Simona D'Auria

Forest bathing, inspiration and creative photography. Episode 2

How a day of forest bathing turned into a crazy photographic experience.

Hi everyone!

As promised, here’s the second episode of my post on “forest bathing” and photography.

In Episode 1, I shared my thoughts on what this trendy word means to me, by describing a day out in the wild, and my way to immerse myself in nature, restore my polluted brain and my energies and enjoy the adventure to the fullest.

When I left you, I was by the shore of a lake, that I had reached with the hope to clear my busy and worried mind, so that I could enjoy that photographic journey and find some inspiration.

It worked. Thanks to the lulling slow motion of the ripples in the water that served as a kind of hypnosis therapy, I had managed to actually stop thinking, reset my brain to its neutral status, and to enter that much blessed peace of mind I was looking for that renewed all my energies and my enthusiasm.

By that time, the light had almost gone out. It was what I call “evening in the wild”, when it’s just you and the most feral essence of nature, when the animals regain full possession of the territory and you feel like a guest who has lingered too long.

I thought it was a pity to have wasted all the afternoon with a polluted brain, and I was fully determined to get the most from the rest of that day. The adventure had just started.

I climbed up the hill and I was back in the forest just above the lake.

I wandered for a while, was I seeing anything? Not sure. Certainly, the forest in itself wasn’t among the most beautiful I had visited so far. Kind of a repetition of straight red pine trees with little personality, tall but tiny in their trunks, like many other I’ve seen in forests that have grown little and with much effort on a rocky, hilly ground. Still, there was something attracting me, something that kept me there, that made me pull my camera and the tripod out.

Maybe I wasn’t seeing the forest, but I was surely feeling it and my experience was telling me that if was feeling something, something was actually there.

I started taking pictures in different spots and from different angles, moving a lot through the forest that was wide and seemed repeating itself to infinity in all directions. I shot countless times, never happy with the result, keeping on going, one shot after another, a hundred meters forward and back, to my left and to my right, focusing in and out.

Trees in a forest
Dancing with the ghosts

The light had become so blue, the bluest of the blue hours I have seen within a forest.

A dark shade of blue, this was the color I was seeing everywhere. The darkest of the dark, lit up by the last beams of light that were still entering the forest.

I loved that blue so much, surely it was something I had managed to find there, but still I wasn’t satisfied with the pictures, so I kept on shooting almost without even composing, taken by a kind of an irrational sense of frustration and determination at the same time that eventually turned in a sort of trance status…. At a certain point, it went so crazy that it felt like I was spinning and losing my balance … Again that sense of being there and not being there that I felt down by the lake, that total focus of eyes and soul, a full connection with the place.

And then I saw it. The one I was there for. The picture representing the forest that I was feeling, rather than the one I was seeing, like representing the visible with the invisible.

I had actually spun … and my camera with me. What I got as a consequence, was a kind of mild ICM photo.

ICM stands for Intentional Camera Movement, an old photographic technique involving moving the camera in whatever direction with a slow shutter speed.

It is used to achieve a more abstract, impressionist rendition of a scene, and if well managed, it results in a more artistic kind of photography. It is not an easy technique though, it requires a lot of practice and many attempts to reach a result that has any kind of sense.

I was not thinking about taking an ICM image, in fact it isn’t, although it resembles to it. I rather like to think that it’s the spirit of that forest that has called for that. My spinning around was caused by that forest. The slow shutter speed was determined by the lack of light in that forest in that moment of time. And the result makes sense to me.

I usually don’t like the typical blurriness of ICM photography and I am very pleased that I somehow managed to keep some of the texture of the trees, and that even the spinning motion has a kind of definition and did not ended up extremely blurred.

I called this photo “Dancing with the ghosts”, because this is what I actually did that evening. I was dancing with the spirits of the forest.

I wouldn’t have been able to achieve this result without a total immersion in that wood. Without reaching that sort of trance status that comes only after you have cleared your mind and focused with your whole soul.

This is what taking a picture means to me. The most beautiful and yet most difficult kind of photography, the one taken with all your being. It doesn’t happen everyday.

Once home, I reviewed the pictures that I took at the lake, when I had just started reaching that blessed status of mind. When I was in the forest and I discovered that shade of blue that I loved so much, I had thought of returning down to the lake to take new pictures under that light. But there would have been no light at all by the time I had descended again the forest hill.

So, I post-processed the two pictures to reflect the dominant color and the dominant feeling of that photographic journey.

I like them definitely better now…. Have a look at the first version of them in the First Episode. Which do you like the most?

I guess it has been a long journey for you, reading this two posts of mine.

I really hope though that I have been able to describe an experience of total connection with the natural environment you are living and the wonderful effects that come from this immersion of the mind and the soul, for you as a person and as an artist.

Finally, as usual, I hope I have inspired you to get out there, step into nature, and live plenty of wonderful experiences.


Till next time, Take good care of you,

Love, Simona 🌲🤍🌲


Simona D'Auria

Hi! My name is Simona and I am a photographer and an illustrator in love with the natural world.

I live in Sweden in a small village on the forest hills, where I moved a few years ago leaving behind the busy city of London to pursue my artistic activity. ​This has been a long time dream that I eventually managed to fulfil. I have never regretted it!​​

Nature is my only place to be, hiking my way to explore it and photography is one of the means I use to record the fantastic stories I am so lucky to witness during my excursions. Many of these stories also turn into graphics or illustrations.