THE MOTHER OF ALL RUBIK'S CUBES
21st January 2017
JUST THE BEGINNING
I'm fascinated by challenge, more often than not, routine and comfort leave me on edge, and generally dissatisfied. For my entire childhood, and transition into university, my hunger for challenge was satiated by throwing my life into rugby. Eventually, in part due to injuries, but undoubtedly for other personal reasons beyond, rugby stopped satisfying my hunger, and I found myself stuck in a rut. The worst part about a rut is not so much your dissatisfaction with your life, as much as simply not being cognizant of your situation. Once you've accepted that you are unhappy and bored, you can immediately start taking measures to mend the psychological wounds. If you can't pinpoint the source of your frustration, you simply float through time, generally less interested in life, but never quite sure why. Lucky for me, I was eventually able to source my frustration; a lack of challenge. Or more formally known in psychology, a need for achievement.
Psychology Disclosure: For those of you interested in figuring out what makes you tick, I would highly recommend looking into Need Theory. Developed in the 60s by psychologist David McClelland, it aims to group human motivation into three general categories. Need for Achievement, Power, or Affiliation. The groups are by no means exclusive, but often you will find yourself heavily leaning towards one of the three. My link is simply to the Wiki page, but if you do some digging from there, you will find a lot of great information that is very easily accessible.
Anyways, moving on! About 15 months ago, and partially to the credit of a few great friends to whom I will be forever grateful, I found myself in the hands of a cheap camera. I took to my new hobby with nearly obsessive haste, almost immediately I found myself wanting to get out and shoot every single day. I'd spend nights reading articles, techniques, reviews, opinions, and more online. I found myself trying to plan trips with friends at any and every given opportunity, it started consuming most of my mental capacity. And it all happened so fast, too fast for me to really take a moment, reflect, and really ask myself, why do I like this so much? I sat on this thought for months, particularly whilst mushroom picking this summer, where we were spending up to ten hours alone each day to let our brains wander in the woods for nearly two months. Quite recently, I have become confident that I have found the answer, photography. To me it represents challenge, and there are quite a few ways in which said challenge manifests, but I will focus on just two. Photography physically bringing me to challenging situations, and the camera itself, the mother of all Rubik's Cubes.
First, and more brief, photography has physically brought me to places where I am constantly challenged, and well beyond any standard notion of comfort. I absolutely love camping and hiking. Spending time in the back country always finds intriguing methods to put your life into perspective, it forces you into novel attempts at finding comfort, creating that much more appreciation for those slightly more cozy times. Whether it be spending NYE sleeping in a Quinzee at -15c, living in the Northeastern Oregon forests for seven weeks with a few close friends, or staying up till 3 am, standing in the freezing cold for hours with frozen hands, doing my best to picture the billions of stars above. Every challenge is novel, exciting, and increasingly enticing. Pushing beyond your comfort zone simply increases your capacity for the definition of comfort. Whilst I've always loved putting myself out there, I somehow too often lacked necessary motive. Motive which finally manifested itself in the form of photography.
A camera is a Rubik's cube. It's a portable pocket sized challenge that, in all truth, you've got no excuse not to bring with you anywhere you wish to go. In a sense, much like a Rubik's cube, it's incredibly formulaic. You start with a single photograph, then you reflect, too dark? let's bump up that exposure. Too much? Okay, lets bring it back down. What's next? Aperture? ISO? How about taking a step to the left? Any better? Okay how about two to the right and five back, how's the framing now? Worse again? Scrap it all, let's go back to the original spot, and start again. Even with one lens, you find yourself with virtually endless possibilities to capture a scene, all culminating to a final product, a picture you are happy with, a finished Rubik's Cube. You see, every photograph you take is an upright challenge to your capabilities. You engage in a staring contest with any picture you take, unfortunately, it's cold metal casing never blinks, instead it pokes the question, 'are you satisfied?'. If that answer is ever no, you know what you have to do, start again. Happy now? Great, we're not even close to done. Now the editing starts, this is where those style points you've eager to put to use finally come in handy. A modern day camera, taking a picture in RAW format, will give you between 15-40MB of data in any given single picture. The possibilities for innovation are entirely endless, a never ending wheel of colour and texture is at the disposal of your manipulation. Your challenge, is just beginning.
Photography Challenge : Bali In Motion
This December I went to visit my family in Bali for 13 days. Before leaving I set myself to challenge, to start and finish a time-lapse video before I left the country. 13 days, 6500 photos, and a whole bunch of hours editing later, here we are. Check my full write-up here!
BEYOND THE CUBE
Here is where we diverge from the comfort of our Rubik's cube analogy. Photography is formulaic, yes. But standardized? Not a chance. It's as personal an endeavor as any. The challenge is yours, and yours alone. You create your own standards, and your own goals. The only person that can ever tell you that you've finished is yourself. In that sense, the challenge can never be completed, as long as you want to keep pushing your boundaries, you have the means right there in the palm of your hands. Photography goes beyond camera, and further than the picture. At the risk of sounding cheesy, it's a fresh lens of perspective in which I can view the world, and challenge all comforts I hold true. But that's just my vice. Photography isn't the answer, but it's my answer. What's yours?