River Talk

Ways of seeing

By SANDY LONG
Posted 2/19/20

Readers of this column know me to be a longtime advocate for attentive awareness of the endless wonders of nature. Engagement with the illuminating insights that can be experienced in the natural …

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River Talk

Ways of seeing

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Readers of this column know me to be a longtime advocate for attentive awareness of the endless wonders of nature. Engagement with the illuminating insights that can be experienced in the natural world involves looking, listening and feeling one’s way with an open heart.

Photographers and writers explore that relationship with an array of techniques and tools related to how one perceives the world. For example, the 17th-century Japanese haiku master Matsuo Basho drew heavily upon observation of the natural world in his brilliant poems that continue to influence us today: 

“red more red in spite of the indifferent sun an autumn breeze”

Such seeing lies within the traditional Japanese principle of wabi-sabi, which finds beauty in imperfection and focuses on the acceptance of the transience of life. There are endless expressions of this aesthetic in the natural world.

One technique employed by photographers to deepen their work in this realm is “bokeh,” a term originating from the Japanese word, “boke,” meaning blur or haze. The term refers to the quality of the blur in an image and is purposefully manipulated by the photographer in composing the image.

Visit www.bit.ly/TRRnaturebeauty to see a strong example of how photographer Janelle Lynch utilizes bokeh in her approach to “slow-seeing” beauty in nature. 

Keep in mind that anyone can explore new ways of experiencing their outer and inner worlds. While cameras and pens are excellent tools for the journey, simply heading outside with a sense of receptiveness can lead to transformative moments of wonder and insight. 

“Winterberry”
You will see them
as they are—
brilliant declarations of persistence
following the fade and crumpled fall
of green foliage,
the almost garish glowing red of startling globes splayed
against the sky—
wild welkin sometimes gray and smoldering
sometimes singed with solar scorch—
but always being the poem,
the poem that leads you to remember
what you love—
and who you are.
©Sandy Long

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