Our perception of a split second is tricky – and easily tricked. We humans simply aren’t built to judge time in such small increments. Yet we’ve all had something happen so quickly that we were powerless to prevent it, could never repeat it, or missed it entirely. This year, the brief for Canon’s Redline Challenge is ‘A Split Second Story’ and is all about capturing those moments. Being ready for anything. Expecting the unexpected. And nailing those milliseconds when everyone else is still on their sharp intake of breath.
But first, what do we really mean when we say, ‘a split second’? Interestingly, it almost defies definition. Some say it’s a fraction of a second or ‘an instant’. Others are more generous and consider it to be no more than just an extremely short period of time. Either way, it is understood that for something to occur in a split second, it feels like less than a heartbeat, even if it’s not an exact measurement. And this is likely why it’s synonymous with drama – “In that split second, everything changed.” Certainly, there are moments in life that the expression seems to be made for.
The loves of our lives
Even though love is a feeling, what we see and do in the throes of love can be beyond powerful. There are some places that simply lend themselves to extraordinary moments of raw love, like airports and hospitals, where joyful reconciliations happen, but also agonising goodbyes. And yes, love is capable of filling us with extremes of elation and sadness, but it can also reveal the tiniest, most tender, unrepeatable moments – the meeting of hands or eyes, the first breath of a newborn, the freedom of a fleeting kiss.