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Seeing Photographs with Better Eyes

The psychology of seeing and how it affects composition

Your eye (and lens) sees something, but your eye is connected to your brain …. which interprets what you see….. it adjusts color┬ábalance, ignores unimportant things, tries to “edit out” those things you don’t want to see. You now must re-program your mind so that you really do see everything.
classica

Here’s a simple case in point:

The Classic cars are in town and you see one you like and take a snapshot. You see the yellow car…. but not the meter on the left, the power lines above, or even the yellow on the bottom right…… your mind ignores those distractions for you.



Classic Car Photography

 

Here’s what you must learn to do: Eliminate unwanted distractions …. either by cropping them out during printing (like I just did) or move in closer and crop them out with the camera and lens.

 

Classic Car Photos

Or…… you could think about what you really want to show …. walk around, crouch down, look at it harder …. and then shoot.

The point is, you must concentrate and think harder about what it is you want to show… and force yourself to see how to eliminate those things you don’t want to show.

This should become habit…. you should practice doing this with everything that “catches your eye”. Your eye WILL begin to see better … and you will begin to think about the lighting, the angle, the “feel” of those things as you look around.

Seeing in Black and White with Eileen Rafferty (FREE Video)

Sometimes you might feel weird or cursed because of the way you “stare at” – study – things, but it is essential that you develop this habit if you really want to get better. To become a true, serious amateur or top-notch professional you need to be constantly studying subject matter, light, composition, etc. AND figuring out how you want that shot to look in print.




One of the reasons I was considered a first-rate riot photographer was that, even in the middle of a riot – with all that noise and hate and physical violence and constant threats to myself – I forced myself to concentrate on:

HOW THIS PIC WOULD LOOK ON THE PAGE.

Printed Photographs

And now, some thoughts on COMPOSITION.




12 COMMENTS

  1. Thank you for this. I am having a hard to time on composition and I agree that you really need to see everything more precise. I will start making a more conscience effort!!

  2. Thank you for putting words to my frustrations. I recently bought a new D90 with the intention of making photography a serious hobby. I have gained a whole new respect for professional photographers – my head is spinning!

    Composition hasn’t been the hardest part for me; frustration with not having the picture match what my mind/eye wants or sees has been, though. Your lessons to this point are doing so much to help me understand why. In the past, photos that have turned out well have always been a mysterious accident, (Yay, sunsets!) and fooling around with the auto-fixes in photo software that I don’t fully comprehend has saved others.

    The lessons I have read up to this point are providing a solid skeleton of understanding and clarified jargon that I can comprehend, use, and build upon.

    Also, the bite-sized lessons and the direct, uncluttered approach are a blessing to my ADD cluttered mind!!!

    Thank You!!!

  3. wow… i never thought of it that way… walk around… crouch then shoot… i never thought of looking for another angles to shoot….

  4. I have to admit that crouching and shooting a picture has never entered my mind. I am still stuck on the, get it centered, don’t get to close, and shoot. I guess i just have the mind set of a point and shoot camera. These simple little lessons are major eye openers and really get you thinking about ‘what’ you are taking a picture of and ‘how’ you want it to be scene.

  5. To your last photo, likewise I’ve shot riots before, not as easy as some might expect to remain calm and focus on a composition – and be able to do so quickly. Kudos.

  6. Great lesson! I will definitely apply this when taking pictures. Actually, I will try to apply this all the time. I tend to see things and think “wow, what a picture that would be” but I don’t think enough about the lighting or angles. I have just found this site and I think it will really help my photography. Thanks!

  7. How do we make sure about the composition when we are taking a picture of a scenary???….such as a sunset….how do we focus on one object in a sunset??

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