Archive for the ‘focus’ tag
Yesterday I went for a walk in the sunshine down a path I frequently take, at least once a week if weather permits. These flowers come in a variety of colours and their season is almost at an end and I haven’t taken many photos of this variety this autumn so I was glad to finally take the time to take a series of photos while playing with focus and depth of field.
It was my intent to shorten the depth of field in order to create a blur while still keeping a sharp focus on the highlight. I am pleased with the result in this photo. I was particular with this photo project as I had an intention for this blog post.
I meditate in order to create a space of clarity within myself. While meditating the images in my head begin to disappear as though my attention to my breathing reduces the focal length of my inner vision, honing that inner vision to a sharp point, stilling the surrounding background and foreground. Sometimes I use a mantra a ‘focus ring’ to help me arrive at the same place, the same point of clarity. Sometimes I use an image or a smell to achieve the same result.
With the chatter in my mind stilled, I seem to step outside of my ‘normal’ self and look deeply into a space that was hidden by the chatter, both visual and mental chatter. It is as though there are complete landscapes hidden in plain view, hidden realities.
The stilling . . . (curious, just as I write this the world around me explodes with sounds as another set of fireworks is set off and my mobile phone demands an answer and I am called back to the messy and busy outer world. And as a result, I have had to take a moment and slip into a momentary stillness) . . . sets aside my subjective and judgmental ego, allowing what otherwise would be unthinkable, unrealistic, unexpected to make itself present. Refusing to objectify or analyse what appears allows what makes itself present to enter into the edges of my consciousness where it can eventually become a part of my conscious knowing of myself and the world.
A photographer learns how to make the world sit still in order to capture more of the essence of the scene or object or person. An image emerges that points beyond, beneath and deep within that which is on the surface of the image. Attention to dreams, writing a journal and guided analysis are other ways to make this same journey. And meditation serves as a training ground to assist all the paths one might take in order to help answer the question, “Who am I?”
I like the contrast between focus and lack of focus and where the focus is located in this photo. Even though there is sharp detail in the “in focus” of the leaves at the top-centre of the photo, it is the blurred man who captures one’s attention. The blurr actually enhances a feeling of peacefulness.
As I listen and read various media from around the world, I get a heavy feeling that takes on various shades of darkness. The media has little to say in terms of hope, of what is good about being human. When the pressure gets to be too much, it is time to set aside the world of the collective and meet another face of the world, one that nature nourishes because of its numinous qualities which bathe the soul.
Meditation used to be a structured thing for me. I would set aside a certain amount of time, adjust the setting to allow myself to sit still. At times I would use music and incense, at times scentless silence. Sometimes I would embrace a mantra and at other times I would be active is banishing sounds within as well as without. Now, I am more gentle with myself and find that my meditation has become more authentic as a result. I don’t try to control meditation any more. Meditation comes to me when I need it and in a variety of guises.
As many here could already guess, photography provides many of these moments. I sit still with images and allow them to come forward, to evoke something within and coax it into life. Stilled and listening and allowing a thin light to emerge, I become a little more conscious, just a little.
I don’t want to lose this thin emergent light. Claiming wisdom banishes the light into the darkness from which it had emerged.
Well, with a new contract signed for another year of teaching at the university, there is a moment for relaxation and catching one’s breath. Strange, there isn’t anything to suggest stress as returning to Canada to a nice home and no economic barriers to a decent life, or remaining in ChangZhou as a university instructor are both good choices. The stress is simply that of making a decision. Once the contract was signed, a trip to the university garden nursery and greenhouse was in order so that I could choose a plant to put into the apartment so that the place could feel even more like a home. One plant soon became three plants, one for each year of service to the university. This photo is a part of the wall that separates the nursery from the main campus grounds.
I had a lot of choices when it came to taking a photo of an opening (window) through the wall where I could get crisp, clear shots and where the opening was undamaged. Yet somehow, this one drew me. A broken window cluttered with leaves and a red ribbon that was meant to hold up a weakened plant and a lack of focus, a lack of clarity – this is what I caught. Interesting as with the signing of the contract, clarity is what I thought was where I was at after weeks of indecision.
It was only with choosing this photo for the blog post today that I came to realise some part of the why for this photo. Making a choice isn’t about moving toward clarity, it is about moving further along a path where the final destination is only a hazy image, so hazy that there is even doubt that it is a destination. And somehow, this gives me a good feeling.
Thankfully, this isn’t a recent photo, but one from almost two weeks ago upon my return to Canada. I went looking for this photo as it was one that I felt needed to appear here. Looking out my window the sunrise is applying a light coat of golden paint to the fields and the few buildings that I can see, a huge contrast to this scene. Yet this is the scene that my head is experiencing in spite of what my eyes see.
I have seasonal allergies and they are now raging. Snow mold on the now exposed grass and dead leaves aren’t nice to me, neither are the constant dry and dusty winds. The poplar trees are beginning to show new leaf buds and that will make the situation worse in short order. Of course, like any normal person, I take appropriate medical aids to make the allergies more bearable but they only add a fog and lethargy as they do their thing in allowing me to breath easier. I say all of this, not to garner any sympathy (I get enough of that at home), but in order to contrast and inner and outer world. Though we often think of the mind as separate from the body, both are intricately linked and affect each other. Think of the yin-yang symbol where opposites are constrained tightly together yet maintaining their unique separateness within the container.
All of this is to serve as an intro to my thoughts of the next book, Through a Jungian Lens: Sol and Luna, which will be this year’s project for SoFoBoMo. I have chosen to focus on Jung’s essay, “The Personification of Opposites” from volume 14 of the Collected Works, Mysterium Coniunctionis. I plan on taking the photos and writing the text likely starting on June 12th, the date of the first full moon during the two month “fuzzy month” for the SoFoBoMo project. And, like last year, I expect that I will bring much of that stuff here in my posts. Other than the topic and the ideas from CG Jung, nothing is yet decided.
So, in spite of my allergies, I am still able to focus enough to find my way down my particular path. Tomorrow’s post will likely return to its usual, more reflective nature.
This was taken in the back yard. It looks as though winter came early. However, the snow is already melting and we will likely have another spell of above freezing temperatures for the next week or so. I don’t mind making winter wait a bit longer.
There has been a shift in my life these past few days. I have finished all of my projects in the house and now find myself with time on my hands. I am taking that opportunity to get back to writing but not as much as I had thought I would. I seem to be procrastinating a bit more than a bit in terms of writing. Rather, I seem to be focusing more on politics and sports, stuff outside of my “self.” Or, perhaps I am mistaken. Perhaps this focus is about more than being distracted, perhaps it is about knowing my “self” even better.
This “little stuff” is important. It fills in a lot of the empty spaces, true, but it also adds to the fullness of the response to the question “Who am I?”, a question that haunts all of us.
So, in my opinion, these too, become part of honouring the soul.
When you look closely at the image of soulfulness, you see that it is tied to life in all its particulars – good food, satisfying conversation, genuine friends, and experiences that stay in the memory and touch the heart. Soul is revealed in attachment, love, and community, as well as in retreat on behalf of inner communing and intimacy. (Thomas Moore, Care of the Soul, 1992, pp xi-xii)
Politics is about community, about values. Politics also reminds me of the collective unconscious and how it is playing out in community. I “need” to position myself in terms of values so that I honour my “self.” And, in doing so, I likely change the community.