Spirit Grooves Blogs
Nature Photography vs. Photographing Nature

Published on January 30, 2015

As a photographer I started out pretty young, the year my dad loaned me his Kodak Retina IIa (plus a light meter) and sent me on a 6,000 mile trip around the U.S. and across Canada, with a dip into Mexico. The year was 1956 and I was all of fourteen years old. Back then I definitely was a nature photographer. I had been studying nature since I was six-years old and it was nature I was photographing.

Fast–forward to today and somehow I have morphed into a photographer who photographs nature. The difference may be subtle, yet still distinct enough to merit my pointing it out. As a nature photographer (think field guides) I was trying to catch nature through the camera lens. Nature was out there and I was recording it. There was very much a "me" and a "them" or "it."

Today I happen to photograph nature, but I am very much aware that the photos I take show more about me than about my subjects, which usually are plants and flowers. I am not interested in chasing moving critters around anymore, and am very much a photographer of the "found."

And I know by now that "beauty is in the eye of the beholder" and "It takes one to know one." Photography has become one more mirror of the mind, reflecting not so much the subject that I am photographing, but rather where I am at, showing me something of the nature of my own mind. That distinction is, to me, a big deal, a real difference.

I started out seeing nature through and with a lens and now, so it seems, I am seeing something of the nature of my own mind through a camera lens, and recording it. I am now seeing with the mind. Perhaps it is a small thing, but it is the signature or sign of an enormous inner change. It reminds me of some of those old Zen images, you know, where before there was a mountain and afterward there was a mountain, but somewhere in there also was a change of view. Before I was seeing the mountain out there, but after I was seeing myself reflected in the image of the mountain -- something like that.

"Actions speak louder than words" and "An image is worth a thousand words." Those old adages carry wisdom and seem true. God knows I have spent enough words blogging here, when a few photos might more easily sum up what I am talking of. After all, imagination comes from the word "image," and most of us see our way through life from the light of our imaginations. Everywhere we turn our own image is reflected back for us to consider. No wonder seeing through the back of the mirror is at the top of the list for every would-be esoterist. We are all Narcissists until we can see through our own self reflection.

Anyway, here I sit sorting through hundreds of thousands of photos; quite a lot of imagination captured here. And on a more personal note, as I sit here I try very hard not to move and there is a reason.

I slipped on the ice Thursday morning, something I have been trying very hard this winter not to do. But the ice had melted and refrozen as smooth as glass. It had a light covering of dry snow and I thought it was the same as what was on the steps. Big mistake. While taking the recycle out, I stepped on this slick ice and my legs flew out from under me. It was just that fast. Bam! I landed hitting my right side into the cement steps at just above ground level. I cracked or broke or bruised my ribs and part of my lower right back. Lucky I did not hit my head, because it was a very hard fall. The pain keeps me at attention.

So… it hurts to move anywhere or even laugh and especially to sneeze. I am hoping this will heal, so here I sit, as mentioned, trying not to move a muscle, because when I do, ouch!! At best, it is interesting.