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Tuesday, July 29, 2014


Let go, and you’ll see the vast array of beauty all around

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A wave breaking on a Molokai beach. Dewitt Jones was singularly focused on getting this image. As the light changed and shooting conditions deteriorated, his mind was freed to take in the entirety of the scene to give him both an experience and a great photo.

What is love?" someone asked the Dalai Lama. His reply? "Love is the absence of judgment."

Well, that sounds quite lovely, but seriously, without judgment, I wouldn't be much of a photographer. I make a huge number of judgments every time I take a shot—what's the right lens, the best angle, the proper exposure, the correct color balance, the perfect moment to push the shutter? Without all those judgments, would I ever get an image?

No, I wouldn't, at least not a good one, but I've wandered around in nature enough to know that the times I'm happiest are the times when I'm feeling connected to everything around me. And, if I look carefully, those times are indeed without judgment. One leaf isn't better than another; the sky isn't more perfect than the grass; there's no "best" angle to view it all from. I feel both in and of the landscape. I observe that things are different from each other, but there's no judgment. I'm in "love" with it.

Darn, I want both. I want to fuse with the universe and I want to take photos. I want to have a great experience and capture a great image.

It's a fascinating and rather delicate dance.

The other day, I went to the beach to shoot waves. The surf report was good, my confidence was high. I arrived and found the ocean flat-calm. Then, way down the beach, I saw waves breaking in one very small area. Immediately, I was locked in like a cheetah after a gazelle. I forgot about the folks who were with me (never thought to even ask them if they wanted to make the long trek down the beach). No, I just set off on my own little death march, with no intention of stopping until I had reached those waves.

Have you ever left your house to go to the grocery store or your office and found when you arrived there that you had absolutely no memory of the drive? That's what my hike was like. I was so locked in on my goal, so certain of my judgment, that the place I was going to was far, far better than the place I was, that I stopped noticing or experiencing anything around me till I reached my destination.

Would it have been possible to enjoy the journey and still reach my goal? Certainly, if I had just been a little more conscious of how my judgments were blinding me, I could have enjoyed every step of my journey and still arrived at the same time. I could have allowed myself to delight in the wind against my face and savored the warmth of the sun on my shoulders. As I walked, I could have reveled in the feeling of the sand beneath my feet and between my toes. I could have done all this, with love, without judgment, and still have arrived at my goal at the same time. I could have, but I didn't.


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