From the Editors / Giveaways

The Practice of Contemplative Photography

Below is an excerpt from a new book by Andy Karr and Michael Wood, The Practice of Contemplative Photography: Seeing the World with Fresh Eyes. See below for details on how to win a copy.

Today, it is raining.

On a day like this you might see red, yellow, or green traffic lights reflected on wet pavement. You might see raindrops running down a windowpane or hanging from a railing or overhead wire. You might see two people walking under a bright green umbrella. You might see a dull gray sky or a wet red truck. Inside, there will be soft shadows and muted colors. You might even look through the drops on a window and see the landscape distorted by odd-shaped raindrop lenses.

When the sun comes out, you might see patterns of light coming through the venetian blinds. You might see the complex shadows of trees or bright green leaves against a darker foliage. You might see the shapes of someone’s eyes in profile, or the texture of the fabric of the clothing on your leg. You might look up at a bright sky with high, wispy clouds or notice clumps of light reflected by the windows of an office building onto light gray streets. You might observe a dog sitting on the carpet, half in bright sunlight and half in deep shadow.

At dusk the light changes again, and you might see white buildings become orange or pink. As it gets dark, the same buildings might become gray. The sky, too, will change its appearance. If you awake in the middle of the night, the walls and furniture will be monochromatic, illuminated by the moon or a streetlight.







The possibilities of perception are limitless, and clear seeing is joyful.

from The Practice of Contemplative Photography, by Andy Karr and Michael Wood, page 1, published by Shambhala Publications.

Ocean of Dharma and Shambhala Publications are giving away three copies of The Practice of Contemplative Photography. For a chance to win, leave a comment below telling us about a time when you experienced clear seeing. The contest will close on Tuesday, May 31, at 3 p.m. Eastern. Congratulations to Barb, Len, and Scott! They each won a copy of the book for their comments. Thank you to everyone who took the time to share experiences of clear-seeing! Your comments were refreshing and inspiring to read. Stay tuned for more contests and giveaways.

110 thoughts on “The Practice of Contemplative Photography

  1. When I have the good fortune to visit people in another country, the contrast between our points of view helps me experience something like clear seeing. Their landscape is so different from mine that I feel like I get to see all of the details. At home again, I notice all of the details of my own landscape with fresh eyes, without taking so much for granted. These landscapes are physical, but I think the same phenomenon happens with metaphorical or figurative landscapes… I see my thinking more clearly when I have a chance to dip my whole self into such a contrasting existence.

  2. When I stop engaging in the thoughts that come and go constantly in mind, and let fixed concepts fall away, then no matter what I may be doing at the moment, clear seeing is there, and the world looks fresh.

  3. Finally clear seeing yesterday about what exactly is making our elderly cat Angel sick. It’s taken us over six months to figure this out. I am just grateful we now know what we need to do to keep this from happening again. Thank Goodness!!!

  4. The last days I worked my job on the Railway in my province of British Columbia stand out for me. I traveled the tracks alone in rail equipped truck ahead of trains in difficult territory. The Cheakamus Canyon landscape spoke to me. I had traveled this section of track for 30 years. I saw with such clarity and detail every aspect of that familiar route. I’ll likely never see that track again, so that last day stands out.

  5. Clear seeing to me is looking at something that appears to be mundane and trivial, but when you pay a little attention to it, you will recognize its uniqueness and beauty, be it an old dilapidated wall structure, a pool of stagnant water on pavement, rain drops in the pond. My teacher also once taught me that simply by looking at symmetric patterns can be very calming and soothing to our minds and spirits. When we are calm and conscious, we are able to see clearly.

  6. Golden yellow flower
    Asking for my attention
    Gently I grant it
    Seeing the Flower
    We die
    Become the wind in the trees
    Shaking the leaves

    (DCL Oct-2009)

  7. I for many years was saddened that I did not see the energy and vitality of things, especially nature, as I had as a child. I lacked the ability of perceiving vividness. Many years ago, now, I was doing a walking practice at the Women’s Retreat at IMS in Barre Massachusetts. It was March and had snowed a wet heavy snow the night before. It was morning around 10 AM. It was sunny, radiant and nearing 32 degrees. The evergreens at the end of the parking lot were weighted down with moist chilly snow. The sound of waterlogged gravel and puddles followed my steps. I stopped, stood still, saw a platter of snow slip off the spruce tree. A chicadee lit enthusiastically and intimately in its place.

  8. Today while I was attending group therapy, someone
    pointed out that I tended to shift/change subject
    whenever I was feeling pain, so I wouldn’t talk
    about it…it hurt but I know in my heart it is true
    I’ve been doing that for a long time.
    I’m going to try with all my might to see clearly
    from now on, even if it hurts.


  9. Photography gives me a sense of freedom. I often dream I am taking photos. There is something completely familiar about looking through a viewfinder. The world becomes a much more dynamic and interesting place, giving me many moments of clear seeing. It’s that desire to see the world through my camera’s eye that draws me back to it time and again.

  10. Once your eye and senses are opened the unique moments
    abound as if pinching ones self.

    One’s you know are unique and worthy viewing.

    John Cline

    Port Williams, NS

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