When you look out the window is your eye drawn to the light or the shadow?

I’m at a photography course this week. One day we worked with two models in a Japanese garden, and each of us captured them very differently.

Usually we don’t see our own perspective until it’s reflected back to us or captured, as in a photo. Even then it’s hard to see our orientation to the world until it’s compared to others. That’s what this course has highlighted for me.

When you look out the window onto your day, you’re looking through a lens, probably with many filters. Filters of past experience, or whatever is worrying you at the moment, even the season can influence how you focus attention.

Some people look through the window onto the world with love or compassion, like a lens that softens all the sharp edges and hard lines. Others look into the dark heart of humanity and see the folly of politicians or war, while some read only lines of everyday busyness and don’t notice the small invitations that surprise and soften the day. Some lean in close to see the small tinkling dewdrop on the rose petal at dawn, while another seeing that same dawn looks up to the far horizon to watch the morning star coming home to rest.

Usually our orientation to the world is a set point, like an aperture setting, or ISO (I’m just showing off, I learnt that in the class, I don’t really know what it means except that 100 is good) or an automatic focus on the world. We don’t notice it until something goes wrong, things are out of focus or too dark, confusing.

Ken, our instructor, invited us to shake things up, literally. Ken asked us to forget the sharp focus most photographers dream of and move the camera! See what happens. Find the unexpected.

I call it random art. It’s a bit like life really, well mine anyway, yours is probably more ordered and you have some idea where you’re going or what you’re looking for.

I have to admit I haven’t had much success with this shake the camera technique. But it has shaken up my orientation. Made me look again at how I see things, like checking my psychological settings. I guess my aperture is open this week and I’ve been playing with my depth of field to change what is in focus.

What I can say is, there is beauty in the most unexpected places. Holding a camera in my hands calls me to find the beautiful, to look again, to lean in close in wonder at the small miracles unfolding right beside me.

Yes I know I’ll probably forget when I get busy or distracted. My mind will fly back to the old settings. But I hope that some days I’ll remember to shake my camera and look again, and see the curl of leaf or the dew kissing the rose, or that exquisite line of white trunk of lemon scented gum.

Here’s a poem I wrote for the book we’re making with some of our photos from the course. I called it Lens of love.

Soft eye of love makes radiant the world.

You stand still, and listen,

while Nature strums your senses.

You look, and

look again

bend in close

waiting for perfection.

Flurry of wing rises up against sky full of blue

hugging winter sun.

The window stutters


birdwing hovers in forever.

Nature opens her purse to you

offering her small treasures



the curl of leaf,

flicker of light tickling giggling water,

rough crinkle of tree trunk,

pattern and form collide in bursts of blue

and green and wonder.

You look inside that fleeting moment

of intimacy,

between the lover’s touch,

closer than breath,

and steal it

with your eternal kiss.


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