We have another Photo Premium tutorial exclusively available to Premium members today. In this tutorial, we’ll be exploring photographic vision and learning how to adapt our eyes to see as cameras do. Learn more at the jump!
The camera doesn't 'see' the world the same way that the human eye does. Good photographers learn how their cameras 'see' and exploit this to create better images. An understanding of the differences between the way that a camera records light, and the way the brain interprets the information sent to it by our eyes, will help you create better photos. This ability to picture how a camera will record a scene is called visualization – a skill that all photographers need to practice.
Two dimensions not three
Our vision is stereoscopic. Humans have two eyes, and each looks at something from a slightly different angle. This enables us to judge distance and determine how close objects are to each other.
Stereoscopic cameras aside, cameras see through a single lens, and record the world in two dimensional images. We may not even realize this until it is pointed out; as we are accustomed to seeing two dimensional representations in the form of paintings, drawings and photographs.
Photographers don't have to worry about rendering depth too much as cameras take care of the business of accurately recording the scene in front of the lens. But we always need to be aware that the camera records an image with different characteristics than the one we perceive with our eyes.
Digital cameras have made the process of visualization much easier. All you need to do is to look at the image on the camera's LCD screen to see how it has been rendered in two dimensions. You can also use the camera's Live View feed to compose the image in the first place, rather than a viewfinder. These tools are useful because they help you visualize how your photos will look after you have processed them. And if something doesn't come out the way you planned, you have an opportunity to try again.
How our eyes work
Our eyes are constantly moving, taking in different aspects of the scene and adjusting instantly to changes in brightness. The brain takes this information and builds it up into a selective, moving image. How many times have you failed to notice something that is literally right in front of you? That's the result of your brain's selective vision.
Cameras are different. If the aperture is small enough, everything from the front to the back of the image is in focus and recorded in exquisite detail. You only have to enlarge an image taken with a modern digital camera on your computer to appreciate the resolution of modern cameras and optics.
Composition and backgrounds
Our eyes and brains are selective – when we look at something we tend to look at what interests us and ignore the rest. The camera records everything, so we need to find ways of guiding the viewer to look at whatever the photographer deems important. One way to do this is by being selective – close in on your subject and try to exclude anything that is a distraction.
If you're taking a portrait, for example, and someone is walking by in the background; that's a distraction. Your brain may ignore it when you're looking at the person you're photographing, but the camera will record it. Eliminating distractions helps simplify your composition and improve your photos.
Tune in for more
Didn’t hear about Photo Premium? You can find out more here. It’s an additional, in-depth article, published each week just for our Premium subscribers (on top of all our regular free content!)
Join Premium and Expand Your Photography Knowledge!
This is a really interesting technique to perfect, and you’ll be really pleased with the result! This Premium tutorial will help you get started with ease.
For those unfamiliar, the family of Tuts+ sites runs a premium membership service. For $19 per month, you gain access to exclusive premium tutorials, screencasts, and freebies from Phototuts+, Nettuts+, Psdtuts+, Cgtuts+,Activetuts+, Aetuts+, Audiotuts+, and Vectortuts+! For the price of a pizza, you’ll learn from some of the best minds in the business.
What Do You Want to See on Premium?
Is there a specific technical aspect of photography that you really want to learn more about? How about a very advanced technique that you could never quite grasp fully?
We really want to make our Premium content as relevant and useful to you as possible, so do send through your comments and requests to firstname.lastname@example.org. Let us know what you want to see, and we’ll commission top-notch photographers to teach you!