Feb 5 2014

Ice Therapy

_DSC1234We got quite an ice storm last night.  My car was covered with ice when I got ready to go to work this morning.  As I drove into town every tree in sight was covered with an icy glaze.  Thankfully I thought to grab my camera before leaving the house.  Once at work I took some time to photograph the ice on the trees behind the church.  Later I stopped at some church members’ home.  They are out of town and have asked me to feed their birds while they are away.  As I was preparing to perform this task I slipped and took a hard fall.  I hit my head on the concrete driveway and lay there stunned for a few moments.  When I got up I thought to myself, “I bet I’m sore tomorrow.”  Actually I was sore much sooner than that.  When I got home I told my wife that my back and shoulders hurt.  She suggested that I put ice on them.  Having just come in from the frigid cold that did not sound appealing at all.  Still, I know that ice therapy is a legitimate aid in healing.

_DSC1190After Bonita mentioned the ice therapy I thought about the images I had taken earlier in the day and how taking the pictures was a form of ice therapy as well.  Those of you who are familiar with my photography know that I’ve developed a style of photographing that I call “macro therapy.”  I have found that when I use a macro lens with very little depth of field I am able to explore subjects in a new and creative way.  This practice soothes my soul and I often feel like I’ve been to therapy once I have finished photographing.  The primary subject of my macro therapy has been flowers up to this point.  Today that changed as I discovered the same effect and experience could be had photographing the ice with my macro lens.  There are no doubt hazards that come with an ice storm but there is also a great deal of beauty—especially when you look close.

_DSC1280Practicing macro therapy has enabled me to see a new world.  It has also helped me to see aspects of God’s Creation that I would never see otherwise.  As I began to focus on one particular icicle I was amazed to see that it had crystal formations on it.  I saw patterns and shapes I would never have dreamed of.  I noticed pine and spruce needles embraced by ice and they reminded me of the truth that we are all embraced by the love of God.  All of this made me feel good, very good.  It truly is amazing what a little ice therapy can do for the soul!

–Chuck


May 22 2013

Eyes of the Heart

_CES8139I received a book in the mail a few days ago that has brought me a good bit of excitement. It’s called Eyes of the Heart: Photography as a Christian Contemplative Practice and was written by Christine Valters Paintner. I have long felt that there was a spiritual dimension to my photography. I have likened it in the past to a spiritual discipline. That is why I named my photography business Contemplative Images over twenty years ago. Photography has helped me see things in a way I had not prior to picking up a camera. In this new book Paintner gives a voice to my experience.

_CES2657In the introduction the author writes, “Photography as a spiritual practice combines the active art of image-receiving with the contemplative nature and open-heartedness of prayer. It cultivates what I call sacred seeing or seeing with the ‘eyes of the heart’ (Ephesians 1:18). This kind of seeing is our ability to receive the world around us at a deeper level than surface realities.” Later she adds, “Photography as a spiritual practice can help us to cultivate an awakened vision so we begin to really see.”

_CES5257I have often said that my nature photography is at times an act of worship. Paintner agrees with this. She says “Photography can be an act of silent worship. When we see the world with eyes of the heart, we can engage in an act of both reverence and self-expression. We can discover how the living Spirit is being revealed in the world.”

_CES8282As I’ve been reading this book I have rejoiced that someone has been able to put into words what I have felt for so long. The experience has been like finding just the right greeting card that says exactly what you wanted to say to someone but could never have come up with the words yourself. If you own a camera and would be willing to explore how it might be used as a spiritual tool I highly recommend that you purchase and read this book. It is not a book that will teach you how to use a camera (my blogging partner, Rob Sheppard has written plenty of those and I urge you to buy them too), but it will help you to see the world in a different way and this will make you a better photographer in the end. Practicing the principles taught in Paintner’s book will not necessarily help you create award winning images but will instead lead to something far better–a closer connection with God and His Creation.  In the end this book is as much about the contemplative life as it is photography.   It is a book that has the potential to change your life in more ways than one.   That’s saying a lot for a book that only cost me $11.86 on Amazon.com!

–Chuck

(The pictures I’ve used today are examples of my work I’ve come to call “macro therapy.”