Do other people spot more things when out walking than you do? Do you wish you were one of life’s ‘noticers’? How is it that some people have an eye for everything – nature, weather, history, terrain...?
‘Look at those clouds, it looks like rain is on its way,’ one of your companions will say, while you’re left wondering which direction, exactly, you’re meant to be looking. Sat in the pub after your walk, they will continue, ‘So, do you think there are more or less beech trees than there used to be? We certainly saw plenty of signs of them today, didn’t we?’ Yet it’s winter, you think, so what signs of tree populations are really visible at this time of year?
Our visual perception of any walking journey is all in the choice of the way we use our eyes. As humans, we’ve got just two eyes (more’s the pity!) so we can’t look at everything, all of the time. The human eye is very effective and, on average, we each enjoy a 180-degree forward-facing horizontal field of view and a vertical range of about 135 degrees. We can distinguish about 10 million colours and we enjoy a good perception of depth. Unlike some animals, we do need good levels of daylight to be able to see well, but the detailed richness of our vision is the trade-off for not being able to see in very low light (no matter how many carrots we eat!).
So where is it best to look, and what is there to see? Up or down? Near, middle or far distance? The answer is simple – you need to work hard and do all of the above, swapping between them often. It is all too easy to get trapped in a bubble, looking only at a small area just ahead of you, and missing the myriad of wonders that the landscape has to offer. Over the next few weeks I’ll be exploring the highlights you’ll find in the various heights and depths of vision when you’re out walking. Coming soon...the benefits of looking down!