My photo haiku are far from perfect. They don't always follow haiku rules...
I do not think
haiku can be perfect - mine
go from bad to verse
Still, I can't give up taking pictures, writing short poems or drinking coffee. After a while, these three habits hook up like three lines in a haiku. I don't know when this happened, but a while ago my friend told me that photo haiku was better than ice chewing.
What is Photo Haiku?
Photo haiku combines an image and a brief poem to open the minds to a fresh perception. The combination evokes thoughts, and at best a state of consciousness in a viewer. Photo haiku tries to show the essence of human experience or nature. Well-written haiku photography can touch our souls with an Aha immediacy.
Q: Why do Photo Haiku ?
A: Awareness of the delights of the day. Photo haiku grows our awareness of little things, small pleasures, and odd moments. Making a haiku photo each day lets us structure how we observe the details of our lives. It expands the ideas in a photographs and guides us toward any subtle associations we might have with a photograph. Photo haiku also extends the impact of our photographs: words are pictures together are more powerful than either alone.
Since haiku often has a season word, reading a photo haiku years after it was made can help to recall the places and times that we travelled.
Modern haiku can be playful, social, and even witty. The structure of today's haiku is no longer bound to 17 syllables with five in the first line, seven in the second line and five in the third, that old 5-7-5 rule we were taught in elementary school.
Photo haiku today is more spontaneous. It has an 'on the spot' lightness. The haiku form also lends itself to travels with a camera. When on the move, it's a challenge to create an evocative poem that harmonizes with the pictures we take on the road.
Haiku: The Wordless Poem
Long called the “wordless poem,” haiku was a way of life, linked to spiritual practice. Poets and regular people wrote hokku to praise nature and to open their minds. The non-rhyming short poetry form began with scholars in China as hokku, then spread throughout Japan. It came to be called haiku in the 19th century. Traditionally, poets in China wrote about nature. Writing poetry was a social occasion. Later, Matsuo Basho, the most renowned Japanese haiku poet, devoted his spiritual life to writing poetry and prose. He explored northern Japan as a traveling priest. His poems bring us a feeling of “lightness” as his haiku summoned ideas from Zen practice such as wabi and sabi. Basho's prose and poetry reflects a solitariness and the experiences anyone can have everyday. With his travels throughout Japan and his haiku wiring, Basho remindfully brings the distant past into the present.
Now let's explore some of the How To.
How To Make Photo Haiku
Begin by observing a moment in time. Imagine the essence of what you feel and perceive. Any subject or human relationship can become a haiku photograph.
Use familiar, simple photo gear like your cell phone or point and shoot camera.
Think about what you perceived, heard, or sensed during your experience. Write a short poem about the feeling you had.
Your short poem can be about what happened or even what you imagined might have happened. When you craft haiku, use simple language. Think of a group of words that present an observation in a way that appeals to your senses. Use your vision, touch, the sounds, aromas or tastes. Edit the poem until it tells of a specific event or observation. Use present tense, not pasts tense. Show the feelings the poet has while writing the poem. When describing an event, present it as an image.
Apps and Photoshop for Photo Haiku
There are many apps to apply effects to pictures. The download for Photo Artista Haiku effect is one I have tried. The app lets you easily change the appearance of a photo. If will not make you a haiku poet, but the effects are fun.
PHOTOSHOP: Making Photo Haiku in Adobe Photoshop: 6 Steps
STEP 1: START. Open your photograph using File > Open.
STEP 2: Add your text. Click IMAGE > Canvas Size. Change width to 300 pixels wide. If your picture was 800 pixels, make the width 1200 pixels.
STEP 3 : Likewise, add 400 pixels to the height. Note that you can customize the canvas color by clicking Canvas extension color: drop-down menu at the bottom of the Canvas Size dialog box.
STEP 4: Click the Text Tool in the toolbox. Select your font style from the upper toolbar. Type in the text of your poem. If you want to move down a line, hit the "enter" key on your keyboard. Click Photoshop's check mark to commit your edits (the check mark is at the top of Photoshop's display, in the middle of the Options bar that runs horizontally across the top of the screen). To view your text layer, open the Layers palette by clicking WINDOW > Layers ( F7 ).
STEP 5: Position your poem by using the move tool in the toolbox.
STEP 6: FINISH. With the text and a picture on two layers, save the file as a .psd file type so you can edit it later (File > Save As). For instance, you may wish to change the color scheme, and this is easier with a Photoshop's .PSD file.
Haiku photography is thriving in the information age as people write haiku in 30 different languages. The rapid growth of digital photography inspires new forms of photo haiku. As a wave of younger artists publish diverse haiku photo work online, haiku photo will reach a global audience with fresh energy, centuries after it first emerged.
HAIKU POETS HUT. For an index of haiku subjects from “inner glow” to “dragons” and a million other haiku, explore Shoji and other poets at Haiku Poets Hut.
FACEBOOK. Join the haiku hut on Facebook .
WORLD HAIKU REVIEW. Find the official magazine of the World Haiku Club.
HAIKU BOOK. The Haiku Anthology , Third edition. Core van den Hoevel.
HAIKU: THE WORLD'S SHORTEST POEM. Youtube video that shows Japanese people in Tokyo spontaneously composing haiku on the street and references Basho and Shiki, two haiku poets.
We took a wrong turn, got lost, and drove around Highland roads in search of the Ballachulish House Bothy. Luckly, the weather was clearing. We found the driveway off the main road, and a rainbow burst out overhead as the brisk wind rocked the trees along the driveway that looked like it led to our Scottish guesthouse.
We parked the rental car, the owner greeted us, and when I asked, told us the village was pronounced BAL-ə-HOO-lish. He invited us to move our gear into the warmly furnished guest house ̶ a white, rectangular, 19th century, slate roof, stone-built abode, described as a self-catering bed-and-breakfast. On the mantle above its fireplace, hardbound between red leather covers, was a complete set of Robert Louis Stevenson's novels (First American Editions, Scribner's sons). Along its length, this series of novels measured three feet. Stevenson's novel Kidnapped was in the middle of the stack, about halfway in-between The Hair Trunk and Saint Ives. As the wind howled around Ballachulish house that night, the pages turned in my mind, and I realized that the author Robert Louis Stevenson was part of the same family as the Stevenson clan who built almost 100 Scottish lighthouses.
Built in 1640, this guesthouse is infamously connected to the Appin Murder, known in Scotland for a howling miscarriage of justice. Colin Campbell of Glenure, the Red Fox, was shot in the back in the Wood of Lettermore near Appin, Scotland. He was a government employee and managed three estates under the government control of King George II, the 5th Great Grandfather of Elizabeth II. The Kings men took land from Jacobite clans and Jacobite men sought revenge. Thus, the shooting.
This particular shooting of Campbell outraged the British establishment, even more so as it came on the heels of the Battle of Culloden, in which Bonnie Prince Charlie's Jacobites were defeated in battle by the British army. James Stewart, a Jacobite known as “James of the Glen”, was hanged for the Appin murder despite his solid alibi. The psalm that James of the Glen spoke before he was led to the noose, the 35th psalm, is known in the highlands at the Psalm of James of the Glen: Plead my cause, O Lord, with them that strive with me: fight against them that fight against me; Let their way be dark and slippery. The murder and injust hanging inspired fictional events in Robert Louis Stevenson's aforementioned novel Kidnapped.
The next day, in the windy, chilly, moist air of the coast, we hiked the coast to see the Neist Point Lighthouse on the Isle of Skye. Perched on a promontory, the 1909 lighthouse overlooks the turbulent waters between the Outer and Inner Hebrides. Its purpose is to warm ships away from the Gneiss rocks at Neist Point. Striding over the wet heather and muddy grass along the cliffs, with a steady 35-knot wind cutting through our bones, we could see gannets gliding over the water at the base of the cliffs. We took care to avoid the drizzle-awakened slippery rocks near the deathly drop offs, lest a wind gust propel us over the cliff.
To photograph the lighthouse, we took the cliff trail instead of the steep, single track downward. Looking out over the promontory, made of Giant's Causeway gneiss rock, it was clear how Neist Point came into its name (pronounced Neiss). Given the scale of this remote rock promontory, it seemed improbable that anyone would build there, yet the builder, engineer David Alan Stevenson, a member of the Stevenson family of lighthouse builders in Scotland, had conquered this terrain as well. David Stevenson designed and built 26 lighthouses with his brother and uncle, including the Neist project. The three unique features of Neist are first, its setting on the most westerly point of Skye, projecting into the Minch. Also, a garage was converted into a tea and coffee shop, a blessing to wind-chilled slow photographers. Finally, there is an aerial cableway for getting supplies down and out to the lighthouse building.
After downloading the days scenes from our cameras back inside the guesthouse, its cozy touches-fireplace, hot tea, the pages of Stevenson's book, shelter from the wind-came together to make for a blissful Isle of Skye evening.
In the back yard of my childhood home, a giant chestnut tree spread its limbs.
From far above me, its chestnuts fell and landed with a solid clonk. These gems were colored a deep brown. I gathered and polished them, leaving them in piles inside our family home on Council Crest, a hill known as "Portland's rooftop garden." This heavenly Oregonian chestnut tree inspired me to climb its relatives, photograph its kin and talk to many others. This year, I read Trees, a book by photographer Frank Horvat with an essay by John Fowles (1926-2005). The beauty of the book inspired this selection of quotes by Fowles, the famous novelist. . .
"There is a spiritual corollary to the way we are currently de-foresting and de-naturing our planet. In the end what we must most defoliate and deprive is ourselves.
We might as soon start collecting up the world’s poetry, ever line and every copy, to burn it in a final pyre; and think we should lead richer and happier lives thereafter."
"That two branches grow in different directions and ways does not mean they do not share a same mechanism of need, a deeper set of rules."
"Evolution did not intend trees to grow singly. Far more than ourselves they are social creatures, and no more natural as isolated specimens than man is as a marooned sailor."
All quotes by John Fowles
I am the siren, half-woman, half-bird. I am winged Leucosia, stroking with both oars as I sing of the water. I wield my Leica to weave images as I sing. A song-teller, I sing of the water that courses within.
Crooning my siren song, I call to you.
My trill is peaceful. Leucosia lures you only so you know that all is well. Not like those old time wahines Scylla and Charybdis. My flowing hair floats, like the wavy clouds that drift above the creek now, as if they are pleased with my melodies and delighted, in the way of clouds, to be aloft at this moment in the pre-dawn of the Autumnal Equinox.
I sing and feather my oars, sliding into the stillness of this creek to become one with the fog. I am a sole siren in this small boat. My powerful breasts are full of life and I lean back and stroke the oars. I sing in rhythm, with two oars as my wings. I am woman, wo-man, wo-man. Woman-singing, singing bird.
I am avian. I dream I spread both wings and fly up from this rowboat, letting go the oars to flap through fog to land in an ancient pine. There, I belch out a note, pushed out by my belly-full of minnows. Earlier, my strike was fast and sure. Now, a fishy tang tinges my notes, and I am singing off-key like some startled night heron.
My verse rises out over tannin-colored water and echoes a touch of pink that is painting the clouds. These clouds seem completely still, until I look away and look back, and feel that they've moved without needing a gaze at all. My third verse touches dew drops of spider webs that drape over the tall grass. My last verse tickles the fur on the otter's back.
The water is still, marked only by oar-lifted bubbles behind the boat that, as if keeping rhythm, pop in time with the beat. Silent now, I have sung. Moments pass. Behind the clouds, the sky begin to glow. All is silent as the first sun rays lighten the living infinite.
Our ship's radio came alive in The Great Dismal Swamp.
Many of us have looked skyward to see an osprey with a fish in its talons. The bird is probably looking too, but with different intentions. We may watch as our sushi is served to us, but an osprey must depend on its own keen vision to snare fresh fish.
An osprey excels at catching fish while on the wing. Its visual acuity is so keen, the bird sees six to eight times better than any humans at a distance. Osprey have evolved a set of visual skills that have allowed them to become the sole North American raptor to live on fish as their main food source.
I am sailing on the Choptank River on Chesapeake Bay. The bay the largest population of osprey in North America—about one quarter of all American osprey. In years past, the use of pesticides around the Chesapeake had a harmful effect on these birds. Fortunately, the ban on pesticides led to an increase in the number of osprey pairs. By the 1980's, there were about 2,000.
We almost caused this bird's extinction. Only a sustained conservation effort with a well-defined vision over decades saved the osprey. Fortunately, years of effort rescued these fine birds. After osprey were deemed a threatened species, dedicated groups of birders and conservationists worked to save them. As a result,osprey are thriving today. They live on every continent but Antarctica and migrate over long distances. An osprey nesting in Québec but wintering in southern Brazil may fly 120,000 miles during its 20-year lifetime. Osprey migration is a special wonder of the avian world.
While both the male and female osprey feed and care for their chicks, the female bird outweighs the male and is slightly larger. Osprey are devoted parents. Female osprey have between one and three eggs. Their eggs hatch in about a month in the order they were laid. Today we thrill to see an osprey plummet out of the sky, strike the water, fly up with a wriggling fish and then try to evade a dive-bombing eagle so it can feed young osprey on the nest.
Young osprey can leave their nest after only two months. Sometimes these juveniles return for several weeks to beg food from their parents until they can hunt on their own. In some areas, young osprey stay within their winter home grounds for an entire year, instead of going back to their breeding grounds. This might improve their chances of breeding when they finally return to the family nest area.
The osprey success story is threatened by a worrisome trend. Global wildlife populations have fallen by 58% in the last 50 years. This news is from the 2018 Living Planet assessment released by the Zoological Society of London and the World Wildlife Fund. If this trend continues, the decline will impact two-thirds of all vertebrates by the end of 2020.
To make matters worse, we are seeing the disastrous effects of our current administration’s policies, leading to costly environmental damage and species endangerment.
USA POLICIES WEAKEN PROTECTION
According to the New York Times in a July 19, 2019 article on the Endangered Species Act, "significant proposed change, which has been rumored since April when a proposal was posted to the White House’s Office of Management and Budget, would alter how the Endangered Species Act deals with animals that are categorized as 'threatened,' or one level below ‘endangered.’ "
This is important because government agencies are obligated to extend the laws protecting endangered species so that the protections cover threatened species (think about the osprey population in 1983). Changing these rules could take away some of these protections.
While weakening wildlife protections, the current administration is also waging a scandalous war on wildlife. The policies that have been implemented in 2019 are leading to the destruction of North American wildlife. Protections for endangered animals are being erased.
TAKE ACTION AND GET INVOLVED CLOSE TO HOME
To get involved in conservation photography, visit
Photographers can get involved. We can work to benefit endangered species. We can learn how too many nutrients in the waters of the Chesapeake Bay are an important issue.
Let us keep our conservation vision and focus on making our work useful to birds like the osprey. By doing nature, travel and landscape photography, we can help create economic benefits to wildlife.
To become a conservation photographer, start close to home. Check Facebook for Wildlife Protection groups. Find an endangered location or animal species. Choose one you can easily photograph. If you find out it needs protecting, tell others. Visit your site or animal often and photograph everything that makes it special.
Article and Photography by Jim Austin Jimages
Kodak has been a vital and important part of my photography life, so it was thrilling to learn a while ago that Kodak Alaris brought back a new version of 36 exposure T-Max Professional P-3200/TMZ film after it was discontinued 5 years ago.
At ISO 800, its print appearance looks like TMAX 400 film. The difference is that T-Max P-3200 Pro is designed to be pushed to a higher resolution of 3200, reminiscent of Tri-X, but to have a finer grain film when raising its ASA to 1600 or 3200. It is an ISO 800 box speed film. Now, this film is different than original Tri-X and T-Max (the latter used for the photograph above). But the relatively new T-Max P3200 will be useful for concert photography, night images, and for low light street work.
Film is Kodak's heritage. Tennis is my heritage. I started playing amateur tennis when I was 9, and professionals like Stan Smith and Jimmy Connors seemed like heroes who lived on another planet, visible only through a small, distant TV screen. As a kid, watching Connors, I craved a Wilson T-2000 metal tennis racket, so I could hit as hard as "Jimmy" did. Ha!
Then, I heard Connors was coming to a Fall tournament in Denver, Colorado. Now, I had the chance to see my hero, the bad boy. For 160 consecutive weeks, Jimmy Connors ranked #1 in the world. When he played in Denver in 1978, my senior year in high school, Connors was the men's singles champion of the Denver Open for the 3rd year.
I quickly volunteered to be a ball boy for part of this tournament. During one match, photographing from court side, I exposed 36 frames of TMAX-3200 at the Connors-Smith match. Because the two pro players were moving all the time, I concentrated on timing. Only one frame of 36 had the tennis ball in visible focus; it was of Connors returning serve. I made copies of the image in our high school darkroom to get the black and white tonality right to make a final printed photograph. What can I say-some of us loved the graininess of TMAX-3200.
In 1978, fast film was still a pretty new concept for high school photography. To be able to shoot at ASA 3200 was truly useful for stop-action. This speed of pro tennis, the player's serves and strokes, move way to fast to freeze action at SAS 400 or even 800, in the indoor area lighting.
For that match, with just one roll of Kodak TMAX 3200 film in the camera, I pushed the entire roll two stops, exposing and processing it at ASA 3200 (1:25, stand developed it in Rodinol in the high school darkroom, with instructions from Mr. Thomas Schultz, our high school photo teacher). Thanks Tom. I overexposed the highlights on the film negative. It didn't matter. The experience of watching the pros play was embedded in my dreams and in a few timeless B/W photographic prints.
Recently, TMAX Professional P-3200/TMZ has been moving slowly through my film Nikon. Its about $10 a roll. When all is developed, the story will continue. Thanks for your visit. Jim Austin Jimages.com
Simplify Gear to Sharpen Your Attention
Our cameras help us make photographs efficiently. Our gear should not get in the way of our vision. A guiding principal for our gear is to "simplify" it. This lets us experience where we are, and see it deeply, without being distracted by bells, chimes, breakdowns in gear, and fatigue from packing too heavily. We want to attend to creating photographs, not to the camera menu. To help simplify a landscape workflow ask: "if I allow myself only 7 pieces of gear in my bag, what do I choose?"
Reasonable criteria for choosing a "good" set of gear depend on these questions we pose about our workflow: is this piece of gear affordable in the long term? Can I carry it easily? Does it flexibly and creatively help my craft? How does it fit with my other gear?
How Do I Decide Which 7 Tools?
The most useful items are your camera body, lenses, tripod and all weather clothing.
The final three tools should be flexible to your specific landscape photography challenges. In a monsoon area, you may want extra dry bags and anti-moisture silicon dry pads. In dusty areas you may need a larger dust blower. Since our needs as photography are highly individual, a reasonable and flexible way to figure out our essential tools is determine the criteria for keeping a piece of gear in our bag day in and day out.
By criteria, I mean a quality like weight; many photographer's travel extensively, so the weight of each tool takes on added meaning. For instance, a heavy metal tripod goes with the gear when travelling by car, but for plane travel a lightweight carbon fiber travel tripod gets packed instead.
What Criteria Is Helpful to Use ?
Photography is a personal craft. Each of us gives a different weight, literally, to the gear we use, and we should wear our thinking as well. For instance, if you are reading this and think "Wait, he didn't mention my iPhone", I support your personal choice. What you won't read here are the words "right gear." The 4 basic criteria are economic, artistic, experimental and ergonomic. Think of all four when choosing a specific piece of gear. We all have highly individual criteria; here are mine:
1. Economic. Can I afford this tool? Can I afford to pay more for a more reliable and rugged form factor.
2. Artistic. Does this tool improve my range or vision, sharpness or some photographic quality I find invaluable? Does the tool help me express (share) my message? For instance, on the first qualities, a tripod allows longer exposure durations, and also makes for sharper images by decreasing camera movement.
3. Ergonomic. Does the gear fit efficiently into my workflow and bag. Do I feel like I want to pick it up and use it (haptics, weight, size). Does it balance the rest of the items in my bag?
4. Experimental. Can I experiment with the gear (open source, DIY, hack) or am I limited by a gear maker's proprietary design?
Clearly, this is only an outline, as you will create your own specific personal gear set depending on what kinds of photographs you make. Here are my 7 choices, based on what I've used in the past few months this year:
Your Gear is Unique to You
Of course your mileage will vary, and we each have unique photographic needs. I am doing more travel and nature photography. Portrait pros, wedding pros, bloggers, nature photographers all have developed specific skills and thinking for their differing challenges. We are all searching for workable, efficient ideas and a tool set to match them.
What gives photographs a sense of place? With return visits, out photographs help us build a sense of place. When I went to Chestertown, I am grateful for a thing I learned from a life long photographer: "photography is an art of observation, about finding something interesting in an ordinary place…it has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them.” ~ Elliott Erwitt born July 26, 1928, age 92.