Alberto Giacometti had already mastered the art of drawing when he discovered the problem of seeing both the whole figure and the detail simultaneously. When he concentrated on the whole, the details disappeared and conversely, the whole disappeared when detail took over. He didn’t know how to draw without compromising one or the other. The only reasonable solution was to let the brain choose the right movement without concentration.
Find a good viewpoint, perhaps fairly high up (an upstairs window might do) where you can see a wide view or panorama. Start by looking at the things closest to you in the foreground. Then pay attention to the details in the middle distance and then the things towards the horizon. Now try and see the whole view together, from the foreground to horizon (you can move your eyes). Include the sky in your observation and try to see the whole visual field together, all in movement. When you’ve got it, raise your camera and release the shutter. Add the picture and a description of the process to your learning log.
I have taken this picture so many times before as a part of different projects and exercises. Initially I did not quite comprehend the purpose of this particular exercise. As I stand today to take this image yet again, I will hopefully understand what the purpose of this is.
8:35 AM: I stood in my balcony and took in details of whats going on around me. I live on the 19th floor so as I looked down there is construction going in in the school below. I can see the basket ball courts. I am surrounded with high rise buildings and with two towers on either side and one directly in front of me there is a whole lot going on. I see people doing various activities below on the service-roads. I see birds flying in the sky – predatory kites circling around at great heights looking for a prey. I see a bunch of Barn Swallows along with the usual high number of pigeons hanging around on various ledges and balconies of the building. It is a nice morning and thanks to the lockdown a blue sky. It’s extremely hot and humid though. There are people walking on the roads, taking their children out for playing. The service staff is cleaning the roads, taking the trash out. The pigeons in my balcony are patiently waiting for me to fill in their feeders.
I move my eyes to the middle ground and see the building in front of me. There are people in their balconies – somebody drying clothes, somebody watering their plants or cleaning. The usual morning ritual. I see several houses on either side os this tower in front of me. I see a lot of new construction going on with new houses being built below. I see construction workers doing their chores. I see a lot of greenery which is good. Just close to it is the main road and the occasional traffic is seen. It is not too late in the morning so not too many vehicles are there. I see a couple of cows on walking on the main road street along with a few stray dogs. There is club on the left of the building, the tennis court of which can be seen.
As I look further away towards the horizon, as far as I can see, I see houses, buildings and urbanisation. The details are not so clear anymore – just the buildings, house, offices and the greenery peppered in between can be seen. I can see the movement of the metro train in the distance. I can see the clouds above.
8:42 AM: I step out on the balcony to take the image – but no longer can I see all those things that I saw with my naked eye. Unless I move the camera in a specific direction and frame that particular scene, I cannot include everything I just described. Everything cannot be included. I compose and frame my scene and press the shutter.
- I think that the purpose of this exercise is to make us look, notice, observe and and be mindful of our surroundings when we are taking an image.
- It shows that your eye can go anywhere and everywhere and take in a whole lot of details, but when it comes to framing it there is a limitation to what we can include and depends on us which part of that scene you want to include in your final frame.
- Despite seeing so many things in and around me, I choose this frame as it looks aesthetically the most pleasing.
- To be honest, I have taken this scene multiple times since FiP, but this is the first time I have actually observed so many things around consciously – maybe then the purpose of this exercise is to be more conscious and mindful of the details around us.
- It forces us to look for details and notice things; looking and noticing things makes us see new things out of the same old scene.
- Looking is probably the only thing that will allow you to find unique things within the ordinary.
- On the contrary, it also might help you find ways to take that ordinary and create something extraordinary.