5th Annual Photo Alphabet – The Finale

W is for Wilderness and Wonder.

This is the Trail?

Palo Dura © 2010 Bo Mackison

When I want to do deep thinking, I head for quiet spaces, walk one of the trails through the wilderness. I do some of my most productive thinking here, walking alone. In this deep stillness.

My gratitude for the life I lead is huge. I stand without a movement. I speak to the Universe. I wonder. I fill with a great happiness at the wealth in my world.

As I walk in nature, my world expands. I find my place. I stand upon the Mother Earth, grounded. l connect to a greater plan for the greater good.

If you look for the truth outside yourself,
it gets farther and farther away.
Today, walking alone, I meet it everywhere I step.
It is the same as me, yet I am not it.
Only if you understand it in this way
Will you merge with the way things are.
~ Tung-Shan

X is for eXplore and eXperiment.

Gold Poppies

Poppies in Arizona © 2012 Bo Mackison

There are times when I have a photograph and I just want to play. Explore new techniques. Add and subtract, soften the focus, sharpen the focus. Experiment with colors, saturation, a different crop. It’s similar to coloring outside the lines in a coloring book, then making the sky yellow and the trees turquoise. Usually, when I change a photo extensively, I don’t keep the results. I just enjoy the process.

But once in a while, I like the result. And so I not only have a few hours of play, experimentation, exploration, I also have a fun photograph for my portfolio.

Y is for out Yonder.

Beach Boardwalk

Boardwalk at Sunrise © 2012 Bo Mackison

Sometimes it is enough to look out on a vast body of water and let the senses absorb the space. It is enough to walk along the boardwalk, aware of each step as the walkway shifts under my weight. It is enough to be at the edge of the shore when the sun rises in the East.

Z is for Zen.

Branch in Stricker's Pond

Branch in Pond © 2012 Bo Mackison

Fitting that I end the alphabet, and the year, with a contemplative photograph. I have a folder of photographs I refer to as my Zen photos, photographs I re-visit when I want to focus, settle the voices in my head, and calm my mind. This pond is only a few blocks from my home in Wisconsin. It is the pond I walk around from mid-spring through early winter. I’ve captured the pond in all seasons, in all kinds of weather, and at various times of the day.

I have photographs of the pond when it is home to Canada geese, egrets, herons, and wood ducks. I have photos when half of the pond is a white and green carpet of American lotus in blossom. But this is my favorite photograph from all of my walks – a broken branch in shallow water, shifting in the soft light from a disappearing sun. It is a late summer evening.

I take a few deep breaths, focus my attention on the lines, the colors, the beauty in the simplicity. I am thankful.


And so ends the annual photo alphabet, and just in time too. After spending several weeks compiling the last posts, I am ever so grateful. Grateful for you, my readers. Grateful for the coming of a new year. And grateful that there are only 26 letters in the English alphabet!

Best Wishes for a Wonder-filled, Happy, and Healthy 2013!

Happy New Year! 

~ Bo


About Bo Mackison

I'm a photographer, book-artist, traveler, naturalist, and creator of the Contemplative Creatives Journey, An Online Workshop and Community and Desert Wisdom Cards and Workshops. Though often not well known, I find the desert a welcoming place - a healing space. Its mysteries and gifts transformed me several years ago. Since that first encounter, I return again and again to fill my well in what most people think of as a desolate region. I'd love to share my desert discoveries and wisdom with you. Please subscribe to receive my five part mini email course The Gifts of the Desert. It's my gift to you.


  1. This series is always so profound, so interesting, so light. You are on such a fascinating path of self-discovery, and it is wonderful to see that path through your photographs. Thanks for sharing this very personal work.

    • Bo Mackison says:

      Photography has opened many doors for me, Quinn, and this alphabet is an end of the year culmination/testimony of what I’ve learned and am trying to put in practice. It IS an amazing path — one I never believed possible only a few years ago!

  2. Wonderful quote in “W.” I guess W is also for wonderful.

    Thanks for this year’s version of the annual alphabet. I found it inspiring as well as feast for the eye. I’m disappointed it’s done for another year.

    Happy 2013


    • Bo Mackison says:

      I’m glad you enjoyed the alphabet posts, Gandalf.I promise they will return next December for the 6th annual… 🙂

  3. Zen…yes, I see this in this image…thank you Bo 🙂

  4. Splendid. I am refreshed. Thank you, and Happy New Year!

  5. Bo, beautiful Finale of inspiring images and expression. And surely has me pondering. I truly enjoyed this. Happy New Year!

    • Bo Mackison says:

      Thanks. I’ve been pondering these ideas for quite some time now — photography seems to have offered me many opportunities for reflection. Happy New Year to you, too, Anna.

  6. I really love your Boardwalk at Sunrise photo, it made me so delightfully happy. What a great way to conclude your year, and for us to be able to enjoy your work as well. :)Happy New Year!!

  7. Bo Mackison says:

    Hey, Mol, I am so glad you like the boardwalk. It is one of my favorites, too. It’s been some year, hmm? Here’s to a great 2013! 🙂

  8. de belles couleurs jaune – orange par chez toi
    Mes meilleurs vœux pour cette nouvelle année 2013

  9. What a stunning finale, Bo! I’ve enjoyed all of your alphabet letters, but this one… wow! The first image took my breath away, and I think I stayed almost breathless until the last which encouraged me to take a deep, all the way to the toes, breath. Happy New Year, Bo, and thank you for sharing your wonderful alphabet with us. 🙂

  10. I especially like that Poppy image!!!!

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