Inspiration Lost.

For some time now I’ve been uninspired to write and photograph. I don’t know if it’s the pandemic, a lack of imagination, or even the possibility that I’ve become bored with all of the things I used to photograph?

Even now, as the explosion of color that is Autumn takes over the mountains and forests here in New Hampshire, I’m uninspired to go out and capture it in the way I used to.

Lately though I have been feeling the urge to create. That inspiration though hasn’t come from grand scenic vistas, or flowing waterfalls, or by the waves crashing on the rocks under a fiery sunrise sky along the seacoast. In the past these things had me clamoring for my camera, getting up at midnight so I could hike to some remote mountain top for sunrise, or dodging waves along the seacoast.

At the moment, not so much.

Found in the Darkness.

Recently I’ve found inspiration in the darkness of the forest. More accurately, I’ve been inspired to create by the light that’s able to find(fight?) its way through that darkness. Is this a metaphor for the way I’ve been feeling about my lack of creativity and lack of motivation to photograph, or just the latest shiny new toy that’s caught my eye? It’ll take someone with far more education than I have to figure that one out. 🙂

But inspire me it has.

A few weeks back I spent the day photographing the Kilkenny Ridge Race, a 25 and 50 mile ultra running race through the beautiful boreal forests along the Kilkenny Ridge in northern New Hampshire.

Over such a long race there’s often plenty of down time between runners, time that allows me to take in the forest around me. For this years race the ridge was in and out of the clouds all day long. There was sun, there was rain, and there was quiet. All of which allowed me to soak in my surroundings, quite literally at times as I was caught in the rain more than once.

Forest Bathing.

The Japanese nailed it when they came up the the concept of shinrin yoku, literally translated as “forest bath.”

With as much as 45 minutes to an hour between the mid and back of the pack runners during the race, I had plenty of time to “bath” in the forest.

There was quiet, but not silence. The smell of spruce, wet earth, and in indescribable cleanliness to the air. And the light, the glorious light that filtered through the thick forest and the clouds wafting through the trees, was nothing short of magical.

And yes, inspiring.

Am I back, will there be more images and (incoherent) babbling from me, shared more often, for you to enjoy? Time will tell, but I think I feel it.

Perhaps all I needed was a good long soaking in a forest bath??

29 thoughts on “Inspiration in the Darkness.

  1. Glad you found a reason to explore your creativity! That’s definitely something that helps keep us sane in these grief-stricken times. Now that I’ve spent a year living in Oregon, I can attest to the restorative powers of the forest bath. Keep on looking…and looking up!

  2. Oh my the forest. I would be so happy there. I have had some of the same issues, and have just recently found my words again… and my camera although i haven’t added any of those for view. I was glad to see this today and the photos are beautiful as always. Good luck.

    1. Thank you very much. I’m glad you found your voice again, and I hope you’re able to get out there with your camera more as well. The past year and a half+ has been hard on a lot of people and being able to create can be healing, as I’m finding out for myself.

    1. Ironically I’ve been avoiding spending any time in the mountains during the pandemic due to the masses of inconsiderate, unprepared, and rude people who had “discovered” the outdoors during the pandemic lockdowns, when in fact that time in the mountains was exactly what I needed.

  3. Beautiful scenes, Jeff. Reminds me of the illustrations of Little Red Riding Hood’s forest that mesmerized me as a child.
    Forest bathing is something I’ve always done, but only recently found a name for it. Nature heals!

    1. Thanks Eliza. Until recently I had no idea there was a name for it either. I hike alone more often than not, and I would usually find a nice quiet spot to sit and take it all in and truly appreciate where I am and what the wilderness has to offer.

  4. I love light so I loved these, Jeff. Not much forest bathing now that we live in Arizona, at least where we are, but I used to revel in bits of forest in Illinois. Glad you’re back on track.


      1. Just getting outside is restorative so in that way there certainly are. You also get lots of sunshine and Vitamin D (be careful not to overdo that sunshine) and sunshine is good for creating good moods. I just bathe early when it’s cooler!! 🙂

  5. Jeff, I connected with the first several paragraphs of this post and I’m happy I continued reading. The next several paragraphs were inspiring. My wife and I had planned a trip to New Hampshire this fall but the costs of hotel rooms blew up and we are staying in New Jersey.

    Shinrin yoku is something I did fairly often pre-pandemic. You’ve inspired me to step outside. It has been too long.

    1. I’m glad you kept reading as well 🙂

      Ridiculously expensive hotel rooms are unavoidable during the peak of the fall foliage season. Even if you booked rooms now for a visit next year, you’ll still find a huge price jump between early September and late September, early October. Not sure if COVID has had any impact, but I have usually hosted one of my foliage workshops over Columbus Day weekend, and my clients have mentioned the lodging costs as their biggest hesitation in attending. Definitely plan and book early to get something that’s at least somewhat reasonably priced, that’s for sure.

  6. Jeff. Wow! I connected with the first several paragraphs of this post and I’m happy I continued reading. The next several paragraphs were inspiring. My wife and I had planned a trip to New Hampshire this summer but the costs of hotel rooms blew up and we stayed in New Jersey.

    Shinrin yoku is something I did fairly often pre-pandemic. You’ve inspired me to step outside. It’s been too long.

  7. Inspired you, it sure has.
    The images are peacefully quiet and soothing to the eye, inviting even to some deeper contemplation and maybe toying us to dare and enter the photograph…
    I feel like you on the near-bottom level of inspiration to go out and photograph or even share anything lately. It’s been months…
    Those few shots remind me that just a little moment can change perspective.
    Forest bath, right ? Maybe, I need that…

  8. I’ve been in a similar creative funk since Spring of 2020. For me it was more burnout after several years of high paced reenactment events. I’m chalking a lot of the stalling to the insane amount of time and mental energy in post-production (Bridge and Photoshop). In addition, my day job has amped up exponentially since Covid started. So at the end of the work day, I’m spent and want nothing to do with computers.

    I’m glad that your inspiration is finding its way back to you, as you do amazing work, Jeff. Sometimes we just need some time to recharge and regroup. You’ll know when the timing is right. In the mean time, perhaps this is a good time to reflect upon past work and the growth up until this point? Regardless of what you decide, I will continue to be a fan of yours!

    1. Sounds like you know exactly how I was feeling. I’m just glad for being where I was when I started to regain some of that inspiration. Ironically I was only out there to photograph a race. Had I not already been committed to being there, I’m not sure I would have been anywhere with my camera.

      Thanks too for the kind words, and I sincerely hope you get your mojo back soon too.

  9. Very good read👍 maybe just what I needed to hear, it’s so important to connect with nature, so therapeutic..could actually picture myself on the ride,, thank you 🔥

    1. Thank you very much. I don’t necessarily believe you need a “forest.” I think time spent soaking in the quiet of nature, be it a forest of trees or the sands of the desert, it’s all good for the soul.

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