An ordinary person's thoughts on the complexities of art & life ...

An ordinary person's thoughts on the complexities of life ... or just ramblings from the mind of a working Mum with far too little time to think!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

How to See

I spent a wonderful day today with a very special friend at the City Botanic Gardens. She has just purchased a Nikon DSLR and is very keen to learn how to take great photographs, particularly macro images of flowers. We had a fantastic time traipsing through flower beds and ducking under barriers to get 'the perfect' shot, ending the day with us both flat on our stomachs on the edge of the wooden walkway over a pond, leaning as far over as possible without falling in, with our cameras - all to get a photograph of an incredibly beautiful water lily hiding under the boardwalk!

Successful photography involves so much more than just mastering the operation of the camera and understanding lighting, composition and the relationship between aperture and shutter speed. There are plenty of photographic courses and workshops that teach those skills. Like any art form however, the art of photography is achieved through the development of visual awareness, sensitivity and intuition - the ability to 'see' and to make the invisible visible.

The practice of photography has taught me how to see. It has given me a way to connect what I see with what I feel. It has given me a sense of orientation in the world, an enhanced visual awareness and a way to savour the moment.

Photography for me is a sense of living in the moment but attempting to find the very essence of the subject - its soul or spiritual rhythm. Through the medium of photography I find I am able to extend the limits of my awareness and see so much more of the hidden world within life.

The secret to seeing beyond the obvious is to be always open to learning and seeing things in a different way. The more we actively and consciously look at the detail of life around us, the more the action of looking will become intuitive, natural and effortless, until we are seeing life in a whole new light.

As photographers we are 'writers of light'. It is where the magic comes from. We need to be constantly aware of the light, of where it is, of how it dances and plays on the petals of flowers, of how it softens and glows on a face, of how it can join elements together in a golden halo, or isolate subjects in a single white shaft. We need to keep learning how to seize the available light in every situation and use its luminosity and its interplay with colour and texture in our images.

Joel Meyerowitz, Master Photographer who is well known for his work with colour, in his book 'Cape Light' says: "Whether you're making images, poetry, painting, music, or love, you should be totally enraptured by that, by the experience itself. That's what it is about - the location of subject, it's about passage of the experience itself, in its wholeness, through you, back into the world, selected out by your native instincts."

Sometimes we need to set out on a shoot with a totally blank mind and an empty memory card. We need to spend time just living in the moment, looking for the light, and letting the scene speak to our hearts. Perhaps then we will capture our most creative images!

Acclaimed Photographer, Edward Weston, puts it this way: "I start with no preconceived idea - discovery excites me to focus - then rediscovery through the lens ..."

All photographs in this section were taken today at the City Botanic Gardens. Please visit my gallery at to view or purchase similar images.

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