Square Mile Revisited – Gara’s Round: A Guide for Dogs

Further to my last post on the Square Mile assignment, coming back to the trough in the original final set, the thought is growing that it might be enlightening to reshoot the walk again from the viewpoint of the dog, about a foot off the ground.  Not good for my back perhaps but  thought provoking!  It was certainly a more enjoyable shoot, leading to some puzzled looks from neighbours and particular interest from one very curious black lab! As at least an experiment here are some trial shots to see if the concept could work – a contact sheet with all of the shots and a final set of six images.

This set does not by any means cover the whole walk, indeed no more than about a third, but nevertheless enough to give a flavour.

Dogs see the world differently from humans and while we evidently know quite a lot about how dogs see we do not know exactly what they actually see.  What I have therefore done with this set is to give an impression of what it seems to me their world might look like.

Four aspects of dog vision are important here.  They have a wider field of vision, about 250 degrees, as opposed to 190 for us.  Their binocular overlap is though much more limited at just 75 degrees, and for most dogs their visual acuity is limited to no more than 20 feet.  Also, whilst they do not as popularly thought see only in black and white, they are nevertheless effectively red/green colour-blind.  (See, for example, www.servicedogcentral.org/content/node/391.)

I estimate that dogs’ binocular overlap equates roughly to a lens set at 28mm focal length.  I did not feel though that this gives a result that is sufficiently different from what the human eye would see.  Therefore, allowing for dogs’ generally wider field of vision, I have taken the shots at 18mm, allowing the wide angle and low view point to create a more “alien” view.

To reflect the lesser acuity I have gone for a shallow depth of field, setting aperture at f/4.  This is probably an exaggeration but again helps to make more of a contrast with human sight.

To deal with the limited colour vision I have simply reduced the red and green colour saturation to zero in Photoshop.  The overall effect is much greyer than is natural to us, and what appears green is effectively no more than the combination of yellow and blue light, which dogs apparently see particularly well.

(All shots were taken in Aperture Priority, ISO 100, AWB set for daylight.)

Does it work?  Yes, I think so.  My tutor has encouraged me to be more adventurous with camera angles and I hope this goes at least some way towards that!  Certainly the more radical points of view make for images that are striking and that I feel are capable of standing in their own right divorced from the set as a whole.

I chose this particular set because of the specific impact that I feel each has.  I could though easily have chosen a different group of images that would have been equally as valid and worthy of being put forward to represent the whole.

Whereas the original set was designed to act as a visual guide through the walk what I wanted to do this time is to focus mostly on points of interest to a dog – all places that my dog pays particular attention to.  The verticals are all significant for reasons I am sure I do not need to spell out!  This focus does make it harder to establish the route and a sense of progression visually but there are still hints of that, it is just that the next stopping sites along the route are less immediately obvious.  To create the same sense of continuity as with the human eye view it would be necessary to take significantly more photos, probably every few metres.

The only thing that is missing, and is of course all the more important from a canine point of view, is scent and have no idea how it might be possible photographically to even start to represent that sense!



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