New Ways of Looking

Over the summer I finally succumbed to reading glasses. Print has been getting a little blurrier over the past few years, my arm’s length only just enough to see the small print, but on two occasions last year when I was with my sister and struggling to make out anything on grey-fonted menus in dim restaurants, her lending me her glasses convinced me that I needed to do something about it.
At Tassajara I did a lot of reading, and it was very helpful, but, since I have never had prescription glasses before, I had to adjust to the fact that things beyond arm’s length were now in this unpleasantly distorted realm that made my head hurt if I started looking around my room with my glasses on.  Apart from the reading aspect of it, though, I appreciated how sharp close-up things became, and I found myself using that extra sharpness to inform some of the photographs I took:

Gatehouse decor sycamore balls
Sycamore seeds outside my cabin at Tassajara, replicating how I was seeing things with glasses

I have had my new camera a few weeks now, and while I have not had many adventures with it yet, it is very clear that it is a different beast from my previous digital cameras. With a new camera, as with any device these days, there is a learning curve, and time needed to get used to its functions and menus; in this case, those are quite similar to my last camera, so this has not been the main issue. What has changed is the lack of zoom. And with that, I have had to change how I look at things.
As I recall, the first SLRs I had, a few decades ago now when I started taking pictures a little more seriously, also had prime lenses, so you just had to focus, make sure your aperture and speed were set appropriately, and take the shot. All my digital cameras, though, have had some amount of zoom built in. So when I walk around, I catch sight of some detail or scene that I want to photograph, and then I really try to hone in on the exact area. Now, I find myself framing the picture as best I can, and then coming back to it on the computer to crop down to what I originally saw – if I don’t see it obviously when I look at the shot, then I realise it must not have been such a strong image after all:

DSCF2651
From a walk around town on Wednesday – the kind of urban scene I am often drawn to
Version 3
Cropped down to what I wanted to see in the picture

As the weeks go by though, I notice that I am starting to know how something will look through the lens of this new camera, and imagine the picture accordingly, which may end up causing subtle shifts in the kinds of pictures I take.

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