What the Camera Sees is What You Get


As artists working with the camera, something that we need to remember is that the camera observes the world differently than we do.  It has happened to me on more occasions than I would like to admit.   Your eye embraces a great scene. We are sometimes overwhelmed with sights, smells and tactual sensations of the breeze on your skin or mist from a waterfall.   You think that you have thought of everything and then your emotions override the process of taking the photo. When you get the finished image from the printer or you see it on the computer screen.  You scream, What happened to my masterpiece?

It may not be your fault,  but it could  a disconnect between how you as a human perceives the outer world as opposed to how, the tool, the camera, records the world.

Let’s look at how the camera sees its surroundings.  The camera, regardless of how sophisticated, has certain limitations.  Most importantly, it has only one eye.  Why should that matter to the photographer?  Because the camera cannot distinguish between objects in the distance and far away.  It flattens the scene.  With two eyes we perceive the depth of field.  The mountain in the distance is farther away and the tree closer.  It keeps us from walking into things .

But what be done, you ask?  There are things that you as a photographer can do to overcome this obstacle.

First thing that you will want to do, now that you know that the camera has only one eye, is to mimic the camera.  When you find the scene that you want to shoot, close one eye and look at the scene again.  It looks different doesn’t it?

Second thing is, look around and see if there is anything that would add depth to the shot.  By this I mean, find something in the area that will frame the main subject.  Something like a tree branch, arches through a wall or an outcropping of rocks.  Something in the foreground or in edges of the viewfinder frame that is closer than the main subject.  The human eye will add depth to the photo when there is an object in foreground.

Pacific Coast
An example of using the foreground to add depth

Another weather related trick to adding depth is mist or fog.  Objects further away seems to fade and the further objects almost disappear.  This creates a sense of depth for the viewer.

Foggy afternoon on a north carolina mountain
An example of using fog to create depth

Look for lines that extend into the scene.  A road will become narrower as it stretches into the distance.  This adds depth as well.

Country Lane
An example of a road narrowing into the distance giving depth to photo

Experiment with these photography tips and just get out there and shot. And by all means, have fun.

About Gregory Colvin

Gregory Colvin Photography

“Inspiration for my art is found in the natural world. Being in the midst of nature is a tranquil and revitalizing experience. Early morning and late afternoon light paints the landscape with a soft glow, fog and mist create an air of mystery. Sunbeams streaming through the tree branches craft portals of mystic radiance. Reflections on lakes and streams produce a picturesque spectacle. Using the camera as a paintbrush, I attempt to recreate these visual sensations and share them with others. My mission is to share a love of the earth and a desire to protect it.”


U.S. Federal Government-F CCPAC Art Project- Seven pieces for new building in Orlando, Florida
ArtBuzz, The 2010 Collection- 1st Place for Photography –juried art book
Tampa Bay Business Journal- Book of Lists 2010- Artist- Chosen for the collection
Tampa Bay Business Journal- Book of Lists 2008- Artist-Chosen for the collection.
Manatee Art Festival-Honorable Mention-Photography Division Crystal River, Florida
Upper Tampa Bay Library Westchase Florida- Four pieces purchased by the Friends of the Upper Tampa Bay Library Art Committee and displayed in the newly completed library.
Tampa General Hospital- two pieces placed in the permanent collection for the new addition to the hospital.
“Make a Habitat of Art”- Habitat for Humanity Juried Silent Auction Fund Raiser – Two pieces accepted for auction
Keystone Civic Association Brochure- photography included in the permanent brochure, Keystone/Odessa
ArtBuzz, The Book- 2008 Collection- Juried art book created for collectors and art galleries internationally.
Hilton Hotels Homewood Suites- 5325 Avion Park Drive, Tampa Florida- Purchased for art collection.

Juried Art Shows and Exhibits

Naples Museum of Art 2009 “Florida Contemporary Exhibition” May-June 2009
Nancy Jacey Gallery- “Treasures of Perception” Show – September 2008
Nancy Jacey Gallery- “Art at the Speed of Light” Show- June 2008
Fifth Ave. Gallery-“100% Pure Florida” Melbourne Florida
Tarpon Springs 33rd Annual Art Festival- Tarpon Springs Florida-2007
Boca Raton Museum Fine Art Show- Boca Raton Florida-2007
ArtiGras-North Palm Beach-2007
St. Johns Fine Art Show-St. Johns-Jacksonville Florida-2006
Art Harvest-Dunedin, Florida-2006
New Tampa Arts “Under the Oaks”-New Tampa, Florida-2006
Downtown Art and Living Expo-Orlando Florida-2006
Manatee Fine Art Show-Crystal River Florida-2006
Kiwanis Art Show- Safety Harbor, Florida-2005

Category(s): Better photography tips, Fine Art Photography Tips

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