Sometimes the best thing you can do to improve your photography is leave your camera at home.
Yes, practice is imperative if you want to improve. You do need to learn to work your camera instinctively and make a mastery of the technical aspects needed to create beautiful images.
Randall Munroe over at XKCD posted this fascinating comic today that demonstrates some of the peculiarities of human vision. Roll up a piece of paper to set your eyes the correct distance from the screen, and then observe how they perceive things like detail, color, polarization, and more. Click the image above for the large version.
Visual Field by XKCD (via Boing Boing)
One tip that instructors often pass onto the beginning photographers is to use their dominant eye (i.e. the eye they prefer seeing with) to look through the viewfinder. If you want to find out which of your eyes is the dominant one, here’s a quick test you can do: extend your arms straight out and form a small triangle with your hands. Looking through the triangle with both eyes open, frame something nearby (e.g. a doorknob) and place it in the center of the triangle. Then close your eyes one at a time without moving the triangle — your dominant eye is the one that placed the object in the center.
Interestingly enough, many people (myself included) choose to use their right eye for their viewfinder even though the left one is dominant — likely because it’s the way they started shooting from the beginning.
Want to see how your eyes stack up against other photographers when it comes to seeing colors? Try your hand at Color, a simple browser-based color matching game that tests you in how quickly you can match colors. It starts with simple matching, but soon moves onto more difficult challenges involving multiple colors. Be sure to leave a comment here reporting on the score you get!
Color: A color matching game (via Fstoppers)
In a paper published in Science this week, Japanese researchers reported on a discovery that jumping spiders use a method for gauging distance called “image defocus”, which no other living organism is known to use. Rather than use focusing and stereoscopic vision like humans or head-wobbling motion parallax like birds, the spiders have two green-detecting layers in their eyes — one in focus and one not. By comparing the two, the spiders can determine the distance from objects. Scientists discovered that bathing spiders in pure red light “breaks” their distance measuring ability.
Here’s something that’ll blow your mind (sorry that it’s an ad): stare at the colored dots on this girl’s nose for 30 seconds, then quickly look at a white wall or ceiling (or anything pure white) and start blinking rapidly. Congratulations, you just processed a negative with your brain!
(via eject via Rob Sheridan)
P.S. Next time you’re in the photo lab, try doing this trick with your loupe and lightbox to save yourself some test prints.
Here’s a quick and simple tip for better portraits by Reddit user rmx_:
Everyone has a lazy eye. By that, I mean one eye is always smaller and/or more closed than the other eye. In some people, it is very easy to spot; in others, nearly impossible. The “beautiful people” have more symmetrical faces, but still, one eye will open more than the other. (Denzel Washington has one of the most I have seen [...])
[...] here is the tip: get the smaller/lazier eye slightly closer to the camera. Oh, and don’t tell the person what you’re looking at their eyes for! You’ll make them self conscious. Simply ask them to look at your finger and move their head to follow it, and then guide them left or right as necessary. Chances are, the movement needed will not be so much that you have to adjust your lights.
You can read more about how facial symmetry relates to beauty in this Wikipedia article.
Image credit: Man portrait by Yuri Samoilov
Photographer Daniel Fox captured this beautiful (and spooky) photograph of dozens of pairs of caiman eyes staring back at him in the darkness.
Depending on the angle between the reptile and the camera flash, a different colour is produced. Caiman eyes have a layer called tapetum behind their retina, containing crystals that reflect light and make night vision possible. [#]
The photograph was made at a Yacare Pora farm in Ituzaingo, Argentina.
Image credit: Photograph by Daniel Fox and used with permission
After seeing his close-up photographs of human eyes become enormously popular last year, photographer Suren Manvelyan turned to a more difficult subject: animals. He somehow managed to create a series of photographs showing the stunning eyes of animals ranging from crocodiles to horses.
We’ve shared a couple stories in the past month on how human eyes are very subjective and horrible as light meters, and here’s yet another mind-boggling example of how easily our eyes can be fooled by context. In the image above, the “blue” and the “green” stripes are exactly the same color.
(via Top Cultured)