Stephen Covey, a former Brigham Young University business professor who blended personal self-help and management theory in a massive best-seller, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” died Monday, July 16th at a hospital in Idaho Falls, Idaho. He was 79. The cause was complications from injuries sustained in a bicycle accident, said Debra Lund, a spokeswoman for the Utah-based FranklinCovey leadership training and consulting company he co-founded. In April, Covey lost control of his bike while riding down a hill in Provo, Utah. He was hospitalized for two months with a head injury, cracked ribs and a partly collapsed lung but “never fully recovered,” Lund said Monday. Covey became a household name when “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” was published in 1989. On best-seller lists for four years, it has sold in excess of 20 million copies in 40 languages and spawned a multimillion-dollar business empire that markets audiotapes, training seminars and organizing aids aimed at improving personal productivity and professional success. I have had the privilege of attending one of his seminars – a truly inspirational awakening. His message is a philosophy for living – he will be missed and his message lives on in the hearts and minds of all who have taken to time to listen and learn!
Whenever we lose something or somebody we love, it is important for us to take time out for ourselves and truly feel the weight of what we are experiencing. Although it may seem that doing so will push us into a deeper state of sadness, truly giving ourselves permission to be with whatever arises actually creates space for us to begin the healing process. This is because the act of grieving is a natural process, allowing us to sort through the range of emotions that are present in our everyday existence. Even though it may sometimes seem easier to involve ourselves in activities that take our minds off of our sadness, this will only make the route to healing more difficult. Unless we listen to where we are in the moment, the emotions we experience will only grow in intensity, and our feelings will manifest themselves in more powerful and less comfortable ways. Once we consciously acknowledge that these emotions are present, however, we are more able to soothe the sorrow of the moment. When we allow ourselves to accept and deal with our loss fully, we will then be able to continue our life’s journey with a much more positive and accepting outlook. This will make it easier for us to see that our grief is ephemeral and, just like our moments of happiness, it will also come to pass.
Somehow this lone bench, overlooking the Pacific Ocean in Coronado seemed appropriate.
Living in the moment: It is the basis of a many philosophical movements and embraced by almost every spiritual practice. It is both simplistic and complex in concept; living in the moment is about just being. Being fully present in every situation, body, mind, and soul, so that you experience everything you do totally and absolutely. In those moments when you engage yourself completely, nothing in the future exists – and nothing in the past is holding you back. While it might be a challenge to always be present, you can start small. Be aware of your surroundings. Notice the color of flowers, the scent of rain, even a leaf on the sidewalk. Pay attention to what is happening at every moment, but don’t fight what is. After all, there’s nothing you can do about it anyway. By simply accepting each moment as if you have chosen it, you’ll be surprised at what the day has to offer you.
Photographers tend to try to exercise this with every shot they take, watching the scene, gauging the light, composing the image,and most importantly slowing down and enjoying the moment. It is amazing what happens when you forcibly slow down the shooting process and take some time to breathe – sometimes using a tripod helps, even though you may not need one. One has to lug it around, set it up, make adjustments….and in the mean time, the vision for the shot formulates… slowly. The image today was taken at Dog Beach in Del Mar, California. This is the only beach where people can take their canine buddies to play in the sand and the surf. Using a 70-200mm f2.8 Nikkor lens and shooting wide open (full aperture) allowed us a discreet distance to our subject and her friend and at the same time gave a delicious blur to the background. Shooting wide open is fantastic for portraits or other subjects where you don’t want the main subject to be distracted by a busy background. There is a tranquility to this shot as the puppy watches the action on the beach from a safe spot.
Mountains have always captured our imaginations, calling us to scale their heights and to pay homage to their greatness. Mountains can be seen from hundreds of miles away, and if we are lucky enough to be on top of one, we can see great stretches of the surrounding earth. Mountains symbolize vision, the ability to rise above the adjacent lowlands and see beyond our immediate vicinity. From the top of the mountain, we are able to witness life from a new perspective—cities and towns that seem so large when we are in them look tiny. We can take the whole thing in with a single glance, regaining our composure and our sense of proportion as we realize how much bigger this world is than we sometimes remember it to be. Mountains are almost always considered spiritual places, and the energy at the top of a mountain is undeniably unique. When we are on top of a mountain, it is as if we have ascended to an alternate realm, one in which the air is purer and the energy lighter. Many a human being has climbed to the top of a mountain in order to connect with a higher source of understanding, and many have come back down feeling stronger and wiser. Whenever we are feeling trapped or limited in our vision, a trip to our nearest mountain may be just the cure we need. Whether we have a mountain view out of our window or just a photograph of a mountain where we see it every day, we can rely on these earthly giants to provide inspiration, vision, and a daily reminder of our humble place in the grand scheme of life.
You may recognize this shot of Yosemite National Park – it is what you see when emerging from the long, dark tunnel as you drive into the valley. It is appropriately called, The Tunnel View. This is an extremely popular spot for everyone and their dog to stop and take a snapshot, so if you have the opportunity to go there, use a bit of caution as many vehicles execute unexpected maneuvers once seeing this spectacular vista upon emerging from the tunnel. In our opinion, the best time to visit would be early spring, late fall, or even better, during the winter…the summer is peak tourist season and this place gets somewhat congested. Make sure to take along a sturdy tripod, a variety of lenses and a compass – you want to be aware of where the sun is rising and setting as this will make all the difference in your shots.
Our lives are defined by the decisions we make each day whether we are selecting a restaurant or considering a cross-country move, we shape our lives. The decision-making process can be empowering, allowing us to enjoy the benefits of self-determination. Yet it can also be a source of anxiety because decisions force us to face the possibility of dissatisfaction and inner conflict. As a result, many of us opt to avoid making decisions by allowing others to make them for us. We consequently turn our power over to spouses, relatives, friends, and colleagues, granting them the stewardship of our lives that is ours by right. Though the decisions we must make are often difficult, we grow more self-sufficient and secure each time we trust ourselves enough to choose. Ultimately, only you can know how the options before you will impact your daily life and your long-term well-being. Within you lies the power to competently weigh the advantages and disadvantages of each selection. Even if you feel incapable of making a decision, your inner wisdom and your intuitive mind will give you sound counsel if you have faith in yourself. Try to come to your own conclusions before seeking the guidance of others, and even then, treat their suggestions as supplementary information rather than votes to be tallied. When your choices are your own, you will be more likely to accept and be satisfied with the outcome of those choices. Your decisions will be a pure reflection of your desires, your creativity, your awareness, and your power. Since you understand that you must live with and take responsibility for your decisions, you will likely exercise great care when coming to conclusions.
This was shot was taken at The California State Railroad Museum. The museum features 21 restored locomotives and railroad cars, some dating back to 1862. The “Sierra Scene” shows a large scale mockup of a construction scene high in the Sierra Nevada representing Donner Pass circa 1867, featuring the locomotive Gov. Stanford. Other exhibits show how the influence of railroads changed American society, influencing travel, commerce and daily life, as well as the lives of railroaders and the diversity of people who work on railroads. Changing exhibits featuring photography, ephemera, and artifacts from the museum’s collection, add depth and incidental information to the overall story of railroad history. The Museum has an extensive educational program for elementary students from across the region to help them learn about railroad history using re-enactments, costumed docents, and including train and handcar rides.
We all have days when we are faced with chores, errands, or responsibilities that we don’t want to do. At times like these, it’s easy to get into a bad mood and stay in one as we tackle these tasks. However, given the fact that our bad mood will not change the fact that we have to do these things, and will most likely make things worse, we could also try to shift our attitude. Many wise people have pointed out that it is not so much what we do as it is how we do it that makes the difference in our lives. It’s important when we’re facing something that’s really hard for us, whether it’s doing taxes, paying bills, or visiting a challenging relative, that we lovingly support ourselves through the process. The more supported we feel, the easier it is to open our minds to the idea that we could change our way of looking at the situation. In truth, most of the chores we don’t like doing are intimately intertwined with our blessings. When we remember this, we feel gratitude, which makes it hard to stay in a dark mood. We can shift our attitude by considering how much we love our home as we clean it and how lucky we are to have a roof over our head. Any task can be transformed from a burden to a necessary aspect of caring for something we love. All we have to do is shift our perspective, and our attitude follows shortly behind.
This wonderful window scene was shot at The Prager Winery in Napa, California. Prager is a purveyor of some very fine Ports and the atmosphere in the testing room is just jubilant. This window has not been dusted for many years if not decades and has grown home to many a critter. The owner, Peter, mentioned that he considered this shot to be one of the best he has ever seen – this is a high compliment coming from someone who sees this every day! We were flattered beyond measure! We used a Manfrotto Tripod to stabilize the Nikon D90 (ISO200, f3.5, 1/8s) as the room was very dark and we did not want to ruin the subtle natural light coming from the cobwebby windows. Someone recently mentioned that this reminded them of an old officer’s quarters in a Pirate vessel….what do you think?
Throughout our lives, we are taught to value speed and getting things done quickly. We learn that doing is more valuable than merely being, and that making the most of life is a matter of forging ahead at a hurried pace. Yet as we lurch forward in search of some elusive sense of fulfillment, we find ourselves feeling increasingly harried and disconnected. More importantly, we fail to notice the simple beauty of living. When we learn to slow down, we rediscover the significance of seemingly inconsequential aspects of life …time to indulge our curiosity, to enjoy the moment, to appreciate worldly wonders, to sit and think, to connect with others, and to explore our inner landscapes more fully. Conducting ourselves at a slower pace enables us to be selective in how we spend our time and to fully appreciate each passing moment. This is especially true in Photography!
How it was Done: We recently visited The Salton Sea in the desert east of San Diego with some friends, models and a stunning Harley-Davidson motorcycle for some photographic fun. As the sun set, things got dark really fast and we had just one more shot in mind. This shot involved the rider and Harley driving slowly in front of the two models and down the long stretch of road as the camera’s shutter remained open. The idea was that the motion blur of the rider and tail lights would lend a stark and spooky contrast to the two stationary models. To execute this we had to work fast as it get pitch black in the desert after sunset! A Nikon D7000 with a cabled shutter release was set up on a very stable Manfrotto Tripod and set low to the ground. The camera was adjusted manually for a shutter speed of 3 seconds, aperture of f8, ISO100 and focussed on the models with the help of some flashlights. The autofocus was then turned off (the camera would try to track the moving bike as it passed). The rider started his run and just as he passed the camera’s viewing angle, the shutter was tripped. As the driver approached the models, the scene was briefly lit up by a Nikon SB600 Speedlight. The light from the bike’s headlamp continued to light up the road in the distance. These types of shots take a bit of forethought and setup, but when they come to fruition are truly rewarding and often surprising!
There are times when our whole world seems to be falling apart around us, and we are not sure what to hold onto anymore. Sometimes our relationships crumble and sometimes it’s our physical environment. At other times, we can’t put our finger on it, but we feel as if all the walls have fallen down around us and we are standing with nothing to lean on, exposed and vulnerable. These are the times in our lives when we are given an opportunity to see where we have established our sense of identity, safety, and well-being. And while it is perfectly natural and part of our process to locate our sense of self in externals, any time those external factors shift, we have an opportunity to rediscover and move closer to our core, which is the only truly safe place to call home. The core of our being is not affected by the shifting winds of circumstance or subject to the cycles of change that govern physical reality. We can cling to this core when things around us are falling apart, knowing that an inexhaustible light shines from within ourselves. Times of external darkness can be a great gift in that they provide an opportunity to remember this inner light that shines regardless of the circumstances of our lives.
This was shot at the east coast of The Salton Sea on the shores of Bombay Beach. Several decades ago, this area was a thriving Mecca for Hollywood‘s “Rich and Famous” and a very popular Resort Town for people who enjoy water skiing, sport fishing and otherwise soaking in the desert sun. Over the years, popularity has faded and the area has fallen into a state of decay. For a Photographer, this presents many wonderfully dramatic opportunities with old building, piers, machines, cars and the like. The best time to visit this area is in the winter when the temperatures are not quite as scorching and there is the possibility of storm clouds and spectacular sunsets. Using long exposure times on shots like this will smooth out the surface of the water to great effect. Certainly this is a go-to place for the curious and the intrepid Photographer.