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It was a day of judgment.  A bad day and I was caught up in the ancient drama of beating self up for not being perfect.  A thought kept circling round n round in my head.  A voice, sternly advising and admonishing me to perform some ritual of appeasement.  Some atonement for my sins.  Well, God knows I have a bunch and thank God for seminary through which I knew that the story of personal sin was very old, universal not personal and that it was – as so many good stories are –  a fabrication; and for the teachings and practices of Buddhism.  But damned if inspite of Christianity or Buddhism I still could not shake the judge inside my mind or the feeling that something was bad.     Everywhere I looked I “saw” the “judge,” the “critic,” the “critical-mind” eager to find fault.  Eager to shout: “Not only are you a screw up in life but you suck as a photographer too!”

Clearly, it was time to take a second look!

“What the hell…I’m here so I might as well pretend to photograph” I thought to myself and glumly sank down to my knees onto the soft moist grass and through the camera I started to pry and peer at the life occuring before me.

“Hmmm….nothing but soft wet muted colors, so dank, depressing,” I thought and then it hit me.  What I could “see” was a reflection of my own damp, down-in-the-mouth mood. So I thought to self:  “well self might as well see what we look like.”  So I knelt and set up tripod and clamped down the 200mm Nikkor macro and I sat and I looked.  Nothing happened.  I sat some more and tried to pay attention.  Nada.  “Oh the hell with it,” I thought for an instant and then something odd happened.  I stopped.  I just stopped thinking.

I put aside the camera and simply sat.  Eyes closed sensing life in other ways and I breathed.  After awhile I grew calmer and more still inside and out.  A wind arose and I found myself paying attention to it.  Feeling the sensations of the wind; noting they were pleasant; experiencing them ebb and flow.  The idea arose to explore wind as movement and sound.  Next thing I knew I felt I was moving with the wind – being blown about as a leaf.  All of a sudden my breath and the wind merged and for a second – for just an instant – the wind and I were one.

The wind stopped long enough to drop me off and after re-collecting self I saw that I did not have to keep fighting with my own dark-damp mood.  That I could relate differently to the condeming words of that ancient old Judge – instead of standing before “him” all guiltifed and hang dogged weakly arguing my “case” I could stop that particular war simply by befriending that cranky old curmudgeon.  So  I stopped.  I stopped arguing with the Judge for a lighter sentence or even parole. I stopped trying to make something or anything happen.  I just let go and when I did the hanging judge within was replaced by the More of William James. 

I could then allow curiosity to arise. 

[Sometimes it happens right off the bat for me that after looking at the first image on the LCD I know that that image is likely to be the best of the day.  But I go on because I am greedy and because my curiosity is nowhere near quenched.  Other times I go through a progression narrowing down and into the aspects of the subject that pique me most until I get there or I get pleasantly side-tracked into a whole new visual adventure.  It is never the same.  I am beginning to see that the practice of photography within a contemplative approach and many of the qualities of direct experiences which occur as as a natural result of daily Vippassana practices has begun to overlap.  Strangely though the technical processes I am exploring have become more complex, my seeing seems more simple.  I have no clue what to do with this point of view.]  Do you?

I started to see what i was not able to “see” before when the “judge” was behind my eye’s.  I was able to see more.  Patterns and raw shapes of color and light fill the lens.  I find it exciting to see what comes together in the mind when nothing is in focus in the viewfinder!   I find it challenging to try and find some blend of camera skill and technique with the randomly playful….the eternal “what-if” I like to ask, with the attitude of “beginner’s mind,”  and if grace arises, that I might be given an image that delights!  An image that somehow opens the heart……

[Flowers, I realize are not what I seem to be seeing as I look through the lens.  I start with the energy or the mood of the subject  then “her” shape and shapes lending to a pleasant composition.  I like things with a little flow.  Color and colors against colors are next on the the run-down-list and here one must experiment, often widely,  to happen upon that exposure where the colors work together. And sometimes they just don’t.  I don’t know why but when thats the case one can only absorb with their heart and forego the memory card. And finally, how to  take all those ingredients and combine them in some pleasing way]
WHEW!  That makes me tired just typing it…. 

All these images are the result of creating in-camera multiple-exposures except one.  A prize goes to the lucky one who correctly guesses which.

doc rob

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