Halls of pine.

The trouble with playing around with the intentional camera movement technique is that I have a hard time choosing my favourite shots – I love the streaks and blurs created by dialing in a slower shutter speed and moving the camera during the exposure. There’s a lot of trial and error involved, and I end up throwing away a lot of messy photos, but I’m usually pleased overall. Plus, it’s kind of liberating to purposely throw a picture out of focus. Here are a few images from a recent outing to the lovely pine woods of Puslinch Tract:

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Fleeting beauty.

Get lost.

Hi. I’m still here (hope you are, too). I wanted to share a bit about a book I just finished reading called The Wander Society. The author, Keri Smith, on a visit to a bookstore one day, stumbled upon references to a mysterious group going by the name of – you guessed it – The Wander Society, and this book is the result of her research and reflection.

The Wander Society is an actual secret society whose members value the benefits of wandering (unplanned exploration, usually by foot, usually alone, and usually involving an element of nature) as food for the soul.

I love this.

Well, I probably wouldn’t have thought much of it a few years ago, when I was busy working and parenting tiny children and just generally stumbling from one day to the next, obsessing about my to-do lists and trying unsuccessfully to avoid my depressing news feed. Who has the time to wander? And why?

“To wander is to leave behind the complications of living. You can forget the person you are supposed to be for a time, and become who you truly are – unhindered by duties, obligations, and nagging thoughts. To wander is to access your true self.”

~ Keri Smith, The Wander Society

Since I’ve been fortunate enough to gain some solitary free time while my kids are at school, and to develop a real enjoyment of photography and fresh air, I’ve come to appreciate the beauty of random exploration. Some of my favorite photos wouldn’t exist if I hadn’t stumbled upon the scenes or subjects by accident. When I go out with the intention of taking a ‘photo walk,’ I usually park the car somewhere and then ‘get lost’ on foot. Slowing down allows me to open up to really observe the surroundings. Not necessarily having a destination is actually quite liberating, and even good therapy for those of us (*ahem*) with anxiety about all of life’s uncertainties and risks. Wandering allows you to be open and accepting to the unknown. It’s a practice of truly being in the present moment, like meditation. It gives you the time and space to breathe and move and process.

I realize it probably would’ve done me some good in the past to have made time for a good wander now and then, as a method of self-care. These days I still get busy, bothered by my worries, and creatively stuck. Putting one foot in front of the other may not cure all my problems, but it can be a surprisingly mighty antidote.

Check out The Wander Society‘s cryptic website. You might be more confused than intrigued, but I’d still recommend reading Keri Smith’s book. It just might inspire you to lace up your runners.

On that note, this week’s WordPress Photo Challenge is Favorite Place, and while I have many favorite places, today I’ll choose to share one I discovered yesterday while wandering: this grove of pines, perfectly aligned, row upon row, their slender trunks reaching up to the sky.

Getting lost has its advantages.

Wiggle it.

Turns out that “Wiggling the Camera” is not the official term for the technique I used to make these photos. I learned that it’s actually called “Intentional Camera Movement”, or “ICM” for short. It sounds a little bland and stuffy, in my humble opinion, though I suppose it does win points for accuracy.

I Intentionally Moved the Camera during a long-ish exposure time (shutter speed of 1/4 second) to achieve an abstract, painterly look here.

Whatever it’s called, I like it.

 

Unexpected development.

You may already know that winter isn’t my cup of tea. At this point in the season I’m usually huddled indoors, pale and depressed, counting the minutes until spring. But I can say that, surprisingly, I think I’ve finally begun to appreciate the glint of the sun on the snow, the lines and texture of bare tree limbs reaching up and away, the otherworldly peace as dense drifts of snowflakes end their travels piled in a thick blanket on the earth.

In line with this startling revelation, here are a couple of treeline shots I made yesterday after a brief snowfall. As you can probably tell, I was in somewhat of a reflective, minimalist mood.

I may be pale, but at least I’m venturing out from beneath my comforters every once in a while.

On being present.

You’ve walked alone in the snow for nearly two hours this morning with your camera bag slung over your shoulder but you haven’t even made a single shot, though it doesn’t matter because you are just being right now, just listening to the swish of your snow pants with every step and just watching the dense downward drift of the snowflakes that look like a bazillion tiny white stars, and when you stop moving there’s only silence so you tip your face to the whiteness of the sky and close your eyes and concentrate on the snowflakes coming to an end on your skin, the feathery tickles as they pool in freezing droplets on your cheeks and your chin and your glasses… so, in honour of your kids, and indeed of childhood itself, you open your mouth wide and catch the falling snowflakes with your tongue and you don’t even care if you look ridiculous, there’s no one here to see in any case; only the trees and they really don’t seem to mind, and then you finally pull out the camera and make the only photo of the day as you stand among the stoic trunks of the conifers, an unremarkable picture except for the fact that when you look at it you’re reminded that you are very small and the world is very big, that there is beauty in silence and solitude and in the crisp, cold taste of a bazillion falling stars.

Tree canopy (1 of 1)

Forest impressions.