The Problem of Goal Fixation in Landscape Photography

Between the most significant ideas discovered when starting to experience a bike is that of target fixation. This attentional phenomenon occurs when an particular person results in being so focused on an observed object (regardless of whether it is a goal or hazard) that they inadvertently increase their threat of colliding with it.

By fixating on the object, the particular person will commence to steer in the way of their gaze, often devoid of noticing it, even if it is towards anything they inherently wish to prevent. Most generally, goal fixation takes place in significant-speed conditions, irrespective of whether it be motorcycle riding, paragliding, or race-auto driving. Because of to the phenomenon happening at large-speeds, it is quick to see how unsafe it can close up becoming.

If I did what has now been done, I would be a plagiarist and would take into consideration myself unworthy so I do anything unique and individuals simply call me a scoundrel. I’d instead be a scoundrel than a plagiarist! —Paul Gauguin

Although there is minor probability of imminent risk or loss of life, this strategy can simply be utilized to landscape photography, the place there is the prospect of composing a scene that is thought of by other individuals as cliché or around-shot. Most usually this takes place when heading to well-liked landscapes, regardless of whether it be as far away as Iceland or as near as a area park. When heading to regions of reputation, it is very challenging not to craft expectations in advance of heading out with the camera. Among the several downsides of anticipations is that of concentrate on fixation.

Alternatively than heading out to the landscape with virgin eyes — letting for novel compositions — anticipations in the sort of focus on fixation often avoid this.


Just like when driving on the street, it is quick to get distracted by many elements of the normal globe. Once fixated upon a particular matter or composition, it turns into ever more tough to consider your thoughts off it and enable your self to witness the rest of the prospective splendor that surrounds you. This issue could be as simple as a scarce flower or as grand as a towering waterfall. The latter was what experienced often drawn my aim, primary to a stale portfolio, lacking in both equally (topic) diversity and novel compositions.

In 2016 when I started next down the route of landscape photography, I discovered myself rather infatuated with the many waterfalls in Japanese Pennsylvania. Acquiring no grand overlooks or mountain ranges to photograph — finding silent woodland scenes to be dull and difficult — I ventured out to the waterfalls all around my home. My digital camera, together with my thoughts, was fixated on small else. Most of my hikes centered close to this topic make any difference, to the avail of Melanie, my lover-in-crime. A normal hike would go a thing like this:

  1. Come across a park with a waterfall
  2. Generate there
  3. Hike to the waterfall with camera
  4. Arrive at the waterfall
  5. Compose and choose the waterfall photograph, typically with the subject matter centered in the frame, totally in-check out
  6. Chill out at the waterfall consume a snack
  7. Hike back to the vehicle
  8. Travel house to edit the photograph(s)

Obtaining considering the fact that absent again to these places on various events, it is intriguing to be aware all the quiet scenes which were being skipped even though fixating on the waterfall, the “grand scene.”

Fixation upon a specific composition is also a standard event, primarily with there staying swift accessibility to other photographers’ shots of an region via social media. Even in advance of the arrival of Instagram, loads of photographers had been fixating on each and every others’ compositions, wishing to go out and have that composition for on their own.

Merely look at Tunnel Perspective in Yosemite, popularized by Ansel Adams virtually a century in the past. Presently the parking lot is stuffed prior to the sunshine has even risen and photographers from all above the entire world are stood shoulder-to-shoulder, tripods interlaced, as they endeavor to capture the well-known composition in the proper gentle. And if that mild under no circumstances comes about, you can wager your base greenback they’ll be back again right up until it finally materializes. Little do they know, the completely wrong light-weight for the renowned Tunnel Watch photograph was fantastic for the compositions they skipped on the valley flooring. Ah, the value of target fixation.

Bear in mind how I had described about target fixation also getting a very good factor in selected conditions? Let us dive into that for just a 2nd.

Outlined by Ansel Adams in the early 20th century, visualization is the act of viewing a finished photographic print in just the mind’s eye. This was intended to enable the photographer do the job backwards from their visualization to ascertain the appropriate publicity configurations, composition, and so forth. for that certain photograph.

Many fashionable photographers still loosely stick to this strategy, assumed it is utilised for visualizing the electronic photograph, not the print, in its last type. When coming up to a scene of desire, the photographer will commence to photograph it inside their thoughts, determining the best way to expose and compose the scene. From this picture in their intellect, they will start off operating with the digicam to convey the photograph to lifetime. The moment captured, the photograph may possibly be further more edited — in the darkroom or pc software package — until eventually it matches the original vision the photographer experienced.

Occasionally, nevertheless, a distinct scene could visualize in a fashion not probable with the present-day problems. Probably it is considered the composition would glimpse much better in fog, or snow. Maybe it is midday but the scene should really be photographed at sunrise. This, then, is an correct time in which to fixate on your focus on, the visualized photograph.

It is however important to however maintain our eyes cost-free of the fog triggered by goal fixation. If the visualized scene needs you to get to it quickly due to speedily shifting ailments, do so. Get there, make the photograph, and then let the fog to raise from your eyes. Go about the rest of the hike with virgin eyes, using in the splendor that surrounds you as if you’d in no way scene it prior to. Photograph what phone calls out to you take pleasure in the serenity of what doesn’t.

About the author: Cody Schultz is a fantastic art photographer centered in Pennsylvania. The views expressed in this post are entirely people of the creator and interviewees. You can discover more of Schultz’s work on his site. This short article was also printed listed here.

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