How to Photograph what you can not see. And why this concept is possibly the most important step in a photographer development.

 

“As a photographer, I’m primarily interested in things I can’t see.”

~ Carl Bower

 

 

 

Here is an important concept for new photographers; New photographers tend to take those pictures, which their eyes can see. Experienced photographers tend to make photographs based on what they can pre-visualize will happen in-camera (or in later post production.)

Possibly, the most significant step that a photographer might take on their road to building experience, is the ability to Pre-Visualize. This is a very significant shift in mindset for anyone who is wanting to develop their photographic skills.

Let me explain.

I’m a landscape photographer, so for me an exciting time to photograph is early morning. At this hour, time, movement and light can easily play together and work their magic inside my camera. Low light means longer exposures. Therefore, in one still image you can capture a long period of time, and with time you can capture movement. The clouds move, the waves roll and light reflects off all that it touches. The results can be a beautiful soft and dreamy image where many elements in the photograph can mix in together.

However, photography in this environment can be tricky because you are photographing something which you can not see. Our eyes can not see movement blurred together as a single image. Our eyes don’t see morning colours as they really are; the human eye adjusts quickly to colour temperatures and can hide their true beauty. Our eyes also can’t see how extreme low light might look when exposed in a camera for a few minutes. In fact, for many of the things which can make for a beautiful photograph, our human eyes just will not see. This is trap for many keen photographers as they tend to try and photograph only what they can see.

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