The art of seeing #24: A smaller world can be just as extraordinary

(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. 

Recently I referenced the 19th-century French writer Xavier de Maistre’s peculiar travelogue, A Journey Around My Room. The book sees the author embark on an epic voyage of discovery around his apartment, which he documents in the tradition of the grand travel writings of the time. He had been imprisoned in his room for six weeks. Little did I know how poignant my reference to this piece of work would be, as we too are confined to our homes in this period of coronavirus lockdown.

It is frustrating for us photographers. Many of us thrive on being out there, connecting to the world through our lenses. However, there are myriad creative possibilities for the intrepid photographer, even in a confined domestic setting.

And so it is that I too have set about on a journey of visual discovery around my first-floor apartment. While I might not have the luxury of a garden, I do have some big windows. I have become increasingly aware of the subtle nuances of light as it changes throughout the day. The flat’s east/west orientation allows me to enjoy morning light streaming through the bathroom and kitchen windows, while the late afternoon and early evening are a sheer delight in my main living space. I’ve found myself eagerly awaiting my new ‘magic hour’, when the first rays of sunlight tickle the edge of the window frame before slowly creeping across the room.

While there are many creative home projects to indulge in, I’m enjoying a more simple approach and learning to see my all-too-familiar surroundings in a new light.

This image is a straightforward capture of some dying tulips on a table. I actually find the dying petals hold more visual allure than fresh flowers – a visual metaphor, perhaps.

I chose to work in a high-key tonal range to evoke and accentuate the ethereal quality of light. Naturally I was careful to handle the tones with delicacy, so there’s just enough detail. Be safe. 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.