Monday, 16 May 2011

The Photographer’s Eye

The Photographer's Eye by Michael Freeman is the core text associated with this course, and many of the chapters are amplifications of the material in the course book. Two sections I found particularly helpful were Gestalt Perception and Reaction.

Gestalt perception discusses the theory that there is a holistic approach to perception, that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts and the ‘ the mind takes a sudden leap from recognising the individual components to understanding the scene in its entirety.’ (Michael Freeman , The Photographer’s Eye, p38.)
The Gestalt Theory of perception stems from work by German psychologists in the 1920’s. Gestalt = ‘organised whole’. describes the original theory and gives examples of the 6 main principles of it. These principles act as a form of mental ‘shortcut’ to help with perceptual understanding.  Making a photographic image involves assessing a complex scenes and somehow organising it to make an image  that shows the main features.
Many of the activities in this course involve separating out he parts of the image making process so that we are Aware of them, however, it then becomes important to reassemble them into a coherent and rapidly utilisable whole when taking an image which one might only have limited time to acquire.

Reaction (p.164) discusses this further, and talks about practising ‘techniques ‘until they become instinctive, which then allows you to put them all together rapidly to take the shot. Freeman discusses the similarity of the concept to Zen thinking, especially as described in the book ‘Zen and the Art of Archery’ by Herrigal. ‘a lightening reaction which has no further need of conscious observation’. This clearly applies more to street photography rather than still lifes, but even here the less the brain has to consider techniques the more the brain can consider the image.

Therefore – practice, practice and more practice.

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