Seeing and observing

Quick post today as I am in the garden enjoying the sun. In England you must take your moments when you can. I found a passage in Sherlock Holmes, a scandal in Bohemia which captures my point perfectly between seeing and observing. Enjoy:

Watson: “When I hear you give your reasons,” I remarked, “the thing always appears to me to be so ridiculously simple that I could easily do it myself, though at each successive instance of your reasoning, I am baffled until you explain your process. And yet I believe that my eyes are as good as yours.”

Sherlock: “Quite so,” he answered, lighting a cigarette, and throwing himself down into an armchair. “You see, but you do not observe. The distinction is clear. For example, you have frequently seen the steps which lead up from the hall to this room.”

W: “Frequently.”

S: “How often?”

W: “Well, some hundreds of times.”

S: “Then how many are there?”

W: “How many? I don’t know.”

S: “Quite so! You have not observed. And yet you have seen. That is just my point. Now, I know that there are seventeen steps, because I have both seen and observed.”

When I sit to sketch a scene in the street or down by the shore I observe longer than I sketch. The ratio is probably 70% observing and 30% sketching. That might surprise people but it is vitally important that you look, really look.

I think this learning can be applied to all things. A hearty handshake from me to you.

Published by NCS

reader of great literature, teller of tales, photographer of mostly awful snaps but on occasion I am half decent.

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