“The whole point of taking pictures is so that you don’t have to explain things with words.” Elliott Erwitt
“The bad news is nothing lasts forever, the good news is nothing lasts forever.” J. Cole
“The trouble is, you think you have time.” Buddha’s Little Instruction Book
I wanted to get my four dollars worth out of the roses I bought Wednesday so I set them up near a sunny window. I used spot metering and a wide aperture but had not planned to convert to black and white.
I did plan on adding an effect in ON1 Effects and for some reason chose one called Ansel In The Valley. Ansel Adams is famous for saying you don’t take a photograph, you make it. So this one’s for you Debra.
Note: Aldi has very good quality flowers for next to nothing, but you have to bring your own bag and shopping carts cost a quarter. The upside is that the one in Lancaster has horses in the back ready to pose for pictures.
“What is perfect? From the Zen mind, perfection is not being there.” Frederick Lenz
I’m going to be working on another project with my friend Alena Shminke but we’re having trouble figuring it out. This morning she suggested that we make it out of the boredom and sadness of being, which to me sounded perfect.
This is my first take on the theme, only today I had a fantastic day and wasn’t bored for a second. Fortunately I’m Bipolar so my mood changes as fast as a Cheetah on meth.
Scratched film texture added in ON1 Effects.
In this case luck is a very talented lady named Alena Shminke who I had the pleasure to work with again on a still life project called Imaginary Road Trip Without Destination.
You can view the collection of images here: A Photography Co-Project
I pulled into the parking lot of a huge farm stand to try to get a good photo of pumpkins. I tried different angles, apertures and focus points with both of my cameras. Suddenly a smiling Amish guy comes out and asks me if I’m with the newspaper.
I told him no and continued shooting while the light was good. A minute later he was standing right next to me. This time I decided to enlighten him to what I was doing and why. The conversation went like this:
Q. “Are you a photographer?
A. “Well I guess that’s a matter of opinion.”
Q. “Why are you taking so many pictures?”
A. “I’m trying to get one good one.
Q. “What do you do with these pictures?”
A. “I have a website (I figured saying I had a blog was too confusing).
Q. “How do you make money doing this?”
A. “I don’t, it just gives me something to do.
This went on until the clouds burned off and it was too bright. I took a chance and actually asked him if he had a computer to show him some of my stuff but of course he didn’t.
I wanted to explain to him what that great philosopher Charlie Brown once said: “If we could see the miracle of a single pumpkin stem clearly, our whole life would change,” but I thought his head might explode.
I said goodbye and got into my car and he said Beheef dich! It sounded like he was calling me an insulting name in Pennsylvania Dutch but it turns out that the phrase just means behave yourself.
“It is not possible to think outside the box. If I am thinking, I am always and only inside the box. The mind itself is the box.” Red Hawk, Self Observation
“When you practice looking deeply, you see your true nature of no birth, no death; no being, no non-being; no coming, no going; no same, no different.
When you see this, you are free from fear. You are free from craving and free from jealousy. No fear is the ultimate joy.
When you have the insight of no fear, you are free. And like the great beings, you ride serenely on the waves of birth and death.” Thich Nhat Hanh
Eckhart Tolle wrote a book called stillness speaks, it’s about stillness (obviously), life, and in its own way it’s about still life photography. So since we’re having a blizzard today, I decided to look into his theories and see if I could discover some stillness with a still life.
My first thought was that taking a photo of a needle and thread is stupid, it’s not creative and it’s certainly not art. Then I remember E.T. saying: “All artists, whether they know it or not create from a place of inner stillness, a place of no mind.” Oh.
My second thought was that I needed to find a way to make this interesting, and I was having some problems because of thought one. But E.T. said: “Stillness is where creativity and solutions to problems are found.” So I think that meant to tighten up my tripod.
I was really trying to make this work but was getting more frustrated by the minute. To this E.T. said: “Suffering is necessary until you realize it is unnecessary.” That’s slightly confusing but probably true.
Later, I went through all the photos to see if there was one worth keeping, and I started having some crazy thoughts; the needle and the damage done, the needle and the spoon, and the fact that I’ve never been to the Space Needle in Seattle.
So once again I looked to E.T. for help, to which he said: “Here is a new spiritual practice for you: don’t take your thoughts too seriously.”
Right then, now if I can just sit still until it stops snowing I can go out and get some great winter shots. I will look at things in the most unserious way I can, maybe even shooting only JPEG, but I doubt it.
In his book Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind, Shunryu Suzuki writes; “In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few.”
What he calls beginner’s mind refers to doing something without thinking about achieving anything, which could be recognition, likes on a Facebook page, or a tweet by the President and a free room for life in one of his hotels.
Last night I spent two frustrating hours taking photos of colored pencils for a piece I wanted to write called selective focus. It was to be about the way we get caught up in our own bullshit by the way we think, and what we think about. So of course the photo had to be tack sharp, it had to be perfect.
Finally I decided the whole thing was pointless and gave up, putting the pencils in an old cigar box along with some crayons I had for another project on color. I looked over and saw something that was random and perfect and nothing special (also the title of a fantastic book by Charlotte Joko Beck).
I took six photos for the simple reason that I thought it was cool. Yes, I shot RAW and JPEG in manual on a tripod, but people don’t change overnight. And it was absolutely perfect in its own way! It’s a simple photo of crayons in an old cigar box given to me by my father 20 years ago.
So at 2 am last night I had an epiphany and it was free, there is true joy in doing something just because its fun. I can’t wait to tell this to my therapist next week when I pay my bill. She might tell me that sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, but I have a feeling she’ll read more into this than there really is.