This week I thought I would share my current 2019 reading list as it relates to my photography. The books fall into basically three categories: technique & technology, creative inspiration, and spiritual insight. My photography is at its best when I am fully able to tap these three areas.
First up is Sacred Depths of Nature, by Ursula Goodenough. It is first on the list as I just finished it, so I’m counting it on my 2019 list. As some of you know I was raised in Episcopal tradition and was quite active in the church in my youth and again when I had children. More importantly, throughout my life I have been a deeply spiritual person. My spiritual strength has been drawn from my time in nature. Weather it is walking the trails of a local park at dawn, or lying under a blanket of stars on a glacial moraine in the in Olympic National Park, my soul is fed and healed when I am immersed in the natural world. I am also a person of science. I have a thirst to understand our universe and our place in it. Some say that religion and science are at odds. I see it differently. Science is our never ending pursuit to understand the mechanisms and composition of our universe. Religion and more broadly spirituality, is the pursuit of understanding of that which is not measurable, that which transcends the physical universe.
Ursula Goodenough’s Sacred Depths of Nature is an important contribution to the dialog between science and religion. The book begins with the origins of the Earth and life, and then progresses through the evolution of life from single-cell to multi-cellular life forms. Successive chapters explore awareness, emotion, sex and sexuality, and ultimately death. At the end of each chapter she offers up a religious response to the topic, most often drawing from Judeo-Christian traditions. She includes reflections from other traditions as well. I found it to be an enjoyable and insightful read. Dr. Goodenough is a cellular biologist with a PhD in biology from Harvard. As I read the book, it was clear that the author’s was most familiar with the inter-workings of cells, yet her writing style is quite accessible, even for non-scientists. If you are trying to rationalize religion and science, I encourage you to give Sacred Depths of Nature a read.
I have a couple on tap in the creative inspiration category. I received a thoughtful Christmas gift of Around the World in 80 Trees, by Jonathan Drori. The book takes the reader on a journey around the world through a series of short essays. Each essay introduces the reader to a tree that is representative of a country. The journey begins in the UK with the London Plane, Platanus × acerifolia. The essays are quick and easy reads that provide a rich description of the tree. With the image of the subject clear in the reader’s mind, Drori explores the relationship of it with humans, from early civilization to present day. I have enjoyed learning about a few trees each night before turning out the light. I have made it from Europe to Africa with three quarters of the world yet to explore.
Based on a recommendation from Cole Thompson, I picked up a copy of Ayn Rand’s, The Fountainhead. Cole referenced this book as a source of inspiration in his personal journey to find and express his creative vision. The Fountainhead centers around an architect, Howard Roark, a creator with a very unique vision which threatens conventional thinking. One Cole’s favorite Roark quotes is, “A creative man is motivated by the desire to achieve, not by the desire to beat others.” This idea resonated with me as well. I have avoided photo competitions and it was through a conference session with Cole Thompson where I first truly understood why. As I continue on my journey to find and express my vision, I hope to find inspiration from Howard Roark as well.
Technique & Technology
One of my 2018 goals that has pushed into 2019 is to earn my FAA Part 107 Remote Pilot Certificate (aka drone pilot license). To aid me in the learning and test prep process I have acquired, several texts including: ASA Remote Pilot Test Prep 2019, FAA Pilot's Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge, and FAA Remote Pilot – Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems Study Guide. To earn a remote pilot certificate involves taking an FAA exam on aeronautical knowledge. The test covers airspace classification, drone regulations, and reading aeronautical charts. Wish me luck…
I’m sure other books will find their way to my night stand or onto my tablet this year, but this feels like a good start.