Eye Exercises

My eyes are suffering from overuse, but the point of the title and content of this blog post has nothing to do with making them physically stronger or improving the clarity of my actual vision. It’s not even about bitching about how they twitch and water after staring at a computer monitor under fluorescent lighting. What I mean by this is simply the act of seeing what you’re looking at in a different way. I’ve written about bringing awareness to the parade of images and people who cross our paths during the day (take a peek back at it, if you’d like), but sometimes shifting mediums helps keep that vision in perspective.

I’ve had a passing interest in photography for a long time. My dad used to be a photographer and videographer, and I’d dabble in photography when he’d let me do it in peace, or at least at my pace. As an adult, I got a digital camera that allowed me to play with tricks and techniques to create the images I wanted, but when I got good pictures, it was usually a happy accident of messing with buttons on the camera that I didn’t understand. All in all, I have a decent eye for composition and telling a story with the images I capture, but I was frustrated. I wanted to tell visual stories that captivate the viewer, just as much as I want to create written stories that captivate the reader. Even in my limited dabblings, I could tell the two were clearly interrelated and the stronger one got, the more it fed the other. Given that I’d started school, I shrugged and tabled it for “later,” resigned to trying to figure out what I could as best I could.

For Christmas, I got a gift certificate to attend D-SLR Bootcamp with The Photo Classroom, run by Osborne Photography in Charlotte, NC. They’re a great group of people and with their help, I discovered that my frustration was not limited to my lack of knowledge about ISO, aperture, and shutter speed, but that my camera wasn’t going to be able to help me compose the visual stories I wanted to tell. Fast forward a few months, and now I have a swanky camera that is ACTUALLY a D-SLR (not just a fancy digital camera with a zoom lens), and now I’ve got the visual story telling tool I wanted. I re-took the class with The Photo Classroom to learn the beast in my possession and I’m quite happy to say that even though there is a bit of a learning curve, I’m enjoying the ride.

I related the writing and photography before, but as I was messing around in my local game store, I realized that I was really on to something. As I framed up miniatures in the foreground with the painter responsible in the background, I was telling a story. As I framed up the intricately painted miniatures on the landscaped game table, I was pulling a scene from their games that would exhilarate those who had a passion for it. I was strengthening my eye for scope, context and story-telling.

Needless to say, after reviewing the images, I had to sit down and write to feed this happy symbiosis. They’re not perfect, but there’s gold in them thar images, and it’s only going to take time, patience and practice to make it shine. Over time, my eyes will get stronger, see these microcosms more readily and when they do, my sense of story will sharpen even more. And the more I hone one, the stronger the urge to play with both becomes. Right now, for instance, I’d love write more. My brains are squirming, my fingers are twitching and scribbling down notes on the scenes pouring across the back of my eyes is so unsatisfying, but reality and responsibility call, and I’m off to work on my mid-terms. There will be time to indulge once the grown up stuff has been completed.

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