Mindfulness

Bobcat birdhunting at the Wetlands

Bobcat birdhunting at the Wetlands

Photography and painting are both spiritual experiences for me. Photography requires an observant state of mind where I am extra-sensitive to the world around me. I stop and scan the world around me, seeking the unusual, beautiful, or amusing. In this state of mind, I find myself feeling grateful for so many things –starting with all that is unusual, beautiful or amusing. I am grateful to be in that place and time, grateful for my eyesight (more so now that I have gone through several eye surgeries and various vision struggles), grateful for my equipment and the technology that allows me to capture images (many of which I could not see with the naked eye), grateful for the technology that allows me to share my images with so many people, and so much more.

Sandhill cranes tending eggs in the nest

Sandhill cranes tending eggs in the nest

Humility enters the process too – so often my best photos are about being in the right place at the right moment. Serendipity is the best word I can find – truly such moments are a gift from God. Such gifts encourage me to continue my work. Often I am alone in witnessing the events captured by my camera, which magnifies my awareness of how privileged I am to experience the moment. I have the blessing of the moment, while the best I can share is merely an image or video.

Recently hatched alligators at Viera Wetland, Viera, FL

Recently hatched alligators at Viera Wetland, Viera, FL

As I photograph, I am immersed in the moment, studying the object, the behavior, the surroundings. Many photographers describe a similar state of mind: taking photographs enhances their awareness and experience of a place or event. More than simply capturing an image, photography requires looking intently and intentionally at first the greater surroundings and then at specific items of interest. Mindfulness of the place, the time, and the details is involved.

Gratitude, humility, mindfulness – what else is needed for a spiritual moment?

Peace,

Leigh

Sensory Overload

"Swan Impersonator"

"Swan Impersonator"

"Growing Fast"

"Growing Fast"

On Tuesday, I went out painting with artists of TASGOB at the Viera Wetlands.  The sun was warm, the fog lifted as we arrived and the choices for painting locations and subjects was a little overwhelming.  White pelicans floated serenely across the water.  Blue herons tended to their fast-growing fledglings.  Large alligators cruised among the flocks of cooters and ducks, with their bodies submerged and their eyes skimming above the glassy surface like a surrealist image.  Baby alligators practiced their menacing glares.

"Gator Eye"

"Gator Eye"

I settled in to paint the landscape and soon got into a “zone” developing the layers of greens and browns in the grasses and trees and exploring the reflected colors in the winding pools.  Painting forces me to edit the view around me and distill it into the two dimensions of the panel before me.  This is difficult in such a rich setting.  I wanted to capture every passing bird and the unique personalities of every twisted palm tree.  Mostly, I wanted to express the experience of just being in the midst of such a wealth of life.  For that day, I could only capture some of the sunlight as it bounced back to me from the weeds and the water, but it was a start. 

"Prize Catch"

"Prize Catch"

"I'm Gonna...!"

"I'm Gonna...!"

Sunburned and paint-covered, I packed up and prepared to leave.  Five or more hours had slipped by and all the others had gone home quite some time before.  Lunch had long gone by, according to my tummy, so I loaded up the car and headed out.  A few yards down the road I paused – a blue heron had caught a huge fish.  Out came the camera and I got some beautiful shots.  A few more yards – there was an alligator…no, two…wait, three.  Then there was a bird with his tail fanned out, challenging all intruders.  His feathers were black with an iridescent shimmer of blue and violet, and he posed dramatically as he sang out his threats.  More alligators.  More birds.  More hours.  Eventually, I came to the gate and finally headed home in time for supper.

"Laughing Gator"

"Laughing Gator"

I may get the painting posted soon – I’m letting it dry before I bring it in the house and try to photograph it. (My previous painting was edited by large cat feet – extra toes.) In the meantime, I do have these photos.

Reptiles and weather...

Ninja Turtle - Warrior I

Prehistoric Gaze

What You Lookin' At?

Birds and reptiles seem to be my primary focus lately – but how could I not take these photos?  How often do we witness a turtle practicing yoga or see an alligator smile?  (I was very glad for a cement barrier for the latter photo op.)

Look, Ma! No Cavities!

A trip north reminded me that cold weather encourages quick shots of stationary items, or nice warm indoor subjects.  

Green Door

Green Door

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Alligators and Frogs, and the Camera Club of Brevard

The past week has been busy.  I finally had two opportunities to visit the Viera Wetlands (also known as the Ritch Grissom Memorial Wetlands, visit www.brevardcounty.us/NaturalResources for more information) which resulted in some excellent photo opportunities.  These wetlands are part of the wastewater treatment facility for the area and provide about 200 acres of habitat for many varieties of birds, turtles, and alligators.  This location has wonderful potential for future plein air painting.

I also attended the annual party of the Brevard Camera Club and was honored with an Award of Distinction in the Annual Print Competition for my photo “Camouflage”.  We had a wonderful time getting better acquainted with other members and viewing the many wonderful photographs entered into the competition.  Visit ccbrevard.org to see some of the excellent work created by the many talented members of this group.

 

Close Eye On You

Close Eye On You

In the Wind

In the Wind

Camouflage

Camouflage