Sunday, January 17, 2010

Which eye do you use?

I'm switching from my left eye to right eye...

Recently I realized that I have always been using my left eye for photography. In the past I just did it without noticing it. I think it traces back to the use of telescope with my left eye during childhood. I naturally used the same eye when I picked up my first SLR.

What caused me to realize that was my planned entry into the world of rangefinder camera. I was reading up about viewfinder magnification and learned that a magnification of close to 1.0x allows both eyes to be open when taking pictures. I found it a very interesting idea because:
  • as I spend longer time framing a shot with one eye I feel physically/mentally uncomfortable. It's more natural for the brain to process binocular vision than to make up for missing information from one eye, let alone the physical strain from having to forcibly keep one eye closed
  • more importantly, having the other eye opened enables eye-contact with the subject. The photographer and the subject are more directly 'connected'
It is definitely something I wanted to try with my upcoming Leica M9 (which requires a 1.4x viewfinder magnifier to achieve a 0.98x effective magnification). But I wouldn't be able to do that if I keep looking through the viewfinder with my left eye, as my right would be blocked by the camera. I started reading about left eye vs right eye shooting and the topic of ocular dominance. It turns out that I am actually right-eyed but due to many years of using my left eye the dominance, while exists for sure, isn't as pronounced. What I do find though is that my right eye has slightly better 'resolution'.

So I decided to try changing my habit and start using my right eye for photography. Yesterday's session at the Cooper's Island Nature Reserve was the first practice. Initially it felt rather awkward and I had to fight against my tendency to lift the camera to my left eye. But I'm sure I can overcome that with more practice.

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