Tuesday, March 07, 2006

It's about seeing, not buying

click photo to enlarge
The camera doesn't make a bit of difference. All of them can record what you are seeing. But, you have to SEE.
Ernest Haas (1921-1986), Austrian-born "Magnum" photographer

Are cameras male jewellery? You might think so the way some men appear to collect them, wear them and replace them. Perhaps they fulfill the need of certain men (it's rarely women) to fiddle with technical objects. For some it's motorcycles, for others its cars or computers or hifi, and for a particular group it's cameras, lenses, flashguns, etc. It seems to me that many cameras are bought (and replaced) for reasons that have very little to do with taking photographs! The short product cycles and "technological advances" of digital cameras exacerbate this tendency.

What Ernest Haas said in the era of traditional photography remains true in the digital age: the camera isn't that important if what you want to do is produce good photographs - what matters is the eye behind it. Like many amateur photographers I have spent years trying to train my eye to see the possibilities in my surroundings. But sometimes the obvious gets overlooked. The room next to my office had new blinds fitted several months ago, and I've entered the room daily since then. But recently, when the sun was shining through the bare branches of the trees, throwing their shadows and the stronger shadows of the window frame on to the blinds, I saw them as if for the first time. And I took this photograph.

I make no great claims for this simple shot. However, it pleases me for its colour, the strong but irregular zig-zag patterns, the softer transition between the slats, and the diffused shadows cast by the trees. I selected the area to use in the picture, ensuring a dark vertical was one third of the way from the left. This image is a reminder to me that looking more carefully is the key to improving my photography, not buying the next high-tech offering from Canon, Nikon, Olympus or whoever.
photograph & text (c) T. Boughen