Trite but True #9: Look, really look, through the viewfinder

You would not want to be standing near me when I discover a preventable composition error in a photograph as I view it on my computer. The air turns blue and lightning bolts emerge from my head. I suffer total frustration and guilt because I could have corrected the error if only I had spotted it in the viewfinder or on the display on the back of the camera.

But I didn’t. Why? Poor eyesight? No. More likely I just saw the image that was in my head rather than the one that was in front of me. To counteract that tendency, I’ve been training myself to see more objectively and accurately what is in the viewfinder. I have developed a little eyeball-dance routine. It goes like this:

1. Consciously examine the subject and then the background.

2. Sweep around the perimeter.

3. Finally crisscross the viewfinder from corner to corner.

Here’s the audible job-aid I chant: subject, background, top, right, bottom, left, upper-left to lower-right, lower-left to upper right.

This routine takes only a few seconds but saves hours of retouching.



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