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Mindful : October 2013
October 2013 mindful 37 play color You can’t fabricate flashes of perception. Anything you do to try to make them happen will only generate more thinking. Flashes of perception come naturally when you are open and attentive to them. They arise in the nor- mal breaks between navigating, labeling, and evaluating the world. The more you are interested in these experiences, the more they will come to you and the more you will see. Contemplative photography uses exercises a nd assig nments to trigger flashes of perception. Assig nments don’t tell you what type of photographs you should take. They’re simply methods for training yourself to recognize fresh per- ceptions, take the time to discern what you’re seeing, and form the equivalent of what you see. Traditiona l photographic assig nments are oriented toward subject matter: dramatic la ndscapes, interesting street scenes, cheerful babies. The contem- plative photography assignments a re oriented towa rd you, the perceiver. They point you to your own experience of per- ception, not to things that are perceived. They do this by asking you to recognize the experiences of basic elements of your experience of the world, such as color, texture, and light. The experience of color is the most basic. Vivid color is easy to recognize and sparks strong perceptions. The color assignment is about experiencing bold, vibrant colors. (Solely for the purposes of this assignment, black, white, gray, and beige are not considered colors.) Shooting color gives you something to look for that will align your eye and mind. When you work with this assignment, stay focused on color. Look at color in a simple and open way. If you star t to get interested in shooting other things, your intention will be- come vague and it will be hard to recognize the flashes of perception. When you experi- ence flashes of color during this assignment, your eye and your mind will be aligned. Try to avoid getting caught up in thoughts about color ful things. You know that a fire truck is bright red or yellow, but don’t go searching for them: it’s the experience of color itself that you want to be looking for. This is especially true for flowers and nature. Of course flowers are color ful, but it is ver y hard to tune in to perceptions of the color of flowers because our concepts about the beauty of nature are so strong. For the purposes of this assignment, it also helps to avoid shooting graphic designs, graffiti, letters, or numbers—even ver y color ful ones. Again, these things get us thinking about other kinds of content in a way that makes it harder to see color directly. Finally, when you experience color, get in close, so that what you see in the view finder or on the screen is just what stopped you. Don’t try to shoot color from across the street or from far away. →