What is 'meditative nature photography'? It is a phrase that came to me the other day to describe what I feel when I am out in nature, seeking some treasured sights to snap. Whilst I am no professional, to me nature photography is a great way of engaging with the natural world, and a wonderful opportunity to be creative. If there is one thing I love to capture, it is the elusive, incandescent and ephemeral beauty of light. Light can be so many things: bright, hazy, golden, soft, glowing, dazzling, and enchanting. I particularly love the way light falls on leaves, or dances with the movement of the trees.
The woodlands are my muse. Forests are a place of imagination, serenity, wilderness, and beauty. They can be gentle, or they can be imposing, but either way they are a place of magic and I love to capture their beauty.
The artistry of nature surpasses anything else. I find that by taking a moment to really look at something - a leaf, a beam of light, a bird, the colour of a flower - you are connecting with it. When you really see it, you marvel at it. This kind of photography takes me out of myself and away from the thoughts or stresses of the day, and that is why I refer to it as 'meditative'. I suppose 'contemplative' is just as accurate a term, but the stress release I feel when photographing nature is the same as meditation. Perhaps you could say focusing on a leaf is the same as focusing your mind on a meditative mantra, or that following the winding, lofty boughs of a tree with your eyes is the same as contemplating a mandala.
Nature photography not only gets you outside in nature, which is a well known stress reliever and imagination stimulator, it gives you physical exercise, and reinserts a little magic back into your life. To me, a cluster of mushrooms suddenly becomes a fairy village, and the bark of a tree becomes an artist's easel smudged with a multitude of colours.
Of course, there have been times when I have been so preoccupied with trying to catch something on camera that I didn't stop to simply appreciate the moment with my own eyes. So, whilst photography is great, it is important to remember that having aphotographic record of something isn't always as important as living and feeling that moment, as brief as it may be. Often the beauty lies in its brevity. We may want to share that memory with everyone, but sometimes a moment captured only in our minds is more beautiful because it is intimately ours. Our personal moment with the world.
That said, I love to celebrate nature and sharing my photographs feels like an exquisite way to do just that and spread the joy. When you dazzle someone with a powerful or beautiful scene it, hopefully, fires a little excitement and imagination in them too. After all, the world is so utterly beautiful, why wouldn't we want to engage with parts of it we may never have the opportunity to see in person?
To me, contemplating a picture of nature - from the intricacies of leaf veins to the mind-blowing grandeur of the Milky Way in the night sky - connects us with the energies of the Earth in the same way contemplating a religious icon connects the believer with their god. The act of taking that picture makes the connection more intimate and sublime. And when you are contemplating the wider world, you find yourself living in your own, personal world that has become bigger, more beautiful and more gratifying than ever before.
"The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness." - John Muir
And who doesn't want a life that is consciously connected to, and awed by, the magnificence of the Universe, and our existence in it?
P.S. Follow me on Instagram to see more of my photography. I am not a professional and I am learning all the time, but I am passionate and love to share the magic and the joy!
Your Bio/ about you: Alexandra is a writer, animal lover, tree hugger, twenty-something year old adventurer and blogger on mythology, nature and spiritual empowerment. She lives in the United Kingdom.
Your social media handles: Twitter: @1AlexandraPayne Instagram: @alexandra_indigogaia