I am sure many of us have spent time out in the landscape with other photographers, friends or on tours only to be surprised afterward, almost kicking yourself when you see images they found that you did not. We may remember the elements but just did not consider photographing them ourselves or just completely failed to notice what was there. If we are not even aware of what the elements are before us, then how can we photograph them?
Awareness of your surroundings requires attention, which over the last 6 months or so I have been trying to work on. This means to me, being conscious of as much as possible and recognizing the visual ingredients available to use in my compositions. So when I am presented with the opportunity to go away and shoot, I now try to deliberately stop paying attention to other, less relevant things. I have found it detrimental to become distracted with things that do not relate to what I am trying to convey in my images, especially things that are unimportant or that can be put on the back burner. Those trivial details of everyday life, the casual banter between friends, the idea of a hard and fast itinerary or the quest to move towards a pre planned destination rather than slowing down has on many occasions for me, resulted in many missed opportunities. I have found one of my greatest distractions has been arriving at a location with preconceived ideas, such as the desire to capture a specific, known composition, or that we already know what there is to photograph in a given place, so why should we look for something new, when it's all been done before?
As I write this I am working on a trip to the Puna in Northern Argentina. Through my research, I have found many inspiring images that have sold this destination to me. Similar in ways to the Altiplano of Bolivia with the climate and altitude, I feel though there is a greater diversity of the landscapes to play with. Like Bolivia it will be a challenging area to shoot and come away satisfied could be a gamble. With the amount of research invested, have I now clouded my own view with these pre conceived ideas? The trip is planned for late next year so once all the details have been ironed out, I hopefully will put this to the back of my mind and arrive with a clean slate and just enjoy the ride.
Below is a short video I came across that helps to explain how our minds can control what we " actually see".
The experiment is called The Invisible Gorilla and was devised by Christopher Chabris and Daniel Simons