issue 10-1
summer 2009

Jim Swift: A Sense of Forest

Jim has long been interested in photography, using his first paycheck in 1958 to buy a Leica III. He's done medium-format photography, and went digital in 2002, about the same time he started writing haiku. He enjoys abstract and nature photography and images that look at familiar surroundings differently, and finds that his digital images are a natural fit with haiku, senryu and tanka. He also has a strong interest in black and white photography, an interest that he pursues as the editor of the Photographic Arts page at Moonset.

Recently, Jim took an online course in portfolio development with William Neill.  The final assignment was to assemble a presentation of the images he'd been working on. The result was a multimedia slideshow of his 'Sense of Forest' series of photos inspired by the old-growth forests of the Pacific Northwest. The influence of this class was not so much on his style or the way he shoots, but it confirmed two ideas that he had been developing for some time.

The first idea was that of working with projects—assembling a body of work of consistent quality that explores a subject in depth. This is a hallmark of the work of the most experienced photographers Jim admires, and so he himself now has a few projects underway: the West Coast Forests, Abstracts, and Impression Photography using camera motion.

The second was that there is a place for photographic haiga among serious, exhibition quality photography. He knew this from having exhibited his own photographic haiga alongside conventional exhibition photography in Port Alberni, and from hearing of other haijin who exhibit their work. Still, he was uncertain how they would be received by Bill Neill, who exhibits at the Ansel Adams gallery in Yosemite. It was gratifying when Neill not only liked the haiga but also encouraged Jim to include them in his portfolio.

As a series, the haiga explore abstract images generated through camera motion—setting the camera to a long exposure and clicking the shutter while executing a controlled movement of the camera. The result is an image that has the visual richness of photography, yet, being abstract, encourages poeming the haiga in a way that is evocative rather than descriptive.

Click on a thumbnail to view the haiga

01 02
03 04
05 06
07 08

The presentation of these haiga has taken several forms as it has developed. Four of the haiga, some in an earlier state, may be found in an album titled 'Impressions from an Old Growth Forest' at Jim's JALbum page. Three of these were used in 'The West Coast Forest,' a stunning, multimedia presentation that was the final project for Neill's course (for links to these and his other online albums, see our resources page).

Here, we're pleased to publish a full set of eight haiga in two ways: through a multimedia slideshow that Jim has developed especially for Haigaonline, and by our customary presentation of thumbnails and linked pages, where you can linger and savor each image at leisure. Depending on your system, the slideshow may be viewed in two versions (click on either thumbnail to view):

08 The better of the two, with fine image resolution and high sound quality—it requires the Photodex Presenter plug-in, a plug-in that is automatically downloaded and installed when you click on the Presenter version (Windows only, alas).


For Mac and other users, Jim has also made a Flash version that is, unfortunately, slower in loading; it requires the Flash player, but if you've been able to see the animated banner on our entry page, you have it already.
08 RESOURCES: Click here to learn more about on camera motion images, the artist's comments on some of the haiga, and links to his websites.