A Place of Future Past

I’ve come to appreciate the process my photography reveals to me, where it comes from to where it takes me. Some of my best and most enjoyable moments of capturing images have occurred without any agenda or expectations of what I’ll find. Of course, there are many times when the circumstances are not so much by chance but in these cases, there are expectations in place and the surprises of the moments are much narrower. Also, this is not to say that planning has kept me from getting images I enjoy. There are many, many places I’d like to go and photograph where planning and logistics would be a likely factor to get to “the place” at the right time.

A problem with being in a situation where you feel rushed can impact how good or not so good the experience becomes. There’s nothing worse than finding out that the shots were less than ideal after all the planning you did to be at a great place and you missed the moments completely right from under your nose. Or worse yet, feeling like the situation is in a “meltdown” and the moments speed away faster than your imagination right out of your grasp. For me the reality has been that there are always surprises in every situation that can disappoint to many degrees. There’s a better way to get through the surprises. Try and make a surprise out of the surprise. These situations will usually remind me that I really enjoy taking pictures and in the worst case scenario, I’ll just wing it – something good will usually happen.

Now, missing moments when shooting landscape and scenery is far from any equivalent of what I’d call a tragedy but many “diva spins” including my own, have occurred from far-less complicated situations.

This takes me back to the process I’ve come to appreciate about my photography. The lessons have come as tragedies that I’ve created and some as enlightenment I’ve received. The truth is that I’ve ended at “a place” that’s infinitely bigger than I am… A place that has been the stage for the past and will be for the future.

The Garden of Posterity

The spirit of the garden was alive. The peaceful calm would cycle from a pseudo-silence, an almost-silence that we recognize in nature, to birds chirping, insects buzzing and critters rustling but nowhere to be seen.  The trees would come alive with the sound of the wind stirring each species with its own unique sound and the leaves were pushed along the ground like rolling waves. The water fountains and small streams kept time constant with the sound of trickling rapids and splash. The sun’s warmth was in and out of heavy clouds that would drop rain for a few minutes and then disappear.

Everything was by purpose.

I could feel my awareness expanding into places I couldn’t see but felt more of as I let myself go. I didn’t have to close my eyes to feel the spaciousness of the garden around me. I kept my mental focus to a minimum while I let my awareness expand, mainly through the sounds as I looked through the very narrow angle of view of the telephoto lens attached to my camera.

It’s been awhile since I’ve photographed a garden of this size and it was nice that the things I wanted to photograph came with ease. My breath was calm as I sometimes waited for the wind to stop blowing through the grass, the shrubs and the flowers. My purpose for the day was to shoot with a lens that I don’t normally use and I wanted to get shots while practicing hand-holding camera techniques at slower than normal shutter speeds. It always feels so much better to take pictures without feeling the need to rush, without worrying that I might miss something. It’s funny how that can sometimes happen when you have all the time in the world.

As I was making my way around the huge garden, I lost track of time and four hours passed by without thought. So much was going on with my senses, feeling a flow come and go with me became what this day was about. It didn’t matter if I lost the momentum because the flow would just pick right back up when I let it all sync up again. It was a roll I hadn’t had in a while. Every so often I could hear people talking, coming closer, passing by somewhere around me, some with no speech, only the sound of their footsteps. Sometimes I’d see them pass in front of my view through the lens. No need for formalities or apologies, it didn’t matter nor did it bother me, my presence was barely noticed.

The garden had a presence and a flow and everything in it seemed right. It was all by purpose. The conversations I heard were light-hearted, usually with laughter that filled the souls. I’m sure the wildlife felt our unique place in the garden just as we understood their place in it. It was all by purpose.

It got quiet again and I found myself in and out of the light and shadows finding what felt right to shoot when I began to notice two voices merging into the space of my awareness. I didn’t see them at first as I was taking pictures of the fountain spray just off to their right but I started to recognized the laughter of two women who were trying to take a picture of themselves. They sounded like good friends to one another, humble, free, and in a funny jam trying to frame themselves together with a cell phone and only an arm’s-length that was just short enough to keep the re-shoots coming and just short of hilarious as I watched them. Unbeknownst to them, I decided to take some pictures of the humorous scene so that I could show them what I had done for purposes of posterity. Anyway, after the humor of it all, I went and lent them a hand by taking their picture, then showed them the pictures I took of them in their moment while having a quick laugh and a joke about the whole time.

All in all, the whole day was not unlike any other day…

It all had a purpose.

Cloud Light

DSCF0055This Mother of a cloud illuminates and reflects off the water with the Channel Islands and an offshore platform in the distance. Taken 1-3-05 at 5:54 PM, just north of Refugio Beach State Park, CA.  The cool thing about this image for me is that my Mother and I watched this scene for about half an hour as the light dissipated from the cloud.