When the camera was first invented, it revolutionised the practise of capturing the moment. In the past, people would have to write or draw descriptively to portray something that happened. Nowadays, we can capture the essence of a moment with the click of a button.
But of course, photos are not a perfect representation of reality. What you see on a photo depends on numerous settings (such as the exposure, aperture, shutter speed), the photographer’s artistic direction (composition, lighting) and also the use of technology for post-processing. By tweaking these elements, a photographer can exert some creative license over how the photo represents its subject.
For instance, a photographer may decide to crop a photo to make a scene look more chaotic by removing negative space. They may choose to reduce the exposure to make the atmosphere seem more moody and grim. The shutter speed may be slowed to better represent movement and the passage of time. In short, a photo can easily be “manipulated” to distort the reality it is attempting to capture.
However, another interpretation would be that photos show the reality that the photographer really experienced. Reality is not purely objective because we all experience the world differently. Our perception of reality is affected by our emotions, our other senses and our past experiences, such as nostalgia and trauma.
The person with whom we are in love with appear brighter and more radiant than in reality, because our emotions affect our senses. Food may appear more colourful and richer when they smell amazing. Pain and suffering can make it feel as if the colours in the world are more washed out.
To better represent how we felt at that moment, we could increase the exposure to give the subject a “glow”, we can adjust the contrast to make the food look more appetising and we can reduce the saturation to make a picture seem more faded and sombre.
Photography is more than just a recording, but a way to capture intangible moments that we see with our minds and our hearts.
So look back on photos that you have taken and photos that have been taken of you: what emotional filterhas been applied to those photos?
You would think that the more freedom the designer has, the more their creativity can flourish and they can produce more original, greater ideas. But it is a well-known fact in the design world that the the best designs are produced when designing under constraint.
Consider the beauty of the canal houses of Amsterdam. In the 17th century, plots of land by the canal were allocated in narrow (but deep) portions to maximise the number of houses. Architects worked around this restriction, resulting in the narrow, tall houses of various shapes and colours that we see today. Another architectural example is Florence and Santorini, where building materials were limited to red bricks or stone painted in white and blue respectively, meaning the buildings shared a consistent colour scheme, while varying in shape – the ideal combination for building a beautiful city.
We see the same in other fields. Photography is limited in the realm of time, as you can only take a snapshot. But by using long-exposure or composite images, time can be represented in unique, beautiful ways. The artistic restriction of painting led to Pablo Picasso pioneering cubism, which attempts to represent the many faces of a three-dimensional object on a two-dimensional medium. Great literature can be produced from limitation also, such as haikus or flash fiction, such as the infamous six-word story by Ernest Hemingway: “For sale: baby shoes, never worn”.
There are many reasons why designing under constraint results in greater works.
Firstly, choice and freedom can be paralysing. When we have absolutely no restricitons, rules or guidance, we have difficulty processing the sheer number of possibilities, because there are too many things to consider. We find it much easier to make a decision and proceed when there are a limited number of choices.
Secondly, constraint often comes in the form of consistency. One of the basic rules of graphic design is to limit your colour palette and font types to avoid clutter and messy design. A consistent theme is much more aesthetically pleasing. This is a core principle of minimalism.
Lastly, limitations encourage creativity as the designer has to come up with a way to overcome the restriction only with the available resources.
A fine example is Gothic churches. It was very difficult putting in large windows in church walls as they would cause structural instability. So architects devised flying buttresses to help bear the load. But even then, the technology for building large, transparent glass windows had not been developed. So instead, they pieced together small, coloured glass pieces to make stained glass windows, introducing light in to the church while telling stories from the Bible.
Ironically, limits and restrictions can be the catalyst for something better. Instead of rebelling and fighting against constraint, try adapting and coming up with a creative way to overcome it.
“People love what other people are passionate about – you remind them of what they forgot.”
~ Mia, La La Land
What do you do for fun? It sounds like a simple question, yet a surprising number of people have difficulty answering it. Some fortunate people will talk passionately about their hobbies and interests for hours on end. Others, reflect on their day-to-day lives and realise that they haven’t been truly passionate about anything for a long time.
We all possess passion deep in our hearts. Think of your childhood – fulfilling curiosities, exploring new places, playing your favourite instrument or sport… But at some point, they became lost under the mounting pressures of stress and fatigue from work, financial responsibilities and relationships. Sadly with time, passion falls lower and lower on people’s list of priorities. Ironically, passion is the cure to the reasons why people forgo their passions.
Passion is one of the best ways we can obtain happiness. This intense emotion overwhelms us with a rush of excitement and joy, motivating us while dissolving away our worries and fatigue. With passion, we can enter flow state – the magical state where the world around you fades away and only you and the subject of your passion remain, leaving you in perfectly focussed bliss.
For most people with a passion, they will often say that it is part of their identity. They feel the desire to engage in the activity at the end of a rough day and when they do, they feel cathartic and recharged.
An interesting aspect of passion is how we will happily sacrifice time and money for it. Perhaps this is because we know that this is an example of how money can actually buy happiness. We are happy to pay the cost of happiness, whether it be waiting two days in the rain for a tennis tournament ticket, buying an expensive instrument or losing sleep practising intensely for a tournament.
In a sense, passion for a hobby or interest is quite similar to love.
For those who don’t know what their passion is, think back to your younger self and remember what made you really happy. If you can’t or if it is no longer feasible, there is always the option of finding and learning a new passion. There are some common qualities in hobbies and interests that people are passionate about:
Ideally, it should be skill-based, so that you can improve in it through investing time and energy. The desire to be better is an excellent self-motivation tool and the key to reaching flow state.
It should be sustainable and not self-destructive. For example, luxurious parties, drugs, alcohol, sex are all examples of dopamine-inducing activities that are not sustainable as they cause “lows” where you feel miserable without the next “hit”. Furthermore, some of them may damage your physical and mental health rather than improve it. You should also consider whether it is financially sustainable, as at the end of the day, you still need to pay the bills.
It should excite you and make you happy. Sometimes people force themselves to like the same things as their significant other. It is okay to have different passions in a relationship, but you should try to understand why that person is passionate about that particular thing instead of blindly copying it. Plus, it is healthy to have something in your own life outside of your relationship that can keep you happy.
Unfortunately, you are the only person that can find your own passion. If you have forgotten passions, then that is a great starting point. Pick up a camera, brush, guitar, pen, racquet or whatever it is that made you happy, and revive your passion.
If you truly cannot think of anything, then focus on something that has piqued your interest and give it an honest try. It will be a much more effective use of your time than lamenting that your life is dreary and unhappy.
A practical tip is to start with a creative hobby, such as music or the arts, or a sport. These tend to fulfil most of the above criteria while also offering a creative or physical release, both of which can easily be lacking in our modern day lives.
Passion is a renewable source of happiness that does not rely on other people. Many people rely on the company of other’s for their happiness, but this is ultimately unsustainable and will lead to resentment.
How can we make someone else happy if we don’t know how to make ourselves happy? Maybe this is why we find passionate people attractive – it reminds us of what we had forgotten and how happy we could be if we tried.
Historically, silver has been associated with cleansing, healing, the moon and warding off evil. For example, it is said that some monsters such as werewolves would only die if it is shot by a silver bullet. The Greek goddess of hunting and the moon, Artemis, carries a silver bow. Although it is always seconded to gold when it comes to precious metals, silver is a fascinating metal.
It is the most reflective metal on Earth and has the highest conductivity for heat and electricity. It is ductile and malleable, making it a good choice of metal for making coins, jewellery and silverware (hence the name). Because of how reflective it is, it is also used in solar panels and special mirrors, such as those in telescopes.
Another useful characteristic of silver is its chemical reactivity. Thanks to this property, silver forms many different compounds with varying applications. Silver halides are photosensitive and turn dark when they are exposed to light. This is the basis of film photography, where the light shone on a film coated with silver halides leaves a photographic imprint. Silver oxides are sometimes used in batteries and silver/mercury alloys are used for dental fillings.
Silver also plays a role in medicine. Silver ions have been shown to inactivate bacteria such as E. coli, making silver nanoparticles a useful antiseptic that can be impregnated into different materials such as wound dressings. Silver nitrate sticks are used in emergency departments as applying it to a bleeding vessel in the nose will release nitric acid, which cauterises (burns off) the vessel to stop a nosebleed. In medieval Korea, silver spoons were used to test if a food has been poisoned with arsenic, as arsenic reacts with silver to form a black tarnish. If a person has too much silver build-up in their body, they can develop argyria (silver poisoning), which turns the skin an eerie bluish-grey colour.