Doug Stockdale's Singular Images

August 27, 2007

Looking and seeing today

Filed under: Photography — Doug Stockdale @ 4:35 pm

This morning was more about looking with the intent of seeing, which I feel is a subtle but important difference. I look all the time. But a lot of times it seems that I am in a state of quasi-awareness. What I look at does not always fully register and there are many times, e.g. a long drive, where I can not recall what it is that I had “looked” at in any detail.

So this morning, I had the camera ready, but I had decided that it was more important to see today. I had been photographing this section of my drive in Riverside County constantly last week. Now I felt the need to see this passing landscape, to internally reflect on what I was actually seeing and then to plan for what I want to photograph on subsequent drives.

The differences in the landscape between the Coastal freeway and the Inland Freeway have similar attributes to many areas of the world; the working class and those who may have risen “beyond” the working class. The Inland Emprire and thus the freeway running through it is very much the working class area of Southern California. You can see the differences readily. Perhaps that is what I want to capture, but then the question why? Has this type of comparison been done so many times before? What am I helping others to see?

Perhaps everyone when they are driving through the Inland Empire is probably in a state of quasi-awareness, driving, looking and not seeing. This is not a visually interesting place to capture your imagination. No rolling surf on the beach with palm trees framing your view like you would find on the Coastal freeway. The Inland Empire is very raw and has a lot of dusty tan dirt, with scraggly dry brush and barren rolling hillsides peppered with a few houses. It is a land in transition. You would rather be somewhere else than here.

Best regards, Doug


  1. Interesting coincidence: I posted on my blog yesterday on seeing and looking but use the opposite definitions to you. Looking requiring the active participation, rather than seeing.

    Comment by Martin Doonan — August 27, 2007 @ 7:54 pm

  2. Martin; as to looking and seeing; I defer to this diffinition for “look”; “To direct the eyes for the purpose of seeing something” But my real point is of course, to get focused on something to the point of trying to understanding it, whether you call this looking or seeing.

    Comment by Doug Stockdale — August 27, 2007 @ 10:09 pm

  3. Doug, agree completely with that sentiment.

    Comment by Martin Doonan — August 27, 2007 @ 10:24 pm

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