Why setting easy goals makes more successful

You might wonder how my darkroom is related to setting easy goals... I'm really good at overestimating how much work I can get done in the darkroom in one day. Not achieving my goals for the day is seriously interfering with my ability to enjoy the darkroom work. 

You might wonder how my darkroom is related to setting easy goals... I'm really good at overestimating how much work I can get done in the darkroom in one day. Not achieving my goals for the day is seriously interfering with my ability to enjoy the darkroom work. 

In a tweet some days ago I mentioned how much I liked this episode of Tim Ferriss’ podcast. In the episode Tim and Chase Jarvis talk about the importance of setting easy goals as a key to long term success.

The way to long term success is (surprise!) long and hard. It’s a marathon not a sprint. To make it through a marathon you only need endurance, but for success on a world class level endurance is not enough. Successful marathon runners train their running technique so throughly that it becomes second nature. Only this way they are able to maintain optimum output under full steam. For an world class athlete running efficiently becomes a habit.

Translated to other fields this means that one key factor for longterm success is having the right habits in place. Habits that don’t break under pressure. The problem, however, as knows everyone who’s ever tried eating more healthy is that achieving habitual change is not easy as most of us will have noticed already. So the question is: How can we achieve lasting habitual change?

The answer might be surprising: By setting easy goals. Why is that you might ask - so let me explain:
As we are taught by psychologists changing habits requires either positive or negative reinforcement. Positive reinforcement in basic terms means that something pleasant happens if you achieve the goal. Negative reinforcement means that something unpleasant happens if you don’t achieve your goal.

When it comes to changing habits most of us are on our own (unless we have a peer group, mentor or coach). If working on changing our habits all by our selves negative reinforcement most of the times will not work. Negative reinforcement usually is served in the form of physical, personal or social consequences. Obviously (hopefully) we or others will not harm ourselves if we don’t achieve our goals. We won’t go to jail if we don’t practice yoga every morning. And most of the times, our families won’t expel us if we don’t manage to change our eating habits.

This leaves us with the necessity to positively reinforce habitual change. Positive reinforcement stems from the Nucleus accumbent, a region of the brain that has a significant role in the cognitive processing of aversion, motivation, pleasure, reward and reinforcement learning (check Wikipedia for more info). Many things can trigger a response in this area. Drugs, sex, social interaction, physical exercise and the feeling of success. Obviously, the best way to reach a goal is to set an easy goal. Once you’ve achieved the easy goal positive reinforcement kicks in. You gain momentum and can set the next goal a little bit higher.

Let me give you an example: I have realised that practicing yoga tremendously helps with my back pains. But I was still sloppy and only did it every now and then. To make practicing yoga a lasting habit I want to include it in my morning routine. I start out with only 10 minutes per day, and track this habit in an spread sheet. At the end of the month I analyse the data. Like back in med school I defined 60% as a pass - that means I succeed for the month, if I stick to my routine 6 out of 10 days.

What is your experience with habitual change? What are your goal setting strategies? Let me know in the comments.

Selectively Desaturating Shadows and Highlights

Working with Resolve for Color Grading my videos I came across one technique I really like. Using a simple curve you can selectively desaturate shadows and highlights. This results in a subtly difference in the look from what you usually get from digital captures. The image just looks more natural. This video shows a nice wrap-up of how to do it in DaVinci resolve.

In case you're wondering why that is let me explain it in some short sentences (I went to med school after all ;) ). The human eye contains both receptors for color and for brightness. With enough light color vision dominates but with less light the brightness sensors take over. That's why we can't descriminate colors at night.

Here's a before and after comparision for you to see for yourself. The model is Sherriff Jillo Murugi Abdhul, the image was taken at a shoot for Denisa Scundea from the www.thefshnblog.com .

Test0138+before.jpg Test0138+after.jpg

Unfortunately, at the moment there is no way to do this in any photo editing software as elegantly as in DaVinci's Resolve. But luckily there’s quite an easy work around in Photoshop.

  • Open the image in Photoshop.
  • Create a new solid color layer with a brightness of 50%.
  • Right-click the new color layer and pick "Blending options".
  • For adjusting shadow saturation pull the right handle for the undelying layer to the left.
  • Sepatrate handle by alt-clicking for fine adjustments.
  • Set layer blend mode to color.
  • For highlight saturation repeat steps 2-6 with pulling from right to left.

For more detailed instructions please watch the video.

Was that useful to you? What techniques do you apply to a similar effect?

What will this blog be about?

In the previous blog post I told you why I decided to start blogging about. Now I'd like to point out what's in it for you.

There are many blogs on the topic of photography. Many focus on technical aspects, some on creativity, but only very few on the process of transitioning into a photographic career.

This is precisely the process I am in. I quit my job in healthcare consulting to transition into a photographic career. I consider this to be the most important decision in my life. With this blog I want to share my ideas and experiences in the process, especially regarding three fields: Technology, art and business.

Technology

In my work, I employ a large variety of thechniques and technology from analog to digital. I would like to share this broad knowledge with you.
In the realm of analog i will focus on large format cameras and darkroom techniques, as well as hybrid techniques using Hasselblad/Imacon scanner and software.
I am a Certified Phase One Professional, so I would like to give a brief introduction to Phase One medium format cameras. Capture One is the piece of software I will focus on for digital photography. For video editing I recently made the switch from Final Cut Pro X to Blackmagic'S DaVinci Resolve 12. I will share my workflow and will focus on the editing aspect of Resolve 12.

Art

I draw a lot of inspiration from art, both inside and outside the field of photography. I will share artists I am inspired by, as well as books and exhibitions.
I will explore what inspires me about the artists' work, their specific approach and the context it was made in. In terms of genre i will focus on finde art and documentary photography and videography.
As a great lover of books I want to share some new and/or favourite books of mine. This is especially interesting to me as the process of making a photographic book myself is high on my agenda.

Business

For a transition into a photographic life, the business part definitely is the most critical. My background in consulting gives me a very structured approach. In consulting we like to use frameworks, many of which are applicable to the photography process too. I will talk about the frameworks I use and how I apply them.I will share frameworks for market analysis, general goal setting and project planning from my consulting background, adapting them to photography.
Market analysis, i.e. identifying the market niche you want to target may be the single most important step in the process. It will define the whole further approach to business.
Goal setting is crutial for monitoring your progress in serving your target market. It enables you to make the necessary adjustments along the way.
Project planning deals with tools that can be used for both the management of individual projects for clients and personal projects. Propper project management will both give the client a professional impression and reduce stress for the photographer especially for large and complex projects.

3 Reasons Why I Decided to Start a Photography Blog

I am in a period of transition from healthcare consulting to making a life as a photographer/videographer. Coming from a consulting background, I always strive for an structured approach to problems. As a cosultant, analysing problems, developing solutions and presenting them to executives is our daily business. Now I'm working alone, and while I do have an audience for my final product (photography)through my website, exhibitions and so on I don't have an audience for my process.Starting this blog will change this for three reasons:

Make my goals both realistic and specific

If I write down my goals they somehow become more of a reality, plus I have to be very clear on what my goals are. To make sure I my goals for my photography fit into my overall life plan I used Michael Hyatt's "Life plan" approach, which I will talk more about in a future post.

Help me pull through

If you want to talk to other people about your ideas they have to be thought through till the end.
Telling my readers about my goals will puts pressure on me to pull through.

Start a conversation with likeminded people

On my blog people can comment to share their ideas and impressions. Other blogs can pick up posts and detail their positions and approaches. And by sharing on twitter and facebook people can comment and reply easily.

So, what do you think? Has starting to blog helped you in achieving your goals?