MARK EDWARD HARRIS: The Beauty of SHINRIN-YOKU
Lens Magazine|February 2021
The pandemic has forced all of us to look within our own borders for both photo opportunities and mental health breaks.
My first much-needed outing beyond the Los Angeles city limits was Joshua Tree for a night under the stars. There are few better medicines than a good dose of nature, and the National Park Service is perhaps the best pharmacy for this natural, life-enhancing, awe-inspiring drug.

The Japanese have a label for this magic potion that reduces stress and promotes a sense of well-being, “Shinrin-Yoku,” which translates as “forest bathing.” Japanese-American landscape painter Chiura Obata described his experience in the High Sierra:

“In the evening, it gets very cold; the coyotes howl in the distance; in the mid sky, the moon is arching; all the trees are standing here and there, and it is very quiet. You can learn from the teachings within this quietness.”

I experienced this magnificent quietude in the Sierras exploring Mammoth Lakes and doing long night exposures of the tufa (porous rocks composed of calcium carbonate deposits) outcroppings of Mono Lake.

The image that best conveyed the experience was taken by combining a Schneider SoftEdge Graduated Neutral Density 0.9 filter for the sky with a Schneider Neutral Density 4-stop Circular Polarizer, which reduced the light for the overall image to smooth out the water.

The moonlight illuminated the tufas in my Nikon D850’s exposure of 30 seconds, f/22, at ISO 100.

Years before the pandemic seemed only the stuff of movies; I talked with filmmaker Ken Burns about his documentary The National Parks: America’s Best Idea. The six-episode series goes into detail about the role photographers played in establishing these custodians of the landscape. In fact, one could say that the development of photography and the national park movement grew and matured together in the 19th century. Mr. Burns gives some historical context: “The photographs that began to come back of the falls at Yosemite and the bare, polished granite peaks of El Capitan, the cathedral spires and Half Dome, along with the paintings of Albert Bierstadt, really galvanized interest in this area in the mid-19th century. It was possible to go back and make political inroads and convince people that this land should be preserved. Yosemite is the first time in human history where great natural land sections were set aside by the federal government. It was given to the state of California, so it doesn’t qualify as the world’s first national park. It was the first federal reserve. The only reason that eight years later, in 1872, the same didn’t happen to Yellowstone is that it was in a territory. There was no state entity to give it to. So it became the world’s first national park.” “Yellowstone had been a source of gossip and rumors for years. Nobody believed the reports are coming out by mountain men like John Colter, Joe Meek, and Jim Bridger.

It took a geological expedition in 1871 led by Ferdinand Hayden, who brought with him the painter Thomas Moran and photographer William Henry Jackson. People were able to see for the first time, especially in the photographs of Jackson, the wonderland of Yellowstone, as it quickly became called.”

These days many of America’s national parks, including Yosemite and Yellowstone, have a network of lodges ideally situated in areas that can yield great photo opportunities.

Continue reading your story on the app

Continue reading your story in the magazine

MORE STORIES FROM LENS MAGAZINEView All

FRIHA ABDELMAJID: RURAL LIFESTYLE IN MOROCCO

FRIHA ABDELMAJID: RURAL LIFESTYLE IN MOROCCO

1 min read
Lens Magazine
March 2021

Old Fashion and True Moments

Film Photography is a big world of its own, with various techniques, cameras, and actions. Old-time photography is priceless; it is a living testimonial of rich heritage.

3 mins read
Lens Magazine
March 2021

REVEL & REVOLT - Beau Patrick Coulon

Revel & Revolt is a new photo book by Beau Patrick Coulon, a co-edition with Burn Barrel Press and Defend New Orleans' imprint: DNO books. Coulon presents his straightforward-yet-personal visual documentation of protests, parades, and the punk scene in New Orleans from 2013 to 2020.

3 mins read
Lens Magazine
March 2021

DEAD END TRACK

On February 5th, was the first time I went to the Sanremo train station and got on the train to Ventimiglia, the last stop before the border.

6 mins read
Lens Magazine
March 2021

FOR THE LOVE OF A FILM ROLL

A QUEBEC PHOTOGRAPHER DECIDED TO IGNORE THE MODERN DIGITAL CAMERAS. INSTEAD, HE TURNED HIS EYES TO THE OLD FORGOTTEN CAMERAS. A SMALL ROOM INSIDE OF HIS HOUSE BECAME "THE DARKROOM."

10+ mins read
Lens Magazine
March 2021

John F. Martin – The Early '70s Manhattan

"This series was shot around Manhattan in the early '70s. I was using a Pentax Spotmatic loaded with Tri-X film. I processed the film and printed it. These are scans from the prints and negatives".

5 mins read
Lens Magazine
March 2021

An Exclusive Interview With Nandakumar Narasimhan

The Little Red Train

10+ mins read
Lens Magazine
March 2021

MARK EDWARD HARRIS: The Beauty of SHINRIN-YOKU

The pandemic has forced all of us to look within our own borders for both photo opportunities and mental health breaks.

8 mins read
Lens Magazine
February 2021

MY LOVE-HATE RELATIONSHIP WITH LANDSCAPES

My relationship with landscapes is one of a love-hate nature.

3 mins read
Lens Magazine
February 2021

DAVID GARDNER: ENERGY IVANPAH THERMAL SOLAR PLANT

Coming over the rise through Nipton California, on Highway 164 into the Ivanpah Valley, the Ivanpah Thermal Solar Power Plant first came into view.

4 mins read
Lens Magazine
February 2021