One of the biggest mistakes you can make as a photographer is to use your dominant eye to compose your shots.
If you’re right-handed and use your left eye to look through the viewfinder, for example, then you’re using your non-dominant eye — and that’s not good.
The problem is that our eyes don’t see things exactly the same way. Your dominant eye might be dominant in terms of depth perception but not in terms of color perception. And these two elements are crucial to creating an image with proper perspective and balance.
How to determine which is your dominant eye
Here are a few ways to do it:
- In order to determine which eye is dominant, simply look at an object with both eyes open, then close one eye at a time and see which eye stays open longer before closing. The eye that stays open longer is the dominant one.
- Hold out both arms at shoulder height and close one eye. Without moving your head, slowly bring both hands together until they touch each other in front of your face. Then open both eyes again and look at where they meet in space — this should be right between them. If they meet on a different plane (one higher or lower than the other), you’ll know which one is your dominant eye by how much they were off from meeting at the same spot when both eyes were open.
- Look at yourself in a mirror or photograph yourself. Which eye appears larger? Your dominant eye is the one that appears larger in the reflection.
Hold up two fingers in front of your face at arm’s length and look at them with both eyes at once (don’t cross your eyes). Which finger appears closer? Your dominant eye is the one that sees that finger as closer.
Tips to use the dominant eye for photography
1. Learn to use your dominant eye.
Learning to use your dominant eye is much easier than most people think. When you are using your dominant eye, your brain has to adjust to make the other eye your second eye. The easiest way to do this is to close the non-dominant eye. When the non-dominant eye is closed, the brain will switch its focus to the dominant eye.
2. Keep your dominant eye open when taking pictures.
If you close your dominant eye when taking photos, you will only see with your non-dominant eye. You should do this if you have poor vision in your dominant eye.
3. Focus on one object when shooting.
To focus on one object, put your dominant eye near the lens and your non-dominant eye near the camera. If your non-dominant eye does not track properly, hold the camera as steady as possible, with your dominant eye still focused on the object.
4. Switch to your dominant eye when the other eye is tired.
When your non-dominant eye becomes tired, close it and switch to your dominant eye. Close it completely, as if you were trying to stop your non-dominant eye from working.
5. Be careful when using your dominant eye.
Don’t shoot with your dominant eye until you have learned to use it properly. The dominant eye is used more often than the non-dominant eye, so it will wear out faster than the non-dominant eye.
6. If you cannot see clearly with your dominant eye, use your non-dominant eye.
If you are unable to use your dominant eye clearly, use the non-dominant eye. But, make sure that your non-dominant eye is not tired.
7. Practice using both eyes.
Practice switching between using your dominant eye and the non-dominant eye. If you can do this, you will be able to do it more easily when you need to switch back and forth.