Te Wairua O te Wai- the spirit of water. Walking with a camera
Te Wairua O Te Wai
Fujifilm X-T2, XF 16-55/2.8
ISO 400, 1/140s @ f11
Sometimes walking with a camera is a way of seeing beyond the walls of your own inexperience, beyond the illusion of the reality in which you have wrapped yourself.
I had been busy, working through the back catalogue of unexplored and unresolved files sitting in the shadows on my hard drive, bringing them out into the light, exploring, refining and resolving them. But now that was done. There were no more. The cupboard was bare. Perhaps it was time to visit the supermarket of my imagination, to wander the aisles of possibility and to restock.
It was a still morning. The clouds had pulled back; the soft sigh of the wind had withdrawn temporarily; the light lay calm on the serene surface of the water. There was a click in my heart. A voice whispered to me. Why not wander with the camera and allow myself to receive? Why not indeed? There is a singular joy in wandering with a camera.
I packed my camera bag, loaded a memory card and a fresh battery, and set off into the morning, picking my way gingerly onto the slippery steel slime of the ferry deck. I would cross over and back, perhaps even do it again. Or not. The morning would tell me.
I sat and waited for the ferry to leave. Above me a wandering of cloud hung, motionless. An atua (god) shaped from the feathers of white looked benevolently down. A tohu (sign)? Time would tell. I thought to make its likeness, however the wharf was in the way. I would have to wait until the ferry had cleared the dock on its way to make its first turn around the green buoy a small way out. My impatience drummed its fingers petulantly. I breathed out. And waited.
The horn blew tersely, the gates were shut, the motors deep in the hull rumbled, and we skated leisurely out across the mirror. I looked up, but the atua had gone. Figures, I grumbled to myself. O well, I consoled myself, you weren’t meant to photograph that. I put the camera to my eye and panned the sky. Nope. Nothing of consequence. Nothing of interest.
If you can’t see anything above, perhaps the answer lies downwards. I drifted to the side of the boat, and looked over the side. My vision drew inwards, getting tighter and tighter. I focused on the wake. Something was talking to me, so I put the camera to my eye. Sometimes the truth appears within the confines of the viewfinder. Sometimes, by restricting and channelling your Seeing, the camera shows you more clearly what is to be felt and acknowledged. I zoomed in, to tighten the view and to make the message more obvious to me.
And there it was. As the water slipped past, channelled, remixed and then blended by the boat’s passing, something was rising to the surface, some deeper truth. In the almost-real-time of the viewfinder (for it only ever shows you Time-passed), a normally-invisible reality had surfaced.
Motion and motion-less.
One of the clouds above had settled onto the surface and, like a dolphin, was frolicking alongside the ploughed corkscrew of the wake. It came and went. It drew closer and then stepped away. It slid out of sight and then swam back in. At times it was a korowai, a feather cloak; at others, it was an angel’s wing. It shifted shape; it morphed and reconfigured itself. It danced and twirled and pirouetted. Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose. The more things change, the more they remain the same. Everything changes, and yet nothing changes.
And somehow, despite my wonder, my shutter finger continued to freeze these transformations.
The ferry pulled into the dock on the other side. People got off and people got on. Cars went and came.
And then we left on the return trip.
The dolphins and angels were gone, but there were new truths waiting for the ferry to bring them to the surface.
And for my camera to instruct me.