Optical Experiments

Morgan just bought me a couple of neat glass pieces so last night I took them off down to Tampa to see what they could do for me.

There is a glass sphere and a glass cube and the sphere is just less than 4 inches in diameter while the cube seems to be just less than 3 inches wide. They are both high clarity glass specifically for photography, so I had a thrill of anticipation as I headed out.

I wanted it to be dark, so that I could rely on the ambient city lights and with all the lovely changing colors at the riverwalk, that is where I headed to.

I am very much a morning person, so it takes a lot to get me out of the house after dark. By then, my 5 o’clock start in the morning is normally having its toll on me and my energy is failing.

It was also going to be a journey on my own, so the only motivation really was the new “toys” to play with and perhaps something new to learn.

The sphere had a tiny little tripod with a suction cup that holds the sphere in place and the cube had a 1/4 inch hole drilled into it, so that I was able to use an extending arm from the top of the camera to secure it in place.

The riverwalk is very much the center of night-life these days in Tampa. At least for all the good looking folk. It was teaming with life last night; beautiful guys and girls of all shapes and sizes, holding hands, cycling, scootering, roller-blading, whatever.

It was very much the place to be.

Nobody seemed to mind that I was kneeling down in the middle of this traffic with weird looking glass things immediately in front or dangling from my camera. Some people even stopped and asked and were in awe at what the camera was seeing.

I have attached a little collection of images from the shoot at the end of the blog, so I hope you like some of them!

I left downtown after an hour or two, very happy and confident in what I had shot. I also felt happy to be there as a little part of a vibrant city, full of happy humans, all living their lives fully on a Monday night.

But what really caught my mind as I drove home was the whole experimentation aspect of what I had done.

Photographic experimentation is how photographers stretch themselves and become better at their trade. It comes with a sense of ignorance of what will really happen, so there has to be a willingness to fail in what you are doing.

I was proud of myself for taking the risk and learning something new in the process. And maybe one day I will actually understand what I am doing when I try to take certain pics.

But really the experimentation that I want to address here, was bigger than just photography.

When we are young, everything is an experiment. It is how we learn. From the moment we first try to stand up on our two feet and take a step, we learn what works and what doesn’t.

When we become older, we often relax back into the mode of repeatedly doing the same stuff. This is the stuff we have already learned and are happy with. It might be our favorite restaurant, or our favorite place to watch a sunset, or a favorite pastime that helps us unwind after our day.

Somewhere in adulthood, we transition from knowing nothing to thinking we know everything and ultimately settling on everything we think we need to know.

It is such a shame to limit ourselves in life’s experience, just because we have found a comfort zone. Life is so much bigger than any ability we have to learn, so there is always something new to learn, no matter our age.

I remember my Mam and Dad learning some internet basics in their late seventies and eighties before they both died. It wasn’t something they needed to know in order to run out their lives. But, it was something that they wanted to know and so they did.

Keeping our bodies active as long as we do now, is clearly understood as being important in terms of quality of life. But so too is keeping our brains active. And there is no better way to keep your brain active than to always try to learn something.

We have to be willing to abandon our comfort zone and reach for something that may be difficult to understand, but the rewards are immeasurable and very much worth the stretch.

I remember my Grannie many years ago moan at how we spend all our lives accumulating knowledge and then at the end it comes to nothing because it fades with you when you die. But I disagree with her because the knowledge we gain is to enhance the experience of how we are living. Our ability to venture along different roads on our journey through life.

Grannie’s journey included driving in the very first automobile that was on the roads of my home city, she lived through the Irish Civil War, freedom from British tyranny, both world wars, and ultimately Ireland becoming part of the European Union. Her journey included learning decimal currencies in her later years as the prior pounds, shillings, and pence disappeared. So her learning was very real and very much a part of her life’s experience.

Our own life’s experience is very much shaped by the events that happen in our lifetime, but also by how we involve ourselves in everyday life. If we choose to do only the things we are good at, then our world becomes very small.

I guess what I am trying to say is try to look at your life last month and ask yourself what new thing that you learned. And then look at the coming month and ask yourself what you might learn.

Stretch your mind and live a more full life.

… just a thought!