The Vision Thing

I've just landed in Port Moresby in Papua New Guinea, and have a couple of days before I get on MV Golden Dawn. Haven't slept much over the past 72 hours, so in theory, I should crash, but I'm too wired to sleep, and I have an enormous backlog of correspondence and work, as well as scientific documents to read (that should put me to sleep!).

Anyway, while I'm in this semi-conscious, semi-zombie state, I thought it might be worth elaborating a bit more on the vision theme.

I wrote about this topic in my recent article in Wetpixel Quarterly and also in my King Kong crab post a couple of days ago.

In essence, one of the main points I try to get across in workshops, trips with other people and such, is that sometimes what you see is more important than what's actually there.

Here's an example of what I mean:


Similar to the thought process I outlined in my post about the King Kong crab, this photo is more of a "this is what I want you to see" than "this is what I saw" image.

What I actually saw was a cute little nudibranch sitting in good afternoon light. What I wanted you to see was a majestic, almost magical animal that popped out from a dark, somewhat ominous Lembeh-esque background.

Whether I succeeded or not is a matter of interpretation, but my point is that if you want to take original photos, it's often worth pausing to consider the artistic possibilities.

Had I placed one strobe to the right, one strobe to the left, set appropriate shutter, aperture and ISO for a technically correct exposure, no doubt I would have taken a nice photo of an attractive nudibranch, but that's more of a technical exercise than an artistic endeavour.

Don't get me wrong. There's nothing wrong with taking technically spot-on, accurate images. You need to be able to do that without even thinking about it.

But occasionally, when circumstances permit (such as with a non-moving nudibranch), it's nice to challenge yourself to see something that other people might not see...and then show them. other thing. Nine times out of 10, when I try something different, it doesn't turn out the way I wanted, or ends up not looking as nice as I envisioned. Sometimes that's due to a bad concept; other times, it's because I wasn't able to work out technical execution. Doesn't really matter though, because the one time out of 10 that everything works...I end up with something I really like.

In can't get to the one without going through the first nine.