Author: Mike Ross

My name is Mike Ross and I have obsessive compulsive photography disorder, although I consider this a somewhat healthy obsession. Compared to some of my past addictions and obsessions, this one is a walk in the park. I was born in New York City, spent most of my life on Long Island (pronounced Lawn Guyland), and am now living in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. I am currently using a Sony A6000 with a 35mm f/1.8 lens and a Sony RX100. All photos are from RAW files processed using Lightroom, Photoshop and occasionally HDR software.

The Places That Scare You

The Reading Pagoda
The Reading Pagoda

Reading, Pennsylvania is a beautiful place to visit, during the day. Around 3:00 this morning I decided to go see the Pagoda all lit up and take some photos. I was hesitant, possibly a little scared about going there alone at that time but I went anyway.

I headed up the steep, curvy road to the top and was pre-visualizing the composition (you’re supposed to do that). What I hadn’t pre-visualized was the twenty five, let’s say derelicts, let’s say, behaving badly.

I got out to look around and suddenly they all began to leave. One guy looked at me and said; “Yo you snitched!” I didn’t answer because I wanted to see if he was going to shoot me, but he didn’t, obviously. So far so good I thought, now I have the whole place to myself.

Then thirty seconds after I got my tripod set up two cop cars pulled in with lights flashing. “Parks closed-these people don’t know how to behave-it happens every night,” one announced. I considered arguing with him but the last time I fought the law the law won.

I asked if I could just take a few photos, he sighed and said to make it quick in his best Joe Friday voice. Then I told him that I wanted to climb up the path to get a better view and he just laughed.

Luckily I got a decent shot, and luckily the cops came when they did because I really wanted the gang in the photo for foreground interest, although that probably would have ended badly.

The lessons I took from this are to go to the places that scare you, except for the Reading Pagoda alone in the middle of the night. And to bracket, even with angry cops waiting for you to finish and go home.

The Lesser Vehicle

The Lesser Vehicle
The Lesser Vehicle

Hinayana is a Sanskrit term literally meaning the smaller or lesser vehicle. So how does this affect me, the average spiritual seeker you might ask? I’ll give you a simple yet crystal clear example, none of that finger pointing at the moon stuff.

Yesterday I was at the Strasburg Rail Road where hundreds of people gathered to ride Thomas the train. Compared with the larger steam engines, Thomas was clearly the lesser vehicle (no offense intended).

Or so I thought until I saw this miniature steam engine which actually runs on coal. There seemed to be a serious debate going on, probably about the vehicles or paths known as Hinayana, Mahayana and Tantrayana Buddhism.

Chögyam Trungpa once said: “We must begin our practice by walking the narrow path of simplicity, the Hinayana path, before we can walk upon the open highway of compassionate action, the Mahayana path.”

I didn’t ask if this lesser vehicle was headed for the open highway of compassionate action, but with all those little train fans running around I think it probably was.

Yes Poppy

Pink Poppies
Pink Poppies

I was driving down to the lake yesterday when I saw a group of pink flowers in what was either a construction site or a dump. I pulled in to take a closer look when a guy in a pickup truck rolled down the gravel path in a cloud of dust and parked behind me.

He walked up to my window and asked if I had a problem. Maybe it was because I was parked in front of a locked gate with a huge private property sign, or maybe he was actually interested in my problems.

For some reason, rather than tell him I wanted to take photos of the flowers I told him I was checking my voicemail. That seemed to satisfy him and he left me with the poppies and several yellow finches that appreciate this kind of thing as much as I do.

Later I realized I could have said something witty like “The difficult problems in life always start off being simple,” by Lao Tzu. But I didn’t want to take a chance on pissing him off with all those flowers and birds waiting for me.

Thanks Mom

Mother Goose
Mother Goose

“A mother’s love for her child is like nothing else in the world. It knows no law, no pity. It dares all things and crushes down remorselessly all that stands in its path.” Agatha Christie