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Mindfulness, Meditation, and the Ninja Photographer

In the vastness of Australia's nature, there reigns the monarch of the skies—the White-bellied Sea Eagle—whose very existence inspires awe and admiration.



On a clear morning, driven by the urge to capture its photos, I found myself on a cruise with fellow bird watchers, navigating the Hawkesbury River, north of Sydney, in search of the sea eagles' habitat. 


We were not disappointed. Beneath the deep-blue skies, these majestic creatures circled our boat, displaying their aerobatics skills. I took hundreds of photos but failed to take the one I had in mind. Upon our return, I knew I had to come again. Next time, I decided, I would take this journey alone. And so, I did.


The second time around, I placed the boat opposite a sandstone cliff with horizontal lines forming the shape of an arrow — the backdrop I envisioned for the photo. All I needed now was for the eagles to glide along these lines.


Eagles soared around the boat, occasionally crossing the desired lines but not in the right direction. I had no illusions and was aware that capturing the perfect photo might never happen. But I remained vigilant, awake like a ninja waiting for the perfect moment to strike.


Fortune favours the prepared, and after a couple of hours, two eagles glided one after the other along the rock, exactly as I had hoped for. At last, my patience bore fruit. My wait was over.


Mindfulness

When I was waiting I did not know how long I would need to hold my position, or if my efforts would yield any results at all. Yet, I knew that shifting my focus from the cliffside, even for a short moment, could result in missing a rare opportunity, perhaps the only opportunity. It was a game of patience and focus.


I maintained a state of relaxed alertness of body and mind. The entire world consisted of myself, my camera, the rocky cliff, the eagles cruising, and nothing else. Nothing would break my concentration. It was a state of mindfulness meditation, with no thoughts to distract me, not even the thoughts of getting the 'perfect picture.' I had no future to look forward to or worry about. I was there and nothing else mattered.


For me, this is the perfect mindset when taking wildlife photographs: waiting as long as required for a moment that may never come, maintaining unwavering focus, yet staying relaxed and ready to act swiftly when an opportunity arises. And if it does not, return another day to try again as if it were the first time.




You can see more of my photos here. And please feel free to leave your comments. I'd love to hear your thoughts and ideas.

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