Learning to see

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Some time after I’d caught the photography bug as a means of expression, my wife put me into photography boot camp. It was a time as an apprentice, or learner, if you will. My early photographic attempts had focused more on gear (who doesn’t love gear?) and pretty colors and the sharpest images possible (because a sharp picture is a good picture, right?). My wife at first encouraged me to look beyond the obvious and to use that approach in my photography. But my left-brained mind struggled to understand visual concepts so she put me in black & white photography boot camp to limit my choices and make me work within a set of parameters. For a year, I could only take and post photos in black & white. It was the best thing that could have happened to me as I began to move away from photographing a flower or a bird or a mountain as just objects and began to understand how lines, shapes, contrast, and so on could be used as tools to tell a story or evoke an emotion.

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During that time of restriction I fell in love with black & white photography. Not that I mastered visual storytelling (I still have a lot to learn) but it helped me see things better, or differently, by focusing on shapes and not on what something is or isn’t.

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Over time I’ve migrated away from black & white photography, opting again for the color world. But when I do that, I often slip back into bad habits and it helps to go back to black & white for a time as a challenge. I find rainy dreary days like today difficult to capture in black & white. And yet, the challenge of walking through our yard and attempting to see beyond color is always a fun and rewarding experience as I look for shapes I normally don’t “see.”

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Sometimes I need the discipline of restricted choices to help me see other options. And I’m thankful my wife helped open my eyes to more than just color and objects as photographic choices.

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However, sometimes I still take pictures of birds (in this case, a bird cutout) just because they’re birds.

 

4 thoughts on “Learning to see

  1. You’re absolutely right, Fred. Black & White can be more challenging, but also more rewarding. And when you know you’re looking for a monochrome image, it does help you to see things that otherwise your eyes might just pass over – and that can only be a good thing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! Yes, she’s wise indeed. Although maybe she did want me out of the house…ha ha, I hadn’t thought of that angle. She’s a keeper and we’re into our fourth decade together!

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