At What Point Do We See?

09Aug13

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At work I was talking with a friend about one of my photographs hanging in my office, one of the few that I have ever printed. It is an older print from the Ground series, actually one of the photographs that inspired the series. We are both designers and he is also a part-time photographer with the same time challenges I face. In my photograph he saw something I did not see, and I explained what I saw in the photograph. Two people, two views of the same frame. Which prompted further discussion about what and when we see.

As it was, he saw geometry and tension and pattern. I saw the ground, dirt, pebbles, plants, dry summer grass, color and texture, borderlands between path and wildness. Fact is, he is a better designer than I am and very astute in observing graphical patterns.

I rarely go out looking for the images that I eventually capture. More often than not I simply take advantage of a short window of free time or I simply need to get outdoors, and I snap away taking pictures of things that catch my eye. It is not until I get home, download the photos and begin to see what’s there that I actually see the picture, see the image or scene or pattern. Walking around and looking around is an active process that rarely involves, for me anyway, passive, focused viewing of a pre-visualized image. Over time I have become more purposeful because I’m learning from what I’m seeing, but still, most of the time I’m simply being opportunistic.

In a recent post I explored looking even deeper into a single picture to see what’s there at a macro level. The interesting thing about this process is that it involves a static image taken at a single moment in time that can be studied and seen over and over again over time. The static image becomes a sort of moving picture.

Back to my original questions, when do we see the picture that we end up with?

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