Photo of the Day: Athena Devouring Her Soldiers

CameronKarsten2013_Goya

Inspired by Francisco Goya’s 1819-1823 oil painting Saturn Devouring His Son, the above project speaks of humanity’s innate compulsion to send its soldiers into the throes of death.  We fight for land.  We fight for possession and power.  It is our willingness to send man and woman into war; and Athena above, goddess of warfare (and wisdom) unleashes her rage over the very men and women we as a people send into battle.

On the other side of the coin, we also fight for freedom, for a voice, for the ability to live our lives as we choose.  There are always two sides, our decisions coming from a place we find within ourselves.

Shot with three Q-flashes, black back drop, and a 6-stop neutral density filter allowing me to shoot wide open, I brought the subject as close to the wide angle lens as possible to create distortion in her face and hands.  Goya’s image is offered below for reference.

Location: private residence

Camera/Lens Specifics: Canon 5D Mark III with Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM Lens

16mm, 1/80 sec at ƒ/2.8, ISO 100, tripod.

Post: LR4 & Adobe PS6

Cameron Karsten Photography

Screen Shot 2013-03-11 at 1.23.58 PMFrancisco Goya (1819-1823 oil painting) Saturn Devouring His Son

Uncovering Your Inspiration in the Present Moment (Location: Global)

I’m traveling.  I’m in the middle of nowhere, say the Indian countryside in the heat of the monsoon.

I’m soaked, damp, wet, sticking with my own fluids and gritty under a haze-laden sun.  Or maybe I’m in Nepal, trekking alone within the Himalayas.  A snowstorm descends upon me and I’m instantly lost, wandering from the trail by the blinding white winds.

This is the present moment.  This is the only situation that exists.

You’re in it, alone or accompanied, and it’s what you’re experiencing.  Whatever the circumstances might be, you have access to inspiration, you have the key to its discovery.

What do you need?  You need nothing.  You are the experience and the experiencer.  But inevitably your energy is zapped, and life suddenly teeters on a ledge.  One side leaning towards life and the other down into an unfathomable abyss.  You’re not ready for the latter, so you breathe.

This is your inspiration.

The root of the word inspiration originates from Latin: inspiration(n-).  The noun forms from its verb inspirare, which has two meanings:

First, it is that imaginary force of mental stimulation luring toward the potentials of illimitable creativity.  Second, inspiration is simply the drawing in of the breath.  In other words: to inhale and fill the lungs with air.

Breath is the key to life.  With each observed inhale, our awareness is renewed and deepened.  We honor the present moment and whatever situation we find ourselves in.  Equipped with breath and awareness, the fundamentals of our internal search are created and the tools for life and inspiration are in our hands.

Every morning we rise from our beds, glide upon our weighted feet, with the potential to pursue further, harder, deeper and with more conviction into each day’s possibilities.

This force of mental stimulation is inspiration – as real as your own skin and as impermanent as your own bitten nails.  It is the drive toward maximum creativity into that which you live for and that which you thrive upon.

But then suddenly it’s gone.

Drained, we find ourselves rummaging our own streets and into the debris in our pockets, wondering how we accidentally threw this force out the window.

If we grasp it too hard, if we claim it as ours and only ours, a slap in the face will remind us that inspiration is a fine balance.  When we have something in our possession and then lose it, we realize its importance, how necessary it was to carry and sustain us among our life’s journey.

Without inspiration, we come to believe we’re lost, stuck in the swamp of mind’s banality.

Suddenly, we realized we stopped breathing.

There comes a soft ticking to our ears.  It’s gentle, peaceful amidst the cacophony, subtly resounding within our body.  The blood feels it.  Our heart vibrates as the arteries contract and dilate.  Within our observance, the awareness returns to the source of this heart’s beat and we’re breathing once more.

Our breath, the awareness.  Hello present moment.

No map is good or bad.  There isn’t one out there with the capability of leading us to how we uncover our own inspiration.  But here’s one to chew on:

You’re at the center of your being; breathing, living, recognizing the moment in your life directly before you.  It’s a piece of art.  It’s nature and the solemn mountains in your backyard.  It’s the smile on your child’s face and the beauty within the pages of your tattered book.

Whatever it is, wherever you are, your present moment is the inspiration, and as you watch your breath and become aware of its life-giving force, the pumping of the heart stimulates the mind.

By letting go of everything else but the present moment, creativity is at your fingertips.

While embarking on a new business idea, a new relationship, or exploring the damp, dank corners of India, these are the experiences that force you to stop and touch your inspiration: inhale and live.

The mind is the pick, the heart the hammer, and they chisel as one, directing your will into the vastness of creativity that lies within your soul.  The hammer and the pick—these are yours to explore and discover.