kamera-1I think that a photograph is a reflection, picture of an experience, a moment or an event. The viewer can of course decide is the picture Zen or has it reached the Tao of the sky. In nature photographer hasn’t got time to think about viewers and it’s not even necessary for the one who is enjoying walking in the forest and free photographing and who isn’t dependent on anyone’s opinions.

Because I’m using the trendy word ”Zen”, it’s better to explain it and say that it’s a possibility to be free from ”a good photograph”. To be free from planning in advance a picture that is taken for someone else. And to be free from showing the picture and worrying: ”Is this a good picture?” How one can be free from everything, that restricts photographing? Don’t think – just take pictures!

If we are talking about Zen, we need to talk about Buddhist meditation, because it’s essential in Buddhism. Buddhism is known for different degrees of depth in meditation and the most simplest form is known in Sanskrit word Dhyāna or Jhāna (Pali), which is pronounced like Dhyaana and means meditation. The word is in Japanese Zen, Chinese Chan, Korean Seon and in Vietnamese Thien. The concept is only pronounced differently in different countries. Just the word Zen doesn’t tell, what kind of meditation are we talking about and how can we practice it in the forest. Wanderer can sit down on a stump of a tree and let the daily worries go by and wait for the mind to calm down, the breathing comes slow and steady, the whole body and being feels relax and thoughts settle down. It’s good to sit down for awhile, approximately 10 to 15 minutes and just breathe in the forest and it’s scents. When one feels him-/herself calm, just get up and wander on the forest path with your senses observant. Being observant is important because you can’t walk on the path if you are stumbling down. Walk in the forest your ears, eyes and mind open and the most important thing is that if you are walking in a group or with a friend make an arrangement that you are going to wander without talking, in silence. Trust that the subject and target will find the mind of silent photographer. I have conducted teams on silent wanders many times before and the experience people have had is that they have been amazed. Many have said that they are experiencing the forest even more real, more precisely and even different kind of experience than if they would be babbling about today’s events etc. at the same time. The possibility to encounter forest animals during the silent wander is much better. Calm observation are the key word in this rehearsal.

Bodhidharma association invited people to participate to Zen photography trip through Facebook group. On Saturday 24th of September there was five of us enthusiastic photographers gathered together to the bus stop of the School of Veikkola. Our path went through school’s natural stone garden to a bridge over the motorway and to the forest in the direction of Kaislalampi and from there to Siikaranta. First the forest road was wide and marked with clear orange signs attached to trees. The road narrowed down to a narrow forest road and finally to a meandering small path with big roots of trees, chunks of rocks and wet and muddy places. We had reserved 3,5 hours for this about 4 kilometers journey, We had time, silence and what was best a sunny day and varied path with multiple atmospheres. When we got to the Hotel Nuuksio in Siikaranta and drank hot drinks all of the participants had the look on their faces that the journey and photographing experience was successful.

All the participants promised to give pictures to Bodhidharma Associations web gallery.

Some of the pictures have been edited heavily and some of the pictures have just had slight changes of contrast, clarity or they have been cropped.

Here is a list of photographers:

01-10 Ari
11-10 Kingfar
21-30 Lincon
31-40 Mikko
41-50 Piia

You can watch the photographs here: http://www.bodhidharma.fi/Zen-retki/

(c)All the pictures are legally owned by photographers and using the pictures without permission is a violation against copyright laws in EU and universal principle’s of ethics.)

Zen Photography trip led by 24.09.2016, and this article was written by Mikko Koponen Vimalamitra. He is Bodhidharma, the association meditation instructor and Dharma teacher.
This article has been translated into English by Piia

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