Join John McWade for an in-depth discussion in this video The eye and mind see differently, part of Learning Graphic Design: Cropping Photographs.
- [voiceover] Your eyes see differently than your mind does. Your mind is looking to identify, oh, there's a banana or a bird or my friend, George, but our eyes don't see that way. Our eyes are more like cameras that see the world as shapes of light and dark and colors and lines. One of the impediments to making self-driving cars has been this very thing. The car's camera looks at the road ahead and sees a shape, but the camera doesn't know if it's seeing an object or just a shadow on the road.
This has made programming really tough. The reason to know this is that we tend to identify and forget. Oh, there's a banana. That looks good. Maybe, I'll have a banana. Without really seeing, without paying attention to its crescent shape, the negative shape of its background, how far it is from an edge, other shapes nearby, and so on. We don't normally think about those things because in daily life there's no need.
We file it and move on. To crop photos, to visualize, you need to become mindful of your eye. That's because cropping is all about line and shape and value, value meaning how dark or light something is, and negative space. You'll see some of this as we move along. For example, our mind identifies a castle on the water, but what does our eye see? It's seeing lines and shapes and values, and when our eye sees lines, it follows them, usually in the direction of the convergence.
In this photo, we identify trees, sky, power pole, wires, but our eyes see shapes and lines, and our eye follows the lines even without our being aware, up and to the right. These lines move our eye right up the center of the photo to a vanishing point. These are very fast lines. Lines can take the form of arches and sprays and feel exuberant.
So, set aside your mind and pay attention to what your eye is seeing. Lines move our eye which determines direction, which, along with shape and value, determines weight and balance.