Photography is an amazing way to learn about focus. This is because the very act of viewing life through the lens of a camera can help us develop a truly empowering skill.
We call that skill focus, and learning to use it properly can transform our perception of the world around us and the people in it.
I believe that the power to change your reality is equal to your ability to focus your attention in the most beneficial direction at any given time.
3 things photography can teach us about focus
1. The higher the magnification, the narrower the field of vision. This principle is what allows you to use a telephoto lens to pick out a single face in a very large crowd. As you focus in on that one subject, the rest of the crowd disappears from view. Why does that happen? Because your field of vision narrows until the entire frame is filled with that one face.
When you take the picture, the crowd is excluded. It doesn’t mean that there is no crowd. It simply means that you don’t see them in the picture because that is not what you were focused on.
Application: Your perception is determined by what you focus on. This means that we can use our ability to focus our attention in a way that causes an empowering shift in our perception. It doesn’t matter whether we are looking at a person, situation, or an experience. We can control what our picture looks like by controlling what we choose to focus on.
If you focus intently on the positive aspects of any person, place, or thing, the negative aspects will fade into the background. They will still exist, but they will be outside of your field of concentration, and will have little or no influence on the picture you see.
2. Lighting has a huge influence on how you see things, and your ability to focus. If you set your camera on a tripod and focus it on a single object, the lighting will determine how you see that object.
Imagine that you have decided to photograph a magnificent tree that is standing alone on the top of a hill. If your camera remained stationary, and you took one picture every hour from sunup till sundown, what would you have? You would have twelve (or so) completely different photographs. Why? Even though the subject remained the same, the variation in lighting changed its appearance.
Application: The degree of value we choose to assign to anything we focus on can be compared to lighting. If it is something of great importance, we put a spotlight on it so we can see every detail. If it is relatively insignificant, we dial down the light so it doesn’t distract from the things that really matter.
If we assign too much value to (shine a spotlight on) things of little importance, they will overshadow the more valuable aspects of our life.
By assigning increased value to thing like gratitude, relationships, health, and honesty, we bring those things front and center in our life. This means that they move higher on our list of priorities and capture more of our attention. As a result, less empowering aspects of life will be relegated to a lower priority and receive less attention.
3. Shutter speed affects the quality and clarity of any photograph. Under glaring conditions, exposure time needs to be reduced to avoid overexposing the picture. When the lighting is poor, a slower shutter speed allows enough time for the available light to properly expose the image.
If you use a fast shutter speed in a low light situation, the image will not register. Your picture will be underexposed and worthless as a result. Using a slower shutter speed when trying to capture an action shot will give you a blurry picture devoid of details, also worthless.
Exposure time needs to change to fit the requirements of each situation. If it doesn’t, then quality and clarity are compromised.
Application: In life, we need to make choices about what we are willing to expose ourselves to, and for how long. We only have so many hours in a day. Learning to manage the time available is really a process of deciding how much time we spend on each activity.
If you stay too long at unimportant activities (overexpose yourself), you will end up underexposing yourself to the really important ones. Once again, exposure time needs to change to fit the requirements of each situation. We also need to acknowledge that some things are not worth exposing ourselves to at all.
Making positive changes in the quality of our life requires that we assign meaningful amounts of time to meaningful pursuits. If we don’t control our time, mundane activities will expand to fill the time available. By managing your time and adjusting your exposure, you will be able to give greater focus to activities that make a solid contribution to the quality of your life.
Auto focus, is it good or bad?
For most of us, photography is a point and shoot process. Automatic cameras require very little skill to produce fairly nice pictures. Truly exceptional photographs however, still require a skilled photographer to manually control the focus and shutter speed, and to recognize or create the perfect lighting.
High quality photos are still produced by those with enough skill to make the best use of the tools available. They want above average results, and they consider it worth their time and effort to develop the necessary skills.
What Kind of results do you want?
For a lot of people, life is just an average experience, it’s a point and shoot affair. Generally, this is not because they don’t want an exceptional life. It may be because they haven’t taken the time to develop the life skills required to produce exceptional results. Or perhaps, they never had an opportunity to learn those life skills in the first place. Whatever the reason, the skills are available for anyone desiring to live a truly exceptional life.
How about you, is average good enough, or do you want exceptional? When you look at your life, what kind of picture do you want to see?
Do you find it difficult to control your focus?
How much influence do you think focus has on perception?
The lines are open!