Energy And Expansion

Early Morning Pond

Drop a pebble in a pool of water and waves ripple out. Drop a word or idea and these ripple out—so also emotions, behaviors and the products of creativity. At some level, given enough time, everything affects everything. And everyone.

This is the entire image that I use for my home page. I share it here because it illustrates a fundamental property and process of the universe and everything in it—energy and expansion. From photon to cosmos, whatever the matter or medium, energy characteristically expands. I find it fascinating that, in this image, it’s not the water that’s radiating, it’s the energy moving through it. Had a cork been floating three feet from the center, it would have bobbed up and down and remained in place.

Although physicists don’t know what energy is, they know a lot about its properties, effects and measurement. The textbook definition of energy is the capacity of a system to perform work. And work is defined as the movement of force through a distance. That being the case, it seems to me that force is movement itself. Nothing in the universe stands still. Even the atom with its myriad of sub-atomic particles (more appropriately considered fields although they are still talked about as particles) cannot stand still.

This begs a fundamental question. If the substantive characteristic of energy is movement, how did it get started? What got it going? What sustains it? And what is it that actually moves? As a working hypothesis, I’ve adopted the perspective that consciousness is fundamental. Whatever it is, it precedes matter. So could it be that within matter there is—both grand and rudimentary (as in rocks)—a “desire” to expand? To express? I like this idea because it ties to “affinity” or love energy, which binds and seeks expression that results in expansion.

Of course these ideas raise questions that cannot be answered definitively, but the expansion of this kind of mental energy itself, call it dreaming, speculating or envisioning helps us create meaning and approach the Great Mystery. Where there’s a question there’s always the potential for an answer. And that provides some satisfaction. In this regard I observe that the surface of the pond in this image is largely obscured by fog that’s in the process of clearing. As a species we may as yet be seeing through a fog, but what we are seeing so far is exquisite beyond words.

On a more personal level, the radiating waves evoke in me a quiet and soft sensibility that speaks to the potency of influence that occurs when the thoughts and expressions that ripple out are coherent with the deep currents of life, as opposed to the big splashes that are so bold and dramatic they interfere with or distract us from the underlying currents. An example of this would be the energies of mass media adolescence, sensationalism, hype and trash-talk. Of course there’s a time and place for both excitement and calm. Wisdom,  I suppose, has to do with discernment and finding a comfortable balance.

Any being with energy will disperse that energy. To radiate is the law of the universe. And this is true of all manifested reality… The universe cannot contain the magnificence it houses. Instead, it is compelled to express itself in ten million different ways.

Brian Swimme

 On Making This Image

On a particular trip I got up two hours before sunrise so I could be on location to photograph the dawning and then shoot as long as the light held. When there are no people around and the only sounds are those of nature—birds, frogs and ducks on this particular morning—it’s easy to get in the zone. It’s like the mind steps aside and the soul takes over, responding to moments of joy as the eye scans for compositions.

As I think about it now, there’s a release of thinking and an activation of allowing that occurs—letting the energies of attraction direct my attention, and then letting the deep place of intuition determine whether or not the elements within the frame constitute an image that works.

When I arrived at Lake Logan in mid-state Ohio, the fog was too thick to shoot. It was cold, so I just sat in the car with the heater on. Gradually, the fog began to lift and the water was perfectly still. I made several exposures, all delightful. Then I picked up some pebbles and threw them one at a time as far as I could so the rocks and reeds along the shoreline wouldn’t show in the frame.

With each toss I waited for the ripples to spread out before clicking the shutter. A tripod would have restricted my ability to center the circles since I couldn’t predict where the centers would be, so I held the camera with one hand and threw pebbles with the other. To insure that the image would not be blurred I increased the ISO setting to enable a fast shutter speed and set the aperture to f11 so the depth of field would keep the expanding circle in focus.




Photography Monographs (Click on the pages to turn them)

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