Zoom out in your mind

Have you ever noticed the way in which you seem to be able to focus on just one object of a scene (say a spoon on a table or a shop’s signboard on a street) when in fact your eyes are covering an entire scene? No? Make a mental note of the way you look at things the next time you walk down a busy street or drive down a busy road. [If you live in India you’ll always notice the cyclists in the middle of the road, or the Public Transport buses barreling down on you…]

I think of this as a biological zoom function. This concentration on a single object can happen while you’re taking your photograph and you’re following the proceedings in one section of the frame intently. This is OK if you’re an experienced photographer and you know that you need to remember your framing, but it could lead to clutter and an ambiguous photograph if you’re just starting off in the world of photography.

It is always a good thing for the photographer to take a look at the entire scene – sometimes outside, and sometimes inside the camera’s frame – to actually ‘see’ the various other elements that will be part of the scene being photographed; to evaluate how these elements can either add to, or detract from a composition and frame his photographs accordingly.

Often, the photographer’s biological zoom turns on while he’s using a wide angle lens, and though he can see just a certain part of the photograph, the camera is still going to take a picture of the entire scene. In this case, taking a look at the entire frame, and consciously registering its edges will help establish the size-distance relationship between the actual object being photographed and its framing in the camera. Doing this always prevents those pictures where you can’t really make out why the picture was taken in the first place!

Happy ‘Biological’ Zooming!

We’ll be doing a series of small articles where we talk about how the mind interprets the images that we actually see and makes it more pertinent to our immediate needs (which are not usually tuned to photography).

If you find this article interesting and have something to share, do add a comment at the bottom of this post.