Seeking Balance between Natural and Built Worlds

Sunday, October 30th, 2011

Since the March 11th Tohoku earthquake I have been exploring my relationship to the natural world around me through my photography.  How do I fit into this world?  I came to photographing nature partly because I had been on a mission to explore the geometrical structures that are built here in Japan, and how that space is created for humans to inhabit.  I found it fascinating how these manmade structures could conform and fit so elegantly within the framing of a square.

After the earthquake I found the geometry uninviting.  I couldn’t find myself to use my lens to seek out those wabi sabi interactions between the places humans inhabit and the squared world I had been putting them into.  I wanted to explore the revival and survival natures of man, and this manifested itself though the training my wide angle lens on the flora and fauna.  The roots seeping into the soil and sprouting forth new leaves among the dust and hustle of post quake Japan.

Now, I am beginning to see an integration between these two seemingly oppositional forces.  However, they do compete for the same physical space, and then they also inhabit the same space peacefully.  I want to explore this element more.  I look forward to see what I shall see.  Also, who knows where the next great theme will come from.

Ivy Creep, Mailbox Communist Party Food

Gate and Weeds, Mimomi, Chiba, Japan

Dandelion Redux

Saturday, October 29th, 2011

The weather is still in a state of an ever changing mind.  Today is gorgeous out.  The sun is rising high the temperatures are too.  I can sit comfortably on my patio as I write this blog.  All in all it a beautiful day to be resting in Tokyo.

Yesterday the light and the skies were as beautiful.  And all the weather patterns continue to have the plants confused.  I saw this dandelion in full bloom yesterday.  I was a bit surprised since the last time I saw them was back in July.  But who knows?  This crazy weather coupled with the typhoon that roared through 6 weeks ago and nature is dealing with those changes the best they can.

Mentioning change, there will be some upcoming changes to the postings here at Lucid Communication.  I won’t go into detail at the moment, but stay posted and I hope you all will follow and become intrigued by the changes.

Peace from the sunnyside of life!

Dandelion Redux (タンポポ)

The Return of the Angel’s Trumpet Blossoms

Wednesday, October 26th, 2011

The light was perfect today as it was yesterday.  The temperature has begun to dig down a bit and the air had really started to dry out.  This image was taken yesterday in the yellowish afternoon light.  The clear unobstructed light provided a great proving ground for my new Ricoh GRIV.  It has so far risen to the challenge and is exceeding my expectations in being able to capture the world that I am presently trodding through.

The angel’s trumpet flowers have returned.  They were in full bloom 2 months ago.  This one was so full of the tubular yellow bells that I just had to cross the street to photograph it.  Is it heralding the return of the messiah?  Only the Creator knows the answer to that.  In the meantime, I will continue to walk this beautiful earth and reacting to that world through the creative process.  I hope to be as strong as this tree that is thriving between a wall and a fence.  In that little bit of room it has made its home and is radiating beauty out into the community.

Angel Trumpet Flower, Second Time Around

Truth in a Shade of Blue

Tuesday, October 25th, 2011

As I was walking through a buddhist temple on my way back to the train, my eyes drifted to the roof of the temple.  My eyes kept on wandering over the roof until I encountered a sky so blue that I thought that I might be dreaming.  The sky was an amazing shade of blue.  Like those caribbean seas I swam in down in Jamaica.  The sky was painted this hue.  And across that sea of blue were rows of white clouds.  They had been pulled by the wind and stretched into long rows like that of planted garden.  It was an amazing to just be still and look up into the sky.

It was a surreal moment.  Was I really there?  Was it just a fragment of dream that surfaced in my waking hours?  Does it matter if it was?

I do not have the answers.  All I know is that there was truth in that shade of blue.  A truth that touched my soul.

Chiba, Ichikawa, Japan October Sky

October Firecrackers

Ginza’s Backstreets and Alleyway Gardens

Monday, October 24th, 2011

I had to bring my mac into Apple last week, and today I returned to scoop it up.  Ginza was one of those places that I avoided.  I thought that it was only good for shopping with your platinum credit cards; however, my view of the neighborhood has really changed over the last couple of years.  Besides Ginza being home to designer brands of all makes, many fabulous ethnic and Japanese restaurants are found lining the main thoroughfares and even more intriguing ones lie in wait on the backstreets.

For those of you that know Tokyo, the area that I really love to wander around is between Ginza and Shimbashi station.  There are so many beautiful little alleyways that are populated with tiny shops serving up all kinds of cuisine.  Today I was interested in how many of these backstreet shops decorated their entrances with plants.  Even though we live in a sea of concrete and steel, many Japanese make an effort to green up their spaces.  It doesn’t matter if it is their home or place of business.  The greening of the concrete landscape is beautiful in my eyes.  These tight little garden spaces that flow out onto the asphalt streets, but not in a way that will impede foot or car traffic.  The potted plants hug the tiny strip of space between the walls of the buildings and the streets.

They seem so ordered.  Everything is in its proper place.  All the plants, usually, well cared for.  It is a small greening of Ginza.  It might not be very much, but it makes those backstreets a pleasure to wander.

Cuisine Street Garden

5 Potted Plant Line Up, Ginza

Leaning Potted Plant, No Entry

Lucid Communication with Ricoh’s GRIV Digital Camera

Sunday, October 23rd, 2011

I picked up, on the second day of release, the most recent version of Ricoh’s GR Digital camera. It is the GRIV. I have been using my trusty GRII for over three years. My Ricoh camera goes everywhere I do. If I do ever leave it home I feel naked and vulnerable without it. I have been waiting for the release of this camera for some time.

The wife and I made our way over to Yodobashi Camera in Akihabara to make the purchase. I knew exactly what I wanted so I wasn’t overwhelmed by the massiveness of the store. If there is anyone out there that thinks any electronic store in the US can compare, you are sadly mistaken. I asked for s instruction booklet in English, and the staff checked on it for me. There even was a representative from Ricoh there and he said that the company hasn’t even made one yet. I guess I’ll just have to learn what’s going on by trial and error.

On Sunday I hopped on my bike to try out the camera in my own neighborhood. The day was rather warm again. It was another schizo day where I was able to slip on a tshirt and shorts as I made my way around my neighborhood.

So far I’m rather impressed with the results. It captures colors brilliantly and I know that it will become my new trusted companion. There is no overall theme to today’s images. They are just me playing around with my new child. As usual there will be more to come.
Aloe in the Hood

Mihama Bridge, Edogawa-ku Side

Moze Tag, Under the Mihama Bridge

Resting Fence Blossom

Autumn Wallflowers

Saturday, October 22nd, 2011

An interesting phenomenon has been happening this autumn.  Flowering plants have bloomed multiple times and some plants have even been tricked into blooming early.  There have been some cases reported in Japan of cherry blossom trees blooming in October.  This is pretty insane.  Anyone who thinks that there isn’t any climate change should take a peep at the cherry blossoms that traditionally bloom in late March or early April, are now blooming in October.

I have even noticed it on my own little patio garden.  My pomegranate tree has sprouted blossoms three times this year.  The most recent blossoms appeared about two weeks ago.  Even with some golfball sized fruit on its branches the pomegranate tree has been coerced into blooming again.

Also, as I was making my way back to the station on Friday afternoon, I noticed that along the tracks the false dandelion,  have bloomed again.  We are living in some strange times.  However, I am happy to see the lovelies in my wanders.  They are a constant reminder of the fragile state of our ecosystem.  The flowers also help to through some color on some otherwise drab concrete surroundings.

18-5 Wallflower

Squared in Ginza, with Plants

Monday, October 17th, 2011

My friend Brancolina reminded me the other day about how much she enjoyed my urban wabi sabi images.  Those are the images I created using the canvas of the urban constructed world of Japan.  How all the structures and creations that man has built can fit neatly into squares of my eye.  I loved taking these images.  I still do.  I still am surrounded by these blending of mundane urban elements.  It is not that I no longer desire to enjoy these geometrical collaborations, it is that after the March 11th disasters and the subsequent problems in Japan I needed to change my view.  I needed to chase after a new image.

This is when I became interested in photographing the natural world.  Those flowers that began to bloom soon after the quake were signaling my spirit the rebirth of Japan, and in essence the rebirth of my own character.  I remarked to Brancolina and others that if you had asked me a year ago would I be taking images of flowers and fruit I would have thought you to be mad.  I never considered it.  Do not get me wrong.  I love nature.  I enjoy going out and being in the Creators world, but I never thought about trying to express nature though my photography.  That now has changed.

Even now as the days get shorted everyday.  I still am amazed that there are flowers still in bloom.  These late bloomers are there catching those long autumn rays and giving an explosion of color before the cold Siberian air arrives.

So, I livicate these to images to my fellow photographer Brancolina (and her blog) and her respect for my photography.  I look forward to sharing more challenges and discoveries through the lens.

Finally Shuttered in Ginza

Trendy Tree in Ginza

Afternoon Siesta

Sunday, October 16th, 2011

The sun is high, but it only stays that way for a moment as the nights become longer and longer.  There was a beautiful afternoon on Friday.  The air has warmed, in a last few puffs of the lingering summer before those cold arctic fronts move in from Siberia.

It is time to take pause.  Take in one’s surroundings to see what is to be seen.  Just like this snail is pausing on the razor edge of a leaf.  He hopefully has gotten hi full of leafy greens before pausing to rest.  To sit still.  To let the world move on by around, but to just enjoy the simple peacefulness of being on a green cloud and just be.

I need that as much as the snail does.  We become so warped up in the day to day running that we all tend to forget what is really important.  We run our lives by a clock.  When we get up.  Go to work.  Meet our friends.  I often wonder what it must have been like 2000 years ago when you decided to meet friends and family for dinner.  “Hey Joseph, how about coming over for dinner at sunset?” I would ask my neighbor.  Or would people just expect visitors with that open tent hospitality?  Those pause are necessary in our life.  The getting together with our wives, family and friends.  To put the vulgar world behind us, and to steep ourselves in the love of the now.

Rest up my friends.  Get together with those that you love.  Raise your glasses as you toast the Creator.  Enjoy the afternoon siesta and all that it can redeem your spirits.

Afternoon Wander, Snail

Eclectic Electric Afternoon Blue

Double Shrooms in the Morning

Saturday, October 15th, 2011

I am always happy to find some fungi.  They are amazing bits of nature.  They grow so quietly.  They often sprout up overnight.  One minute there is nothing and the next morning there are two little mushroom sentinels standing watch over a small hillside in Chiba prefecture.

I love having to enter into their world.  This means, it is rather rare to run into some fungi that are at my eye level.  I need to lower my eye line down to the shrooms size.  Getting down on my knees and into the blades of grass to photograph them.

I want to see what those shrooms are seeing.

I want to feel what they are feeling.

In order to do this I need to enter into their micro world.

Double Morning Mushrooms

It is good for all of us to be able to change our perspective on the world.  The world looks mighty different when you are eye to eye with blades of grass and these two little sentinels.  The macro and the micro go hand in hand and shape our view of all the stimuli that makes up the world.  We learn to perceive, process, and interact with that world.

Two Sides of the Same Bush

Wednesday, October 12th, 2011

The weather peaked at a high of nearly 25 (77) today.  It actually felt a lot hotter than that.  We are back to having that schizo weather that afflicts Japan in its transitional seasons.  The light from the autumn sun was beautiful and hitting at just the right angle as I was making my way back from the station to my home.  The walk back always gives me some time to reflect on my day.  The walk also gives me a challenge by training my eye to seek out something that I had not seen before.  It doesn’t necessarily mean that I haven’t seen today’s focus on a urban bush before, but it is more in the way that all of the photographic elements of light, composition, color and subject all align themselves and move my spirit to photograph the scene.

The combination of these elements have to speak to me as a human being first and then I must be able to communicate what moved me to those that view the images created.  Today was about how the light were hitting these tiny fruit on urban bushes.  These were plain bushes that had been planted as a hedge to hide some of the industrialness of Kasai Rinkai Station.  But here they were; one blue and one red.  The setting sun was just hitting them with that autumn glow and moved my spirit.

The idea of change began to bubble up in me as I observed these two stages of fruit.  One in it blue hue that has yet to mature into its red cousin on the same bush.  How does it feel to change?  Do we, as humans, change as slowly or quickly as these fruit? Or are they (we) just two sides of the same bush?

Blue Fruit, Autumn

Ripe Fruit, Autumn

The Season’s Wheel is Spinning

Tuesday, October 11th, 2011

This just in!  After much anxiety in my own mind I was pleasantly surprised to come across some of my first true autumn leaves today.  There is a lovely old buddhist temple in Konodai Chiba that is home to a very old weeping cherry blossom tree.  In the spring time it is a favorite spot for photographers and families come and take in the splendor of the waterfall of cherry blossoms.  Now we fast forward from spring to autumn and the same beautiful tree is starting to express itself with a display of earthen oranges and reds.

I was so elated to see the cherry blossom tree teasing me with bringing forth such beautiful colors.  The location of this magnificent tree must have been protected from the punishing typhoon winds of two weeks ago.  In reality, only one part of the tree has started to change its colors.  I look forward next week to see the colors engulf the tree in fiery reds.

I thought back to the unnerving anxiety when I last enjoyed the tree in April.  It was only a few weeks after the March 11th earthquake and tsunami disaster.  Most Tokyo dwellers were quietly observing the cherry blossom. So many Japanese had lost their lives just a few weeks before.  Most people felt it was too soon to celebrate.  However, my feeling was somewhere in the middle.  My heart felt that we needed to mourn those lost, and at the same time we needed to come together as a community and use the beauty of the changing seasons to focus our energies.  We needed to lend a helping hand to each other.  We needed to sit under a tree with our friends and family and engage in some heartfelt communication.

Where are we as a community now?  Has Japan come together to lend those helping hands to each other?  Have those conversations that started in spring continued into autumn?  I do not have the answers to these questions.  I can only offer up my hope and appreciation of the Japanese people to come together and change their country for the better.  I am just a humble outsider who loves his adoptive home.

Let the changing of seasons remind us of those that lost their lives.  Those brave souls that risked their lives to help others.  If we haven’t renewed our own personal commitment to leading a fruitful life it past time to begin.

Take stock in our surroundings.  Notice that leaf that yesterday was green yet today it has begun to shift into red.  Say hello to your neighbors.  Smile at the children on the train.  If we don’t the world will just spin on by.

Ruffled Cherry Blossom Autumn Leaf

Holy Cherry Blossom Autumn Leaf

Red Fruition

Monday, October 10th, 2011

Sometimes it is about putting in the time.  We make investment in ourselves, family, and societies.  We pour our blood into projects that we care about.  We spend countless hours in the hopes of achieving our goals.  Sometimes we set them too high, others too low.  We take chances, or we play it safe.  In the end we can say at least we tried.

I like to think back on what I learned from Yoda as he was instructing Luke in the ways of the force, “Don’t try! Do!”  It is easy to say.  It just rolls off the lips and out into the world. Again, it takes putting that vibration into practice. Making it routine. Making it part of our lives.  Eventually a tree planted, and cared for will bring forth fruit in its due season.

The heat of summer is fading.  The battered leaves are falling, some are changing colors that survived the typhoon.  The red firecrackers are making their last bloom, and fruit is hanging from some trees.

Put in the work.  Work on your dreams.  Squeeze the obstacles that block your path into juice.  Bring forth that red fruition.

Red Fruition

Autumn Firecrackers


Saturday, October 8th, 2011

Overall this was a good week.  Even though there were many ups and downs, there were many more ups, or was it that the ups just outweighed the downs.  In any respect I am glad to have lived another week, and can take the time to reflect.

The walk back to the station in Chiba was gorgeous.  The air was cool with just a hint of heat that I was comfortable in short sleeves.  I love to wander around this countryside like neighborhood on the beginning of my day of rest.  The homeowners take such care of their land.  there are the small farms that the old pensioners tenderly care for.  There are beautiful blooming flowers that have been planted along the roadside.  Not by the municipality but by the homeowners in the neighborhood.  They really take pride in making their quiet little neighborhood look the best that it can.

It is a good meditation to wander through these small streets with my Ricoh in hand.  Even though I wander the same several streets there is always something new to see.  It could be the changing seasons, as the spring flowers bloom and wilt to make for the summer ones.  The cycle is never ending.

Yom Kippor fast is coming this sundown for me.  I have been mentally and spiritually preparing myself to go a day without food and water.  To be able to atone for my misgivings.  Bringing rituals back into my life has helped give me a foundation.  I felt like I was floating with no idea which way is up or which direction I should travel.  But, to be able to go back to milleniums old traditions has been a boon to my soul.

Prepare for the worst.  Prepare your soul for the best.  And be thankful for the time we get to spend were in the company of friends and family.




Mimomi Crocus Star Flower Gate

Autumn Fireworks: Joy, Tears, Apples and Color Explosions

Thursday, October 6th, 2011

Today has been one of those days.  You know the ones that I am talking about.  Things go up and down and every which way.  There doesn’t really seem to be a reason why days go the way they do, they just do.  Yesterday the rain just pissed down for a good 24 hours straight.  It was cold.  A chill like I used to have in the San Fran Bay Area that would just chill the bones.  I got soaked, with an umbrella, on my way back to the station.  Just a plain rough day.  The only highlight to my day was kicking back and watching the film The Birdcage.  I was able to just laugh away all my tension that had built up over the day.

Fast forward a bit to this morning, and the skies were overcast but it was substantially warmer today.  It was more like a a humid Miami day than a Japanese autumn day.  I am not one that falls into the cliche trap but, there really was a clearing after the storm.  Not only on my way back to the station this afternoon was the sun hanging low in the afternoon skies, but my spirit seemed better.  Just seeing the sunlight after being deprived of the rays for a day brightened my spirit.  I thank The Creator for bringing the warming rays into my life.  I stopped by my brother from my other Jewish mother on my way home just to chat it up a bit.  Again, it felt so good to reason up for a minute.  My soul felt at ease being with some family.

Then he broke the news to me.  Steve Jobs had passed away.   I thought in my head, man this an end of an era, I before I spoke it out loud.  Steve Jobs has influenced my life.  He and Apple crafted computers for artists.  I didn’t need to be a computer geek to use a computer.  I could just create, and let the computer handle the techie side of things.

I remember my first computer experience back in the late 70s and early 80s.  The special education program I was enrolled in had an Apple II computer.  It was a whole new world opening up to me.  To get on a computer and not only play games, but to do some simple programing to get the computer to do something.  And we backed it all up on giant 5 1/4 inch floppy disks.  Just writing that down just now makes me break out in a wide smile.

The world will await another one like Steve Jobs.  There is someone out there with a little startup company that will change everything.  I look forward to seeing what will explode on the scene where we least expect it.

I got home and checked my email after this roller coaster of emotions to find something in my inbox.  I was nervous, but I quickly opened the mail.  The news was overwhelming.  Some of of you out there know that over the last 2 and half years I have been enrolled in an MA program.  The news was that my dissertation passed and I will be awarded my MA.  I was overjoyed!  I thank all those out there that help me overcome all the troubles in my life and put in the time with me to get my higher degree.

My time has been freed up to an amazing degree.  I will over the next couple of months be exploring various avenues of expression.  Who knows the future will bring; however, I will endeavor to use my creativity to uplift myself and others in The Creators kingdom.I invite all of you to follow me and my journey.  I hope that some of what I learn and go through will ignite those autumn fireworks in your soul.

Autumn Hanabi (Fireworks) 秋花火

Livicated to the memory of Steve Jobs.

This blog has been written and edited on my 8th Apple computer:  a rough and tough Macbook.

Copyright 2007© m2c LucidCommunication - Jacob Schere