The eye dominance, or ocular dominance, is our tendency to prefer one eye over the other. Every one of us has this dominance, even if we are not aware of it. It is something natural, like being right-handed or left-handed, even if is subtler than that and many people do not realise it.
Eye dominance is particularly interesting for us photographers. It defines the way we keep our camera and the way we look at. Especially if you are a left eye shooter (like me), you probably tend to use your left eye, because of your eye dominance, to focus. With a DSLR, this means tilting your head one side to allow your left eye to sit comfortably on the view finder.
To me, the introduction of the Fuji X series has changed things. My left eye dominance has been helped by having a digital range finder. Care to read more about it?
Eye Dominance for a left eye shooter
As briefly mentioned, your eye dominance will dictate how you will hold your camera. With my old DSLR, I used to tilt my head towards my right side, to be able to sit on my left eye on the view finder. The real issue with being a left eye dominance photographer was that my right eye was looking straight at my hand. It was a pretty useless situation, because despite my eye dominance, I was not able to utilize both my eyes.
If I used my right eye on the view finder, the view from my left eye was still obstructed by the bulkiness of the camera. That was even a worse situation than the one described before, as my dominant eye was blind, giving all the job to the weak eye.
Fuji X and eye dominance
With the new digital range finders, especially the Fuji X which we are now using, the left eye dominance has changed the way I look at. Because Fuji X are so small, sitting my right eye on the view finder allows my left eye to be completely unobstructed. Because of eye dominance for a left eye shooter, having a clear view of what’s in front of you is of the utmost importance. My right eye’s role with the Fuji X is now to focus and frame, but after that, it is my left eye to do the most important work. Without being limited by a view finder, I can see the scene I want to photograph without impediments, big and bright. Capturing the moment is not any longer restricted by the camera and my eye dominance is a distinct advantage.
There is perhaps one caveat though. As photographers, we tend to concentrate our attention on the eye that is in the camera. Having a left eye dominance and using a Fuji X can give you a big advantage, but you have to learn to switch your attention from the eye in the viewfinder to the one which is free and unobstructed!
Balancing two opened eyes to make the most out of your left eye dominance
The first thing to do, in order to gain advantage of your left eye dominance and the Fuji X, is to shoot with both your eyes open. For some photographers, this can be difficult, but it is a skill that everyone can learn. Once you have mastered the trick of keeping both eyes open, it is now time to learn the second trick: switching your focus between your eyes. It is harder to say than to do: When you frame and focus, give your attention exclusively to your right eye, then switch and look at the scene with your left eye.
When you are preparing your photo, the right eye is the most significant as it is the one in the view finder. Check your exposure, your focus, the framing of the image and then stop! Stop there, the photograph is prepared, but then you have to wait for the right moment, don’t you? Switching your attention to your left eye, whose view on the scene is unobstructed, will give you the benefit of seeing things better. Your eye dominance, slightly impeded by the DSLRs, will not be a huge advantage for you. It will be easier for you to see the exact moment developing under your stronger eye when it is free to see the entire scene. The details will be sharper, bigger and more natural.
Is balancing your eyes simple? Or can you use a trick?
Mastering the balance between the two eyes is not the simplest task. The right eye, the one in the viewfinder, will always try to be the main one; it feels that being the one in the viewfinder gives it the dominance. That is not true of course, and forcing yourself to give your left eye the focus will bring the advantage to your eye dominance once more.
Luckily, you can use a trick to make your life easier: when it is time to have recourse to your left eye, just close the right one, the one in the viewfinder. This will give you the same results of balancing your vision through one eye or the other, but it will be much easier, at least in the beginning!