Len Metcalf

What is it that you can't see?

Len Metcalf
What is it that you can't see?

They say you don't know what you don't know. You probably can't see what you don't know either. Can we even say, you can't see what you can't see?  Doesn't seem to make sense, does it?

Colours are a very good example. We assume we can all see the same colours, but research has shown us that we only start to see colours when we have words for them and are trained to see them.  Did you know that blue is only a recent colour in our vocabulary?  Indigenous tribes can only identify colours that they have in their language. So they have to learn to see and later identify the new colours.

Learning to see is no different to learning any other skill.  It takes time and practise.

Answering the question 'What is it that you can't see?' may be logically impossible. But I think this is a great place to start.

A word to identify what it is, helps. Actually, it helps a lot. Following learning the word, you need to figure out what it means and collect examples.  And finally, you will want to figure out how it works.

I believe you learn to see what you didn’t see before.    

You may be thinking 'Where do I start Len?' That is all well and good, but if I don't know, then I don't know where to even start.

Depending on your artistic bent I suggest researching further into the field or even into allied fields. 

For those of you into the visual arts (yes, many of my readers aren't just photographers) consider some of these:

  • Tone
  • Contrast
  • Rhythm
  • Depth
  • Pace
  • Pause
  • Negative Space
  • Figure / Ground
  • Mu
  • Wabi Sabi
  • Sfumato
  • Chiaroscuro
  • Ambiguity
  • Frame

I am sure the list goes on and on.  I have missed many. If you have some I have missed please put them in the comments, and hopefully, we can come up with an extensive list.

Bombo Quarry near Kiama.  I can't wait to get down there again in a few weeks, I have some lovely small group workshops down there, a weekend digital black and white workshop and a week-long photography destination workshop.  Photograph and text copyright © Len Metcalf 2018

Artist | Writer | Photographer | Educator | Adventurer