« Sunday Support Group: Struggle! (OT) | Main | Open Mike: Have the Mountain Always In Your Mind (OT) »

Monday, 22 February 2021


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Michael, the whole "right brain/left brain" story has long been largely discredited, it only survives a a popular meme in pop science.
See for instance:

Sorry Mike, but I completely disagree. With no cost to publishing, people now write 1,000 words when 100 would do.

This is why the country is so polarized about everything. We are constantly beaten over the head, with Same Stuff Different Day (SSDD) info—enough is enough.

I've seldom looked at a photo-book. But every time I'm in DC I'll go by the National Gallery and view Salvador Dali's The Sacrament of the Last Supper

I've learned more about composition and chiaroscuro from paintings than I ever could from photos. YMMV.

Ya know... if you'd read that study to the end, you'd find that by "almost no one" they meant "the people we know under the age of 30." ;-)

BTW, I read both of your entire articles to the end, as well as Sroyon's. They add to each other. Now for some reason I can't find the time to look at photos online for 2 minutes each...

I appreciated reading this article after recently coming across a similarly thought provoking video..


The Betty Edwards book was used as part of the curriculum for a drawing class I took long ago. I'm terrible at drawing. But one exercise, turning the subject (a photo) upside down, helped me immensely in drawing a portrait. and I could hardly believe the result. It suggested that my using a large format view camera, with inverted and reversed image, has enhanced my photographic compositions in general. To this day, I often turn my images upside down, either in Lightroom or in print, to gain a better compositional sense.

Oh man, you really hit on something with the "attention economy!" I've found myself struggling more and more to stick with articles, even sentences, all the way through, on the internet. I am better about books, and have been an avid reader since age 5 or so... but if it's on a screen, it's tough. Funny that it's the very entities who worked so hard to break up our concentration and insert their messages (advertising, etc.) that are now trying to hold our attention long enough to follow their instructions to click, read, buy, share, follow, subscribe... We're trained now not to pay attention to one thing for long, especially if we don't immediately respond positively, so how often does traditional advertising work anymore when we can glance down at our phones, or open a new tab? Again, at least my book doesn't do that to me (I mostly read in the room I've dedicated as a library: it doesn't have a computer, and I limit my smartphone use in there to looking up things or playing music). Analogue brain recovery!

Yeah, I run slideshows at something like 2 seconds to 7 seconds per slide :-)

Drawing on the right side of the brain - excellent book - one of the reasons I was drawn (sorry, couldn't resist) to photography in my pre-teens was because I could not draw. That is, I could not convert what I saw and visualised in my head onto paper with a pencil or paint but could by using a lens and film. In the early '80s, I did an adult education course following Betty Edward's techniques and book - and it actually works - at least to the limits of the practice I was prepared to put in (not enough) and the limitations arising by my lack of actual talent (rather a lot); I was able to present reasonably realistic sketches from life - as long as I followed the techniques in the book - but still was never able draw to match my internal visualisations, except by fortuitous error. But what I find REALLY interesting about your listing that particular book as BOTW is that - for me at least - it relates directly to your post about viewfinders. I have been struggling with switching to mirrorless and after a lot of fiddling and thought, I have realised that when I use an OVF (perhaps because of my experience with film(??), I engage the right side of my brain in visualising the ultimate image that I am to create. But when I look through an EVF, I see a computer screen and process it through the left side of my brain. Thus, the viewfinder I use greatly influences the creativity I engage in the photographic process, which is why I ultimately much prefer using OVFs over EVFs; I simply enjoy it more as a visual creative process. I suspect the same happens when I view images that have been printed (which I enjoy) vs those that on a screen(meh) but to a lesser extent. I'd love to work out a way of confirming my thinking by a more scientific analysis but doubt I'll ever get around to it.

You do have to factor in the possibility that 99 percent of the stuff you encounter online, including photographs, is crap.

Joe Kashi's experience brings to mind an Art Buchwald column from the early 1960s in the Paris edition of the New York Herald Tribune (RIP) in which he describes the "Four Minute Louvre".

Factor in age and things change.
What we could take in and concentrate on while distractions were around us changes as we age.

Also different for women than for men.

What a "heavy" topic.

I just let my New Yorker subscription lapse, as I'm still working on the November 2020 issue, and want to catch up. I also get two monthly magazines from aviation organizations of which I am a member, and Outdoor Photography.

If something on-line interests me, I'll print it.

My art skills are abysmal, except when working with the exercises in Betty Edwards book, which I bought about 35 years ago. (I also don't touch type. The two may be connected.)

At family parties, my wife is fond of rounding everyone up to "draw a tree" or "draw a house" and then inferring a personal or psychological explanation.

Reading works of art informs reading photographs. And making photographs. At an Andrew Wyeth retrospective some years ago, I just got "lost" in one sequence that depicted through working drawings and studies how his "Groundhog Day" evolved. It influences my own practices, even though I'm not very good at it. Stieglitz's "Equivalents" series still yields nothing for me. What's the BFD with it, anyway?

Not sure if it's worth the overhead, but would love to use an Amazon UK affiliate link for the book recommendations and provide a bit of support (many thanks for the Betty Edwards suggestion, looks really promising)

Well, that's the whole purpose of physical prints and photo books (now, more than ever)- to slow things the F down! Otherwise, why seek out a photobook, let alone buy one, in the first place? As someone who's purchased a few hundred photobooks throughout the years, I can attest that they can almost become like trusted friends who reflect your current: mood, state of mind, disposition. They allow you to reflect on times past and present, contemplate future endeavors, raise and help resolve your own ongoing issues, photographic and otherwise...

John Camp is far, far too generous.

This makes the worthwhile essentially impossible to find.

Drowning in dross inevitably diminishes our attention span. Also, the ability to separate good from bad. Especially if the good is "quiet".

A technology driven process accelerated by the shift in the meaning of 'editing'.

From selecting and showing the best, to altering the appearance of an individual onscreen photograph, using Photoshop, etc.

When I find a good article I almost always read it to the end. sometimes I even save them for re-reading or sharing with others.
But John Camp makes the important observation that now that EVERYONE can be instantly be 'Published' there is an enormous amount of crap that one must wade through to find the nuggets that are becoming like needles in the big cyber haystack. So bailing after a few paragraphs becomes essential defense mechanism in saving your time for Ideas and writing that deserves it.
I always liked your idea of 'enforced' time with good photographs.
A good way to remember to slow down the pace and enjoy.
It is also good advice for miking photographs. When I make a frame, i often ask myself, does this subject deserve more time? Can I do better? ----I can't always, but sometimes I can.

I did the exercise, figuring I certainly have ten minutes to spare. I found that if I decide to look at a photograph (instead of saying, "That's a picture," and moving on), I'll spend 20 to 30 seconds studying it. After that, I find myself describing and analyzing it to myself verbally--as in using words--like, "the smooth texture of the glove contrasts with the rough sand on his back," and "the picture would be more powerful without the distracting background; but then it would be a different picture, saying something different." So this L-mode and R-mode analysis is at best an oversimplification.

[True, and everyone's different. Kudos to you however for "letting your mind go where it will," whatever that is. One thing I might do if I were you just as an experiment is to try looking at a few pictures until you get past that analysis/critique stage, and then see what happens. Get to the point where your mind wanders. Have you ever looked at a picture for half an hour? I suspect your analytical mode would naturally exhaust itself at some point. Just a guess. --Mike]

“Boxers Training on the Beach” is an amazing capture. I am grateful to learn about its photographer, Pierre Crocquet, who has unfortunately passed. And the picture, of course, makes me curious about the people in the shot, and life and regions outside my currently pandemic-bound corner of the world. To gaze at good photographs now is my only form of travel, to imagine interactions with people that are living and breathing a rich, everyday offhand life. Thanks for the link, and those three minutes.

Mike, I really appreciate this article. I followed the link to Sroyon and decided to give feedback as he requests. I am copying it here since it may interest you. Please feel free to ignore it if not appropriate for TOP. Tx. Jon

Great exercise SROYON. I landed here because of TOP. I had no problem carrying out the exercise and realized that had you not asked us to take the time I would have only glanced at them and maybe hovered a little over the "The Lovely Ms Sinclair" (what a beautiful portrait and model!) and"Bhoot Chaturdash". What I find most interesting is that I consider myself to very different usually. Whenever I go to art or photo galleries/museums I am often accompanied by wife and/or daughters. My wife and one of my daughters usually "race" through the exhibits while I "spend forever" (their words not mine) studying each individual piece.

What I have come to realize is that the mass of images available online has trained me to flick over them unless something grabs me. That is why I hardly spend any time on Instagram, Flickr, etc. and prefer to look at galleries put up by photographers since they have at least attempted to curate properly.

The comments to this entry are closed.



Blog powered by Typepad
Member since 06/2007