In His Own Words
To tell you how I came to express myself through photography I have to go back to the beginning, as I see it.
In this existence there is the man-made and there is the god (or whatever you want to call it) made. One is based or built on the other. As the roads are built on the natural Earth so are the tracks of thought and emotion imposed on the natural peace and clarity of mind. Natural, as can be observed in the presence of children, until they learn to be unhappy. The same peace, or absence of mental or emotional negativity, can also be cognized in nature at any time.
I first realised a love of nature as a practical means to quieting my mind as a meditation, based on a more fundamental form. It was necessary, even essential, given my experience of the negativity of mind. I did it by focusing on the simple sense of it, colour, form and texture, through the senses and leaving any thought or feeling I might have had about it out of my consideration. Itís a matter of practice.
The premise I work from is simple. What I acknowledge I get. And the more I acknowledge the simple sense of nature the simpler and more pleasant or sensible my life is.
As with anything as fundamental or desirable as peace of mind, once it is realised, to whatever degree, there has to be an incorporation into the daily life of the practise necessary to maintain it. As the saying goes: ĎIf you donít use it you lose it.í
Eventually it came to me to use what I had learned in a way that I might also deepen my own acknowledgment of the god made, by giving it. And so my blog was borne, where I use short essay and photos to illustrate the spiritual value of nature to anybody who will look. By recording my encounters, observations and reflections of nature and human nature. And encouraging the sense of wonder in nature behind the word, in the observer, you and me.
Giving of the value of what has been learned is probably the most reliable way of keeping it.
Now that I have told first of what comes first in my life Iíll tell about the particulars of photography, in my experience. That makes sense since you are reading this because you have seen something of value in my pictures, perhaps.
I started using a camera seriously about 18 months ago. When I say seriously I donít mean I spent a lot of money on equipment, I didnít. I mean I started taking pictures with a view to conveying through the medium of my blogs something of the wonder and beauty, the practical spiritual value of the often neglected, denigrated or even feared world of nature at our feet. And insects and wild plants / flowers are primarily what attracted me since they are alive and expressive of the magnificent power, artistry and beauty in Nature through colour and form that is available to everyone at any time.
They are everywhere, can be observed with the naked eye or other sense, and donít require any knowing to appreciate, or expensive cameras to capture a decent image.
Once I have equipment adequate to the task the question is how do I get the pictures I get. And the answer is simple, acknowledge the sense of things first and the rest will follow, naturally. Take no thought as you approach an insect and it will either sit for you or it will take off. If it sits take the opportunity to get as many shots at different angles as you can then move on. If it takes off let it go, there is rarely any advantage to chasing bugs around the place, though the rarity is worth working for on occasion. Flowers are their own character too, you can set up a shot but the best are the ones you come across without too much consideration beyond what, where and how.
What is conveyed by the images is what you sense. The colours, the architecture, the behaviour. Not what you may think. It is also what you donít see, there is no emotion, no sign of thinking, the inner sense or innocence. In other words the natural creatures are being what they are without the problems of thought and emotion Ė unhappiness Ė the burgeoning of self reflection. And by attending to them in the sense of things, without the complication of thought or emotion, this is what you are acknowledging Ė no problem. But the greater subtlety, that comes with time and practice, is the sense of wonder and beauty nature in all its forms can strike in anybody.
I donít go out of my way to get certain images, though some things are more likely to appear in one place rather than another, and I may favour one place over another purely because it is more natureful than built on or peopled. When it comes to it though I accept what nature presents and endeavour to capture the essence I intuit, the intelligent character of being behind the form. A radiance, you could say, of the source behind the creation in any form. But you do have to get to know your subject, by observation, over time, so you can anticipate its movement or likely behaviour.
Take the image of the grasshopper, looking perhaps surprised. To capture this image I had to know what was likely to happen next and be waiting when he climbed over the edge of the wooden beam, so surprise is not inconceivable. All we can tell for sure though is it is putting a Ďhandí to its mouth, thatís the purely rational view of it. What I sense is that it may also be reflecting something of what is within the observer, you and me. This is not beyond conception since this is how things work anyway, we are always manifesting something we conceive of, be it an idea, an emotion or a more innocent expression of what we are. We make our world what it is, including nature, or the lack of it.
The dragonfly, what magnificent colourfully structured beauty. A hunter amongst hunters, lord and lady of its aerial domain. It requires some patience to get close to these creatures, time for it to become acclimated to your presence. This one let me close enough to touch its wing with a finger. Thatís a privilege bestowed on the quiet of mind, and I claim no exclusivity, it happens to many who put themselves in the way of it happening. It can happen because there is a communication between all things beneath the surface of rationality, and where there is no threat registered there is a possibility of the magical arising. Is it not magical when one of natureís beauties lands on an out held finger? An opportunity to see the creature, from creation, in all its vibrant detail with the naked eye, vitally alive. And feel its texture against the skin. To sense the purity of its divinely inspired being, god made thing. What a wonder that is.
Robber fly, so called for the ease with which it takes its prey on the wing. It is probably territorial up to a point, as it moves along during its day it will protect itself by defining a safe zone according to its sense of being what and where it is. But it wonít leave a barbed wire fence behind to inhibit movement across the face of the Earth or for all injure themselves on. Juxtaposed like this to render the character behind each. Somewhere to rest in the sun a while for one, a hedge against the fear of a future going wrong to another.
Which do you acknowledge? The nature with its uncomplicated needs and expression, or the fear of a future in need?
Possum, this is the mother of at least one young, probably another from last year too. She was surprised to see me as she came out of the roof where I live and stopped dead still, as is the way with many creatures when there is nowhere to run to without incurring further danger. She is about 15 feet off the ground here and only a narrow beam to traverse beneath a very low ceiling, so she would risk falling if she was to move fast or suddenly, and sheís not stupid. So she stood her ground to see what I was about, harm or not. After a while she went on her way with the experience she has nothing to fear from me. That will tell over a period of time as it is reinforced with more of the same harmlessness, if there is time. Thatís how we all learn and how we teach, what we do is what we are and what we get, one way or the other. It pleases me to be in close proximity to wild creatures, there is a certain acknowledgment of one to the other, the irrational, unemotional and innocent god made creatures we all are.
All creatures have a character their own and once you get down to it, down past ones own preconceptions and prejudices Ė naming and feeling, there is the simple sensible fact of them being what they are, articulate and intelligent expressions of a wondrous life behind it all, no problem. And once there at the fact of things there is the possibility the magical behind will be revealed in its simple wonder and ever present beauty. A simple state of being.
Everybody has the potential for the appreciation of the magical and divine, if it is allowed to be. And it can be nurtured where there is a willingness to begin with.
This is why I do what I do, to keep in touch with the magical in nature, Ďmyí nature. There is far more to being and living than numbers and names.