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Cee’s Compose Yourself Challenge: Week #1 How Your Camera is Not Like Your Eye

092915ccyWeekly Essay

Your eye sees 180 degrees or better in all directions, where your camera only has a limited focal view.

Looking through the camera is not quite as three dimensional as your own vision. The lens flattens things out. That’s why pictures of something large, like the Grand Canyon, can look flat and boring when taken by an amateur photographer. They see the spectacle before them and try to capture its three dimensions on a flat piece of film, or in this age, a flat smart card.

You have to mentally put your picture in a frame to see what it will look like after you press the shutter.

Even though you’re looking through a view finder, or on a view screen, if you are composing the picture with the memory of what you see through your eye’s field of vision and ignoring what is framed in the viewfinder or on the screen, the picture that results will be different than the one you have imagined.

Your Turn

Practice looking at the world through a viewfinder. Use your camera or cut a piece of cardboard to mimic the view through your camera and just walk around, using that to see your world in a different way.

When you look through a view finder, your eye tends to look directly in the middle. You don’t “see” the outside. Make sure your picture won’t have unwanted distractions. Look at the entire picture as it appears in your viewfinder before snapping the shutter. Ignore everything else that you can see in your peripheral vision.

Another way to see things differently is to change the focal length (zoom) of your camera. If you tend to always zoom in and take macros, pull it back out to 24mm or something larger to get more of a wide angle effect. Keep that setting and force yourself to look at things from that perspective. If you find yourself automatically adjusting the zoom, you can tape your camera at that position so that you resist the temptation to change it back to where you’re most comfortable. Force yourself out of your comfort zone.

The Challenge

Post pictures of your comfort zone in terms of focal length from the subject. Then add photos the new ways that you’ve tried. Add comments and tell us how that change in perspective felt to you. What did you learn about yourself? About your vision of the world? About your camera?

Most importantly, did you have fun?

Extra credit for Gold Star Award:   Post pictures of the same subject at different focal lengths, and tell us which one shot you liked best and why.  (Please see About CCY section below for description of Gold Star Award.)

Current Series – Basic Photo Composition

  • Week #1 How your camera is not like your eye
  • Week #2 What all good composed photos have in common
  • Week #3 Always take more than one photo
  • Week #4 Simplicity

The Next Series – All About Lines

  • Week #5 Leading Lines
  • Week #6 Horizontal Lines
  • Week #7 Vertical Lines
  • Week #8 Diagonal Lines

About Cee’s Compose Yourself Photo Challenge (CCY)

CCY will be a combination “tips and tricks” combined with a photo challenge. The challenge runs every week. There will be a brief essay about some aspect of photographic composition, along with examples of the points being illustrated. Your challenge will be to post photographs that you feel illustrate those principles.

There will be weekly features just like all my other photo challenges.

CCY Gold Star Award will be given to one blogger each week and have their photo displayed.  To be eligible for the Gold Star Award you need to have completed the bonus for the week.

Create a CCY Post

      1. Then add a link to your blog in my comment box.
      2. To make it easy for others to check out your photos and post, title your blog post “Cee’s Compose Yourself Photo Challenge” or “CCY” tag.
      3. Remember to Follow My Blog to get your weekly reminders.

I usually will respond to your entry on your blog, rather than on my page.

Please check out my CCY to check out more of what this challenge is about. If you adore challenges as much as I do, please check out WordPress’s Blog Event Listing for other challenges.

CCY Badge

Save the badge to your computer and upload from there.


Still have questions? Please contact me.

My Entry for the Week

Most of you already know that I like close up and macros photos.  Flower are my specialty, but I will take a close up of most anything.



Here are a couple of photos I have taken at a much lower focal point.



My bonus photos

This the is Astoria Column in Astoria, Oregon.   I was using my 70-300mm lens.  This first shot I took at 70mm so I could get nearly the entire column in the photo.  I was not able to get the bottom platform though.


This next photo I stood in the same place and took a photo of just the top part of the tower.  This photo is more my normal comfort zone.  I also switched the photo to a landscape format.


Qi (energy) hugs


65 replies »

  1. Oh Cee, I’m excited about this. I love taking photos but I don’t really “know” what I’m doing in a technical sense. Thank you for starting this series. 🙂


  2. Thank you for sharing your knowledge with us! This will definitely be an interesting challenge to participate in. I’m already trying to think of somewhere to take photos. Your photos of the Astoria Column demonstrate the concept so perfectly!


  3. Very informative. Now I have an idea as to why my photos tend to look flat and I’m not happy with them. I tend to play with zoom a lot trying to get the perfect photo. I recently bought a 50mm lens and I love it, it’s forcing me to think about the photo and I have a deeper appreciation for composition with that lens.


    • You don’t have to use new photos. I know for us who have tons of archives it is sometimes easier. I know I can’t always go out and get new photos.


  4. Wonderfully fun and fascinating challenge, Cee! This is something I definitely need to work on. Love your two photos of the tower – especially the last one. What a difference between the two perspectives!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Actually you can buy (or ask for a paper plane) to through off the top. I actually got a photo of something throwing one down. Money probably goes to a charity.


  5. What an interesting tower, Cee. 🙂 Nice to see you moving on with the challenges. This one will be too technical for me but I like to observe.


  6. I just love your photography Cee. The last two ‘bonus’ images were magnificent and really drove your point home for this challenge. I think that this new challenge is fantastic and I hope to participate in the future when I get to Sydney in mid-October and my life is a bit more stable. But I will keep in mind the lesson here today as I walk the streets of Noumea before we depart for Australia.


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