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The Photographic Eye: Learning to See with a Camera

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P hotography is both an art and a science. As an art, it expresses a personal vision. As a science, it relies on technology. This double nature is not unique to photography. Every kind of creative expression —such as music, dance or painting —has both a purely artistic side and a more scientific or techological side as well. For example, paints are a kind of technology, and using them well involves a considrable amount of technical skill. The main difference between photogaphy and more traditional visual arts, such as painting, is the complexity of its technology.

In any of the arts, the first step toward excellence is mastering techique — learning to use a specific techology skillfully and effectively. In photography, this means that you must learn to control the camera and darkroom equipment, rather than letting them control you.

No artist, however creative, can produce a masterpiece without a sound basis in technique. On the other hand, no amount of technical skill can make up for a lack of artistic vision. Both are essential. The goal of any artist is to use good technique creatively.

Simply speaking, a camera is a machine that produces a twodimensional (flat) copy of a threedimensional scene. The process by which this is done may seem like  magic. (In fact, when cameras were irst introduced, many people all over the world thought that they were magic.) Fundamentally, however, there's no magic in the camera. It's just a box with a hole in it. You supply the magic. When you, the photographer, use a camera creatively, it changes from a simple, mechanical machine into an artist's tool. Instead of making random copies of things, it begins to say something about them.
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