Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Nikon P7000

After many trips hauling lenses and bags, it has all shrunk down to the Nikon D700 and the Nikon 50/1.4 G lens. I realized some time ago that this is what is used in 97% of all the photographs I capture, so why sit like a fat rat on top of lenses that are of no use to me?

I took a while, but the lenses are sold by now, and the money invested in an other camera instead - the Nikon P7000. It's a compact (it's pretty big for being a compact but way smaller than my Nikon D700), and it of course has all the limitations of such a piece of machinery.
A huge and heavy DSLR is not something that is always with you, and ever since I took up photography I have searched for something that would not dissapoint me too much when I open the files in Lightroom.

A myriad of Canons, Nikons and even Panasonics have passed through my hands these last five years, but they have at their best simply made me want to cry. Until now, that is.

Just like Nikon waited and waited before releasing something like the D700 (that blew the competition away), I had to wait for many years before the people at Nikon finally came to their senses and designed a compact that actually works like a camera! It does!

I am not going to go into specifications, simply because I create photographs and have no inclination for hanging in forums nitpicking the far corners of obscure functions. neither do I shoot testcharts or worry about sharpness, resolution or speed. I base my judgement on the feeling in my guts.
What I want is something that looks like a real photograph when I open the file. Nikon has satisfied my desires on that point this time. If you try one out, you'll see for your self.

But do keep in mind that it doesn't really matter what camera you have, as long as you are pouring your heart and soul into your photography.


(the above image was captured today in my office using the Nikon P7000)

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Let the madness commence.

There was so much work involved with creating "Ryushin", and it's safe to say the workload did not shrink the least after the successful release at the London Tattoo Convention late September this year. It merely shifted from from the creativity of designing a book to the creativity of packing and shipping the conclusion of the first action.

Now the real bulk of the designwork for "Kokoro", our photographical portrait of Horiyoshi III of Yokohama, is about to begin. Fingertips are paused in anticipation above the matte black plastic of the keys on the office computer. Literally thousands of photographs captured on our three latest visits in Yokohama, Kyoto, Eheiji (among others), has to be painfully destilled down into what would be a really good book. Sometimes it feels like the easiest way would be to run them all and never look back.

The framework of the design is already in place, continuing where "Ryushin" left off. We liked that simplicity, and it will back up the abundance of photos destined for a life within the covers of the book.
As the last remnants of the photgraphs captured on our latest visit (November this year) come into their final shape, selection will be the single biggest task at hand. Of course, that is not taking into consideration writing, selecting Koans and poems and ..........

(photograph of Senju/Horimatsu/Matti Sedholm at the Fudo Myoo temple in Yokohama was captured by Alex Reinke/Kofuu/Horikitsune in September 2009)

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

The Fox



Whenever Hyakujo delivered a Zen lecture, an old man was always there with the monks, listening to it; and when they left the Hall, so did he. One day, however, he remained behind, and Hyakujo asked,"Who are you?"

The old man replied," I am not a human being. In the far distant past, when the Kashapa Buddha (the Sixth Buddha of the Seven Ancient Buddhas) preached in this world, I was the head monk in this mountain area. On one occasion a monk asked me whether an enlightened man could fall again under the law of karma (cause and effect), and I answered that he could not. Thus I became a fox for 500 rebirths and am still a fox. I beg you to release me from this condition through your Zen words."

Then he asked Hyakujo,"Is an enlightened man subject to the law of karma?" Hyakujo answered, "No one is free from the law of Karma."

At the words of Hyakujo the old man was enlightened, and said with a bow, "I am now released from rebirth as a fox and my body will be found on the other side of the mountain. May I request that you bury me as a dead monk?"

The next day Hyakujo had the Karmadana, or deacon, beat the clapper and he informed the monks that after the midday meal there would be a funeral service for a dead monk. "No one was sick or died," wondered the monks. "What does our Roshi mean?" After they had eaten, Hyakujo led them to the foot of a rock on the furthest side of the mountain, and with his staff poked the dead body of a fox and had it ritually cremated.

In the evening Hyakujo gave a talk to the monks and told them this story of the law of Karma. Upon hearing the story, Obaku asked Hyakujo, "You said that because a long time ago an old Zen master gave a wrong answer he became a fox for 500 rebirths. But suppose every time he answered he had not made a mistake, what would have happened then?" Hyakujo replied, "Just come here to me, and I will tell you the answer!" Obaku then went up to Hyakujo......and slapped the teacher's face. Hyakujo, clapping his hands and laughing, exclaimed, "I thought the Persian had a red beard, but here is another one with a red beard!"

Mumon's Comment:
"The enlightened man is not subject to Karma." How can this answer make the monk a fox? "The enlightened man is not free from the law of karma." How can this answer release him from his fox's life? If you have one eye in regard to this, then you understand Hyakujo's (the old man's) dramatic 500 rebirths.

Free from karma or subject to it,
They are two sides of the same dice.
Subject to karma or free from it,
Both are irredeemable errors.

(photograph from Kennen-ji, Kyoto, Japan. November 2010 by Matti Sedholm/Senju/Horimatsu)

Monday, 15 November 2010


When polishing the mirror of everyday life, it becomes evident that most of what you believe to be true and absolute is really not. Reality is an agreement with the self and others concerning the issue of understanding the reality around you. This is where the confusion begins.

In lack of own experience, we start adding "truths" to our mental hard drive already at an early age. This is quite understandable and perhaps very necessary as well. To prevent the stars and the moon from falling down into the sea, we attach to them the qualities needed to leave them where they are, and go about our daily business of food, shelter and sometimes procreation.

We often regard reality as complex and hard to grasp. We ponder problems and invent so(u)lutions, still ending up in the bathroom with that empty roll of toiletpaper. What to do?

In all reality, reality is no more complex than the piece of rock on the ground before you. It is what it is.
Our imagination can, out of fear, turn this rock into any shape necessary to patch the complex web of illusion that we call Life. Nevertheless, it is still a rock. There is perhaps something called truth, but don't believe for a second that what you call true is really that - true.

Keep polishing the mirror and it will become clear.


(photograph of Horiyoshi III's work by Matti Sedholm, Yokohama November 2010)

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Return into this life.

Almost a week has now passed since our return to Europe.
Up here in the north of Sweden, the snow has started to fall, covering the everyday life of humans in a velvet blanket of whiteness. It is as usual a dualistic emotion that strikes. The loss of simpler ways versus the hardships of the pure but harsh mistress that is winter.

The visit to Japan remains a blur of Irezumi, photography, sun, rain, insights and spiritual gifts bestowed on the ones in such a dire need of paths to walk.

The collecting of visual material for our spiritual portrait of Irezumi master horiyoshi III of Yokohama has now ended. Floating chest high in visual expressions of things that have such difficulties assuming the shape of words, we are now left with the final stages of the creation of "Kokoro".

We are as eager as You, perhaps more so, to see what spectre we will be able to conjure up. When everything is a the tip of ones tounge, it becomes difficult to speak.

Some news on "Kokoro";

The hardcover edition will be limited to 555 copies only.
In the coming weeks we will establish the final outline of the book, and as soon as the price is set, we will make it available for pre-order. Due to the extremely small edition, pre-orders have to be payed when placed.

Expect more news in the next few days.

(photograph from Horiyoshi III's studio by Matti Sedholm, Yokohama November 2010)