A Year of Creating Dangerously, Day 114: Curing a Case of the Nastys


“I thank you God for this most amazing day, for the leaping greenly spirits of trees, and for the blue dream of sky and for everything which is natural, which is infinite, which is yes.”  – e. e. cummings

Sunday morning I woke up way earlier than I had to and way crankier than normal. I will spare you the details but I’ve not been sleeping well lately. My mourning mornings used to be cheered with coffee. Now even that blessed beverage is not doing the trick. However, the sun was shining. The sky was a brilliant blue. And since I had woken up before I needed to, I found myself with extra time… So, what to do?

A Photo Walkabout, that’s what.

I call my wanderings with my camera “walkabouts” for a reason. Connecting with the Australian aboriginal idea of a spiritual journey, my photo hikes are my form of opening myself up to God, wondering in Creation, and letting that “infinite” and that “yes” that e.e. cummings talks about drive out any case of the Nastys I am dealing with at the time.

It’s a soul cleanse; a mental detox via nature. Taking a camera along helps me focus (there was a pun intended there… sorry). I tend to look at things more closely, linger longer in one spot, take in the details and take time to search for the unexpected when I have a camera. I think as an artist it gives me a chance to make some instant art of the moment, or at least to know I’ve recorded something that I can revisit later. It is a tangible thing to take away from an experience of glorious intangibles.

This latest Walkabout was at one of my favorite spots: the Mer Bleue Conservation Area, a large and unique peat bog that has encouraged the growth of plants that you would normally find in a tundra region. There is a boardwalk through the peat bog. The place is a beautiful and paradoxical spot of peace and quiet along with the commotion and song of birds. I have been here many, many times over the years and I never tire of it.

Below are photos taken on my Walkabout. Did it do me good after my awful night to be out there early Sunday morning? Yes, infinitely Yes.



A Year of Creating Dangerously, Day 37: First Photo Walkabout of 2017


Can photography be a spiritual experience? Well, I believe just about anything can be a spiritual experience if approached in right frame of mind and spirit. It certainly helps if you approach life as not divided into Sacred and Secular. For me, life, the universe, and everything exist and are upheld by God. There is nothing here we see  or experience or feel that cannot be traced back to God. By that I don’t mean that God is the author of pain and suffering, or acne, or traffic jams, or paper cuts. I mean that God is all and in all and above all, y’all. So, yeah, taking pictures can be a spiritual experience.

Photography is an art form I have come to recently. I am most certainly a novice at it and make no claims at being the next Ansel Adams. However, that doesn’t stop me from getting out there are shootin’ away. The digital world means so much freedom in photography; freedom to shoot way more photos than you’ll ever need, for example, but also freedom to experiment and to have easy ways to crop and create after the shooting is done. For me, the whole process has become a marvelous form of self-expression; another way to express myself creatively. And, I would hope, another way to open up the world for others through a creative medium.

A few years ago I began taking hikes with camera in hand. There are many, many beautiful spots very close to where I live. My preferred method is going on my own and finding paths and places with few people. There is an element of spiritual retreat in my photography/hiking trips; I like the solitude and the quiet, when I can hear the leaves shuddering and trees creaking and acorns thumping to the ground. I have also discovered that taking along a camera makes me take my time on the trail; I stop and look and listen far more than I used to. I am constantly looking around at textures, the play of light and shadow, the colors and lines that surprise and entangle you.

When I come home with my photos, I enjoy the time spent in downloading them, looking at them again, making discoveries, cropping and playing with bits of a photograph or looking at it from a slightly new angle. Then it is fun to share them with others, which I do through the format of Facebook.

I used to call these trips my “Photojaunts”, after the term a former Art teacher at my college used to use.  But now I prefer the term “Walkabout”. Walkabout is an Australian Aboriginal term referring to a spiritual journey that adolescent males take as part of their culture. Unfortunately, “walkabout” has taken on a derogatory meaning connected with the transience of aboriginals in the country. Because of this, the term has lost a lot of its spiritual significance. By using the word, however, I wanted to apply a spiritual reality to my outings, that this wasn’t just about getting outside or getting exercise; it wasn’t just about taking photos. For me the word “Walkabout” informs my reason for doing this and helps keep me accountable for what it is all about in my own life.

When you consider things this way, it is hard not to see God in all things.

Last week Friday I took my first Photo Walkabout of 2017 at the Mer Bleue Conservation Area, just a ten minute drive from my home.  Unlike most of my trips, I took along someone special: my lovely wife, Monique. I may have to do that more often! At any rate, below are some of the photos I took on that hike on a cold, grey February day. I am always amazed that when I hike and take photos at this time of year, Winter loses its bleakness and shows itself for the Beauty it truly can be.