Practice 1

Love Affair with Tree

Ok, don't laugh. Just do it
Keep your eyes on the tree
Empty your mind and fully focus
Find a tree you like. Don’t worry if you are in the middle of a busy polluted city and the only tree you can find is planted in a hole in a broken sidewalk, or if it’s winter and the trees have all shed their leaves. Any tree, for this practice, preferably a deciduous one, will do. It doesn’t matter if the tree you choose is old and beat up by the elements if the bark is pecked away by woodpeckers, or ravaged by insects, even if its branches are covered with snow.

Before you begin this and every practice, put your phone in airplane mode and do the same with your mind. Take three slow breaths in and out. No one will notice you doing it. It may sound a little woo- woo but try. It will help you get focused
Breathe in and out slowly three times. While you are doing it, keep your eyes on the tree. Observe its shape, its bark, and branches, the way it is rooted into the ground. If you can possibly allow yourself, before you take those three slow deep breaths, press that little command that puts your phone into the airplane mode. Do the Go out and find the tree you want to photograph. First, get a picture of the whole tree or as much as you can get it into your shot. Then move to thsame with your mind. For the next ten minutes, don’t think about anything but making photographs of that tree. Now, get as far away from the tree as you safely can and take a picture that shows as much of the tree as you can get into the frame and take a picture. Next, move close to the tree and start taking close-up pictures.
By coming closer and being fully engaged in what you’re doing, you will find beauty and form you probably (if you are like the rest of us) never fully appreciated was there. Your photographs will be like abstract paintings, or perhaps more accurately, abstract paintings are like the beauty and elegant form in nature, the beauty all around us that as we rush through our lives, we barely take time to see.