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The art of seeing #22: A journey around my room (and through the window)

(Image credit: Benedict Brain)
About Benedict Brain

(Image credit: Benedict Brain)

Benedict Brain is a UK based photographer, journalist and artist. He is an Associate of the Royal Photographic Society and sits on the society’s Distinctions Advisory Panel. He is also a past editor of Digital Camera Magazine.

As you may have noticed, much of the work in this column originates from my global travels. However, taking inspiration from the 18th-century book A Journey Round my Room by Xavier de Maistre, I also like to explore the visual possibilities closer to home, even in my home.

I live in an apartment, from which I have a wonderful view of several magnificent silver birch trees. Watching them change throughout the seasons and in a wide range of light and weather conditions is a delight.

I also enjoy the pair of doves (I think) that roost in the tree from time to time; while their large deposits of droppings outside the building are annoying, I have grown fond of my fine feathered friends, and often look out for them.

Naturally, both the tree and the birds have attracted me visually. I’m starting to build a small body of work around the views from my room. The rain, twilight and leafless winter tree drew me to make this image. What a luxury to be shooting ‘landscapes’ in the middle of winter from the warmth of a heated home.

To capture the essence of the scene, and in particular the rain, I used flash to light the scene. I love the way flash renders a scene when I photograph in the rain. The light picks up the water droplets and highlights them beautifully. In fact, the camera/flash combination sees the rain in a way that is unique to photography. Raindrops are captured in a fleeting moment of time, mid-air as the flash freezes and lights the watery ‘action’. As a consequence, the image takes on an ethereal vibe that I love.

Learning to anticipate how the camera will ‘see’ is a useful skill to hone. After a time it’s possible to develop ‘camera vision’, and select the right settings and choose the right equipment with a good idea of how the image will look. A good place to start is to constantly ask yourself, “What would it look like if I did this?” – then try it and see! BB

• Other articles in the Art of Seeing series

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