Sea Blue Lens

Adventures in…Intuition


I went out this afternoon to try to complete this week’s challenge from Kim Manley Ort’s Adventures in Seeing book. To be honest, I’m not sure if I “got it” or not. The purpose was to exercise our intuition, and Kim suggested listening to our body’s leading rather than consciously deciding where to walk or what to photograph. The idea was to allow ourselves to feel something physical, a vibration or resonance, that would give us direction.

I think of most of my photography as “intuitive.” I seldom go somewhere specific with preconceived ideas about what I want to photograph. I go someplace, I see something that catches my eye and causes a quick intake of breath, I “work” the subject and make photos of it. But I can’t say I’ve ever felt the sort of physical sensation that I understood Kim to be talking about. Maybe I was trying too hard to make rational sense of something that’s not based on logic.

Anyway, I bundled up and went outside and stood on the sidewalk, waiting for “something” to suggest a direction. All I heard my body saying to me was, “Are you crazy? It’s cold out here! Let’s go back inside.” I ignored that and arbitrarily turned right and headed for the Riverwalk, mostly because I hadn’t been that way in a while.

graffiti wall

Past Main Street and the railroad overpass, I veered off the sidewalk to check out this little “park” area. There was no one else there — I wouldn’t have gone in if there had been, because the place kind of gives me the creeps. There used to be some rather artistic graffiti on that wall, but someone (probably the city) painted over it, and now it’s just a lot of (to my eyes) ugly scribbling. This is certainly not the kind of image that makes me feel good. I don’t think this is where my intuition was leading me.


I saw leaves, an unexpected sight this deep into winter. A tall oak tree still held nearly all its leaves, though they were quite dead. I suppose the new growth in the spring will push the old leaves off.


These are oak leaves, too. The sun was playing peekaboo with the clouds, making the leaves flash like a neon sign as shadows came and went.

solitary leaf

One had broken away from the crowd to lie in yesterday’s inch of new snow.



There was much evidence of other, smaller creatures out following their bodies’ instincts. I’ll bet they don’t question where they are going and what they are doing.

through trees

Okay, that’s a pretty nice view. Let’s keep going just a little farther.

No Swimming

I never notice this sign except in winter, when it always makes me laugh and say out loud, No kidding! But I suppose it serves a useful purpose in the summertime, when there’s a boat ramp there.

“Fine. Can we go home now?” my body wants to know. “The wind is picking up and I’m cold.”

No, not just yet. I want to walk up to the birches, then we’ll go home.


So delicate, the tracery against the sky. Who would have expected this? When I left my apartment it was mostly overcast with dark grey clouds piling up on the western horizon.

through the trees

Oh yes, this is what I wanted. Maybe I could go just a little bit farther up the trail…. Okay, wait, my body is definitely talking to me now.

“You said, to the birches. These are the birches. You can’t even feel your fingers anymore. Go. Home. Now.”

And so I turned back, still not knowing if I did it “right,” but happy with my outing anyway. One look back:


It is enough.

15 thoughts on “Adventures in…Intuition

  1. Haha – whether you did it right or not, you certainly saw some beautiful sights! I loved your narrative, too – maybe because it sounds a lot like a voice in my own head. I’d be curious to try this exercise sometime. I suspect I would fail, because my mind doesn’t know how to quit and listen to my body.

  2. You saved the best for last, frozen fingers and all.

  3. It doesn’t matter you did it “right” or not – and who judges about that anyway? You enjoyed your outing and that is what counts. You took some beautiful images, and I hope you had something hot and soothing when you came home.

  4. I found it interesting that even though you were cold from the moment you left your apartment you trusted in the adventure and the assignment. As you photographed and carried on your mental narrative, reminding yourself you were cold and wanted to go home, you wouldn’t let yourself. There was an “intuitive” sense that there was a beautiful picture still waiting to be taken. And then you were there, you just had to turn around. I love your narratives as much as your photos!

  5. Loved your pictures, as always. I almost felt like I was there with you…experiencing the cold and all. It was the most enjoyable walk that I’ve never taken. You write very well.

  6. I don’t think there is a right or wrong and what I got from your adventure is that you DID follow your intuition. It’s interesting that you wrote this because a couple of days ago when I wrote February Love for my blog, I woke up and had no idea what to write but I wanted something on the first day of February and as I was thinking this I just felt myself moving like following my inner guidance. 3 hours later I had what I wanted for my blog and I published it. I almost never write and publish the same day, but I really felt like this is what I’m supposed to publish and perfect. When you say you were cold but you went on anyway, I think you were definitely following your guidance. Love your words and love your pictures.

  7. Well you certainly got some lovely shots on your outing in the cold and snow! I love those birch trees and the second shot of those little animal prints in the fresh snow! I think that there is not ‘correct’ way of going for an intuitive walk, there is only our way and that is correct for us! I’ve also noticed that many oak leaves tend to stay on the trees during the winter months.
    Have a lovely weekend!

  8. Good for you for just “getting out there” and capturing the beauty around you … it’s something I want to do while we’re away on holidays and you’ve inspired me. Thank you León!

  9. Loved reading your thought processes and could really identify. LOL You made some lovely images.I loved the one third from the bottom and found myself quite moved by the animal footprints.

  10. I think intuition is all about going just a little further and then finding the perfect place. I love your thoughts as you wandered along. Did you notice in the the picture with only four footprints that there are small hearts in the prints? A little love sign from nature!

  11. My body was saying the same thing today, Lee. It is very, very cold here in NY.
    I so enjoyed reading about how you thought about this, and I think the photographs you made are just wonderful.
    Have a fantastic weekend, my friend, and do try to keep warm!

  12. Fabulous outing. Such a contrast between the chaos of the graffiti wall and your other photos. Maybe that was what you were suppose to find.

  13. That last image is stunning, Leon! I love how you noticed the leafs, the branches, the tiny paw prints in the snow. I would say you had a very successful outing. Stay warm, my friend!

  14. Such a good read about you and your body talking back and forth. As for “finding” something that is just right, I’ve always found “turning around” “looking behind” is where the scene was, all along. The final photo, and the birch trees are both framers, IMHO. I’m hoping your are warmed up by now too. 🙂

  15. You have captured some really beautiful images. Fun to read your approach to the series. I have always believed in an intuitive process, but sometimes it’s hard to let go, as you say, we just try to hard. 🙂

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