Sunday, December 1, 2013


Bricks that tell a story fired into stone,

clay from other ages like tapestry sewn

into fine, hard linen all in a day’s work,

never seem to weaken 

while cold dead men shirk

the will to contain what we all hold dear

standing up against the outside,

when it’s inside we should fear.

Billy Radd

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Of Color In Color

Curves around and about
the shapes of colors 
moving in circles 
around the walls 
of my inner space 
bouncing like golden balls 
leaning to and fro 
from the amber glow 
of a soft light
catching a slice 
of dark rainbow
in a bottle

Billy Radd

Sunday, November 10, 2013

The Eternal Circle

The Eternal Circle

Everywhere runs the Eternal Circle

No stopping, only movement

No regress, only advancement

No ending, only renewing

With beauty even in decay

New life

Lies soon ahead

Billy Radd

Monday, November 4, 2013

Way of the Bicycle

Way of the Bicycle

Playing music, dancing, and riding a bike model the Way of Tao.

When you play music or dance
or running down a road 
you are “in the moment”
on the cutting edge of time
like a flying bird, or a swimming fish, 
or a child riding a bike to school.

After you learn how to ride a bicycle
you don’t have to think about 
pushing down with one foot 
while relaxing the other, 
keeping both feet on the pedals, 
running into a curb,
or balancing.

You can do it automatically after some practice
and whistle a tune or talk to a friend
at the same time
without concentrating on 
not falling off your bike.

Following your own life path can be similar.

After you learn how to follow your own way, 
you don’t have to think about every choice
you must make in life.

You can do it automatically after some practice
and whistle a tune or talk to a friend
at the same time
without concentrating on
not falling off your path.

Billy Radd

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Life Lives

Life holds on.

Whether or not the human race survives,

we can be sure that the universe will continue in its way

of evolving living things where it can

when it can


Billy Radd

Monday, September 30, 2013


Video by Billy Radd, Tone Drum by Anita Gayle


The gentlest thing in the world
overcomes the hardest thing in the world.
That which has no substance
enters where there is no space.
This shows the value of non-action.

Teaching without words,
performing without actions:
that is the Master's way.

From the Tao Te Ching by Lao-tzu
From a translation by S. Mitchell

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

A Little Yin In Your Yang?

A Yin & Yang pendant I recently made for Anita Gayle

In Taoist philosophy, Yin (negative) and Yang (positive) represent the two complementary forces that make up all aspects of life.
Yin and Yang, never static but in a constantly changing balance so that nothing is totally Yin nor totally Yang, are interdependent but cannot exist without each other.

Yin is a symbol of earth, darkness, passivity, absorption, slowness, softness, and thus, yielding, diffused, cold, wet, and passive, epitomized by even numbers, streams and valleys, and represented by the color orange. Yang is thought of as heavenly, light, active, fast, hard, solid, and thus focused, hot, dry, aggressive and penetrating, illustrated by odd numbers, mountains, and represented by the dragon, and the color blue.
Yin and Yang symbols typically have a small dot of each opposite color contained within the other's larger colored area to symbolize that there is a bit of yin within yang and visa versa. This is meant to be a reminder that all of existence is constantly evolving and changing. And, that each side always contains the potential of the other, as night turns into day and day into night.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

The Big Plan

The Big Plan

The here and now has to be
There is no judge, there is no "me"
It's only the present in which we live
What's past is gone,
the future's a myth
Deal with the present because you can
Deal in the present
There is no plan

-Billy Radd

Yesterday, I noticed a very small insect about an inch and a half long that appeared to be floating in the air outside the sliding glass door of our home. When I looked closer, I could see that it was sitting on top of an intricate web that an enterprising arachnid had constructed to snare its share of the many small insects inhabiting the woods we live in here in the Blue Ridge Mountains. I noticed, also, the small web’s owner-operator spider sitting only a few inches from the gangly bug, watching intently as the insect, which, after some internet research, I identified it as probably being a male of the sub-species of Grass-like Mantid - Thesprotia graminis, related to the much larger praying mantis most of us can readily identify and enjoy seeing in our gardens.

This mantis seemed to be on top of the diaphanous web, not struggling to free itself, and actually seemed to be enjoying the view of our yard from the web’s vantage point. I took a few still pictures of the bug. Then, my wife and I had lunch, not really thinking about this common occurrence at our back door which likely repeats many times throughout the summer with usually the same outcome.

But, after lunch, I returned to check on our mantis neighbor to find him becoming more entangled in the web while the spider still observed patiently from a short distance letting his web do its work. This time, I shot some video shots of the mantis as it methodically tried to free itself from the sticky web almost like a ballerina carefully unlacing her dance slippers. It’s actions had a distinctly human quality that reminded me of my 45-year career as a commercial film and video maker, and how concentrating on the moment-at-hand is what life is about, which was the working method that my coconspirators and I employed in accomplishing many original, high-quality results. 

Watching the little mantis also illustrated to me that trying to maintain simplicity in one’s  intentions, actions, and material wants is very advantageous in live since they all tend to create a complicated, interlaced web that is difficult or impossible to disassemble.

After shooting the video for a while I left the mantis and spider to conclude their drama without my observance, and instead wrote a short poem about the big plan, and edited a short video posted here.

I don’t know if the mantis survived his personal struggle against his entanglements, but ultimately, who does?

Friday, August 30, 2013

Improving the World


Do you want to improve the world?
I don't think it can be done.

The world is sacred.
It can't be improved.
If you tamper with it, you'll ruin it.
If you treat it like an object, you'll lose it.

There is a time for being ahead,
a time for being behind;
a time for being in motion,
a time for being at rest;
a time for being vigorous,
a time for being exhausted;
a time for being safe,
a time for being in danger.

The Master sees things as they are,
without trying to control them.
She lets them go their own way,
and resides at the center of the circle.

From Tao Te Ching

by Lao-tzu
From a translation by S. Mitchell

Friday, August 23, 2013

Almost Sometimes

Almost Sometimes

Words like “never” or “always” are traps
into thinking that time is absolute
not like a leaf
floating down to a stream
then riding on the surface
sinking to the bottom
dissolving on its way
to the open sea

Billy Radd

Sunday, August 11, 2013



Whispering wind through my hair
meeting my warm skin with a kind touch
seeking no return of the greeting
as the arcing sun washes over the land

Finding me perfectly alone
bright swirling images etch my eyes
remembering the future as it evolves
before me all around in every direction

No time moving away, no space unfolding
Just now, as now, before and behind now
Riding the crest of expanding experience
my presence connects all with all

Billy Radd

Wednesday, August 7, 2013



By zooming in to any detail, one sees less of its surroundings.

We call this the micro-view.

By zooming out, one sees less detail and more of its surroundings.

We call this the macro-view.

But, whether zooming in or zooming out,

there is only so much one can see at any moment.

The choice of what to focus on defines one’s frame of reference, 

and thus, one decides the scale of one thing to another

as useful signposts along The Way.

Billy Radd

Friday, August 2, 2013



Echo of the sun
mirror of the now
reflection of a distant rain
rings of colors bow

Billy Radd

Monday, July 29, 2013

The Frame

It’s no secret, to me at least, that I watched too much TV when I was a kid, but since I made a career for over 40 years as a cinematographer-director, looking back at it now, I don’t consider it wasted time at all.
But, by the conventional wisdom of the time, and of this time for that matter, I should have better spent my time either studying at my desk, working out in the gym, or at church, but certainly not lounging in front of the Illustrious Boob Tube.

So, the preparation for my life’s work and thus how I view the world (my internal guiding culture, if you will) came mostly at the wide, bright end of a cathode ray tube.

Howdy Doody, the Cisco Kid, Superman, Hopalong Cassidy, Lucille Ball, and Ed Sullivan and the people behind the scenes that helped made them successful were all my mentors for what turned out to be the resulting brain-factory of me.

Sure, I went to school, diligently completed all my homework, did all the math problems, wrote all the papers, essays, and reports, and took all the tests that were required of any public school inmate, but I could never get enough of sitting in front of the fantasy machine we call television.  As a result of thousands of hours experiencing sit coms, adventures, movies, sporting events, news broadcasts and documentaries it was natural and appropriate for my brain to see the world in terms of opening and closing titles, words from our sponsors, beginnings, middles and endings, character development, and multiple points-of-view - basically the short form story we call TV.

Going to film school in California was a long overdue awakening for me.  I’d finally found an outlet for my passion and was among others who shared my particular form of insanity - thinking like a TV producer.  From then on I was never again embarrassed by my talent for conceptualizing, screen writing, directing, cinematography, and editing.  I was on my way and never looked back.  

Since I had such a strong visual sense, as undisciplined as it was, when I began film school I soon realized that the pivotal role as cinematographer on any film crew is the keeper of the keys to telling a story, whether a 30 second TV spot or two hour feature film. I was informed many times that the writer makes the blueprint, the director turns that into a vision, and the editor re-treats the footage to conform to the script and vision, but it is the cinematographer who tells “the story”.

Don’t get me wrong. On many of the productions I worked on, there was a full-compliment crew, and I realized that the discipline of movie making works at its best as a cooperative endeavor with all the executive control and hierarchical work flow which that implies.

Very quickly I learned from those mentors who had gone before me that The Frame seen through the viewfinder or on the video monitor was the pen of the cinema author, and that the cameraman wielded that pen.

Much of my personal career was spent working with the limitation and defining artistic craftsman duties of being a cinematographer. But, at the same time, on many projects I also performed as the writer, director, producer, and/or editor depending on the production requirements, budget constraints and the availability of talented crew members to work with.

I soon learned that my main responsibility as a professional photographer making films and videos could be minimally divided into what happens outside the frame, and what happens inside the frame. Since almost all of my projects were in the realm of “sponsored” productions (as in not funding the project with my own funds) what happened inside the frame when I operated the camera was largely due to much pre-production outside the frame. The more planning and creative work that could be accomplished before I pushed the button on the camera to begin shooting, the better (as in most effectively communicating ideas to an audience in the cultural vernacular of accepted visual expression) the final result would be.

I was also fortunate during my media career to collaborate with many accomplished writers, producers, directors, cinematographers, graphic artists, scenic artists, and fine artists, musicians, actors, editors and other film craft specialists that shared their unique talents with me in a most generous way. And, since they too, were visually literate in similar ways as I was with identical societal norms and popular American icons firmly stuck in their minds, also probably from watching too much TV, we all shared an obsession with The Frame.

So, The Frame and how images are created through 1.) purposeful isolation and exclusion, 2.) the discriminatory creation of scenes within the frame, and 3.) recording and then assembling them to create separate and distinct experiences in the brains of an audience became how I experience the world - even when not making films or videos but in my everyday life.

So, ”framing” every experience I’ve encountered throughout my life has defined my path, my way - the Tao of Video.

As far as my own brain and perceptions go, I don’t know HOW it all works, but I do know WHY.  Consciously allowing my obsession with The Frame to freely roam our world became my ultimate role in life and the predominant value I have had to others and, thus, to my self.  

And that, primarily, is a result of watching "too much" TV when I was a kid.

Billy Radd

Friday, July 26, 2013

The River Instant

Countless bubbles sing on their way down the canyon
rising to the surface in a brilliant dance of spherical lightness.

Each random wave spins its own way through layered rock beds 
sleeping under water, always low, forever changing.

The open skylight plays its silent song on the surface of the river
reflecting subtile colorful tones off cliffs and leaves, gleaming, ideal, whole.

Boulders mark the way but remember nothing, 
living only at the margin of this singularly crystallized moment.

The water course pulses like the heart of the earth
while the rhythm of the sun keeps perfect time
with the harmony of the river.

Billy Radd

Saturday, July 20, 2013

The Inverse Way

The Inverse Way

Can you fool yourself into wandering
and forget your original incompleteness?

Can you let your mind become
as unyielding as the dead?

Can you pollute your inner blindness
until you see everything as in darkness?

Can you hate people but follow them
without exposing their weakness?

Can you dismiss the most trivial matters
by controlling great events?

Can you take control of your own mind
but not understand anything?

Killing and starving,
having while keeping more,
acting with great expectations,
following but trying to control:
this is the lowest vice.

Billy Radd

Friday, July 19, 2013

The Story of Now

In the beginning, I was alone, but not lonely. Can being present by yourself in such a place be lonely?

My goal that day was to be a conduit, a curved line from nature, through myself, into my video camera.

The environment directed my moves, letting the poetry of the moment pull me along the shore, light pointing the way. The stream came toward me, but did not notice me. The ground felt my passing but did not remember.

I look for moments like these because it is what I do. In them, time is meaningless. Now and now and now is all there is, my camera, with its coursing electrons, coding the present like a footprint into the illusion of the past.

The random soundings of water over rocks, through air, between leaves are vibrations flowing into my camera’s ears. Light curves into my lens like measured waves on a long beach.

I am one with all, a singularity with proof of my journey, editing reality through conceited choices, riding a circle of white noise at the razor's edge of now.

In the end, these framed impressions mark the trail ahead and show the way back along the illusory path called The Story of Now.

Billy Radd

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Images From The Void

Test frames from Veggie Luv

The Tao is called the Great Mother:
empty yet inexhaustible,
it gives birth to infinite worlds.

It is always present within you.
You can use it any way you want.

From Tao Te Ching
Written by Lao-tzu
From a translation by S. Mitchell