All about Composition and your Camera
Eyes and the Lens
Eyes and the Lens
Our eyes are a pair of very versatile instruments.
Confronted with a landscape, they are seldom inclined to take in the general impression as a whole, but will be fixed for a fraction of a second on a group of trees in the foreground, then quickly follow the bends of s stream, rest on a swallow swooping down on it, fly up with the bird to the clouds, and all of a sudden come down to a little group of bright flowers somewhere in a meadow ; to be diverted again by a butterfly, or even by the foreign sensation of a sound in an entirely different direction.
The space in front of us may be much more limited, yet our eyes never seem to be resting. Instead of regarding Cousin John as a self contained portrait unit, those eyes of ours jump restlessly about from his hair to his shave, from his tie to his waistcoat buttons, from his pockets to his shoelaces, prompting our brains too all sorts of observations and more or less unkind if suppressed remarks.
The trouble is that our eyes do not stare or at least normally they do not. But the lens of the camera does. It stares most uncompromisingly.
Once fixed on a subject, it registers it will all conceivable detail, in its full width and depth, rigidly sharp and putting every part of the picture into its right place : the mathematically correct perspective. Cousin John's face will appear just as sharp and not all more important that half a dozen quaint souvenirs on the mantelpiece, in front of which he happened to sit ; and the inkstand, half-way between him and the camera, will suddenly grow to the monumental dominance of some historic sculpture. Have your eyes noticed that inkstand before? Have they seen at all that he was sitting with his head leaning towards the mantelpiece? Of course they have not. They have been occupied all the time with John in general. But not your lens. That lens did not allow itself to be distracted, and has been imperturbably staring all the time at all sorts of details. That lens does not distinguish and it does not select. It is a mechanical device; it is not only termed an "objective", but is objective and acts objectively.