Exposing Yourself

It was another early morning and taking my slow-shutter speeds again to the lake, seemed like a distinctly better alternative to sitting in front of the PC waiting for the rest of the world to come alive.

Other than getting there early enough to be able to get some shots at 30 seconds, I must admit to not having anything by way of a plan in my mind.

It was going to be a clear start to another beautiful day here in Florida, and a goal of 30 seconds open shutter, ruled out one of the three possibilities here at Lake Parker. For this slow a shutter speed, I needed a very dark environment as ambient light kills the shot.

And putting myself in alligator danger the previous morning on the south side of the lake made me a little bit iffy about going there again in total darkness.

So, my decision was made for me … it had to be the dock at the boat ramp on the north end of the shore. I’ve used this spot a million times already for sunrises, but such slow shutter speeds might give me a different perspective to work with.

And I was right; the wonderful violets of the dark sky made up for the familiar foreground and produced images with a different feel. I have put a number of them here at the end of the blog and I hope you enjoy.

I had great fun getting them. They are all tripod mount shots with a ten second timer and a thirty second shutter speed setting. Absolutely none of them have been photoshopped other than turning the third one black and white.

Everything you see here is exactly what the camera saw at these settings. Isn’t it gorgeous time of day?

For my part, the fun was getting into position within the ten seconds after pressing the shutter release button. Anything that had me at the end of the pier was a little risky as I had to run like crazy to get there but make sure to brake sharply so as not to end up in the water.

Then holding yourself perfectly still for thirty seconds is no mean feat. Apart from natural wobbliness, I had to count to thirty before moving, as I had no other way of telling whether the shutter was open or not.

There are a couple of shots where I tricked the camera, running into position and holding for 7 or 8 seconds before moving into a second position and holding that for the rest of the duration.

The end result was an effect that looked like a ghostly double exposure.

There wasn’t an audience at that time of morning so I was really only exposing myself to the camera. But in truth I have done similar stuff when the odd person is about. Yes, you appear a bit silly, but that’s ok. It’s worth it.

As I drove home I smiled at how much I had put myself in the pictures and laughed at some of my goofy moments. And that is where the whole thought of exposing yourself and why we do or don’t do it, began to play out in my head.

Ridicule is a consequence that stops so many people in their tracks and the thought of exposing themselves to it is particularly acute, the more adult you become.

Children generally don’t have this problem. They certainly aren’t born with it and only pick it up over time when their efforts to sing, play out, or express themselves, draw criticisms that cut their unbridled confidence.

Such criticisms can have life-long effects and growing up rarely assuages the feeling that whatever this person is about to try might make them look silly. Isn’t that a shame?

I don’t know what the percentage there is of people that shy away from exposure, but if you said it was more than 80%, I would believe you.

In fact, it is the people that risk exposure that prove to be the more dominant in life’s success. Actors, singers, activists, writers, and those we just refer to as “personalities” … these people have all risked looking silly and have developed a life beyond the exposure.

This might be one of the reasons why we admire them so much and follow them, living vicariously through their success.

To their fans, they have star qualities that us mere mortals don’t have, but how many children with similar qualities never made it because of the fear of exposing themselves?

Adults tend to live quietly within the mainstream guidelines, going to and from work, not asking “stupid” questions, and dressing appropriately.

We don’t wear pink and purple hair, burst into song in front of our peers, or act out our fantasies to an audience (outside our bedroom).

The fact that your wife or husband turns out to be the one that knows “the real you” is not so much a statement on how long you’ve been together but rather that they are the one person you expose yourself to.

Isn’t that sad? Given that 90% of relationships fail (recent study I found), that means that nine out of ten times the person that knows the real you is not likely to be your best publicist.

So, 9 out of ten times, the person that you finally do expose yourself to is the person most likely to ridicule or demean you for it.

Exposing yourself to ridicule is a talent that we need to preserve within our fabric as people, as it sustains elements of you that will otherwise disappear over time. You don’t have to be Frank Sinatra to burst into song occasionally.

In Ireland, folks tend to be less obsessed with looking silly and they will frequently have sing-songs at pubs and parties. They will have open-mic night poetry corners, and friendly if-not-intelligent political debates. Opinions are welcome and listened to and ridiculing is generally left to the more weak-minded observer.

America seems to have inherited the importance of appearance from the British. It is a national weakness there on a scale that “Keeping Up Appearances” is quite openly laughed at.

Sidebar: “Keeping Up Appearances” was an excellent British comedy series on the absurdity of this obsession … seek it out, it is well worth the watch.

Anyway, I wasn’t trying to digress. I was trying to ponder as to why certain societies have a greater prevalence or propriety while others, not so much.

Frankly, I attribute this behavior to wealth and the class-system that permeates because of it. Those with the money like to be seen as rich and attached to that is the appearance of being better than those who don’t.

So the fear of exposing themselves to not being better, is greater in a society that places any emphasis on wealth and class.

When is the last time you heard about these folks having a good old sing song where uncle Johnny froggishly belting out a chorus of My Way? Or aunt Julie sharing a little poem she made up about her favorite puppy?

I am not saying we need to drop our shorts and moon the old ladies at Target. Nor always be the loud voice at work telling the boss that you know exactly how this business needs to be run.

But we owe it to ourselves to just occasionally take a risk and sing a verse or share a poem … or whatever it is that we feel very shy about doing. I mean chances are that we won’t suddenly find ourselves catapulted into fame and fortune because of it.

But we will have vented a little something from within us. A little voice from our inner child. And just for a moment a glimmer of light will rebound within our soul and we will have shared just a little more of ourselves with the world. And the world will be brighter because of it.

… just a thought.