc. Everything....... It is the art of seeing & it is the art of wanting to see. The art of looking & understanding what you are looking at. The art of seeing the finished photo in your mind before you even take it.

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Now, let me back up on this 'art' word I have been using quite a bit here. It's one I hesitate to use but haven't come up with a good substitute for. In the true sense of the word I do not consider myself an Artist. However, the art of seeing with a photographic eye is something that I believe a person can develop if they want to, but it takes time. Like most anything, the more you do it the better you are going to become at it. But, the interest has to be there if you are going to be enjoying what you are seeing. And, if your enjoyment is there it is going to show up in your photos.

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Here's what I suggest you do if you have a beginning interest in photography. There are many great digital cameras on the market & I would say start out with a simple point & shoot camera. Read your manual & understand what your camera can & cannot do. If you are in an area offering photography courses, do that. I did & it was a huge help to me in the beginning to understand the basics of photography. Pay particular attention to the art of composition because that is a biggy. I am fortunate in that composition has always come natural for me. Makes up for my struggles trying to understand the technical side of photography.

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Would you believe that back in 1990 I was able to finagle myself into being accepted to Fanshaw College’s (London Ontario) well known professional photography course. I lasted 10 weeks & I was gone. Learned & enjoyed a lot of practical stuff but could not nail down the mathematical oriented side of things. Realized too late that the course was really geared to professional & commercial type high end photography with much emphasis on calculating studio light ratios, etc. I had absolutely no interest in being a wedding, portrait or baby photographer. When it got into learning & understanding something called logarithms I knew my days were numbered, & they were & I was out of there!!

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I think my first digital cam was under a hundred dollars. In this computer age we are soooooooo fortunate that we can step out the door, crack off a bunch of pics, step back inside, upload them in the computer, & within a couple minutes we can have our results right in front of us on a screen. And, no cost:)) No more pricey film, expensive development charges, with days or weeks of waiting for results. Now, how easy is that. What a great advantage for people with photography interests nowadays compared to years ago. So, grab your cam, open your eyes & mind to your surroundings, & start clicking away:)) Don't just think about it.....get out there & do it!!

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THE LAST PARAGRAPH: These photography opinions are just my opinions & are not coming from a professional photographer. They are just the thoughts of someone who happens to enjoy the hobby of photography just like the rest of you who have had the interest & taken the time to read all the way through this loooooooong post:))

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GROANER'S CORNER:((  Having a camera makes you no more a photographer than having a hammer and some nails makes you a carpenter.  And, also keep this in mind....The quickest way to make money at photography may be to sell your camera.

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The only thing better than right now will someday be the memories of right
now...... AL.

35 comments:

  1. Your eye for composition will make up for any mathmatical short coming. In this day and age of photo correction programs and digital instant evaluation of results, knowing all those logarithms is a total waste of time.

    Just go fix it in Picasa or the photo program of your choice.

    Good post Al!

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  2. Thank you Al. Once again it proves it's the person behind the camera not not the camera or lens.

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  3. This is the most excellent commentary on photography I have ever read in my life. Thank you.

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  4. Oh yes, I read every word and studied every photo. I'm inspired to get back into something that I have loved since I took my first photo course in high school. I love the close-up work most of all. Thanks, Al, for an informative and inspirational post. I don't think walking away from that Professional photography class did you any harm!!

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  5. Well...I did take that photography course, and all the mathematical things I adored! I finished with the best grades in my group. It took me a long time before I went to digital, it was only 3 years ago! I was so used to calculating every ray of light, to me, digital was boring...now I am getting used to it. I loved so much to be in the darkroom, I miss it...the smell...the fealing. I was like a crazy chemist...

    So digital...I am not quite there yet...

    Sorry Al, I do think you are an artist!

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  6. Beautiful, beautiful pictures!!! You ARE an artist at what u do.

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  7. Great post tonight. I'm working on it. :)

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  8. a picture is worth a thousand words.. and you are so right we all see things differently..that is what makes the world a great place!!

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  9. At a recent Show & Shine car show, I took a series of photos of only the car hood ornaments, grill ornaments and name plates. It will make for a very nice car collector collage.

    Crazy Legs Al

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  10. Wow! What beautiful pictures. I'd settle for just a little of your talent and your "eye". Thanks for sharing, Al.

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  11. You are most definitely an artist. Your photography is exceptional! Dabbling in watercolors has made me see the world differently, too, but I still can't take a photo like you do!
    Grace

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  12. Al, you've explained things very well, and I have to agree with most everything you've said. I believe you are an "artist" because of the way you use your mind's eye to capture such beauty with your camera. That's not always easy to do, as your subjects are constantly changing...the light is always changing...the colors and backgrounds are never the same...everything just totally different than a photographer in a studio, or a painter with an easel.

    I'm glad you got your "photographer's eye" working again, and rekindled that interest in taking great pictures. You have a gift for that, and I love to see your photos. Thanks again for sharing.

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  13. Al, the only difference between you and a professional photographer is that they get paid for their art.

    You have an incredible talent and conception of art in nature which was born within you.

    I love the fact that you are sharing not only your talent but how to go about having your vision with us. Its so refreshing to be able to learn from you by simple uncomplicated instruction.

    Thank you.

    Connie

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  14. I really enjoyed this post and your photos of course too!

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  15. Al--those are some beautiful "photographers eye" photos, just spectacular!

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  16. Thank you, Al. Your blog was very inspirational. I'm going to go look for my camera manual and see what I can do!!The big difference in your pictures is that your pictures really do capture the beauty of the scene. Your pictures allow us to see that beauty that we may have missed and for that I am SO very grateful to you!
    donna

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  17. Thanks Al for sharing all your wonderful thoughts about photography with us. Your superb pictures are what originally drew me to your blog. Love your writing style as well.

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  18. Great post Al, interesting to anyone who has ever held a camera, even for a minute and helpful to those of us who aspire to your heights.

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  19. As someone who has followed a similar path in photography I can say you are spot on with your post. Both in ideas and images.
    Two additional thoughts on the subject. First, when one starts seeing with a photog's eye it will completely change how you see for the rest of your life, even when you don't have a camera in hand. Second, the need to explain to those who are not used to being with you, your need to stop and make an image of something they totally missed and how you even saw it.

    Good picturing, Steve

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  20. You are an artist, and I totally understand about "seeing with a photographer's eye".

    I see things that nobody else sees and I enjoy taking photos of those things and sharing with our readers!

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  21. 100% agree with you, except that you are a true artist. You express what you have seen, and you show us what you have seen in a way that most of us will never see. We believe we have the edges of a photographer's eye, but you have it in spades. Suzy and I will stand side by side and theoretically take the same picture of the same subject, with vastly different results; neither result is "wrong" and the other "right." It's just how we saw the scene and expressed it. We're going to enjoy your photography treatises!

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  22. Outstanding shots,I enjoyed them very much,thanks for sharing.

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  23. beautiful pictures,I think you are an artist, and also a very good writer to be able to explain thigs so well.

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  24. Al,
    If you ever decide to publish a coffee table book of your beautiful photographs, I will be the first in line to purchase the book. You truely have a photographer's eye. Thank you for sharing your beautiful works of art.

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  25. Thank you for sharing your views. I look forward to your post each day and am never disappointed.

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  26. You can call yourself anything you want, but if you're not an artist, I don't know who is. Your photos are consistently superior and striking.

    BTW, great post also.

    Fred

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  27. Great stuff! I wish I had more dedication to the process. I attended a lecture/class with Ansel Adams many years ago with my father at Kodak. I know then that I was likely never going to be really good. I remember a story from him about going out for three days to get one picture with the right light. Since he had to hike a coupe of miles on the last leg he was very limited to the number of glass plates he could carry so he had to get it right the first time. All for one picture. Sorry to say that is just not me:(

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  28. Al, I very much enjoyed your post tonight! One can tell by your photos as well as your enthusiasm that you really enjoy photography. Your comment "It's a world of beauty we live in & we just have to open our eyes & minds to see it." hits the nail on the head.
    Beauty is all around us and so many times right in front of us.
    I am still learning and having fun at it.
    Thanks for your post!!

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  29. Superb post. You put it so well, there's really nothing to add. One of these days, I hope to reach your level, it's certainly a learning experience.

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  30. You are a true artist with your lens!

    I remember the first digital camera we got at our real estate office in the early 90's. It was like a huge pair of binoculars and we had to load the pics onto big floppy disks to bring to the newpaper for the ads!

    ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~
    Karen and Steve
    (Our Blog) RVing: Small House... BIG Backyard
    http://kareninthewoods-kareninthewoods.blogspot.com/

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  31. Your work is great. Use of colour, composition and lighting, understanding lenses, shutter speeds, apertures re depth of field, etc. Very well done. I am a professional; have been since 1983 and you say you aren't - probably because you are not billing for your work. Doesn't mean you are not professional. Most professionals out there can't match what you do. Your work reminds me of one of my favourite nature shooters' Freeman Patterson. Check out this site http://www.webstockpro.com/Stock-Photos-freeman+patterson/

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  32. I'm so late to this party the dishes are done and already put away in the cupboard. I can clearly see that I have to improve on my equipment. Yes, I do. I can no longer ignore the obvious. In the meantime, I will go on having fun, but I'm going to need "a bigger boat."

    Excellent photos and encouragement.

    I came this way via the Good Luck Ducks.

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  33. Thanks Al, I needed that little push to get me signed up for the next Photography: Basics and Beyond at our local community college. I opted to buy a Canon point and shoot a couple of months ago, instead of spending some serious money for new equipment.

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  34. Enjoyed that. I could use some photographic inspiration these days!

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