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CCYL 1: How Your Camera is Not Like Your Eye

Since most of us are stuck inside our homes or yards, I decided to rerun a series I did several years ago, called Cee’s Compose Yourself Lesson (CCYL).  This is not a challenge, but I suggest you play with new ideas or ways of looking at taking photos.  Hopefully this will fill your day with a little excitement and joy.  Please feel free to play along and join in the fun.

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

This photo is of the tulip fields in the early season. This photo just looks flat because there is no point of interest to catch your eye. A rookie mistake of mine (many years ago).

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.

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.

Here I was trying to take a photo of the squirrel.  Notice the background I have the ocean and stray grass which all takes away from the squirrel.

In this next photo, I cropped the photo (since I took the photo many years ago).  The result is you can see the main object of the photo better.

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 18-24mm or something smaller (10-18mm if you have a wide angle lens) 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.

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

I’ve gathered a list of challenges and their hosts.  So if you know a challenge host, please direct them to my blog.  Feel free to contact me anytime.  I hope everyone will be able to use my lists.

Qi (energy) hugs


30 replies »

  1. Thanks for the first lesson. I need something to distract me of I have to socially distance.


  2. Thanks for rerunning this series Cee. I enjoyed it so much last time. With limited opportunities to go anywhere, it will be a reason to go out and take photos in the neighbourhood.


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Pick Me Up

never look directly at the sun, instead, look at the sunflower, uplift, motivate, photography, Cee Neuner,, sunflower, macro, yellow

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