The other day, I was exploring the different effects I can apply to live pictures on my iPhone and noticed that the Long Exposure effect removes moving objects and people from the frame. If you are a pro photographer, this is not news to you. You have probably already used a Neutral Density (ND) filter to remove crowds of people from your photographs. With the long exposure effect, if an object moves fast across different frames, it looks like the object never existed.
The long exposure effect got me thinking about what sticks and what fades away in life. Let’s say, as babies, each of us is a picture with intrinsic traits. Going through life, we gradually embellish our picture with new skills, habits, connections, etc. The colors we add to our picture only persist if we steadily get exposed to them. In the long exposure effect, fast-moving objects get removed, and the slow, steady ones remain. Likewise, new habits and skills can enrich our picture only if we are consistent with them. This is the same old boring advice of “repetition makes perfect.” As for our connections, the long-term friendships and relationships that we attend to and nurture are the ones that last.
But there is another side to this. The skills, habits, or connections that are not nurtured are forgotten. Some may leave a faint ghost-like trace on our picture, but they are barely identifiable. This reminds me of the “use it or lose it” concept that you may have heard in the context of body muscles deteriorating when not used enough. I can personally name many of my deteriorated skills. Off the top of my head, I used to be great at geometry and arithmetic, but I am not anymore. I used to be a much better cook, but now I am reliant on recipes. I am not even going to bother with the lost connections. There are, unfortunately, too many beautiful people that I’ve lost touch with.
With the long exposure effect, our pictures weather. So, now the question is, what do we want to stick and what are we willing to compromise? How can we become the most authentic, the highest expression of ourselves?