I finally hauled myself out of bed early this morning for a short walk at Paintsville Lake. It was quiet and beautiful, with the early morning light, calm water, woods, and fog. Beauty, like Art, like Literature, like God, is a mystery, and one that we should strive, not necessarily to understand, but simply to appreciate and experience. And, of course, if we have a camera handy. . .
About five years ago I bought a book called The Practice of Contemplative Photography: Seeing the World with Fresh Eyes by Andy Karr and Michael Wood. It really is about a different approach to photography, where subject takes a back seat to “flashes of perception” that are to be pursued with the purpose of creating a photograph that carries through that initial perception. Part of the point is to find interest and beauty in new places. I’ve gone back and forth over the years on whether this produces profound pictures or is just BS. There is certainly much about the approach that I like, but many of the pictures I’ve seen, outside the book, look like poor imitations of the photos in it – hardly representing “seeing with fresh eyes.” But then I remind myself that many of the pictures on Flickr and on websites featuring this approach (called “Miksang,” Tibetan for “good eye”) come from students of this way of photographing. So of course these are not always perfect examples. And I’m sure my pictures won’t be either. But I’ve come back to the book (which is beautifully written, by the way) enough times to believe that there really is something to this approach as a fresh way of seeing, not just for photography, but in life in general.
I’ve been struggling with my photography for the last few months, having previously taken so many pictures near where I live. I guess I’m just tired of my old approaches and everything I take seems a rehash of a prior picture. So I went out this morning and worked on the book’s first assignment – Color. The assignment requires one to disregard nature, parks, and pretty much anything else that we normally think of as “pretty.” The point, at least at this early stage, is to make the student look for good pictures in places most of don’t usually look – to find the hidden beauty in this world that is actually right in front of us. It is pretty much impossible to completely avoid “nature” in this part of the world, but I ignored more than usual at least. Anyhow, here are some pictures from this morning, focusing on color.
And here, I think, are my best pictures from this outing.