Finding Order in the Chaos
Despite having grown up in the countryside I have never really had much of an affinity for it; as a child I learned the names of trees and grass, I learned to swim in the river a couple of miles along the track, I fished it too or at least I sat and stared at the ripples and bobbing float until my thermos of tea went cold.
Ultimately, I was bored and wanted away the first chance I got, village life rarely offers a teenager much and cannot compete with sordid appeal of the city.
So, it’s odd how now I am finding myself searching for the sanctuary of nature, as a photographer I had never really shot landscapes as such and yet here I am up to my arse in brambles.
It all started a couple of years ago, I arrived in Istanbul somewhat damaged by the war in Syria, bouts of PTSD interfered with my sleep, bankrupt financially and mentally, I had plenty to keep myself occupied with. trying to repair the mess I had caused myself from making the decision to stay in Syria when the war started but there where times when the city was too much for me, people were too much for me, as a photographer who has always tried to focus on people this became a concern, its easy to hide in a city of near on twenty million but its hard to be alone.
A bus from a stop close to Taksim would trundle along the shore of the Bosphorus and eventually wind its way up through wooded hills to Bahçeköy on the edge of the Belgrad Forest, fat street dogs lounge on the pavement of the sleepy village, with my headphones still plugged into my head I strode through the village and into the forest, like the city boy I had become even my Nikon was still at home.
A few minutes into the woods I stopped; looked up and unplugged my music and suddenly I could hear the peacefulness, bird song and the rustle of leaves fused, the creak of swaying branches and something or other scuttling in the undergrowth.
My next visit would follow very quickly and this time a bag with a camera and supplies enough to explore the wilderness on the edge of the megacity. I hardly shot an image, mostly I sat on tree stumps and pondered the Fungi, this though really did seem the point, it was not an assignment or project it was escape, I let the forest wash over me and from time to time I spotted order in the chaos and made a picture.
Rising with the lark has always been a challenge I’d failed miserably at, going to bed with the lark a farm more appealing proposition, somehow I managed to wake and set off in the darkness motivated entirely by caffeine, the dawn ferry would leave the European shore of the Bosphorus and sleepily sail to the Princess Islands, an hour into the sea of Mamara, the early boats usually empty and only those working on the Islands or making deliveries would be sipping tea and smoking on the chilly deck.
Alone with just the horses that roam Kinaliada I switched from sitting on tree stumps for the granite like rocks that tumble into the sea, my face damp from a mixture of rain and spray, somedays the wind would be biting cold and my fingers hardly able move the shutter dial, the colder my skin the more alive I felt, the longer I stand with my tripod the more I feel part of the landscape, I shot precious little on these visits, a couple of printable images exceptional, the time it takes far more valuable.
Now living in Sofia, the city is dominated by Vitosha mountain, it sits with patriarchal confidence at the end of every street, snow capped or shrouded in dark mist its alluring and intimidating in equal measure.
At 6am on the 6th June I woke without alarm other than the fact it was my birthday and without hesitation I shouldered my pack and took the bus as far as it would go. The early morning sunshine was warm and I struggled the first steep paths, without map or app I just climbed and occasionally deviating into a shaded glade, bathing in natures forest bath, slowly the weather cooled and changed, rain began hitting the leaves and dripping through the canopy, cool and fresh I felt energized and continued up, somewhere on this mountain was a waterfall and it would make the perfect destination but I had no idea where it was.
My legs were beginning to remind me it was my birthday, I had reached something of a summit, a neighboring peak slightly higher, the pine trees were missing branches and many were laying like battle field corpses, the clouds were now on my shoulders, the sky rumbled and flashed and the heavens opened, the Pines offered little shelter, the rain became bullet like hail stones, the sound of the thunder reminiscent of the reasons that drove me to the forest in the first place, But now I was awake not sleeping, the forest so dark now only the lightening illuminating the silhouetted shapes of trees, I gave myself entirely to the storm, soaking not only the rain but the sound and fear.
Storms inevitably pass.
The Six Set.
To mark this moment I have made a selection of images available as limited editions;
Six Inch image printed on beautiful Hahnemühle fine art paper signed and limited to editions of Six
Only 66 Euros per print
The images have a lovely tone and texture which seems a little lost on screen.
Payment via PayPal is perfect PayPal Payment Here Mail me for any further details or use firstname.lastname@example.org via PayPal whichever seems to work. Thank you.
Connect on my personal FACEBOOK page for recent shenanigans
I know the feelings of being out there. Both your writing and photos are lovely
And happy birthday 🌷
Happy belated birthday. Thanks for sharing. Love your works pictures and picture pictures!
Thank you so much-really appreciate your words 🙂
You’re welcome. Meant to write “word” pictures. 🙂 Have a great day.
Indeed, Happy Birthday. You never know what gifts you might receive. Thanks for sharing them with us 😀
Thank you so much David
Back to nature, yeah! Good to hear there are still some green spaces in Istanbul 😉
Well its a contentious issue of course and one I avoided going into but Belgrad Ormani is one of the few green spaces left
and the silver birches are pretty nice 🙂
Thank you Allan
A thought-provoking article. John. I find I have shared many of your experiences and reactions. We differ in that my photography has been purely amateur, and there is a gap in that I have just turned 90. Photography has always bee a passion and still is in spite of various rye problems. Like you I was brought up “in the stocks” ,but developed a passion for both cities and wide-open spaces. Trees I enjoy as photographic subjects but they give me claustrophobia! Des.
Thank you Des.
Sorry I thought I had replied to this comment! Just going back through and finding so many I somehow missed.
Hope you are well
Such an amazing post. Lovely photos!
Thank you so much
Such amazing pictures you captured 😍😍
Thank you Sharon
And thank you for connecting on FB 🙂
So much beauty here in both words and images. I’m glad you’ve found peace in nature. Nature saves me every day.
Belated Happy Birthday, John.
Meant to also say “up to my arse in brambles” seems like a great title for a book or movie or something!
(Note: I clicked on The Adalar to see if I could enlarge it and was given the option to download. I couldn’t believe that was true and then did, indeed, download the image. I deleted it from my computer, though.)
I will make a note of using my arse in brambles as a potential tittle one day 🙂
Thanks for pointing out the download issue too-I need to check this. For some reason I didnt watermark either, previously the images would open in a larger window am not sure why but I must have edited the post differently
Appreciate the feedback thank you
Love the birches and the photograph of the islands. Strange to see a side of Istanbul so peaceful and empty. 🙂
Thank you Martina 🙂 Not easy to find all the time, the islands in winter but not summer!
Great post, love your writing 🙂
Love your perspective and have just followed your blog-very cool.
Thanks so much John ! Looking forward to more of your work – wow it’s “the real thing” from my POV 🙂 . Btw I have a second blog too if you’d like to check it out, at https://dothistous.com – it’s got a different vibe / purpose.
Thanks for sharing your adventures in finding peace, plus your gorgeous works. My birthday was June 8, so I like to think we celebrate together!! Please keep sharing your thoughts and images, they have brought a certain coolness and peace to my morning here in the hot U.S. desert Southwest.
Fellow Gemini 🙂 Thank you
Sorry for taking almost a year to reply to your comment!!
For some reason I keep missing out on relying when I should.
Hope life is good in the hot south west
A very meaningful and well written article. It is so interesting how we go back to our roots to find inner peace… I grew up in the beautiful Caribbean coast of Venezuela and now I live in the green and mountainous Germany. Every time I need to be present and redefine my goals I go to the sea. Water brings me calmness.
I hope the mountains are treating you well 🙂
I just love your writing style. Thank you so much for sharing your journey with us. Being a newer blogger and photographer I enjoyed reading the powerfully engaging words. And your photos are amazing! As I am entering my 50’s now I am well aware of that need to find a still peacefulness. A reconnection with ones self. I look forward to reading more of your splendid work.
So happy to hear that you found ‘home’. Nature can be so ‘life-changing’.
I am grateful you have found your joy and I love, love, love your nature shots! You have found your calling, I do believe.
I thank you for finding my (HempRen) blog. I really injoy your posts and gratefully give you my following.
You may find interest in my Tree Family from my other site, ‘Branching Out’. https://renedith.wordpress.com/our-tree-family/
Thank you for sharing
Beautiful photos and beautiful words, John. The healing power of nature is so real. Just sitting and absorbing the sounds and smells and sights and even the raw feel of it is soothing and comforting. Thank goodness for green places. I wish you well.
Wendy thank you 🙂
You understand I know. Fantastic life you are living-inspirational
Thank you 🙂
My first visit to your blog. I love it. Thank you for sharing your feelings and experiences – magic.
Tanka inspired by your story and your photograph “A little light in the dark”:
after the war
after the city
wandering the woods
a shaft of light
on white trees
Thank you so much Naomi
And so very sorry I only just picked up this comment!
So lovely, thank you.
Yup – currently in France 🙂
Hi again – if I post my poem on my blog with a link to yours, would that be ok? You don’t happen to know photographer Amos Chapple do you? Just wondered – he takes amazing images too. Possible your paths may have crossed.
Of course Naomi, thank you. Not sure if I do know Amos but will check
Reblogged this on Cartoon Tree House and commented:
I think your story behind each photo captivating. The images are dark but beautiful reflecting life’s attributes.
Thank you 🙂
Lovely photos. I am a portrait photographer here in Singapore. I just recently like landscape photography.
you also create a beautiful story
Thank you Elvie
Looking forward to seeing some of your landscape images 🙂
Hi John… thanks for liking my blog. Your essay is well-written and moving. Nature has curative powers indeed. The photos are exquisite, well composed and perfectly toned. I wish you much success.
Thank you for your kind words Larry
Was just looking at some of your images-some great shots
Hope you are well
Thank you 🙂
Reblogged this on From 1 Blogger 2 Another.
Great post. Great read. Thanks.
Beautiful. Reblogging this to my sister site “Timeless Wisdoms”
Thank you so much Ana
Everything about this post is beautiful. Your words and pictures are so expressive-I was on the journey with you.
Thank you Sheri and sorry I missed this comment
Your blog looks lovely by the way-well done
yes to all of this.
btw, it might interest you to read “the nature fix” by florence williams
Reblogged this on Writer's Resource Blog and commented:
I liked this blog post so much, I wanted to share it. Has some nice points that are useful for all artists.
Thank you Laine
Am so sorry I missed replying to this sooner-
I really appreciate you sharing my work-really it pleases me 🙂
Hey, I truly love trees and their photographs. These pictures are treat for my eyes, I don’t know much about technical aspects of photography but I love to see photos on different subjects. They speak louder than words and they leave a strong image on mind.
Thank you so much.
The technical stuff is unimportant. If the image touches you then this is enough.
Pics and thoughts a beautiful balance. Enjoyed reading
Lovely story and images.
Thank you Kurt
We have a lot in common it seems-except the geekery 🙂
Hey I have Nominated you for the sunshine bloggers award and you are supposed to answer some questions and follow some rules which are mentioned in the post https://happinessbuffet.in/2018/11/19/sunshine-bloggers-award/
Beautiful writing and beautiful photography. I will be following your blog.
Thank you Michael
Wonderful words and images on your blog
Well worth a visit
Thank you very much. On a similar theme, you might enjoy a post of mine from last February.