Walking up Yen Tu Mountain.

As far as I know, Yen Tu Mountain is the only spiritual mountain I've "climbed". I've been to the top of Yen Tu  twice, although I did not walk all the way from the bottom (6000 meters).  Walking from the bottom takes about six hours and I didn’t have the time (or energy) to make the trek. On both of my trips I was with Trish Thompson and the Joyfully Together Mobile Retreat so we took the cable car about two-thirds up the mountain. It is still a good walk over rough terrain from the end of the cable care. The walk down was much easier using carved rocks and constructed steps.  It is common to encounter fog on the mountain and on my last trip visibility was extremely limited.

In Vietnam: Lotus in the Sea of Fire, Thich Nhat Hanh (Thay) talks about the life changing journey “The great King-monk Tran Thai Tong made to meet with the “Venerable Truc Lam, the great monk and imperial counselor.”

Tree in fog - shaped by the wind.

Tree in fog - shaped by the wind.

View on my first trip when the fog was not so intense on the way down.

View on my first trip when the fog was not so intense on the way down.

Pilgrim resting on the trek up Yen Tu Mountain - bamboo walking stick next to her.. 

Pilgrim resting on the trek up Yen Tu Mountain - bamboo walking stick next to her.. 

P:ilgrims worshiping at the pagoda at the top of Yen Tu Mountain.

P:ilgrims worshiping at the pagoda at the top of Yen Tu Mountain.

Children at War (Vietnam 1965 & 1966)

My first trip to Vietnam was in 1965. I was a 19-year-old Marine. I have written about how I came to be in the Marines elsewhere, so I’ll skip it here. A few months after I arrived in DaNang I bought a 35-mm camera. I loved that camera and usually had it with me – I always had a radio, that was my job. Mostly, I took photos of children. I don’t recall making a conscious decision to focus on children. Perhaps I was drawn to their openness or innocence. Some of the children smiled and looked at ease, but not all. In some, you could see worry and anxiety.  Adults would also show worry and perhaps mistrust. Now, when I look at the photographs I can’t help but wonder if they survived the war. I don’t think most of the children I photographed had an option not to participate. Many of them would have been in their late teens or early 20s by the time the war was over. Some were just a few years younger than me. War is always a tragedy, regardless of who is considered the winner or the loser. All photos in the slide show were taken near DaNang in 1965-1966.

So Many Smiles

This photo has various technical problems or limitations. The dragon was in the sunlight and overexposed to the point that many of the details were lost and the shadows have more grain than I would like. Yet, I really like the photo. The smiles on everyone, including Thay and Sister Chan Khong touches me. Thay's gentle embrace of the child next to him captures, for me, the core of his being. 

Mindful art from a Master

The Venerable Ty Kheo Gio Duc, Abbot of Huyen Khong Son Thuong Monastery [Pali. Abhisuññatāvanārama]  creating a calligraphy. The monastery is in the Theravada  tradition and is located near Hue, Vietnam - photo taken in 2014.

Joy

Over the past 7 months I have not had the energy to keep up my "Weekly Photo" post on my web site. This photo, which is not new, is one of my favorites. My next post will be something new.  

Children of Vietnam

I have not posted photos for some time - I've been making friends with a difficult illness and it has taken me in and out of the hospital for the past 4 months. I still have a ways to go before I get to a new "normal". this photo was taken in Vietnam while traveling with Sr. Chan Khong and lay friends of the greater Plum Village Sangha.  

New Process - Old Photo

I took this photo in 2008 as the Sangha was approaching Tu Hieu Pagoda in Hue. In this version I changed the toning and added a soft blur to part of the photo. For me, the subject of the photo is the connection between Sister Chan Khong and the lay Sangha. 

Thay at Tu Hieu

In general, I think photographers should have latitude in how they create art - pushing, pulling, adding, and deleting pixels. This is not true for documentary and photo journalism. This image is offered as art and not photo journalism. It began life as two separate photos taken on the same day at Tu Hieu Pagoda in Hue, Vietnam. Also, they were in color. Thay was standing near the entrance when I took his photo. The temple (background photo) is about 20 meters from the main gate. The images were blended in Photoshop and converted to black and white using Nik Analog Efex Pro 2. I was trying to create a more timeless photo. As Thay might say "the photos are the same and they are different".

Gateway to Jade Island and the Temple of the Jade Mountain (Hanoi)

Most mornings when I walked by the gateway to Jade Island the large red doors were closed and locked, I took this photo on my last day in Hanoi - I walked by a little later than normal and the gate was open. Shortly after I took the photo the gates were locked again - good timing. The bridge leads to the Temple of the Jade Mountain ((Ngoc Son Temple) (Built in 1864)

May Day 2014

This is part of a series of photos I took at a International  Worker's Day event in Cincinnati. I was covering the event for a local street newspaper. Participants gathered to shine a light on immigration reform and  income inequality. They were taking a stand  in support for  equal rights and opportunities -- including workers' and voting rights.

IMG_6036.jpg

The Path

This photo was taken on my last visit to Tu Hieu Pagoda in Hue, Vietnam. On each of my four trips (after the American war) to vietnam I was able to spend some time at Tu Hieu.  More than  the connection to Thich Nhat Hanh (Thay), it feels special - many, but not all of the buildings have been around for some time and like a old house it has personality. The path in this photo leads to a tea house that was built after my first visit in 2003. 

Don't Know

I try to come up with a title for each image I post to this blog - for some reason this photo stirs  strong emotion in me and any title I came up with did not seem to be authentic. Like most of my photos, this image started life in color. I liked it in color and posted it on Facebook. But, I though it would also work well in black-and-white. The photo was taken in mid-afternoon near Chùa Thầy (Thầy Pagoda). The pagoda is near Hanoi so I made the assumption that the man in uniform had been in the North Vietnamese regular Army during the American war. I find my mind does not require much information to create a story.  I passed by him after I took the photo, but  I don't remember making eye contact with him - I wish I had. It's interesting how somebody you never met becomes part of your experience – part of you. 

Afternoon on Ha Long Bay

Ha Long Bay, in the Gulf of Tonkin, offers an amazing seascape, especially when the weather is good. On this trip, I was in luck and the weather was perfect. The bay is also, from a photographic pint of view, a very mature subject. Every year thousands of wonderful photos of the limestone pillars and boats are taken. This is my attempt to create something interesting. 

Canon 5D Mark II - 1/160 sec @ f/11

Canon 5D Mark II - 1/160 sec @ f/11

Breathing In - I smile

This photo was taken at Tu Hieu Pagoda. However, the nuns actually live next door. Yes, Nuns and Monks ride motorbikes.  She is showing  how a deep smile relaxes all of the muscles in the face.

Canon 5D Mark II - 1/100 sec at f/4.5

Canon 5D Mark II - 1/100 sec at f/4.5

Buddhas to Be at Tu Hieu Pagoda - Hue Vietnam

Photo take at Tu Hieu Pagoda in Hue, Vietnam.  This is the pagoda where Thich Nhat Hanh was ordained as a monk at age 16. This was my fourth trip to Tu Hieu and it will likely be my last. All three were engaged in "working meditation".  At my request, they paused for a brief moment  for an informal portrait. 

Fuji X100s - 1/60 sec @ f/2.0

Fuji X100s - 1/60 sec @ f/2.0

Quiet Moment - Wonderful Moment

This is the third in a series of photos taken in Hội_An on the Thu Bồn RiverThis man was taking a few moments to stretch and reflect before moving away from shore. At times color can be a distraction - in this scene I like the way the colors work together. 

Canon 5D Mark II - 1/20 sec @f/4

Canon 5D Mark II - 1/20 sec @f/4

Off to Work in Coastal Vietnam

Photo take just after sunrise in Hội An, Vietnam.  The buildings on the bank of the Thu Bồn River are part of the city of  Hội An. I first visited  Hội An in 2003 and I found a beautiful quaint city that seemed to be untouched by the wars of the 20th century.  Hội An is still beautiful, but not so quaint.

 Fuji X100s - 1/120 sec at f/11

 Fuji X100s - 1/120 sec at f/11