Monday, December 31, 2007

Canada Geese

Took this today at Westlake park.

Beware of dog

Sometimes an off the cuff snapshot gets weird. Sheryl and I have both noticed that our cameras have an occasional "magic factor". There are other folks who put "magic" to good use with old polaroid cameras (I bought one recently at a second hand store, then couldn't bear to pay more than a dollar a shot for film). Some still use the "Holga"; a very cheap toy camera with plastic lens, light leaks, and all manner of aberrations to technically ruin your shots. . . or create a masterpiece which cannot be repeated. I'm working on breaking the rules more, and having some fun making bonehead mistakes with interesting consequences. I un-weirded the above photo quite a bit in photoshop, but then I liked the remaining bizarre color cast, and most especially like the way that the dog lined himself up behind the wire. Click on the photo for a much larger view.

After the rain


Looks a lot better if you click on the photo.


Have an abundant new year.

Eye Contact

Friday, December 28, 2007

One last time this year: Merry Christmas!

And Happy Solstice, Happy Hannukah, and we're indeed coming into the new year. Sheryl and I dragged a camera out in the rain tonight and tried out the new star-filter. Fun stuff. I only took one picture. Did not notice at the time that the address is number 13. Well 13 has always been lucky for me.

Santa Cruz at west cliff drive

This is one of my favorite places to go walking.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Some facets of "Siddhis"

Ok, I used a foreign word again. Generally I am in favor of good translations. There isn't a good translation of the word "Kundalini", so I wrote about it in a previous blog and Sheryl even interviewed me on video to talk about it. A Kundalini awakening is an experience of spiritual opening. Spiritual opening experiences sometimes result in "siddhis" which the Buddha called "special powers." Special powers can be distracting, confusing, or even tempting to get all mixed up in the details doing stuff like healing people, reading minds, foretelling the future etc. The Buddha suggested ignoring siddhis, ignoring any astral voices you might hear and so on. Why? He figured that siddhis were simply one more thing to get attached to which would prevent you from reaching enlightenment. He was probably right. Speaking for myself, I never set out to be a healer. My first reaction to it was of relative surprise-- it didn't seem to fit. I knew when I came into it that it wasn't the end of anything, wasn't the point of anything, and that it should not distract me from further developing myself spiritually. Currently I'm assuming that being a practicing healer is a good way to teach me to be a more compassionate man and also to teach me greater humility. There are probably some other lessons in there, not the least of which is to teach me some acceptance, and actually love of how things are.

Sheryl and I try not to call ourselves psychic, but we do use that skill. Recently I told a client thousands of miles away the name of somebody close to them, and also some precise details which can easily be verified (actually the bulk of those details were verified instantly). The client seemed impressed. I don't know why I did that, but I can guess: I did it so that the client would be impressed. The relative usefulness of giving a client useless information that they already know is just to make them listen, to re-assure them that Sheryl and I aren't just pulling platitudes out of our asses. Of course, we do pull platitudes out of our asses but we charge extra for that.

Most of the time in a session I don't know why exactly I'm saying what I say, but I can't say anything else until I say exactly what I'm supposed to say. I'm not using siddhis, siddhis are using me. I just show up for the event, and hold the highest intentions for the client. Sheryl does that too, but she's also a really excellent counselor. I don't think she worries about siddhis any more than an expert seamstress worries about the unfair advantage of utilizing a top notch sewing machine. And good for her I say, good for me too-- we're just a little different in some ways.

Flower Mandalas

Maybe it's Sheryl's influence on me, but lately we've been shooting lot of flowers. This is not to be confused with the practice of "blowing up roses" if you're familiar with the Berkeley Psychic Institute. No, we just photograph them and as far as I know we have no incendiary rose fantasies. I don't always find roses to be the most symmetrical of flowers, nor am I always attracted to symmetry, but lately I am fascinated by plants, the way that they present themselves to the world and all their characteristics. In the meantime a renewed focus on macro photography is coinciding with a renewed interest in extracting truly perverse color from the poor dears in Photoshop. It might be kinder just to shoot them, blow them up, drive a stake through their hearts and dispose of the remains on a moonless night. After all, aren't flowers beautiful and colorful enough already? Of course. But I don't grow flowers, I take pictures of them. I reserve artistic license to turn the image into. . . whatever. I have lots of arguments with myself over this.

Ever notice how much a flower looks like a Mandala? Or vice versa-- repeating patterns growing outward; you might see five pointed stars enclosed by a pentagon in the middle of a five pointed star and so on. Crystalline structures are like that too: the macro representation of the form is an exact scaling up of the microscopic. The mandala is supposed to train your mind to understand the importance of that: of the interconnectedness of all that is.

Sheryl and I both went through a period of fascination with geometric forms. Sheryl is still drawn to images of tree branches. She keeps photographing them: not the whole tree, just the branches but she's rarely, if ever, satisfied with the results. I honestly suspect that it's the shortcomings of the camera, that it fails to capture some very key, yet subtle variations on a theme. I've noticed that people who have difficulty making decisions are often mesmerized by tree branches and they don't know why. It would do them good to lie beneath a tree just staring until they get tired of it. It's therapy, it's a mandala, it teaches the mind that as every branch reaches the sky, every decision reaches just as beautifully and gracefully into the future.

Fun with a wide angle lens

Sheryl and I are agreeing that what we like about the extreme wide angle lens has something to do with the way that it forces us into a broader perspective, and not the usual narrowing in and isolating of the subject. At the same time, and perhaps equally important, is the fact that extreme wide angle lenses (in this case a 10mm focal length) distort the image terribly. Check the angles in the above photo. They're all wrong and I love it.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Neary Lagoon in daylight

Just had to try out the new wide angle lens. Under most circumstances we haven't really wanted to use the full zoom range; the shot above was taken at 20mm focal length. Looking forward to exploring the full 10mm capabilities.

Winter Solstice Moon

In a week or so I'm looking forward to taking more twilight/sunset photos-- will be trying some new techniques. Can't get over how much the moon looks like the sun in this photo. Neary Lagoon is one of our favorite places to go walking.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

All You Need Is Love

Conner from Boulder Creek called me out of the blue the other day to remind me of the importance of unconditional love.

Click to enlarge the photo.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Spikey Things

Click on the spikey plant to make it bigger and spikier, it’s fun!

Interesting week, Sheryl and I have both had our moods and have been tested here and there. Also have had many positive things and really rewarding work with great clients. My photos continue to sell and Sheryl and I both continue to grow as artists as well as spiritual counselors and healers.

We both got emails recently from people who seem to hit the “send” button before they think things through. Sheryl wrote about hers already, but in a nutshell it involved an overzealous individual with poor manners and apparently a short attention span. They sent an email, back dated to July, had many earmarks of a hoax or a scam ( we get hoax emails now and then). Anyway it was sent to one of Sheryl’s best customers, and not even to Sheryl directly, but apparently it wasn’t a hoax. It was pretty disruptive; intended to disrupt Sheryl’s business near as I can tell. The letter demanded some sort of “compliance” within seven days or they threatened to turn the matter over to their legal department, and then they even named the attorney (who, by the way, did not send the email and probably doesn’t know that his named is being swung around like a little league baseball bat). The parts of the email that really stood out were:

A. They called it a “courtesy letter”.

B. It wasn’t a letter, it was a back dated email with garbled and incorrect information.

C. They called it “personal and confidential” matter when in fact it was about an alleged trademark infringement, and it was demanding immediate action that would require the involvement of third parties.

D. and finally: there was no infringement !

I think that “D” stood out the most, at least to Sheryl and I. Somebody stumbles drunkenly into your place of business, making threats and disrupting your livelihood, well, that’s not good. This, of course, is a metaphor, just in case anybody out there has trademarked “drunken stumbling”. Don’t sue me ‘bro.

I, on the other hand, got some nice comments and a very very polite email that I nonetheless didn’t like much. A guy telling me in the nicest way that I should be more careful about putting my opinions out on youtube. I ended up writing him back because near as I could tell he really misunderstood the video, so I asked him to watch it again and then write me again. He didn’t write back. Oh well. Also, youtube should be censored for any opinions you disagree with? Nah, I don’t think so.

In his letter he did a really good job of describing the experience of the numinous, and how the individual ego dissolves and experiences what he called “pure consciousness.” At that point the separation between the “I” and “God” if you will (nobody has trademarked that yet) is considered nonexistent. Hence people coming out of such an experience sometimes have difficulty putting it into words, sometimes have problems placing the experience into a context in their lives. It is decidedly not an ego trip, and i know i didn’t claim that it was. As far as I know, the individual ego collapses like a teardrop into the ocean when immersed in the mystical experience.

However: I did describe in the video that sometimes people get confused or change their lives immediately following such an event and the outcome isn’t always the most beneficial. Understand that the ego is a necessary part of a functioning psyche; it has a healthy instinct to rebuild itself. Sometimes, the ego attaches itself to the mystical experience in a mixed up way--- My critic didn’t think so. He wanted to claim that the mystical experience was a universal and was the same for everyone. Nope. We may all be one but we’re all different too.