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Reason Schmeason

July 9, 2011

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A l l   T h i s   T e c h n i q u e . .W h y   F o r   B y   G o l l y ?

So far I’ve touched on a few techniques for choosing the story you want to tell and  composing and editing the shot. Using these techniques will result in better photos whatever subject you happen to choose. I know what your thinking. Just why do these techniques work? Will he tell me? Can I ever sleep again until I know? Isn’t this the greatest blog ever?

The answers are: They align the image with the way the human vision system works, kind of, certainly not, yes.

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T h r e e   B l i n d   M i c e

   The way the eye and mind work together to give us our visual information is complex and some details are not yet known. One thing most people may find surprising is the fact that much of the time we are blind. Whenever your eye is moving you are blind. If you don’t believe it grab someone to help and try this simple test.

  1. Stand about a foot or so in front of a mirror and look at your eyes.
  2. Look at your left eye then look at your right eye, repeat. Can you see your eyes move?
  3. Have your partner do the same thing while you watch their eyes.

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   When you look around a room, or at a photo, or drive down the street, your eyes dart around the scene taking a bunch of “snapshots” and your mind puts these together and fills in the gaps when your eyes were moving with what it expects to be there. Many parts of a scene you believe you see are actually manufactured by your mind. Many good photographers will compose a shot knowing ahead of time the path the viewers eye will take through the image. Directing the viewers eye around your image directly affects how they will perceive it. Many of these techniques are simple to do and I’ll cover them later, but for now it will suffice to realize that vision is a process and most photographic techniques are designed to appeal to, or manipulate this process.

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  Here is a simple example of using technique to control the viewers eye. The eyes are placed near the intersections (following the rule of thirds) and the effect is intensified in editing  by leaving the eye color and changing the rest of the image to black and white. For most viewers I know exactly what the focal point of this image will be, and the intended path..eyes, nose, mouth and back to eyes.

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W h a t e v e r   D u d e

   So that’s a little bit about why photographic techniques exist in the first place. The power of your images will be relative to the skill with which you wield this sword. That’s the reason to care about learning technique. But what about the reason to bother packing a camera around in the first place? Everybody knows a couple –

  1. Memories – (friends, family, travel, events)
  2. Documentation / Information – (profile pics, show people your stuff or where you went, Brad Pitt running naked through your yard)

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These are good reasons, but there is another reason. A reason that in my opinion is at least as important as the other two. It is the reason I am writing this blog and it’s coming up next in “What The Camera Sees

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