The work of Dacher Keltner, a professor of psychology at the University of California at Berkeley, has shown time and time again that experiencing awe—watching a beautiful sunset, listening to moving music, witnessing a master at their craft—leads to self-transcendence and feelings of spiritual connection.
Brad Stulberg

Well, there you have it: the science is settled or, at least, replicated. Experiencing awe leads to self-transcendence and feelings of spiritual connection.

What does that have to do with this blog? Well, for goodness sake. Go back and look at the list of things that prompt awe: watching a beautiful sunset, listening to moving music, witnessing a master at their craft (cough, cough).

OK, maybe not. OK OK, certainly not. But maybe watching anyone exercise their craft counts, too?

I sometimes wish I could take photos that tell stories, although I have not yet put any real effort into learning how to do so. For now, I am happy to take photos that look again, especially at the natural world. To look again and to look closer. This week, it was a suddenly-in-full-bloom clematis prompting that impulse, and definitely making me transcend/forget myself while so engaged. Your results may vary.

Here’s the first look.

And the closer look? This.

And this.



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10 Responses to Awe

  1. Mary Gibson says:


  2. Jim Taylor says:

    The selfie is technology’s revenge on artists. Here’s this utterly gorgeous world we live in, and what we get instead is grinning idiots — have you noticed how many of them resemble Mad Magazine’s Alfred E. Neuman? — focussing attention on me-me-me.
    Your pictures DO tell stories, Isabel, because they let us fill in ourselves. Because they’re focussed on what we see together, not on what we see of you-you-you.

    Jim T

    P.S. Lighting makes such a huge difference. Those same flowers in the flat light of noon would be blasé.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Jim T – Yes, lighting is huge, as is depth of field. I can’t always get that dark background on demand, but when it cooperates it’s great. Thanks for the story-telling perspective.

  3. Lorna says:

    Yes. Exceptionally beautiful.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Lorna – I admit, I was a little bit surprised. What do they say? If you practice enough, you eventually get lucky.

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