Weekly photo challenge – (Extra)ordinary

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Where is the meaningful in the mundane?  The weekly photo challenge from Daily Press is to find just that – the extraordinary in the ordinary.  The photo challenge reminded me of a brain challenge I try to tackle each day.

To satisfactorily meet the expectations of others (or ourselves), we must shut out much that goes on around, ignore much that passes by, and intently respond to the task at hand.  It’s called focus.  It’s essential for maintaining cognitive well-being.

Yet we are also encouraged to engage with the unexpected.  By another name, that’s called distraction.  It breaks our focus.  But the unexpected is the birth-place of creativity; it sets up the brain pathways we use when problem solving.  It is, therefore, also essential for maintaining cognitive well-being.

My daily brain challenge is to take a photo, hopefully everyday, of something that has captured my focus away from the task at hand.  These images are usually of something mundane, something I’ve seen in the periphery of my vision, something in passing.  It’s a way of trying to balance these two competing cognitive needs.

The trick is to photograph them in a way that replicates what it was that captured my focus.  The only photographic tool I have to achieve this in the few minutes available to me is composition. Then I must move on.

For example

On this day, a shaft of morning sunlight was at just the right angle to create these eye catching patterns of colour and shade in the seat at the bus interchange.

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The children at a local school placed their craft objects on sticks and planted them in the road’s median strip.

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A gritty road sign, worn with age, yet so warmly inviting on a cold Canberra morning.

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Practical lessons in photography

Since starting this (nearly) daily game, I’ve noticed that I now use my big DLSR differently.

These daily photos with my phone are usually uploaded to the net without change.  This means that I need to frame them before taking them.  That’s a different approach to my normal shooting style where I try to capture more than I need and then crop the better shots back on the laptop.

I’ve noticed that I’m now spending more time framing my DLSR photos, but I’m not sure if that’s a good thing?

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These photos are posted almost daily to their own blog – Cherrie Zell Everday.  Some are more mundane than others.  I’m learning that some things that attract my focus just don’t translate to the two dimensional image – and some really pop.

Details of how the game started and some useful references on cognitive health are available in Long-term cognitive health in the everyday.

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