Home > philosophy > Seeing with more than just my eyes

Seeing with more than just my eyes

November 14, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments
selling the lie

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This past Wednesday, being Veterans day, was a day off for me.

I had planned to go out taking photos. But when I woke up to torrential rains, I checked the weather to see what the rest of the would hold: 100% chance of rain.


But, not to be deterred I decided to make the best of it and head up to Nakano to check out a favorite used cameras shop and take some photos.

Since photos taking was secondary on the agenda to camera shopping, I only packed the Olympus E-P1 with 20/1.7, 25/1.4 (C mount), and Zuiko 50/1.2.

I caught the train first from Yokosuka Chuo station to catch the Yamanote line in Shinagawa.  From there I would make the necessary transfer in Shinjuku to get to my destination in Nakano.

It’s about 80 minutes in total on the train, so I sank into my seat and settled in for the ride.  The swaying and creaking of the train as is slid up the tracks started to lull me into a short nap.  I was listening to the sounds around me; The rustle of someone turning a newspaper page, a muted cough from someone further back in the train car,  the hum of the trains electric motors, and the periodic announcement from the train driver about what stations were coming up next.
It was during this time that I heard a little kid pointing out to his father all of the things he saw as the train made its way along the tracks.  That reminded me that there is always something to see.  You just need to open your eyes and mind to it.

In this case I had been “looking” with just my ears, and after hearing that small kid I was reminded that there is never any dead time.  Something interesting is always presenting itself.

I think that most people around me are probably wondering what I am taking so many pictures of all the time, and I am happy to let them assume that I am a tourist.   In all truth, after living here for nearly ten years now, I still do feel like a tourist. I mean this in the sense that it still feels like a vacation to me. There is still wonder in what lies around the next corner, or what there is to see at the next train station.

The wonder of this place has yet to wear off for me. This is a testament to how fascinating I find Japan. There is always something new for me to see. Some times it is a an altogether new place that I exploring, other times it may be something I have seen many times before but I happen to find a new way to look at it.

There is something “subarashii” (wonderful) locked up in most everything we see. The key is being able to to find it. But it is there. Trust me. All you have to do is change your point of view, or frame of mind, and open yourself to what surrounds you.

Let it all in. The sights, the sounds, the smells, the feelings.

Don’t have too many expectations about a place before you see it. While it is good to listen to those that may have been there before you, don’t take their views as gospel. Let your own personal experience shape your view and you will be surprised by what you see once you stop looking with just your eyes…

Categories: philosophy
  1. November 14, 2009 at 1:57 pm

    I was just telling someone about my two short years in Japan and related basically the same thing you just posted. Every single day, without fail, presented something entirely new and foreign to me. And then after I started to learn the language, it was as if a window was opened to a whole ‘nother universe that is invisible to people who don’t take the time to understand the language. I really miss living there. I am pretty good at finding novelty everywhere I go, but Japan is just on another level altogether.

  2. November 16, 2009 at 12:46 pm

    Ha, I agree totally (wherever you are in the world).
    In Star Wars terms, you need to close your eyes, and act on instinct. strech out with your feelings, and you will be able to set a new step into a larger world.
    Jeff just showed it is actually true: Close your eyes and your ears will make you aware of things your eye missed in the first place.
    In more practical terms. When I was seeing my ex from Taiwan, I had to act as tourist guide in Holland. What the hell am I gonna show her?!? But actually, that exercise made me se ethings from a different perspective, so all that’s “normal” to me, now became new and wonderful.

    As for you pics, they are exquisite again. Especially the last photo of the yellow leave. I do have one comment on the pin hole function of the Olympus camera. There is something unnatural about the vignetting that it produces. Almost as if it’s too strong somehow. Can the strength of the effect be controlled on the camera settings, or will it have to be a post process action?

  3. November 17, 2009 at 10:00 am

    Yes, the pinhole effect can be quite strong. It’s not adjustable, but I get around this by shooting RAW + JPEG. The JPEG spits out the pinhole version, but I still have the unaltered RAW file to work with is need be.

  4. David
    November 17, 2009 at 12:21 pm

    I am free on Friday Nov. 27. Can we meet?

  5. Luke
    November 18, 2009 at 8:46 pm

    That is all part of the magic that is Japan. I lived there for 5 years and I never got bored with exploring. Whether it was the depths of Tokyo (and all of its surrounding cities) or just taking a stroll through Yokosuka, there was always something that I had never seen before. It is truly unlike any place I have ever been before and I thank you Jeff for bringing me back each time I look at your photos!

  6. 2yen
    November 19, 2009 at 11:14 am


    Sounds good. I sent you my cell number via email.


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