Greetings Cosmic Seekers
At this Aquarius New Moon it seems like an appropriate and over due time to widen the perspective (Aquarius quality) and share with you some of my images photographed over the past few years. If you are also looking for astrological information, have a read of my last blog entry where I focused on the cycles of 2021. Those grand themes will be strong indicators for the various lunations in the coming months.
|On and On and On by Joseph Mina|
We are in a strong Aquarian surge right now, and Mercury retrograde too, evidenced by social justice eruptions in different parts of the world. Yet Aquarius is also directed to future thinking and technology, as well as viewing reality through the widest possible lens. So in that spirit, here’s some of my imagery that sees life through that wide-field optic. The above image is one example how I look for the unusual in unusual, Aquarian ways.
How I came to be enamored by the photographic arts will be for another time. Yet, one thing is certain: I want my imagery to be evocative and compelling for the viewer. We are sensual beings. We drink in light in its myriad forms and shapes. Its energy acts like a trigger that arouses emotion, empathy and memories. This art form can also inspire us to see more of the world, deepening our appreciation and stewardship of the Earth's many treasures.
I must add it was back in 2015 that I felt spent by dissecting astrological cycles on a more regular basis. Focusing on such was proving to be a drain. More so, I wanted to further explore the world of photography and expand my compositional abilities.
A few years later though I came to the realization that photography, astrology and bodywork are talents of mine that ought to be integrated within my overall work focus. I had grand designs to do so in 2020 (aka not listening to your own astrological advice😉). Now as 2021 unfolds, I'm taking steps to bring this trio onto a bigger stage as I anticipate borders in other countries reopening later in the year. More about that in some future blog. For now though, I present eight of my images, most from my time here in South Africa over the past few years, along with a short account of why I photographed each particular scene from an Aquarian wide perspective. (Note: clicking or tapping on an image will yield a larger version).
I begin here with a self-portrait taken in an elevator of all places at a hotel in San Diego back in late 2018. It was my first full day at the hotel. When I stepped into the empty outdoor-facing elevator, whose sides were glass, my eyes were immediately drawn to its mirrored ceiling. Fortunately, I had my camera in hand and the elevator remained empty for a short while allowing me to compose this extreme wide-angle self portrait. I like using very wide-angled lenses. They convey a somewhat distorted perspective of what otherwise would be a rather ordinary scene. As with this image, I also have learned to seize the moment and not get dizzy in the process. Shortly after taking this image, the elevator was suddenly full of people. Carpe diem!
This next image (above) was taken just a couple of weeks ago at the nearby beautiful Vergelegen Gardens in Somerset West in South Africa’s Western Cape. It’s summertime here now. These gardens are a wonderful oasis from the structured reality of the human world. It’s here that magic is revealed and rejuvenation takes place. Walking barefoot in the grass, hugging a tree, listening to the birds, smelling the captivating fragrance of roses and being fueled by the wind and nearby mountain scenery takes therapy to a whole other level. And it’s in settings like these I feel most creative, open and expressive.
I owe this self-portrait to my tripod and this massive camphor tree, whose age spans over 400 years old. I felt so excited the first time I saw this grove of camphor trees in the Western Cape back in 2014.
It was during my early travel days in Japan I first became familiar with this amazing tree species. There, the cinnamomum camphora tree is indigenous and now found throughout many parts of Asia. Camphor oil is quite therapeutic containing anti-fungal and anti-inflammatory properties, as well as its fragrance creating a feeling of calm. Standing in the presence of its massive size sure is humbling and meditative.
I have such a love for our arbor friends. Each tree conveys a unique characteristic even within the same species. The ancient ones reveal much about a long life of environmental stresses and growth that span way beyond the average human age. They also carry an amazing vibration and presence.
Placing my body against a tree and breathing slowly transports me into a different energetic realm. I’m transfixed. It’s here I’ll look up to see an entirely different perspective of these ancient living wonders. Which leads me to this next image below I photographed near a very old temple on the southern-most large island of Japan, Kyushu. This particular camphor tree makes its South African cousin seem rather young. Its age approximates 1,600 years. That’s a long time to be a watcher of this temple complex. Yet here it stands, having withstood the ravages of time. As I gazed at this tree's varied canopy, I marveled how its branches twisted and turned into a spiral. Equally marveled at the variety of life that grew on the trees outer skin. Life completes itself in the most amazing ways.
Next time around I’ll feature more of my Japan images to introduce you to this rather mystical land. But for now, I’m jumping back to South Africa and a much bigger perspective.
South Africa has the oldest mountains in the world, some dating back over 3 billion years. To put that enormous time frame in some sort of context I’ll squeeze that epoch of time into a 12-month calendar: on that scale the entire 4 ½ billion-year time span of our solar system renders each second as 150 years. Imagine! The average human life span occupies a mere half-second of time on this cosmic calendar. An entire lifetime in a blink of an eye. By contrast, a 1,400 year old camphor tree has been on the calendar all of 9.3 seconds. The American Revolution occurred about 2 seconds ago. Yet these ancient African cliffs have been on the same calendar approximately 8 months or near 21 million calendar seconds (I did warn you I was going down an Aquarian path 😉) Such ancient wonders these mountains. Here’s a sampling.
This snowy image was taken in July 2018. Winter in the Southern Hemisphere usually brings snow to the upper mountain passes of South Africa and its high desert plains. It’s quite a stirring sight. When I first saw this particular scene I was struck by the enormity of scale. Fortunately, there were buildings nearby to keep everything in perspective (very important in photography).
This particular mountain chain is part of the Boesmanskloof. While the elevation is a mere 6,500’ (1980m), the steep nature of these cliffs point to days far beyond the comprehension of anything else on this planet. Rock climbers from around the world come to the Western Cape of South Africa to test their abilities against such sheer cliffs.
Not too far from the Boesmanskloof are the mountains of the McGregor area. Here in the high mountain valleys, winter is awashed in a multitude of flower blooms known locally as fynbos. Native aloes, a wide assortment of protea, jades (crassula), many succulents and a great variety of other indigenous plants awaken from the summer's searing heat (sometimes exceeding 110f (43c)) by the onset of much cooler temperatures and the Cape's winter rains. Here, at sunrise one very chilly morning, these flaming Aloe torches blazed in the golden light of the Sun as if they were heating the surrounding air. It was such a stirring start to a memorable morning of mountain-valley hiking and flower enchantment.
From mountain to sea, this is Kogel Bay area on the eastern side of False Bay, which rings the southern area of the Western Cape. Personally, I find the European-named “False Bay” an affront to this magnificent body of water. Long stretches of course sandy beaches line its coast in a wide arc some 25 miles (40k) across, bordered by steep mountain cliffs. These wind swept beaches are favorites of surfers and beach goers alike. In the summer its mid 60's water (18c) is so rejuvenating, fueled by the relentless on-going wave action emanating from colder Antartica waters far to the south.
Which leads me to this wider perspective view of False Bay taken from high above the town of Muizenberg in the northwest corner of the bay. As is typical in the month of February, it was super windy that day making for an endless surge of waves along the bay. In the distance are the Hottentots mountains, which form the backdrop of the Kogel Bay image above. A little bit of history: English sailors were looking for the southern tip of Africa, which is Cape Agulas somewhat to the east. They thought this bay was the southern point. Learning it was not led to the False Bay moniker.
Moving south along the coast from here is a beach area called Boulders, near Simon’s Town. This area is known for its massive granite boulders (estimated age 540 million years) and its colony of small African penguins, which are also found along the coastlines of Southern Africa and Namibia. This indigenous species of penguin is on the verge of extinction due to development and over fishing of their food supply. Fortunately, environmental efforts are underway to reverse this trend. The colony at Boulders was started in 1982 from just one pair. It now numbers over 3,000 penguins and is under the protection of the Cape Nature Conservation and the South African government.
For this image, I wanted to capture the penguins in their protective rock habitat they call home. I'm amazed how they are able to scale these rocks. Environmental adaptation never ceases to amaze me.
Observing the penguin's social interaction is quite magical. At times, a penguin pair can be seen touching flipper to flipper, standing motionless for a long time. Also, their calling sounds can be ear piercing. Hard to imagine such sound comes from such a small bird. At Boulders, the local conservation group in concert with the government created a special viewing area to watch the penguins without disturbing them. Proceeds support on-going conservation protection efforts.
And lastly, this scene is from Helderberg Mountain Nature Preserve not too far from where I live here. The fynbos here is so magical and varied. Many hiking trails too, some which lead to the very top of Helderberg mountain (3,730ft (1137m)) and its expansive view of the area. The last third of that hike is steep! Hence, taking camera gear to the summit for the bird's eye view of the nearby bay is not my calling.
So that’s my Aquarius perspective of life here in South Africa's Western Cape. In future blogs I’ll feature some of my images from Japan, aerial scenes (I do like to fly), artsy stuff and more!
Back to astrology for a moment. The script above Greece's Temple at Delphi reads "Know Thyself". Astrology is a compelling tool to explore the inner psyche and outer experiences. In a period of enormous change, this is the gift to yourself or others that keeps on giving.
2021 is a year ripe for reorganizing and resetting your focus in a sea of immense change. The coming years will build upon this foundation, creating a world significantly different than the one we used to know. As always, I am available for professional astrological consultation sessions to help you navigate these shifts. Schedule today! Scheduling is quite easy. Sessions are recorded (audio) via Skype or Zoom.