Noticing

I used to say one of the major reasons that I took pictures was because it kept me looking out the window.

I am a huge reader. Not quite the epic reader that my sister is, but still. On car trips as kids we used to read the whole way. People would always ask don’t you get car sick? Nope, not even on highway 1 through big sur, though that ability has diminished somewhat, though I was able to survive the Nurburgring at super high speeds looking through a telephoto lens bouncing around aimed at the car in front of us, but I digress. I read instead of looked out the window. My mom would always be trying to get us to look at something interesting.

Once I took up photography, the type A part of me knew that there were interesting things out there, and now that I was fitted with a camera, I could record them. Huge type A so suddenly it was a game, so suddenly I was looking out the window. I may not have gotten great images, but I was getting the reward of looking out the window and seeing.

I’d see cool textures, or notice graffiti, or funny signs. The sort of thing you do while travelling in a foreign country, but don’t do in your home town.

But somehow I’ve gotten jaded with my photography. I used to notice professional photographers that wouldn’t photograph because it wasn’t the best light or it was just a “nice” waterfall. I think this comes with constantly trying to top your portfolio, rather than record the interesting things you see. You develop a callous filter that says “nope not interesting” “not portfolio worthy” and you take so many pictures anyway, that’s it such a nice break to give yourself permission to just read.

So now I play a game I call “I notice you” when I’m in the car by myself. I actually say out loud or just the narrator in my head “I notice you stop sign with bullet holes”. “I notice you broken railroad crossing gate”. I do this especially when there isn’t anything interesting to notice. I force myself to say it, because it’s legitimizing the discovery and adding value to the act of noticing.  Whereever my eyes land, I plant my verbal flag on the moon and declare it noticed in the name of The Bryn or for Brynlandia.

Anyway, by playing the game with myself I can practice observation, much like I practice holding my 500mm lens. It’s a workout for the eyes and the brain and sometimes it gets me warmed up enough that I see things that I want to photograph at some point.

 

I notice you horses sheltering behind graffiti building.

 

I notice you blog readers.

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3 Responses to “Noticing”

  1. This is a great, concise read! As I imagined myself planting my own flag at locations I notice, I actually thought of this old barn which I drive past each morning. Today I will plant my flag there and verbally tag the spot. Eventually I will hop out of the car and make a beautiful image of the rustic structure.

    Thanks Bryn.
    ~r

  2. Good idea! Sometimes the things we see everyday or take for granted might still be new, exciting, and special to someone else. Tourists will eagerly snap photos, laughing and pointing, while the locals walk by thinking to themselves, “Humph, they sure seem to like Fred’s cow…”

    I think travelling really helps to illustrate this. But just taking a different route to work occasionally can force you to look around a bit. It’s so easy to fall into our comfortable routines. Thanks for the interesting approach Bryn!

  3. Elizabeth Says:

    I love this post…
    the organic nature of such a gentle epiphany floating into your life and at times across your lens cap has inspired me.

    Though my current venture is not one in photography, I can identify.

    I’ve been going on several hikes lately in hopes to attain plant specimens for my collection and in part to better understand their taxonomy.
    If I find a specimen in the Fabaceae family (the Legume family) I find myself passing it by, thinking to myself that I have several specimens from that family, and that I need to find others…

    In such a way, I find myself passing by specimens that months ago I sat crouched next to, relishing in my find and the nerdy details associated with the plant.

    After reading your post, I feel like I should adopt the “I notice you game,” and tell the specimen that I notice it; that I honor its beauty despite choosing not to include its sample in my plant portfolio of sorts.

    So, thank you for the insight! I’m sure all the plants I come into contact with will appreciate it too! :)

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