Coyotes in the Bardo

I know that this being a nature site, not a lot of people come over to this little backwater to look at non-nature images. But I have to confess that though I do a lot of landscape photography it really isn’t where I find the most satisfaction as a photographer. So, I thought I’d share this image and a piece I wrote to go with it for anyone who might come wandering through the outback.

Coyotes in the Bardo

Thirty-three years ago, I joined together with a group of men to form a men’s group. We called ourselves The Coyotes. The name was aptly chosen because Coyote is the trickster, both revered and reviled by many of the indigenous peoples of North America. Coyote is a seductive character – a rule breaker and troublemaker who lives outside the dimensional boundaries of ordinary time and space. As trickster, Coyote easily slips below the surface world of appearances to move freely between ordinary and non-ordinary reality. This is the liminal, in-between realm that is neither this nor that, never solid or certain and ever unfolding. It is this liminal space that is known to Buddhists as “The Bardo”, to the Sufi mystics as “Barzakh” and to Western science as “the edge of chaos”. But no matter the name, in the multi-dimensional, non-ordinary realms of the in-between, there are no discrete lines between subject and object; between past, present and future. It is that utterly fluid reality most familiar to us in our dreams.
Engaging the in-between realms has been my ultimate concern as an artist; to penetrate the surface of things in order to recover that which has been lost – that we are not mere observers of the world but part of its flow. Like the shaman, it is the role of the artist to let go of the illusion of solid certainty and fully enter into the co-creative dance of being and becoming. And, like the shaman, the artist is sworn to service – to deliver this vision of continuous, creative arising into the ordinary world for the sake of all those who yearn to break free.
This photograph, “Coyotes in the Bardo”, expresses my aspirations as an artist. By entering the liminal realm of creative arising with my Coyote companions, we transformed the mundane act of taking a photograph into a sacred act of communion both with each other and the world.

Is this a composite: No

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Hi Kerry,
Well, you got that right. February 5th? No replies? I’ve been a bit absent both here and The Vision Driven (just too much happening and not happening in life right now), but I wanted to comment on this image. It’s really engaging. I find myself looking at it to determine how many people are in the shot, what their relationships are, and thinking about the chaos, intimacy, proximity, and general sense of agony and play (all at once) that it represents.

Nice work.

@Marylynne_Diggs . Hi Marylynne. So glad you dropped by. At some point I felt I had to swear off Facebook for many reasons but mostly because Mark Zukerberg is such a dangerous and despicable human being. Sadly, that meant letting go of The Vision Driven as well. I miss it. Such a supportive and creative atmosphere and a place where I would certainly have posted this image. This photograph is the quintessence of photography for me in that the process of making the picture mattered so much more to me than the product. Nonetheless, I sent it along to David duChemin and he was incredibly generous in his feedback and suggestions for fine-tuning in post. Have you been finding any time for your own photography? I hope COVID hasn’t got you too far down in the dumps. I’m finding that whatever emotional or spiritual issues I have been struggling with, have all been amplified in this time of COVID. Maybe that’s a good thing?

I’m still on the Vision Driven though I took
A 3 month break from all social media but that site! I’ve been doing some self portrait work, but that’s about it. Wish I’d done it in my 30s or 40s—haha. But character is good.

Hanging in there for now. Wife’s cancer is in remission and we’re looking forward to outdoor pubbing when the weather dries. Hoping to get to the painted hills in central Oregon next week.


I’m so glad to hear about the remission – that must have been enormously taxing for both of you.

I have also been dabbling with self-portraits and, I agree, character is good – hell, we’ve earned every wrinkle and grey hair (Personally, I think I’m entering my old testament prophet period ;>) I’ve attached a colour version. Please send me one of yours if you have a mind.

My wife and I are hoping that things will be clear enough by August so that we can do our annual month-long canoe trip. We weren’t able to go last year for the first time in more than a decade and boy did we miss it.

We canceled a cross-country RV trip and month in Palm Springs last year and this winter, but they are on the docket for this summer and next winter.

Here are a couple of my attempts. I’m brand new to off-camera flash and experimented a bit:


Holding It Together


I find this hard to critique for ways to improve, but also find it an effective image. The choice of monochrome seems correct and the blur adds a sense of motion and mystery.

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Thanks, Tony, I appreciate the feedback and your taking the time to look.

I think this is a good goal to achieve in photography (psychological world?) and you have shown it well with the blurriness. One can detect the expressions on their faces but not in clear detail. This straddling of two worlds in landscapes can be achieved using reflections such as in this image. That, at least, was the intent.