Depth Of Field

As I’ve noted before, there’s often a discrepancy between knowing something in your head and “knowing” it.

For example, I “knew” the whole time I was looking for a job that when I got one, my priorities and how I spent my time would change. When I was looking for a new job, I was working at the CAF and occasionally doing some consulting work, but that was all pretty loosy-goosey when it came to scheduling and time allocation.

When I had days when I wasn’t out at the hangar, I was filling out applications, looking for opportunities, writing, working on stuff around the house, and so on. Again, pretty loosy-goosey. There might be times when certain things had to be done at a certain time, but for the most part, I did what I did when I wanted to do it, putting my own pressure on myself to get things done on time.

Now, of course, it’s 09:00 to 17:30 (or later) at the office, then Saturday’s committed to being out at the hangar. That leaves just Sunday, which still has to start with breakfast with the Long-Suffering Wife and groceries, then see how much can get fitted in , despite the fact that I’m supposed to be resting at some point. (Having my beloved Chiefs beat the hated Raiders helped today.)

There were a couple of live events I had on the calendar today which would have been really cool to go see. Last night I was trying to figure out which one to go to, or even how to get to both… But I still need to get more of the Christmas lights up, we need to be ready to start sending out Christmas cards this week, we need to get the tree up, I’m behind on a bunch of other stuff such as tracking our personal finances, so we didn’t even try to get to either event. Despite that, time constraints meant I got only a fraction of those other things done either.

Then there’s sleep. As you might have noticed, most of my posts show up between 23:00 and midnight local time. In particular, during November almost all of the NaNoWriMo posts were posted between 23:55 and midnight. The fact that I didn’t have to be up at 06:00 had a lot to do with that.

Now I do have to be up at 06:00, or at least by 06:30, and I have to be alert and intelligent (hey, shut up down there in the peanut gallery!) when I get to work, so going to bed at midnight or 00:30 or 01:30 is a really bad idea.

To recap, significant changes, which are all for an excellent reason, I “knew” they would all be happening, and I’m thrilled they are – but knowing that and executing the plan are two different things.

Thinking about this tonight, it occurs to me there’s a physical effect that mimics this. Or maybe it’s the other way around.

In optics and photography, there’s an inverse relationship between aperture and depth of field. It’s not exactly advanced theory in photography, but most people aren’t aware of it. If you’re not familiar with the term, depth of field refers to the distance between the point near you where objects come into focus and the point further away where they go back out of focus.

If it’s very bright and you have your lens closed down to limit the amount of light entering (small aperture) you’ll get a very deep depth of field. Everything from very close to the lens all the way to the horizon will all be in focus. This is why scenes shot in broad daylight always show your family, the monument behind them, and the mountains in the distance behind everything all in good focus. It’s also why television and motion pictures always have those huge lights.

Bright –> small aperture –> deep depth of field –> almost everything in focus.

Conversely, if it’s dim, forcing you to open the lens way up to bring in more light (large aperture) you’ll get a very narrow depth of field. There might be a lot of things close to you that are out of focus, and a lot of things in the distance that are out of focus, but there will be a very narrow band in between that is in focus. This is useful to know if you want to take a picture that really draws the viewer’s attention to something in particular, you close down the lens so your subject is in sharp focus, while everything else blurs.

Dim –> wide aperture –> narrow depth of field –> almost everything blurry, only your subject in focus.

It’s similar to what’s happened to my priorities and scheduling.

While I was looking for a job, I had my mental aperture wide open. I had a huge depth of field. I was ready for anything, open to all sorts of options and possibilities, and everything was in focus, near to far. I was “a mile wide and an inch deep,” as they say.

Now, my mental aperture has shut down. I’ve got a very narrow depth of field. The new job, making sure I’m successful there, making sure I have time to spend with The Long-Suffering Wife and other family, my CAF duties – those few items are in sharp focus. Meanwhile, everything else is sort of fuzzy and catch as catch can.

I’m not sure it’s an observation which is particularly useful or profound, but I thought it was interesting.

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Filed under CAF, Christmas Lights, KC Chiefs

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