Wednesday, 13 March 2013

High Dynamic Range Thinking

This is a view of handbridge in the beautiful, Roman city of Chester in the North-West of England, where I live.

I was staring out of my window yesterday afternoon and I saw the low, winter sunshine start to break through the storm clouds so, I grabbed my camera, dashed out of my office to this spot and started shooting.

I used a special technique  to produce a rich and vivid picture and, as I was clicking away, it occurred to me that the same principle can be applied to our thinking, to generate richer ideas, which will generate more beautiful results.

The technique is called "High Dynamic Range" whereby I set my camera to take 3 shots in quick succession - one under-exposed one "correctly" exposed,  and one over-exposed, which are then combined to produce the finished photograph.

You can see the 3 pictures below:

The middle shot is the one the camera thinks is "correct" and it is certainly a really nice picture. However it lacks the richness and texture of the picture at the top of this blog.

Unlike the human eye - the greatest optical masterpiece on the planet - the camera's sensor cannot expose the rich depths of the shadows AND the sparkling details in the highlights at the same time. 

So, it averages them out - losing detail from both ends of the dynamic range - and the result is, well, average!

If I am honest, a lot of my thinking can be pretty average, especially when I am under pressure. I just don't take the time to explore the full dynamic range of my ideas. 

I get results and they're are often good ones - but they're not great.

And then there is the brain bias issue to deal with.

The right-brainers amongst us will have a natural tendency to over-expose. It's all about bringing out the unseen details in the shadows - at the expense of the more obvious highlights.

The left-brained community will tend to under-expose, carefully preserving all the obvious highlights but losing the shadowy details in the process.

High Dynamic Range (HDR) photography achieves its rich, textured results by combining the under and over exposed shots with the correctly exposed one. It takes the highlights from the under exposed shot and the shadows from the over exposed shot and blends them into the correctly exposed shot, so increasing the dynamic range.

High Dynamic Range thinking works in a similar way. 

We take our initial thoughts and then deliberately push our thinking. First to the left to capture EVERYTHING we know on this subject, and then to the right to release our creativity and imagination to explore hidden possibilities and trigger new ideas.

Just as in photography, the results will be more beautiful, more textured, richer and more satisfying

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