© Amaury Descours

Why is photography anything but natural and instinctive?

Vision is part of our 5 senses. It’s innate and effortless for us.  But why is it so complicated to see through a camera?

You’ll find out, it’s totally counter-intuitive. That’s because your camera is too perfect!

Indeed, your camera strictly applies the laws of optics. It scores A+ in physical sciences, where your eye (and brain) is a creative dunce…

In 3 truths, I’ll explain why your eye cheats your camera!

Truth #1. Your Eye Knows How To Isolate Your Subject

Your eye has 2 brilliant faculties: it can see very wide, and see in relief thanks to your 2nd eye.

Your eye can sense everything around you without changing direction. It compares easily with the best wide-angle camera lenses.

However, if you stare at something in front of you (a person, an object, an animal,…), then everything around you no longer counts. Your brain allows you to focus on your subject and make you forget the rest.

Moreover with 3D vision, you can see your subject with the depth that allows you to detach it from its environment.

Your camera can’t do any of this: it shows you a flattened subject in its environment, with a 2D image without depth.

Truth #2. Your Eye Can See Under All Light Conditions

Your eye has 2 other extraordinary abilities with brightness and colors.

Your eye can see at night simply by moonlight, like in the middle of the day under a blazing sun. Yet the difference in light quantity is phenomenal.

Your camera cannot do this: it is only able to see certain amounts of light, and only according to exposure settings to ambient lighting.

Your eye always knows what is white wether it is the light of a bulb, in direct sunlight or under an overcast sky. Yet the color waves that make up these lights are totally different.

Your camera doesn’t know how to do this: it only knows the size of the light wave lengths that hit its sensor, but it doesn’t know which color they correspond to.

Truth #3. Your Eye Knows How to Preserve the Geometry of Things

Your eye allows you to see things as they are in reality, not as your retina perceives them.

Your eye can correct rounded deformations due to its spherical shape. You see the horizon line straight and not curved, or a plumb line falling straight and not curved.

Your eye can also recognize tall objects and tip them so that they remain vertical. When you look up at a building, you do not see it fall backwards.

Your camera can’t do any of this.

If the lens is too rounded, your photo will have a fisheye effect (you know, like with GoPro cameras).
If your camera raises its lens to frame a building, the vertical perspective will cause the building to fall backwards.

The Eye Is Not a Simple Camera

In fact, your eye and brain don’t just see: they know how to look, interpret and highlight what’s important to you!

Seeing is an experience, whereas a photo is only the result of optical laws.

Your camera is a simple machine that has no awareness of what it captures.

Making a picture that fits your visual experience is a creative effort!

To make your photos really great, you must divert a scientifically correct result to simulate the image of your visual experience:

Otherwise you will never be able to convey your emotions, if they have been mistreated by the laws of optics.

And taking a picture that doesn’t share the emotions you felt during shooting…it’s a failed picture.

What Do You Think?

Were you aware of the limitations of your camera? Are its constraints roadblocks to succeed in your photos?

Leave me your comment, I will answer with pleasure.

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