View, Look, See: Improving Your Photographic Eye

With a college student in art school who was leaning towards photography as a major just a few weeks ago, Learning To See Creatively by Brian Peterson seemed to be a natural choice as a Christmas gift.  Originally published in 1988 by an award winning photographer with a wealth of experience, the introduction in the revised edition had a relaxed, intimate tone that was so seductive, I found myself slowly turning page after page as I sat among piles of boxes and discarded wrapping paper.  My assessment? Peterson’s practical approach to thinking about design, color and composition can help even the casual picture taker improve the visual impact of their photos.

By the time I put the book down, I was already looking at the world around me with different eyes. I stood in front of the digital picture frame next to the Christmas tree and watched the beach photos I’d taken last summer flick by one at a time. Many of the basic elements of design were evident -- line, shape, form, texture -- but none of my pictures came close to approaching the level of the color plates in the manual.       

The author focuses on several techniques he actually uses in his work to see more creatively through the camera lens, including lying on his back and looking up, getting down on his knees, and elevating himself via ladders, balconies and cherry pickers to increase the drama of a composition. Peterson has worked with American Express, BP, Kodak, UPS and other corporate clients, providing them with images that adorn annual reports and print advertising campaigns. Each page contains a photo or series of photos, along with an explanation of the planning involved and the techniques that were used to show how the author achieved the end result.

Peterson’s enthusiasm for his craft is immediately evident. The zest with which he writes about the minor discoveries he made early on as a beginning pro, discoveries that helped to propel his career forward, keeps the reader fully engaged in subject matter usually rendered with sterile prose in a more traditional instructional style.

I also have a vivid memory of the first time I looked up with my 50mm lens. After spending most of one morning shooting autumn leaves on the ground in a large aspen grove, I decided to take a break. While lying on my back, I reached for my camera just to take a look at the canopy of trees and blue sky overhead. Wow! 

Learning To See Creatively by Brian Peterson

While exploring in my imagination the simple, easily implemented exercises the author included in each chapter, I reminisced about the 35mm camera I'd owned as a teenager and the struggles I had endured to try to get my exposures to look like the ones I saw in Photographic or Popular Photography.    

For a young art student, it is hard to know exactly which experience or resource will provide the impetus for their own small discoveries as they learn how to look at the world with a more perceptive eye. And even though our freshman is still feeling her way around the art world, I think the lessons in this book can help her immensely, whichever direction her artistic impulses ultimately take her.      

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Quantum entanglement. Conceptual artwork of a pair of entangled quantum particles or events (left and right) interacting at a distance. Quantum entanglement is one of the consequences of quantum theory. Two particles will appear to be linked across space and time, with changes to one of the particles (such as an observation or measurement) affecting the other one. This instantaneous effect appears to be independent of both space and time, meaning that, in the quantum realm, effect may precede cause.
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  • That's starting to change.
  • New quantum computer designs look like they might be scalable.

Quantum computing has existed in theory since the 1980's. It's slowly making its way into fact, the latest of which can be seen in a paper published in Nature called, "Deterministic teleportation of a quantum gate between two logical qubits."

To ensure that we're all familiar with a few basic terms: in electronics, a 'logic gate' is something that takes in one or more than one binary inputs and produces a single binary output. To put it in reductive terms: if you produce information that goes into a chip in your computer as a '0,' the logic gate is what sends it out the other side as a '1.'

A quantum gate means that the '1' in question here can — roughly speaking — go back through the gate and become a '0' once again. But that's not quite the whole of it.

A qubit is a single unit of quantum information. To continue with our simple analogy: you don't have to think about computers producing a string of information that is either a zero or a one. A quantum computer can do both, simultaneously. But that can only happen if you build a functional quantum gate.

That's why the results of the study from the folks at The Yale Quantum Institute saying that they were able to create a quantum gate with a "process fidelity" of 79% is so striking. It could very well spell the beginning of the pathway towards realistic quantum computing.

The team went about doing this through using a superconducting microwave cavity to create a data qubit — that is, they used a device that operates a bit like a organ pipe or a music box but for microwave frequencies. They paired that data qubit with a transmon — that is, a superconducting qubit that isn't as sensitive to quantum noise as it otherwise could be, which is a good thing, because noise can destroy information stored in a quantum state. The two are then connected through a process called a 'quantum bus.'

That process translates into a quantum property being able to be sent from one location to the other without any interaction between the two through something called a teleported CNOT gate, which is the 'official' name for a quantum gate. Single qubits made the leap from one side of the gate to the other with a high degree of accuracy.

Above: encoded qubits and 'CNOT Truth table,' i.e., the read-out.

The team then entangled these bits of information as a way of further proving that they were literally transporting the qubit from one place to somewhere else. They then analyzed the space between the quantum points to determine that something that doesn't follow the classical definition of physics occurred.

They conclude by noting that "... the teleported gate … uses relatively modest elements, all of which are part of the standard toolbox for quantum computation in general. Therefore ... progress to improve any of the elements will directly increase gate performance."

In other words: they did something simple and did it well. And that the only forward here is up. And down. At the same time.

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