As a photographer I have often struggled with trying to make the sharpest, most technically correct images possible. I read a lot of equipment reviews to determine which camera/lens combos will give me the level of detail and realism so desired. Lenses with the best optics will provide me sharp images from center to corner of the image. But is this really the way our eyes see?

In reading the Jan. ’09 issue of  American Art Collector magazine, this very issue was brought home to me in a feature on artist Vincent Giarrano, a realist painter. The article states “He prefers his images to be close to how our eyes see, not in precise focus like a camera, but with focal points and softer peripheral vision.”  I don’t have perfect vision and when I focus on something I often don’t even notice what the corners of my vision see. Often in making images, I go out of my way to represent soft backgrounds and foregrounds in order to isolate the subject. Work being done with special lenses (e.g., Lensbaby) have become popular because of their ability to de-focus parts of an image. Some photographers still purposely darken the corners of their prints to help draw the eye to the center (something called vignetting which is not usually desirable of lenses).

It helps me to read how artists in other mediums think about their work and vision. I like a sharply rendered image of some subjects, but certainly I need not freak out about the ultimate quality of any particular lens or camera. It’s not natural.




8 thoughts on “The Eyes Have It

  1. So welcome to the world of keeping it simple, the world in a way that most individuals will see, and a world that seems to possess more of the real art that is to be found in nature.
    It’s more natural! 🙂

    And hey dude, … love this image.
    Probably one of the most beautiful of all creatures that exists out in the wild!


  2. Hey Michael – I hear ya man, it’s always a good reminder. I agree too that they snowy owl is a fabulous subject. Maybe the top species that I’ve worked with that I’d want to see again.

  3. This made me think of Robert Kurson’s book, The Man who Dared to See–about a man who was blinded at age 3 regains his vision as an adult, and has to learn how to see, because all the visual stimuli made no sense to him. When I make mosaics, I am fascinated by how the eye can see a whole, even though I use hundreds of small pieces.

  4. Hi Margaret, thanks for the visit! Your comments are interesting and remind me how much I learned to see as film does and as a camera and lens do. That allows me to pre-visualize how a scene or subject will translate as a print.

  5. Sweet image Paul. It is an interesting balance isn’t it – what we see with our eyes vs. what we may envision with our minds? Often I also think about that human beings are not the only ones that have eyes and how does the world look to another creature? If we could only know… because the world is not simply defined in appearance by the dominant species with language skills! 🙂

  6. Mark – you’re absolutely right. And here’s the kicker – as photographers, what we “see with our minds” is so heavily influenced by what we “see” with camera and lens (or darkroom/lightroom)! I doubt I see anything the way I used to before seeing things as a photographer.

  7. Another great shot. I love the contrast in colors. The cool blue of the sky against the warm tans of the plants are great.
    Ironically I was just commenting on the “camera vs. eye” thing to my hubby the other day. As amazing as modern digital cameras are, they’re still NO match for the ability of the human eye (particularly in combination with the brain.) Adjustments I have to make manually on my camera are done instantly & without thought by the eye. Sometimes I wish my camera had “eye/brain power.”

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