Every link in the photographic chain, from the photographer first coming onto a scene to the viewer of a completed image, is influenced by subjective observation. In Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland a book with no pictures sends a dreaming Alice into a room filled with locked doors. A gold key located on a solid glass table fits the smallest of the doors hidden behind a curtain. While still large, Alice opens the door and peers through what is essentially a camera at a lovely garden that she can see but otherwise cannot enter. "...and even if my head would go through," thought poor Alice, "it would be very little use without my shoulders." With that declarative Alice is anything but poor as she has intuited the richness of the photographic experience.

    We have come to understand that a photographic image is not the same as direct perception thanks to the complications that arise from a whole spectrum of factors ranging from our culture, education, and personal experiences. Mental imaging, whether by the photographer or viewer, is subject to this phenomenon. Ebenezer Scrooge perceived the ghost of his partner Jacob Marley not as a disembodied spirit that was very much present standing in front of him but rather as "an undigested bit of beef, a blot of mustard, a crumb of cheese, a fragment of underdone potato. There's more gravy than grave about you, whatever you are!"

    Whether you are creating or viewing images you must understand how they appeal imaginatively to you. Are they golden keys or undone potatoes? Only you can say but the answer says much about how you will perceive that which you visualize during image creation or view in finished form.

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