Perception and creativity

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When you ask a kid to make a draw a picture, the result is never what the child sees but the idea of the object pictured. The sun, for instance, will, most probably, be represented by a yellow disk, with rays, though on real life, light is white and sun rays are seldom visible. Women will be drawn with skirts and men with pants, though women also wear pants and men wear kilts.

As people grow up, and keep on drawing, the result will be more similar to what they actually see than the standard concepts they learned about objects. Then, for those who engage on an artistic drawing career, after mastering reproducing what their eyes can see, they return to the world of abstract concepts – visions, ideas, but specially feelings and emotions – with more or less connection to the visual world.

Photography, being apparently the mechanic (or digital) reproduction of the visual reality, also goes through the 3 phases, though on a less obvious way.

Let’s take the example of Singapore famous area – Marina Bay Sands. A tourist goes there, and, from the internet, has a previous idea on how it is – like a childish mental drawing.  So he tries to reproduce it on the best way he can.

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“Selfie Point”, Singapore – tourists flock to that place so they take the exact same photos: themselves with the lion behind and themselves with Marina Bay Sands. It’s easy to see that under such light (this DSLR image was quite enhanced in PP), a cellphone photo is virtually impossible to look well. That doesn’t matter, as the only thing they want is to show: “I’ve been here!” 

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First time I arrived to this area, and I wanted to capture the overall view. It’s focused, but all distorted since the camera was tilted up. There isn’t much contrast as the hour wasn’t the best and framing is horrible since I was just trying to fit all objects in one frame (the bridge, the hotel and so on).

He may be taken to an obvious spot by an excursion or a tourist bus, probably on an improper hour. Once arrives, tries to frame according to his pre-conceived idea and presses the button, posting the result on the social media, to tell the World: “I’ve been there”! The image is important as long as people can recognise the place. The visual content, the technical and emotional part of it is irrelevant.

An enthusiast photographer will focus on the technique. At fist he’ll chase pixel level sharpness, histogram perfect exposure, “rule of thirds” framing, and so on. That’s the “reality” phase.

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At this second time I had a tripod, a remote trigger and a filter. My aim was to emulate the shots I saw on adverts and postcards. Not so bad, technically, but it completely lacks emotion – It’s two-dimentional and boring.

Then, maybe he falls in love with advanced techniques: bokeh shots, long exposure, neutral density filters, panning and so on. At this point, he’s not using technique to express himself as an artist – he’s using an object or landscape to display his technical proficiency.
However a real pro photographer, has overcome that “technique mastering” phase, and uses technique to express something more –  a story, but specially an emotion behind the story.

I’ve been visiting Singapore on the last years, with somewhere between 2 months and one year interval. On my free days I eventually return to the same places and shoot. After quite a few returns, I’m able to look back and see how I went through those phases as described by the captions in the photos.

 

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On the third visit I kept it simple – just Nikon D810 + Nikon 16-35 VR f4. No tripod, no filters. Arrived at the right hour and shot. I’m still a bit obsessed with technique and sharpness, but that was not my main concern. I just wanted an aesthetically pleasing, tridimensional image, to give the viewer a feel of it.

I didn’t reach an end to it, but I’m starting to feel pleased with the results and its consistency. I’m starting to allow myself to be emotionally influenced by what I see and trying to convey that emotion. As s piece of advice to photo enthusiasts I say: technique is crucial – it’s your tool. It enables you to get what you want, instead of delivering some random result. However technique is just a tool. It’s what you shape out of that tool who really matters.

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Here is all about the “walking the bridge” and looking sideways, as if you’re about to enter the shopping mall, and have a glimpse on the landscape at your right.

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Singapore is hot, but this night was made cold with light. It’s an electric discotheque feeling I wanted. Still a picture, but an overall different emotion.

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