Focus & The Search For Flow

Thinking a bit this weekend about process and goals and methods, priorities and evaluating all of the same. The good news is that I’ve allowed myself (or forced myself, perhaps) to take that time and let my mind wander.

It always seems to come back to “balance” as a lynchpin. When time is tight and deadlines get near, I tend to get ultra focused on the goal. That’s good – but if you get too focused on that goal you can miss other issues and opportunites and get blindsided. Don’t lose track of the big picture. Focusing on landing the plane on the numbers and on the centerline is good, unless you lose sight of the flock of seagulls that you’re about to fly through with negative results.

There’s a thing folks talk about these days called “flow,” where you’re clicking on all cylinders, operating at a higher level, just churning out high quality results like they were flowing magically from your fingertips. I’ve occasionally gotten into the flow, and it is a sweet, sweet feeling. One aspect of it for me is that it’s not stressed or high pressure or tense. When I find the flow I’m relaxed, loose, and totally balanced. Think of a major league baseball pitcher who’s throwing a no-hitter or perfect game and it’s just smooth, like he’s on autopilot and can do no wrong.

But that’s wrong as well. You can’t be on autopilot, you have to have situational awareness, you have to be in control.

Which brought me back to the idea of “focus,’ but in a photographic sense. With my DSLRs, for “normal” photography I often have the camera set to autofocus, which is good and fast and easy most of the time. But I’m finding out that more and more, particularly with things like astrophotography, bird photography when they’re not in a simple location, critter photography where they’re trying to hide like their lives depend on it, then going to manual focus can be critical. Shooting into the shade at the base of the tree with a lizard there trying to look a lot like tree bark can fool the camera’s electronics. Peering into the sunlight and shadows of some lush fruit tree, your camera doesn’t know that you want to focus on that bird-like shape instead of those leaves. And looking at the Moon rising through the pine trees, some sensor and software designed ten or fifteen years ago doesn’t know to ignore the branches and make the Moon as sharp as possible.

This picture and the first one are a matched set, taken seconds apart with different techniques for focusing.

Keep track of your focus, assumptions, and situational awareness. Search for the flow – it’s out there. You can find it.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Please join the discussion, your comments are encouraged!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.