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To Have An "Eye"...

“Photography has a way of feeling, of touching, of loving. What you have caught on film is captured remembers little things long after you have forgotten everything”~Aaron Siskind

To Have An “Eye”....

Just as people may have an “ear” for music, I have an “eye” for interpreting and appreciating the many aspects of photography. I believe my approach is unique-it allows my work to be distinct. With this in mind, I wanted to dive into this subject a bit and share my personal methods with you. By doing so, it’s my hope that some light might be shed onto the basis from what becomes my own starting point-the foundation from which I engage in my own craft as well as share feedback with my fellow photographers.

Someone once asked me why I liked taking pictures. This question resonated deeply with me because it’s entirely linked to what motivates my photography as well-I SEE THINGS DIFFERENTLY. Initially, that probably sounds like a simple statement. In reality, it is so much more. It is what distinguishes me from everybody else. It allows me the flare for photography that becomes embodied in my work. It’s my belief that those with such a flare can excel at photography with what seems like relative ease. Those who do not possess this creative eye may certainly experience success; however it will come at a much higher cost.

The process through which I work can be broken down to give you some technical background on how I interpret things. Firstly, I see things very much in a landscape view-not quite 4x12 but close enough. I can "see" what I believe to be approximately 180 degrees horizontally (about a third of this is vertically). Furthermore, colors appear vividly to me-rich with texture, saturation and depth (as in 3D).

When talking about the subject of light and photography, a common phrase comes to mind. You will often hear those in “the business” say "look for the light" or "it's all about the light". Ironically, anyone who knows me well will tell you I hate light. Bright light-light from a ceiling fan or a fluorescent source for example, causes me to squint and will likely trigger a headache. Therefore, it will come as no surprise that I am not a big fan of high sun. My creative solution? I look for the shadows.

Shadows, or contrast as it may be called by some, are difficult to come by at high noon. Personally, I would much rather get out of bed before daybreak to maximize the low angle of sunlight to capture shadows. The same can be said for the setting sun in the evenings. A classic example of this premise for me is Saint John’s waterfront. If looking at this view from the west side of the city during noon hour you will see a very different vision if you looked again from the same spot in the evening as the sun is setting. Not only will you now capture a color change but shadowing will enhance your image due to the angle of the light. Nothing creates texture, mood and depth like the use of shadow.

Another component in my technical toolbox is the manner in which I see in terms of focus. It is impossible for me to focus on an entire scene in front of me. I can “see” it however there is really only a very small part of everything that I am taking in. This small part is the only thing “in focus” to me. My attention is on this part-it is the only part I am truly looking at.

With these things in mind, I will explore how my “eye” affects my end product-my photography. I will preface this by saying I am constantly disappointed in the camera’s ability to capture what I am seeing. With that being said, I post process....A LOT! Programs such as Photoshop or Adobe Photoshop Lightroom allow me to easily tweak the image from the camera to better represent what I saw when I pushed the shutter button.

Additionally, in terms of posting my work, I generally have a vision when I am capturing the image-thoughts about what might be possible to post from the shot. This is where I delve into the creative side of editing- a subject that not all photographers agree upon. Me on the other hand, I love it! After all, what's wrong with having a little fun? This process is intended to be an enjoyable expression of creativity-why get so uptight about photo shopping the image if you have an end goal or “look” you are trying to achieve? I am not one for trickery, or deceiving people with my images though. In fact, I work diligently to get the image as best as I can SOOC. That said, I have to admit that those images I really like will see editing software at some point.

Vignetting is an approach that works for me because that is replicating how I actually see the images. Similarly, shallow depth of field with only a small part of the image in sharp focus reproduces exactly what I am seeing as I am capturing the image. If I can’t look out over a beautiful panoramic scene and absorb all of its sharpness, why would I print a photo that does not embody what I am seeing?

Therefore, for me, interesting images are ones that are typically horizontal, full of texture, colour and depth. In other words, images with the edges darker than the subject (or focus). An image with the creative use of all the above will draw the viewer’s eye effortlessly. Images produced under these guidelines consistently score well in competition-judges like them (and judges are just people like you and I).

On a side note, if you are looking for some extra information on some of the techniques I have discussed, I recommend any material authored by David duChemin. Also, there is a book entitled “Welcome To Oz” (now in two volumes) that was written by Vincent Versace and could provide you with some additional food for thought in your craft.

The attached image(s) are great representations of the points I have discussed. The original image SOOC is boring-not what I saw at all. What I actually saw was the colored edit image (notice the crop, the use of light and focus to draw your attention to the subject). What are your thoughts?

The black and white version I found interesting. Even more intriguing was the fact that I was not thinking “black and white” when I took the shot. I do not see in black and white, so this is a creative endeavor for me. I have often wondered what those who love black and white images actually see?

For me, the work in photography is rooted in the process of being able to present a final image that is actually what I saw when I captured the image. A genuine representation of what I saw through my creative eye in hard copy form. To me, this just makes sense.

Finally, good luck with all your photography efforts-none are lost! In reality, there is no such thing as a “bad capture”-assuming something is in focus and the exposure is readable. Truthfully, even that point could be argued.

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