June 10, 2010

A Visit with Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh plus Mistakes are Gifts

Look | Sensory Inspiration

Seated on my left,  Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh is doing calligraphy.  To my right, a Buddhist nun is pointing out the window and saying: "Look deeply at that blue sky.  Have you ever really looked at a blue sky?"  I follow her instructions.  Man, the sky looks blue!  Talk about present moment awareness.

Green Chakra

I encountered the meditation master and his followers 8 years ago on assignment at a monastery in Woodstock, Vt.  Photographing this week, the experience still resonated deeply as I stood on a bridge spanning the Connecticut River, surrounded by blue sky, blue water, green trees and green bridge superstructure.  New Hampshire on one side.  Vermont on the other.

I suggest taking several deep breaths and looking at the blue sky.

Spanning and Connecting

While digitally processing this multiple exposure of the bridge and Brattleboro's brick buildings and spires, I simplified the image elements.  The trees and their river reflections thrilled me as I felt they echoed the serenity that emanates from the paintings of my friend Julia Purinton.

Feeling fully alive and fully in the moment - two key ingredients for creative exploration - I decided that instead of layering multiples exposures on top of each other, I would layer three exposures, but selectively block portions of each frame with my fingers.

I Am Sun

In my excitement, I forgot to set my camera to layer the shots, so I ended up with three distinct images, rather than one comprised of three overlapping planes.  I assembled the result in this triptych. See it larger.

This error opened a new way seeing for me.  I explored it.


I treasure the encounters photography has brought into my life.  I stay connected to Thich Nhat Hanh's calming influence with one of his books:  Peace is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Every Day Life.

TechTalk: Nikon D700, 24-70mm, ISO 200. Spanning and Connecting is an in-camera multiple exposure treated with Topaz Adjust, a plug-in for Photoshop CS4. The assembled images were shot at 1/25 sec and f22 while I shook the camera. ©2010 John Nordell


Unknown said...

Hey John really enjoyed the shots and inspired by your story behind them. Wonderful work.

John Nordell said...

Thanks Kevin. Art makes life.