Seeing and Experience


Seeing and experience. These are the two qualities that we need in order to make good and unique photographs.

Seeing is most important. By seeing I mean seeing what’s in front of you and what’s around you without preconceptions or desires. I’ve talked about this in earlier posts and I’ll talk about it again and again. Seeing requires a quiet mind. There are different techniques to make our minds quiet and I don’t care if you use any of them. Just be quiet! One thing that works for me is to go out shooting early in the morning. I don’t have the day’s stories playing in my mind.

Being in nature helps a lot, too. Nature’s demands on us are just that we dress so that we’re comfortable and prepared for her challenges. If it’s windy or the desired sunrise doesn’t materialize, it isn’t personal so we can just accept it.

One thing that drops when the mind is quiet is our preconceptions of what makes a good photograph. We can also drop our desire to make a certain kind of photograph. Then, we can begin to see things in front of us for the first time. Colors and shapes, darkness and light, how one element relates to another. We begin to see beauty everywhere. Everything is in relation to everything else. We see emotions and relationships in things that we never noticed before.

Now that we’re seeing we can begin to contemplate capturing what we see into a photograph.

This is where experience comes in. Luckily for us there are plenty of cameras out there that will allow us to take a well exposed, in–focus image of what we see. But that’s only the beginning. Learning how to take what we see and make it into a compelling photograph is the result of our experience. Experience means shooting a lot. And a lot. Hey, it’s digital, it’s free. Experience means failing a lot. Experience means learning how to photograph trees, skies, mountains, people, sidewalks, what ever you want and having the image look like you expect it to. Luckily for most of us, we don’t have to rely on the vagaries of different film emulsions, but we still have to learn how best to capture different things. Experience means looking at light and learning what light works best for your images. Experience means working with different focal length lenses and learning whether telephoto, wide angle or something in between will give you what you want.

Experience means failing again and again till you hit on things that work for you. I’ve been photographing these trees off and on since I moved to Boulder 6 years ago and I think I’m finally learning how to capture what I’m seeing.

Seeing and experience–that’s mostly what you need. And of course, patience for your seeing and experience to bear fruit.

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~ by danbaumbach on February 28, 2016.

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