Here’s a scenario for you: you go away on a day-trip or a couple of days away, and you come back with a collection of images. And then you check through all the images you captured on that trip. What percentage of the images would be identifiable as being specifically ‘of’ that place that you have just visited? The remainder merely taken ‘at’ that place, but with content that could conceivably have been taken in a multitude of other locations.
My guess is that the second category could amount to quite a significant percentage of your total collection. This is one of the natural consequences of cultivating the ‘Art of Seeing’ or ‘A Seeing Eye’. As we develop the ability to ‘See’, we develop what I would term a heightened sense of visual awareness of our surroundings. And in consequence our eye will select not just images of the hallmarks and characteristics of that place that you are visiting, but it will see all the other aspects of that place too that are not uniquely of that place but are what we might call Universal Images. In capturing these universal images we add substance, roundness and detail to our experience, and these combine with the images that are specific to that experience to form a richer picture story.
What I’ve just described is exactly what happened on my recent three-day visit to the Lake District. I’ve counted through the images and I discover that just 20% of what I captured (and that’s being over-generous) are identifiable as being ‘of’ the Lake District.
Take the image above for instance. It’s taken at the foot of Adelaide Hill, a quiet little secluded spot on the edge of Lake Windermere, reached via a short woodland path, just off the lakeside road between Bowness and Ambleside. You can view this image three ways. For me it is undoubtedly an image that rounds out my love of this area – a location I have visited on a number of previous occasions. Therefore it would easily belong in an album of the Lake District. It’s also a WaterScape that could sit alongside other images in an album of other similar images of water – it’s location being largely irrelevant. And also it is semi-abstract.
Many images that we take are like this – multi-faceted. Our Eye does not count ‘relevance’ as a factor when it scans our environment for potential images. It simply Sees and it commands our attention.