Some months ago, I dreamed that I was asked to come up with a new idea for an app with no data and no time, of course. Who were those guys, anyway? No matter. It felt like I struggled for hours, dismissing idea after idea as being trite and meaningless. Finally, exhausted, I gave up. Then these exact words came to me, and I woke up :
extinction is the rule,
but we act as if we are immortal.
is there an app for that ?
“They both listened silently to the water, which to them was not just water, but the voice of life, the voice of Being, the voice of perpetual Becoming.”
- Hermann Hesse, Siddhartha
“...one of the meanings of maya, illusion, is measurement. Things are measurement; they are units of thoughts, like inches are units of measurement. A “thing” is a “think”, a unit of thought; it is as much reality as you can catch hold of in one idea” - Alan Watts
Lots of lines in life, no? They seem to come in pretty handy as we go about dividing reality into "this" and "that". From the mathematical, with no thickness and infinite length, to colored lines that must not be crossed (also applies to those drawn in sand), lines in the middle of the road, lines drawn on maps, complex lines on a circuit board to simple "leading" lines in a photograph; and of course, those that we create in our own minds and then act as if they are real...examples are endless.
Waterlines are interesting lines, especially for sailors; for one can say, with a knowing smile, that these lines are where hopes and dreams meet water. From the Tao Te Ching: "Under heaven nothing is more soft and yielding than water. Yet for attacking the solid and strong, nothing is better; It has no equal." Seems to point to a constant tension that always gets resolved one way, sooner or later. Of course, this does nothing to dissuade us from trying to preserve those lines.
The waterlines depicted in this new set of images were taken over the course of three visits to the same wharf in Monterey, CA.
"not too tight, and not too loose"
When you understand one thing through and through, you understand everything.
- Shunryu Suzuki
Grabbed this shot late last year in Maine with my iPhone, which tried valiantly but failed from a strictly technical perspective...came across it the other day, and was immediately struck by how only by my own perception/recognition of the human shadow was i able to even remember why i took the picture in the first place. without that perceptual filter, the image reflects just "one" thing - a jumble of shapes and shadows of a sun-dappled forest creek, not a portrait of "me" in the world. Suzuki goes on to say: "Wherever you are, you are one with the clouds and one with the sun and the stars you see. You are one with everything. That is more true than i can say, and more true than you can hear." up to us to understand, eh?
i've had this wonderful video bookmarked for a few years now, and now that my new site allows, thought it would be a good time to share. his description of the "process of discovery" is what i try to practice every time i get a chance to photograph!
a few notes re: my new site, and obvious absence from blogging...hopefully, as you can see, i've been pretty busy. changing to a new site was occasionally technically challenging, but the process of re-imagining every one of my images was a blast! i took the time to re-asses each photo; sometimes eliminating it for whatever aesthetic or technical reason, sometimes re-arranging to tell a better story, sometimes converting to black and white, if it turned out that color was not a key part of the essence of the image. and, i was able to (at last) add a number of new images that i had taken over the last year or so, that were begging for my attention. hope you enjoy.
Felix C. Alfano
he loved spaghetti and meatballs with warm, crusty italian bread on sundays,
and strawberry shortcake whenever he could get it.
he loved for everything to be where he last left it.
he loved shoes, especially if they were on sale.
he loved music, especially mariachi music, which may come as a surprise to some - it did to me. he loved the eloquence, the subtly, and precision of language,
and he loved to make a shorter toast into a longer toast.
he loved a glass of good scotch.
he loved the game of golf and the promise of the first tee on a cool summer's morning .
he loved his family and he loved his friends, and most importantly,
he loved us when we made it easy, and he loved us when we made it hard.
thanks, Dad, for showing us how to love.
The thought manifests as the word;
The word manifests as the deed;
The deed develops into habit;
And habit hardens into character;
So watch the thought and its ways with care,
And let it spring from love
Born out of concern for all beings...
As the shadow follows the body, as we think, so we become.
- The Dammapada
none goes along this way but i,
this autumn eve
interesting confluence of thoughts today on my morning hike. steve jobs has been in the news, with the usual slew of articles, quotes, retrospectives and the like. i came across some excerpts from a stanford commencement address he gave in 2005. decided to follow his advice - in admittedly a little way - here. i've been sitting on a number of shots from various old cemeteries i've visited as part of my berkshire wanderings for a few years now. these cemeteries are fascinating to me - being in one evokes curiosity, memories, emotions, and eventually a special kind of quiet. i've never shown any of these images, based on my own observations that people just don't like to be reminded of the whole death issue, in spite of all that we know to be true. maybe the best invention of life, but not high on list of photo subjects for most. here's one of my favorites anyway.
jobs had the courage to talk about death as a part of his personal story and as a motivator and seemed to me to speak to the truth of it - with his buddhist perspective shining through. a couple of the quotes:
“Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure — these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.”
“No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true."
“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”
is what any time in new orleans is about, but even more so when you go there for the jazz and heritage festival. the people, the food, the music, oh my. the city is consumed by celebration as much as it is still consumed with the aftermath of katrina (with much justification, sadly). we were there with friends, and made more (of the local type), who kept us focused on what was most important - who to listen to, and when, and what to eat, and where. nice. the last morning, we wandered the french quarter, making a point of staying at least 2 streets away from the notorious "bourbon" when i came across this music store. reflections such as these are always a challenge, but when you get it right, they can be rich with layers of images which blend the real and the reflected realities in ways that help to show "not simply what something is, but also what else it is". my favorite quote is from miles davis: "do not fear mistakes. there are none."
found myself in rockport, ma this past january. it was between storms, which was lucky, but it was squeaky-snow cold. walked the pier and around the harbor before the wedding we were attending. had a fabulous brunch with friends at the tiny "red skiff" diner. in real life this dinghy is red, and reminds me of that day. in black and white, it's just cold.
yep, been awhile. been immersed in the wonderful world of revenue-generation, which has put a bit of a crimp in my photo life, at least the "standard" version of it. i've certainly tried harder to make the most of my opportunities, which mostly means just going with it, instead of fighting. the composition above is a great example. we were with some friends in Carmel to celebrate the new year. did i want to go to Point Lobos or Garapata or Big Sur? You bet. did i? nope. we all went tourist on Monterey. all 8 of us. we walked out onto the coastguard pier, and on the way back, i noticed the painted markers. not on the way out. in any event, i noticed they all had weathered in interesting ways, so started to shoot them. got to the 8th, and a young boy was fishing right in front. waited for him to move, but he didn't, so i went with it. turns out he made the whole series! a friend asked if i had taken these. he was surprised, because it's not like me. is now! nice.
while everyone else was hunkered below decks on what was admittedly some fairly rough waters, Bill Ellzey was on deck trying to get another shot or two of the fabulous light...if you're considering a photo workshop this year, i recommend you get in touch with him. he's headed down to patagonia in april for the fall foliage show, and as you can see, there's a bit more than red leaves on the agenda. when i went in '08, i came back with new friends, great memories, and a book's worth of images!
came back from the optometrist late last year with a clean bill of health, and this showed up in my email shortly after (one of two!). reminded me that this was my sensor. DR is awesome, color reproduction is fabulous, subtle tones, no color casts, etc., resolution is perfectly matched to the lens and the processing pipeline, and is more than enough for the standard output target. and, of course, it does video! while the processor might not be as fast for other tasks than it used to be, on the imaging front, it works perfectly well. and thankfully i haven't had an urge to upgrade at all - not even the slightest inkling...so far. i'm perfectly satisfied. yeah, sure, the sensor isn't exactly aligned properly, (design is fine, i suspect a manufacturing defect) but nothing that lenses can't fix...now that i've simplified on the single still image digital backup/augmentation front, hopefully now i can focus on what this system does best: see. something that a camera can never do. i'm thinking that's the best way to improve my photography this year.
i stumbled upon a site about haiku poetry the other day, and it kind of inspired me...i've been thinking about posting this image for awhile, but there is a subtlety to it that i didn't think would come across on the web. but as i read up on the origins of haiku, i figured i might try to capture some of the essence of it using haiku. soooo, in the interest of having a good stretch, here are a couple that came to me this afternoon:
for a moment,
the slowly creeping fog
hides the afternoon sun
water softly washing
a thousand sculpted pebbles...
gulls cry on the wind
the thing about haiku is that anyone can do it (and, yes, it certainly has been abused as an art form on the web!) and it can be a lot of fun. the best ones come from direct experience/ memory. does this image conjure any beach memories for you and perhaps, some verse? would love to read some! feel free to stretch...