YOUR DOMINANT EYE
You have a dominant eye! That sounds kind of ominous doesn’t it? We all know which is our dominant hand and we’ve heard that lefties tend to be more creative than righties because their right brain (the creative side) is more dominant. You may not have noticed that you also have a dominant eye and that it might not be on the same side as your dominant hand. If you’re statistically average, you’re probably right-handed and if you’re a photographer, you’re probably left eyed.
Here´s how to test yourself:
- Extend your arms in front of you with your palms facing away
- Bring your hands together, forming a small hole by crossing the thumbs and forefingers
- Choose a smallish object about 8-10m away from you. With both eyes open, focus on the object as you look through the small hole.
- Close one eye and then the other. When you close one eye, the object will be stationary. When you close the other eye, the object should disappear from the hole or jump to one side.
- If the object does not move when you cover one eye, then that eye is dominant. The eye that sees the object and does not move is the dominant eye.
Still not convinced ? Then pick up your camera and look through the viewfinder. Which eye are you using ? Chances are you use the same eye each and every time you photograph. This isn’t just a coincidence, nor is it just a habit you picked up. You use that eye because it’s the eye that most effectively delivers visual information to your brain. It’s the eye that you think with. Just for a giggle try photographing with your other eye. Make a real effort to freeze some action at a decisive moment, make a pleasing composition or capture a great expression. I think you’ll probably find this is quite difficult to do physically. You’ll want to keep involuntarily reverting back to your dominant eye while struggling with your camera as if it’s been possessed by a mischievous gremlin and you probably won’t be able to achieve good results. Compositions will not be balanced, your timing will be off and your perception of your subject will be awkward to say the least.
Although this is a difficult exercise it can be used as a method of breaking out of a ‘creative slump’. In a way you’re forcing yourself to use those mental and visual muscles in a whole new way. For your effort you’ll be stronger and better at seeing and if that’s not enough, as an added bonus when you do go back to photographing with your dominant eye, it’ll seem pretty effortless and easy.
Herewith a few suggestions for photographing with your ‘other’ eye:
- Take a child outside and encourage him or her to run and jump around. When the action starts happening try to capture a good action shot
- Set up and photograph a still life. For this one, because you’re partly setting up the composition before you shoot, cover up your dominant eye while setting up the shot, otherwise you’re cheating!!!
- Pick an adult subject for a portrait. Make a concerted effort to capture a natural, relaxed expression and a real ‘connection’ between your subject and the lens
When you’ve finished the exercises compare your results with the real work you made with your dominant eye. Chances are there might not be any usable images, but what you did was fine tune your eye-brain co-ordination and that’s always a good thing.