Close your eyes. Imagine a place where the world is peaceful and calm. What do you see in your mind’s eye? Is it something of nature? What do you hear?
If you are having trouble find a place of peace and calm, I can take you there. A place with tall trees whose leaves are beginning to fall. A place with gently running water over stones. A place where you can walk and see something beautiful every way you turn.
The place I will take you is the Garden of Gentle Breeze, which I visited yesterday as part of the Kelby Worldwide Photowalk. This garden was created, is still being created, by homeowner Jay Gray in the forested hills near Corvallis. We arrived in the morning and started our visit with Jay explaining a bit about the philosophy of the two different types of gardens he has, the Zen or Tea Garden and the Strolling Garden. Everything is symbolic in the gardens, he says, with analogies for life. He also mentioned that the strolling garden is “edited” from it’s natural state, adding and subtracting elements to create the garden. That idea captivated me, as we do the same in our photographs.
While wandering the gardens I felt a sense of peace and calm. I had made a choice for simplicity this rainy morning, bringing only my 35mm lens, to see what I could see from that single field of view. I enjoyed both the wider scenes and the close up views.
I was fascinated at the artistry and interaction of the built elements with the plant elements. All are so intentionally chosen. They are a work of art.
Even the potted plants on the deck are arranged intentionally, with beautiful symmetry yet interesting contrast.
I was especially drawn to the lanterns, so I asked Jay about them. He said that when they are lit, they throw light in distinct directions. They are often at a stairway or a fork in the path, reminding you that you are making a choice. They are symbolic of the choices we have to make in life, making them obvious and intentional.
Partway through my visit, I started to play with my images. I wanted to create something that captured the impressions of the garden, rather than a literal photograph. I set the camera to longer shutter speeds and experimented with motion during exposure. I got a lot of terrible images, they just look blurry or are unintelligible. But I also got two that I loved, that really captured the feeling of the natural beauty of the garden in a powerful way.
This is my favorite photograph from the day. It feels like a painting, and just seems to captured the delicate beauty of the place in a way the other photographs did not. This was created in camera, with only minor edits in Lightroom.
Everything seems to draw me back to intention, which I also mentioned in Friday’s Exploring with a Camera post. We have choices in how we create our photographs. We have choices in how we live our lives. Whether it’s a beautiful garden or an artful photograph, when we are intentional about what we create, amazing things result.