f/8 and Be Here Now

(I'm consolidating my photography sites, so I'll be posting a few posts from other sites here in preparation for shutting them down…)

The Mindful Photographer: f/8 and Be Here Now

Mercer Lake Foggy Morning 7192-1

“f/8 and be there” and variations such as “f/64 and be there” have been part of the photographic culture for decades. “f/8 and be there” is attributed to Arthur “Weegee” Fellig, when asked how he was able to consistently get such good shots. “f/64 and be there” similarly refers to the working philosophy of Group f/64, which included Ansel Adams and Edward Weston. The f-stop bit is pretty straightforward – that's just the common lens aperture used by those quoted. “Be there” interests me more – there has been some debate on just what was meant by that. My own interpretation, which might not be at all what Weegee or Group f/64 meant, is that Being There is the critical component – if you're not there, nothing else really matters.

And that is very similar to my interpretation of “Be Here Now,” which I first heard in the 1970s. I've never read Ram Dass' book by that title, so once again my interpretation really has nothing to do with his original intent. For me, Be Here Now is a deep assessment of our human condition: In one sense, we can only ever be here now; that's just physics. In another sense, as conscious beings we spend much of our lives re-living the past or anticipating the future, giving short shrift to the one time and place we actually are. And if we're not there, nothing else really matters.

Nature photography might be the perfect avenue to mindful practice for me. I love the tech and technique of it, and that provides a happy distraction for my chattering Monkey Mind, leaving other parts of me available to the world around me. In my mind's eye, I imagine this as sliding aside a cover, setting free my porous soul to commingle with Nature.

And since mindful photography is only one aspect of my mindfulness practice, there are synergistic benefits that go beyond the photo session – but that's for another time, another post.

So, for today and every day, my fellow Mindful Photographers: f/8, and Be Here Now.

— Jack

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  1. Interesting and powerful thoughts Jack… ‘being here now’ is a valuable practice, and a lot more difficult than it would seem. The mind does like to jump around.

    Like you point out, it’s valuable for photography too. It’s easy to be thinking ahead about how a certain shot might look finished, even while making it, and end up missing the moment.

    Good post.

    Take care

  2. Thanks, pj – always good to have you stop by! 🙂

    At one point I realized I was missing not only shots but experiences by worrying about my expectations, so I started reminding myself to Be Here Now. I enjoy photography a lot more when I pay attention to where I am…

    – Jack

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