Friday, October 7, 2011

The camera obscura in my head

The camera obscura is the predecessor to the photograph.  First described even before the time of Christ, the concept of what a camera does is not a new thing.  It is a box with a small hole in one end for allowing light to enter.  It was discovered that when light goes through a small hole, it can project an upside down image of what is seen outside the box.   

This device has fascinated people for thousands of years.  I think it is because it is essentially a simple representation of the beautiful design that is the eye.   The camera obscura, and more recently, the camera, allow us to step outside of our mind: to separate ourselves from the experience of seeing.  We are able to contain the world in a box.  There have been buildings and large rooms set up as life size camera obscuras.  I wonder how much thought and effort went into the framing of the scene the designers knew would forever projected within.  

Lately, the photographs that I make are not rising to what I know they could be.  I am grasping for better ways of honing my knowledge and changing my perspective so that the images created with my lens more closely match the image in my mind, or even the image I know is actually projected through the lens of my eye.  

To bring things from the mind's eye into the world through the lens of a camera is a difficult and beautiful thing.  The difficulty lies in the ideals in the head clashing with the reality that is seen through the lens, the knowledge that is stored in the mind of the photographer, and the fact that time is fleeting.  The moments when all of these elements dance together are the ones that keep the photographer working and pushing for more.

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