Beyond The Campfire was created to encourage readers to explore the great outdoors and to look at it more closely. Get out and take a hike, go fishing or canoeing, or simply stretch out on a blanket under a summer sky...and take your camera along. We'll talk about combining outdoor activities with photography. We'll look at everything from improving your understanding of the basics to more advanced techniques including things like how to see photographically and capturing the light. We'll explore the night sky, location shoots, using off camera speedlights along with nature and landscape. Grab your camera...strap on your hiking boots...and join me. I think you will enjoy the adventure.

The Pilot

The Pilot
The Pilot

Monday, February 22, 2016

Listen With Your Eyes, Visualize with Your Heart


Not so long ago I had to endure countless hours sitting in dull, inspiration choking meetings. I won't hold back on how much I hated sitting there. Almost always the meeting would evolve into a Whaa Waahhaa Waaah, please, just shoot me now situation. I was hearing the words, but was not listening to what was being said...at times to my chagrin when I was asked to speak my insights on the discussion at hand...of which I had no clue of what had just been discussed.

Sometimes photography can be like that as well. There are days I hear with my eyes, but I am not listening, or seeing what is really there. I try to take a photo, but it is like I am clueless as to what I am seeing, what I am trying to accomplish.

The trick is to not allow yourself to fall into that state of mind where you hear, but do not listen, where you see, but do not visualize. Some of my best images have been random moments I stumble into. Those are rare. What I have discovered over the years is I can create more consistent quality images if I allow myself to listen with my eyes while I am visualizing with my heart.

The two work together. Using one or the other by itself will often fall short. If I listen with my eyes, but fail to visualize beyond what I am seeing, or if I try to visualize an image, but fail to observe, or listen to what I am seeing, the results are often sub-par.

In all honesty, I am not so sure I can fully explain this concept in such a way as to make it clear. The best way I suppose is to provide an example. Take the image shown above. The creek was running high and flowing over the top of the low water bridge. There was motion, there was the rushing sound of the water as it fell over the edge, there was the light, the reflections, the lines. It was the kind of scene one could easily miss because of the complexity of the visual references being presented.

As a photographer, my purpose is to find order amongst the chaos. In this instance I used a small zoom lense to tighten the visual look. I angled the camera to position the movement into an array of lines and angles. I let the light play across the textures of the flowing water and used a fast shutter to capture the moment. I listened with my eyes to what was being played out in front of me, and before I snapped the image, I saw the finsihed product as black and white in my heart.

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