learning to see better through photography


Weekly Photo Challenge: Containers

Mirrors are nets for light and objects.

These are images from the Hall of Mirrors at the Palace of Versailles just outside of Paris. This grand hall has 17 mirrored arches which draw in the light from the opposite windows. At the time of construction (about 1680) mirrors were one of the most expensive objects to obtain, and the republic of Venice held the monoply on their manufacture.  It was in this hall that the treaty ending World War I was signed. (more at Wikipedia here)

This week’s photo challenge asks us to show containers. “This week, share your own vision of a container you find interesting. You can take the challenge as literally as you want — a box of chocolates, a broken bottle, your town’s water tank, an empty shell on the beach. Or go in a more figurative direction — from the skin that wraps our body to the comfort of a hug, we all constantly hold and are held by other things and other people.”  See other responses to this challenge here.

The Epic Battle Between Mary And Martha


As I entered my stifling hot car yesterday afternoon, I turned on the air conditioning. Then I switched on the radio, and I was immediately smacked upside the head by an interview with Anita Moorjani. She was recounting the lessons she learned from her near death experience. She spoke of how we are each unique Beings with our own unique purpose. And then she said “if your only purpose is to be you, you cannot fail”.

Anita Moorjani reminded me of my personal struggle between being versus doing. I spent decades working as a software developer. I was an analytic drudge. It was pure joy of an odd sort. It’s a kind of thinking that is actually a doing. It became my mode of living, instead of just a way to make a living.

The Source delivers frequent blessings in the form of reminders that our fulfillment comes in Being, not doing.  Imagination versus analysis. Creativity versus productivity. Playtime versus homework.  I’m reminded of the resentful Martha asking Jesus why he allowed Mary to sit around soaking up his wisdom with the rest of the disciples, instead of helping with the cooking & serving & dishes & cleaning. I know exactly how Martha feels. When I’m busy living like a Martha, I forget that I was born to be a Mary.

If imagination is the playground of the mind, then perhaps creativity is the playground of the Soul.




A Brief Visit


When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe.
- John Muir

Weekly Photo Challenge: Contrasts

2012-07-06 15.16.46_edited-2Lost & found – a couple of rescue dogs.

This week’s photo challenge is CONTRASTS.  See other interpretations here.

Share your own photo showing a CONTRAST. Join me in navel-gazing, or show us something more everyday — your cat cuddled up with your dog, a red car in front of a yellow house, a figure silhouetted against a setting sun. Try a less literal take and snap a shot of the John Grisham and Shakespeare volumes sharing space on your bookshelf, or go totally figurative and share an image of a person you find full of contrasts.


Big City Tourists Discover World’s Smallest Hummingbird!

The hummingbird hawk-moth … Its long proboscis and its hovering behaviour, accompanied by an audible humming noise, make it look remarkably like a hummingbird while feeding on flowers. – Wikipedia

Future Friday – You Can’t Get There From Here


While her parents offered baked goods at a Wisconsin weekend market, their daughter slept peacefully on the sidewalk behind them.

Eckhart Tolle’s spiritual transformation came in the midst of a deep psychological crisis – his dark night of the soul. No way out of life as he knew it, no relief in life or its opposite. In the depths of this dark night he saw his Light. It reminds me of the truth that you can’t get there from here — when life is a polarity, when we are backed into the far end of a pole and we loath its opposite — we can’t get free by embracing the opposite, or moving the middle. We see only a line, and then our Source shows us a triangle. I think our species is in its own dark night of the soul.  We really can’t go on as we have been. Yesterday I watched James Hansen’s TED talk “Why I must speak out about climate change”.  Today I saw a trailer on Spiritbath for a film called “The Shift”.  I don’t know what form the change will take, but I do know that we can’t get there from here. We must transform if we are to have a future.



Photography & National Discourse

Point of view is a critical choice in story-telling. It’s true in photography, in fiction, in news media, and in national discourse. Wide image or narrow focus? Deep depth of field, or narrow? What story do we want to tell? I’ve been wanting to explore the art of street photography, and I read some eye-opening advice about photographing people on Otto von Munchow’s blog.  He recommends using a wide angle lens over a telephoto lens because it “places the person in its surroundings; you get a connection between the person and his or her environment, which adds depth – literally and figuratively – to the visual content.” I look at Otto’s pictures of people in context, and I feel a human connection, a better understanding, and even compassion.

What does photography have to do with national discourse? Thursday is the one year anniversary of the USA Supreme Court decision to strike down portions of the Defense Of Marriage Act. “DOMA” is a law preposterous in both title and alleged remedy: to protect heterosexual marriage by prohibiting same-sex marriage. It seems to me that DOMA is one of the few subjects of national discourse recently in the US — actual thought and consideration and discussion about a very heated subject. And, I saw a documentary on the Vietnam war, and compared it to the lack of images about the war in Afghanistan, and I’ve been distressed by the narrow and shallow coverage of climate change. All this led to a discussion about national discourse and its demise.

I think point of view in our news media is one reason we have so little national discourse in the US, especially these days. It’s uncomfortable to get close in, to feel impact on actual lives, to connect with people and plants and animals far away from us, to realize planetary implications of our choices. What would our national discourse look like if news was intended to “get a connection between the person and his or her environment“. Would we have actual national discourse on the subject of climate change, global war, or the surveillance state? How much do we want to know? How much do we want to feel? Is our focus on me, today, or is it on the world we’re creating?


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