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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Benedict Brain

Benedict Brain is a UK based photographer, journalist and artist. He graduated with a degree in photography from the Derby School of Art in 1991 (now University of Derby), where he was tutored and inspired by photographers John Blakemore and Olivier Richon, amongst others. He is an Associate of the Royal Photographic Society and also sits on the society’s Distinctions Advisory Panel.

Until July 2018 Benedict was editor of Britain’s best-selling consumer photography magazine, Digital Camera Magazine. As a journalist he met and interviewed some of the world’s greatest photographers and produced articles on a wide range of photography related topics, presented technique videos, wrote in-depth features, curated and edited best-in-class content for a range of titles including; Amateur Photographer, PhotoPlus, N-Photo, Professional Photography and Practical Photoshop. He currently writes a regular column, The Art of Seeing, for Digital Camera magazine.