The Zen of Seeing

Willow Leaves, autumn, Ahwahnee, California 2012
Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III__EF70-200mm f/2.8L USM__1.0 sec at f / 4.0__ISO 100

Last night, I had a flash of memory about an early influence in my photography – the book The Zen of Seeing by Frederick Franck. I picked it up at a used book store during my college years at CU Boulder. The book discusses the concept of seeing and in the author’s case drawing, as a discipline by which the world may be rediscovered, a way of experiencing Zen. I realized how engrained this practice is in my life for the past 30+ years. Now I’ll have to dig though my office to find it, and read it again!My photograph here was made across the street from my home. It is a small piece of woods that I can see from here and watch every day. During this autumn, I’ve watched these willows slow turn color and thin out as leaves fall. Saturday morning, I noticed that just a few leaves were left, and NOW was the time to capture their beauty. They hung gracefully, looking like bamboo. I exposed dozens of frames, playing with shutter speeds and camera motion. I have many favs, but like this the most…

Enjoy !  And let me know what books have inspired your photography!

A Dutch artist offers his concept of seeing and drawing as a discipline by which the world may be rediscovered, a way of experiencing Zen.

Published by William Neill

William Neill, a resident of the Yosemite National Park area since 1977, is a landscape photographer concerned with conveying the deep, spiritual beauty he sees and feels in Nature. Neill's award-winning photography has been widely published in books, magazines, calendars, posters, and his limited-edition prints have been collected and exhibited in museums and galleries nationally, including the Museum of Fine Art Boston, Santa Barbara Museum of Art, The Vernon Collection, and The Polaroid Collection. Neill received a BA degree in Environmental Conservation at the University of Colorado. In 1995, Neill received the Sierra Club's Ansel Adams Award for conservation photography. Neill's assignment and published credits include National Geographic, Smithsonian, Natural History, National Wildlife, Conde Nast Traveler, Gentlemen's Quarterly, Travel and Leisure, Wilderness, Sunset, Sierra and Outside magazines. Also, he writes a monthly column, On Landscape, for Outdoor Photographer magazine. Feature articles about his work have appeared in Life, Camera and Darkroom, Outdoor Photographer and Communication Arts, from whom he has also received five Awards of Excellence. His corporate clients have included Sony Japan, Bayer Corporation, Canon USA, Nike, Nikon, The Nature Company, Hewlett Packard, 3M, Freidrick Grohe, Neutrogena, Sony Music/Classical, University of Cincinnati, UBS Global Asset Management. His work was chosen to illustrate two special edition books published by The Nature Company, Rachel Carson's The Sense of Wonder and John Fowles's The Tree. His photographs were also published in a three book series on the art and science of natural process in collaboration with the Exploratorium Museum of San Francisco: By Nature's Design (Exploratorium / Chronicle Books, 1993), The Color of Nature (Exploratorium / Chronicle Books, 1996) and Traces of Time (Chronicle Books / Exploratorium, Fall 2000). A portfolio of his Yosemite photographs has been published entitled Yosemite: The Promise of Wildness (Yosemite Association, 1994) which received The Director's Award from the National Park Service. A retrospective monograph of his landscape photography entitled Landscapes Of The Spirit (Bulfinch Press/Little, Brown, 1997) relates his beliefs in the healing power of nature. William has taught photography since 1980 for such prestigious organizations as The Ansel Adams Gallery, the Friends of Photography, Palm Beach Photographic Workshops, The Maine Workshops and Anderson Ranch Workshops. He specializes in landscape and nature photography and is concerned with conveying the beauty seen in Nature. Currently, he teaches online courses for and One-on-One Workshops in his home studio near Yosemite National Park.

3 replies on “The Zen of Seeing”

  1. Lovely! I like the delicacy, and the soft purple in the background. I’m a voracious reader by nature, so have found lots of inspiration in books. To name a few: anything by Freeman Patterson, especially “Odysseys”; “In Wildness…” (Eliot Porter, Thoreau); Brandenburg’s “Chased by the Light”; I also find it inspirational, when traveling, to read something that gives a deeper sense of place. For instance, during a recent fall trip to the Northwest I re-read Annie Dillard’s “The Living.” Will definitely check out The Zen of Seeing!

  2. Thanks for your comment. I like the lighting in my portrait, and it is plenty bright on my calibrated monitor. If you are not seeing the image in the same way, perhaps your monitor is not calibrated properly.

  3. Really beautiful. Movement abstracts are so hit-and-miss, aren’t they? But when they work, they’re so exciting.

    By the way, I’ve just noticed your self-portrait at the top right of this page. I’m afraid it really doesn’t work for me: sorry to teach my grandfather to suck eggs, but you need to brighten your figure so it stands out against the background. (This may very well be a problem in translating the image on to the web: I’m viewing on an iMac, via Safari.) As it is, I just find it frustrating – I’m squinting to try and see what you look like!

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