Can you compose better with your left eye? : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

This may not be the proper forum for this question, but there isn't a section called "Crackpot theories vaguely connected with photography". ;^)

OK. Here goes.
The theory that the right hemisphere of the brain is devoted to visual processing and creativity, while the left deals with language and logic, now seems to be a pretty well established fact. It's also a physical fact that the left eye is connected directly to the creative right side of the brain, and vice versa.
Now, the author of a book I'm currently reading, suggests that, because of this direct connection from the left-eye to the right-brain; using the left eye should result in more awareness of aesthetics, composition, colour, etc.
I'm naturally right-eyed, so I'm going to see if my pictures improve by deliberately viewing with my non-dominant left eye.

Anyway, I'd like to know if anyone else has tried this, and whether you know if any study has shown that naturally left-eyed photographers or artists make more creative and stunning pictures?
Further; if you consider yourself a creative genius, are you left-eyed?
[Simple test for which is your dominant eye: Hold your finger at arms length, and with both eyes open, line it up with an object in the distance. Now close one eye. If the finger and object stay in line, then you've still got your dominant eye open. If the finger seems to jump out of line, then you've just closed your dominant eye.]

Before you send round the guys in white coats. Yes, I do need a holiday, and I'll be taking one, as of tomorrow.

-- Pete Andrews (, August 03, 2001


Stateside it's so early I have trouble getting either eye open. I am right handed and left eyed (I believe the official title for this is cross dominant vision). The only problem with this inherited feature is with an SLR or rangefinder camera. Before auto winders I had to be careful not to put my right thumb in my eye to advance the film. Maybe that was the reason I went to large format 8)

So, virtually every photograph I have made has been with my left eye. And as with all photographers, 99% of them are forgettable.

Have a pleasant holiday.

-- Joe Lipka (, August 03, 2001.

I certainly don't fit into the "creative genius" category, but I am left-eyed (and right-handed). There have been a few similar discussions in the general forums, see "Hand vs. Eye Dominance among photographers". It seems that a majority of photographers are left-eyed, though a discussion forum doesn't exactly meet the rigor of a scientific study. :-)

-- Scott Bacon (, August 03, 2001.

I'm left eye dominant, right handed. I used to use my left eye for viewing with small amd medium format cameras, then I had a left eye injury so I switched to using my right eye. I seem capable of making just as many mediocre photographs using my right eye as I did when I used my left eye.

-- Brian Ellis (, August 03, 2001.

As a professional of forty years and having a fine formal education in photography, I thought I would pass along a few comments on this very refreshing question...from my own experiene and from many famous professionals I know and have worked with over the years. Fine pictures are not created with the eyes. They are created in the mind, before the shutter trips. Amateurs 'take' pictures....professionals 'make' pictures. Eyes just send data to the brain where the creative decision is made to create, or not. What you decide to shoot is just as important as how you might shoot it. Deciding to not photograph something, is also a creative process decision. If you don't have 'something to say' will be hard to create something meaningful. Getting past the technology aspect of photography is one of the most difficult aspects to consider on the road to making fine photographs. It is only when our equipment and technique is mastered and then put aside....can we proceed thinking about what makes a fine photograph...and begin that final part of the creative process. Great photographers are often offended when an admirer ask them what kind of equipment they used to make the shot. They are interested in the final, end image,...not the road may or equipment they used to get to their final destination..the photograph.

-- Richard Boulware (, August 03, 2001.

Never really thought about this as an "eye" thing - I usually leave the actual camera setup until after I have the composition already in my mind. it's about 80% working without the camera finding the right composition, with both eyes open, then the remaining 20% with the camera working out focus, movements, metering, etc. I've always assumed this was the way most photographers did it - but I'll check out the "eye" theory later today - enjoy your vacation.

-- Michael Mahoney (, August 03, 2001.

Foiled by physiology! In just about every aspect of our physiology, one side of the body is controlled by the other side of the brain. In a cruel twist that severely hampers this particular crack-pot theory, the eye is controlled by the side of the brain that it is found on. I too thought that this might be the source of my brilliant compositional abilities, until a physiologist pointed this out to me. He also let me know that I have delusions of granduer. Yes, I am right handed and left eyed, and no I am not brilliant (I've got to say this - my wife is watching me type)


-- Graeme Hird (, August 03, 2001.

Hi Pete, I had noticed that when composing with my non-dominant left eye, I tend to compose with lots of interest in the foreground. With my right eye, I concentrate on things in the distance. Don't know what this may or may not mean, but as I am also going on holiday next week, if you see a short, cross-eyed photographer on the Norfolk coastline struggling with tilts and shifts, I'll buy you that pint I keep promising. Dave.

-- dave bulmer (, August 03, 2001.

Pete; I'm surprised some anatomicaly aware guys have not chimed in with the fact that the left eye is not totally connected with the right side of the cortex. 1/2 of the left optic nerve, as it enters the Optic Chiasma, goes to the left side as does 1/2 of the right nerve. Sorry to shot down the theory. This is from Dental School Anatomy/Physiology 1952, but I think it's correct.

-- George Nedleman (, August 03, 2001.

i've always noticed, when looking through a 35mm camera, that my eyes have quite different senses of balance. if i compose with my right eye, the image frequently looks out of balance when wviewed with the left eye, and vice versa. when shooting with 35mm i always make sure to look with both eyes until i get an image that satisfies both eyes.

but, of course, a view camera lets us compose with both eyes at once, which to me is one of its great attributes.


-- chris jordan (, August 03, 2001.

Well let me think, I'm dominant with my right eye, hear mostly with my left ear, I'm left handed, my right armpit itches more than my left, and most of the time I sit on my right buttock.

Maybe if I wiggle the toes on my left foot while I rub my right kneecap with my left arm when I fire the shutter, it'll improve my pics.

On the days that I forget to use my deodorant, I seem to go from people photographer to landscape photographer. Maybe if I just use deodorant on my right armpit it'll get people on the side where my dominant eye is.

By the way, Ray Charles is a creative genius, so which eye is he using? I typed this with both eyes closed.


-- Jonathan Brewer (, August 03, 2001.

When I read this, I tried to recall my neuroanatomy. It's been more recent than George, but still far enough away to be a bit hazy. But I think George is right.

The control of the eyes by the same hemisphere refers, as I recall, to the nerves controlling the muscles that move the eyes (cranial nerves III, IV, VI).

Check out

for a picture of how it works.



-- Dave Willis (, August 03, 2001.

I've been nearly blind in my left eye since childhood. Without my pemission, my body has compensated by using my right eye for almost everything. I can read with my left, but not on a CRT. So if I make a good photograph I chock it up to seeing like a camera does. Even though I'm close enough to see clearly on the ground glass with either eye, subconsciously my right eye takes over.

-- Jim Galli (, August 03, 2001.


Optic nerves from each eye project into each hemisphere in the occipital lobes. The optic nerve from each eye crosses over into the contralateral hemisphere at the optic chiasm. The eye is for neurologic purposes a hemisphere itself that is divided into left, right, upper and lower quadrants. Each quadrant has representation in the occipital lobes. The processing of basic sensory information may be performed in varios other areas of the cortex...the projections from the occipiatl lobes lead in many directions. Whether and what the "right hemisphere" of the brain has to do with composing an image is complicated beyond the simple notions of right brain dominance over non-verbal function...


Robb Reed

-- Robb Reed (, August 03, 2001.

Yet another otherwise fine mind ruined by psychology.

-- Chad Jarvis (, August 03, 2001.

i've always noticed, when looking through a 35mm camera, that my eyes have quite different senses of balance. -- chris jordan August 03, 2001. I have noticed the same thing. I thought it was me, for I hate 35mm. Not for it's mechanical perfection but my problems with viewing. My right eye seems to cast the subject to the left a tad. In the studio this shift amounted to 1/2 inch on 5x7 print. The left seemed to be consistently better although not as sharp. Oh well, back to the ground glass.

-- Greg Pratt (, August 04, 2001.

Thanks guys! I've enjoyed my holiday immensely, and my critical reasoning has returned to its normal, and amusedly cynical, level. In other words, I can now laugh heartily at my previous gullibility.

My own knowledge of physiology is sketchy, and I was taking for granted the information that was put forward in the book I was reading. Since it was written by a Cambridge professor (albeit of Physics), I thought he might know what he was talking about. Apparently not.
The whole thing is based on some research which tends to show that human females are statistically 'prettier' (a very un-PC choice of words, I know, perhaps the word 'attractive' might be better) on the right side of their face.
This gives rise to the theory that the collective male left-eye is the one that judges female aesthetic.
Or, (my own theory, and more likely, IMHO) the right side of the face gets more exercise, and so has better muscle tone.

Anyway, be all that as it may, I did try the left eye thing for my holiday snaps, and it did seem to give a slightly different 'perspective' on things. However, since the pictures weren't a ha'p'orth (colloquialism for 'halfpenny-worth') better, I don't think I'm going to be making a concious effort to change eyes.
I'll be a bit more critical of crackpot theories in future. Thanks again, especially to those of you with a better knowledge of physiology and anatomy.

-- Pete Andrews (, August 13, 2001.

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