Northern Lights

I was lucky enough to visit Iceland this autumn, and even luckier to experience something I’d always wanted to – the northern lights. This is a collage of four images that sum up the experience for me.

The aurora had already started appearing over the city as we travelled down to catch the boat – groups of people were gathering and pointing at the sky, others were running through the streets with cameras and tripods.  The excitement was really building and finally we were on a small boat, literally feeling buoyant as it zipped us across Reykjavik harbour – out into the night to find the lights.

Then they appeared – a pale green arc formed over the boat in the shape of a rainbow, the engines stopped and we floated around silently watching as the arc of light expanded right overhead.  It’s hard to describe – but the top edge of the band of light started to move, swirling like sand does when a strong wind propels it across a beach. I noticed a feeling of childlike amazement as well as a connectedness with the people on the boat as we stared skyward.

The link to mindfulness for me, was something about the process we went through to see the aurora – planning, preparation, travelling, searching – all ‘doing’ or ‘striving’ activities, and the contrasting sense of just ‘being with’ an incredible experience.  I was keen to photograph the lights.. and I was just as keen to really experience them – to look through the lens and receive the images, rather than setting out to ‘capture’ or ‘take’ or strive for anything.

I feel grateful that rather than ending up with hundreds of pictures and little memory of what it actually felt like to see the northern lights – I can really remember the experience, the emotions, thoughts and physical sensations I had as I savoured just being there.



stop, look & listen

I live in an urban environment and you might think there’s not much to photograph in a built-up area, but sometimes as a way of having a break from work I take my camera out on a mindful stroll. So, I was walking around the block one lunchtime, when I decided to stop and really look at some apparently nondescript greenery I’d just passed.

As I became more still and took a few moments to get in touch with my senses, I began to tune into the detail around me. I was taken with the water droplets on the leaves, particularly this one which looked like a snow-globe, especially close up – a rain-globe! How lovely to find something so tiny and perfect in its own way just sitting there, waiting to be seen.

just bee thankful

There’s a nugget of wisdom about bees which Albert Einstein may (no-one seems sure) have said:

“If the bee disappears from the surface of the earth, man would have no more than four years to live. No more bees, no more pollination … no more men!”

I spotted this honeybee on a mindful photography course recently and I noticed how grateful I felt as I watched it gathering pollen. The bee was so busy that it was hard to photograph clearly, and although the body looked blurry, it felt amazing to be able to see the bee’s eyes so distinctly as it focussed intently on the flower. It was a treat to be able to stop and pay attention to what’s around me, and to see something that’s really ‘everyday’ – but really special.