I am trying to learn watercolor sketching so that I can get better at backgrounds so today when I went kayaking, I brought along my watercolor sketching stuff. As an aside, if you do this 1. Do not go when there is any breeze at all. I kept drifting away from my viewpoint and I'm not coordinated enough to paddle and paint at the same time. 2. Do not take your dog :) (Mine loves to kayak but doesn't love to sit in one place while I try to paint.)
Anyway, I ended up taking photos and then using a recording app to record notes about what I was seeing. Just having to describe out loud the values, colors, light, shadows, focal point, appeal of the scene, etc. was in itself a great exercise, and then when I got home and compared my notes with the photos, it was fascinating. The photos lose a lot of the color and value, which I had suspected they would, but I also realized that the objects I focused on when I was describing it were not at all dominant in the photo but were really quite small. The frame of the photo forced them into a realistic perspective of sizes and shapes that my brain skipped right over when looking at it.
For what it's worth, I would recommend this exercise if you want to understand how your brain sees something versus how a photo sees it. It's actually a little surreal.