Tag Archives: Focus

Time for a Lens Change?

Way back in junior high (in the last century), I learned about photography with 35mm SLR cameras.  These were the “real thing.”  They were a far cry from the cheap Instamatics that everyone I knew used at the time.

We learned about shutter speeds, f-stops, light meters, focus points, passive and active lighting, shadows, framing, composition, film types, and lenses.

Did we want to capture the action close-up, or in the distance?  Blur the action, or stop it?  Shadow the subject, or light it?  Black and white, or color?  Grainy or smooth?  Focus on the foreground or the background?  Capture the subject from the left, or right?

It didn’t matter if we were photographing a mountain, a flower, a person, or a can of tomatoes.  Using all the tools at our disposal, we controlled what happened in each photo.

Don’t even get me started on developing film in a darkroom.  We learned about that too.  More ways to control the image that appears in the photo.  For younger readers, darkrooms are the place where the exposed film was transformed into photos.  Using various methods, we could edit an image like you can today in your phone’s photo editor or Photoshop.

The main lesson about all this wasn’t the tools and techniques of photography. It was the realization that the camera was only a tool to capture a moment.  That moment, with all its beauty, drama, imperfections, and emotions.

More specifically, the camera captures a feeling that comes from the image and our memory of that feeling.  The image is merely a pathway to our feelings about the subject.

We capture moments and feelings every day.  Usually without a camera.  We control how these moments and feelings appear on the canvas that matters the most.  In our heart and in our mind.

If the world seems to be against you, and all you see is ugliness and despair, that’s probably because of the way you’re choosing to see the world.

If everything is amazing and perfect, that’s also a result of the way you’re choosing to see the world.

Neither view is 100% accurate.  Reality has its ups and downs.  We face challenges and triumphs, victories and defeats, every day.

The key is to understand that we have way more to do with the way these moments are captured and interpreted than anyone or anything in our world.

We control our settings.  We control our lenses.  We choose where we focus.

Ultimately, we choose how to frame our moments.  Not the other way around.

Photo by Warren Wong on Unsplash

Balancing Attention

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I’ve read countless articles and blog posts about work/life balance.  They generally focus on the rigors of managing a business in a 24-hour-a-day cycle.  Some are from the manager’s perspective, and others are from the worker’s point-of-view.

Most articles mention sacrifices.  How families, spouses, kids, friends, and even our own health and welfare, are forced into the back seat while our hero focuses on the challenges of his/her career path.  There’s usually some kernel of wisdom…justification for the decisions being made by all involved.

Achievement rarely happens without hard work, focus, determination, sacrifice, and making the (hopefully) right choices.  What are the right choices?  That varies for each person.

One thing that doesn’t vary for each person is the value of their time.  Time is the most precious and fleeting commodity in our lives.  We can’t control time.  We only control how we spend it.

Attention is the currency we use for spending time.  Like time, our attention is limited.  Unlike time, we control our attention.  We decide what deserves it, and what doesn’t.

Work/life balance isn’t really about the demands of the job.  It’s not about the oppressive boss who demands our continuous availability, or employees who need input and direction at all hours.  It’s definitely not about checking our email or social feed every fifteen minutes.

Regardless of its details, if there is such a thing as work/life balance, it comes down to two things:

  • Realizing that we decide where to focus our attention.
  • Whether we decide consciously or not, our actions make our attention decisions a reality.

Photo credit:  Diane Anderson (my wonderful mother-in-law), who focuses (pun intended) a lot of her attention on making beautiful art with her camera.

A great thing happened last night…

Our phone, internet and cable TV stopped working.  We used my cell phone to notify our provider and schedule a technician to visit this morning.

Janet had an early morning appointment, so she was up and out of the house early.  Rather than eat my breakfast while watching some Sunday morning show, or something I had previously recorded, I sat out on the patio and enjoyed my Coach’s Oats with a cut up banana…and a hot chocolate.

Far from silence, I was sitting in the middle of a chorus of bird songs.  The flutter of wings, and the squeaks of hummingbirds greeted me as I sat there.  Everything else was quiet, and while I sat motionless, a flock of quail strolled in to sample the seeds I had put out on the hill behind our house.  They didn’t even notice me as they milled about, chirping at each other and eating.

After finishing breakfast, I didn’t check my email.  I didn’t check my news feed in FaceBook.  I didn’t check out my Twitter feed.  I didn’t pop-up Zite.  I didn’t fire up my favorite Pandora channel.

I grabbed my Kindle and read.  This is something usually reserved for the final sleepy minutes of my day, around bedtime.  A big reading session at that time is about fifteen minutes.  This morning, I read for about two hours.  It’s amazing how fast I can read when I’m actually awake and not distracted.

Of course, there were times when the bird action around me was so intense that I couldn’t help but stop reading and enjoy the show.  I also heard an argument going on up the hill from our house between a mom and her twenty-something daughter.  It’s sad that they were spending their early Sunday time arguing.  Seems like a waste of a glorious morning.

I hear the technician arriving out front.  I wonder if I should answer the door when he knocks.

P.S.  Since you’re seeing this post, you guessed it…I answered the door.  We may be back on the grid, but we plan to make this house a grid-free zone on a regular basis going forward.