Saturday, August 02, 2008

Left Side, Right Side

Have some of you read the book Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain? The Left Side-Right Side concept operates in photography too. In LensWork #77 Bruce Barlow has an article about this idea.

The left side of the brain operates in a linear, logical fashion. Language resides here, as do arithmetic functions.
The right side of the brain processes information more holistically. It can process huge amounts of spatial data very fast.

Of course there is more to it than that but Barlow is tying the idea into photography by saying that in photography the left side is the side that does things like setting up the camera, interpreting light meter readings, choosing apertures, etc......all that mechanical stuff and decision-making. While the right side is about Flow and Being in the Zone. It is about seeing images, about emotions and that is the side we want to be in when we are actually making images.

This week when I read the article, it seemed written just for me and maybe that is why I have used the Holga camera so much in the last 8 years. I don't have any decisions to make except to focus (and I use that term loosely) the camera. Maybe this is what allows me to Be in the Zone. Maybe this is why I was never able to make good images when I carried two cameras, one loaded with black and white film and the other with color film. Maybe this is why I don't like to change lenses because it takes me out of the Zone until I adjust to the new focal length. Maybe it is why I like to work in project mode. I've eliminated lots of thoughts about the mechanical stuff and I don't have a lot of decisions to make.

Some people may think that limiting yourself to very few variables with a camera or subject would be constraining. For me, it is liberating. If I can put the left side of the brain on auto-pilot and let the right side rip, I can usually find some good images.


Steve Cotton said...

I am with you, Billie. My problem is that my current camera makes a lot of decisions that I simply do not like. I need a good software program to start fixing those issues.

Billie said...

Steve, I shoot all my images in RAW format which eliminates most of the decisions of an engineer in Japan. Then I use Photoshop and Bridge to work with my images. I admit....I'm a control freak. I've learned to let go about a lot of things but not about my work.

Anonymous said...

Nice to meet you this evening. Any tips re: the Holga will be appreciated. We will definitely have to talk further.