My friend Beverly Robertson has an excellent eye for beauty and she recently sent me a link to some Digital Magic I want to share with you. It was created by Takayuki Sato (here's more about him) and has the kind of exquistely refined Japanese aesthetic I love:
I recently discovered a new photographer whose work (and attitude) I love, not least because of the way she photographs light. Here's what she says on the front page of her site (obviously she too knows about looking at life through a "beauty lens"):
"I often hear the question: "What lens were you using?" People most often
refer to the camera lens – and while the camera lens is important, the
real lens is what we bring to it, shaped by who we are and where we're
coming from – our perceptions, our unique perspective and the context of
Here's one of her images (check out others on her website):
Where were you during the fabulous "super moon" display last month?
I was with my love-money Steve and pest-son Lee down by the bay photographing it, of course! (Lee is a logophile like his father and I - and his "other mother" Liz - and he chose this cheeky anagrammatical name for our relationship many years ago)
This first shot was taken after the moon was already high in the sky and it was beginning to get dark out, so there's greater contrast than in most of the earlier shots you can see in the gallery sequence below.
"Developing" the shoot at home the next day, I was struck by this photo of Lee photgraphing an earlier view of the moon through his iPhone... in particular I was intrigued by the way the light of his screen seemed to mirror the luminescence of the moon. It was almost like he had a little moon in his hands!
I learned something new from him about iPhone photography that night when he turned me on to an app called Photosynth, which lets you take seamless panoramic shots on your iPhone in one go. I'm more and more intrigued by the possibilties offered by this easy-to-access medium since reading Al Smith's eyePhone in David du Chemin's excellent Craft & Vision e-book series.
Every year (as long-time readers may remember), I celebrate the natural cycle of life and the majesty of old growth redwoods by participating in a three-day Solstice ceremony/retreat with Resonance in the Santa Cruz mountains. The experience is always profound, but this year's stood out for a number of reasons.
My love monkey Steve came with me this year. Being together in that environment, and sharing the same time schedule (just having the luxury of lying there in the gathering light together each morning, quietly watching the tall trees emerge from the fog) opened some doors for us that we're still exploring. We're heading up to Hendy Woods this weekend for more.
As part of the ceremony, every year each of us stand before the group and commit to giving something of ourselves back to Life in gratitude. This year's committment drew upon the last for me, but my current articulation specified a conscious intent to "be a clear mirror, reflecting back the beauty and light I see in every person and in every thing".
This commitment took on a life of its own as I sat back down into the circle and, moved by the beauty I saw shining in the faces around me, spontaneously offered a free portrait session to anyone there who asked for one. I so wanted them to see what I saw in them that moment.
I was thrilled when my friend Lana Holmes, a gifted professional who specializes in personal and quantum leap development, took me up on the offer and came over last weekend for what turned out to be an extraordinary photo shoot. I loved the experience and felt we were really working with Light, in all senses of the word.
Here's just a taste of what we came up with together:
Some of the photos from our session will be used on the new website I'm building for her now, which will launch later this month.
For some reason my calendar is especially full lately and I haven't had much time for reflection and contemplation. But necessity has forced a creative response...
Every morning I take just a few minutes and lay watching the light grow in the sky though two big west-facing windows opposite my bed. I let myself lie silently and drink in the subtle shift, feel the light increase inside me as I slowly wake up and move into another day.
It's become my daily practice, particularly delicious on a morning I don't have anything scheduled and can just let my day emerge organically, but those times are rare.
On one such day, a little too long ago now, I went on a morning walk with my friend FireHawk and our cameras through the forest around his home in the Santa Cruz mountains.
I did something delightfully unexpected (and deeply nourishing) the other day. I took time right in the middle of one of the busiest periods I've ever experienced to join my friend and creative mentor FireHawk Hulin in a photo shoot at Hakone Gardens.
Every year I respond to the drum beat of a Solstice ceremony held high in the Santa Cruz mountains where I join 25-40 others in dancing to the Tree of Life and declaring my intent, my commitment, for the next year.
It's almost impossible to describe the power of this experience in words, but I'll give it a go:
Tall trees, a deep horizon a meadow with open sky, where unruffled deer witness a communing circle of earnest hearts, entering ever closely the domain of their destiny.
A circle of Humans sitting in the bounty of the gifts we hold, Listening for what it is we feel we must offer back in the grace and gratitude of this fullness.
My own commitment, in this next cycle of the sun, is to hone my inherent, god-given aesthetic intelligence into a powerful instrument of Light.
I offer this commitment for the benefit of all sentient beings, and ask three blessings to guide my way:
May my voice be sourced in Silence. May my words evoke the magic of original Knowing. May my images be graced by the catalytic spark of Beauty.
My annual Dreaming Ceremony was a little different this year, due to the series of storms that hit the California coast in the last few weeks. The winding mountain road I took to get there was a 2 hour obstacle course of rock-slides, flooded low spots and downed power lines, so it was no surprise to find there was no electricity when I arrived.
We gathered that first night in a large room in the Santa Cruz mountains, lit by a roaring fire in the fireplace and the glittering lights of this year's altar (created by Lightning Dove, aka Sue Blondell). The heat in the building was electrically generated so it was cold and we were all wrapped in medicine blankets and woolly socks - some of us wearing scarves and hats, and even gloves.
It was magic...
One of the main motivations that takes me to the Dreaming Ceremony - and the Summer Solstice Ceremony that bookends my year - is the wish to realign my system to the rhythms of the natural world. The conditions could not have been better for that purpose, or for the collective Dreaming we all came to do together...
Later that night I took a flashlight back to my little cabin in the woods and lit a bunch of votives to do some journaling before snuggling into bed and watching tree shadows moving outside my windows. I left my porch light on so I could tell if the electricity returned and when it came on in the middle of the night I was kind of disappointed.
But that wasn't the end of our adventures with the weather- the electricity was on and off throughout the four days of ceremony and the darkness in the Kiva was especially deep when there was no electric current to distract us from the Void. My body actually began to remember what it was like to live without it and the re-calibration of my internal compass was well and truly set by the end of our time together; I figure it's good for another six months at least!
My magical friend & mentor FireHawk Hulin passed along this fabulous video from the Symphony of Science, which samples media snippets from the brightest scientific heart/minds of our time. The message is simple: "we are all connected", but there couldn't be more crucial knowledge for us humans to carry as we go into our next decade.
The power of this symphony's lyrics is literally stunning, and I find myself fascinated by the last line of one stanza - "we are a way for the cosmos to know itself" whose implications are still reverberating ...
The beauty of a living thing is not the atoms that go into it
But the way those atoms are put together
The cosmos is also within us
We're made of star stuff
We are a way for the cosmos to know itself.