Weekly Photo Challenge: Appreciation

It’s so easy to get busy and overlook the bounty of everyday life.  School started this week for me so I’ve been totally immersed in the classroom over the last couple of weeks.  I’ve had to make an effort to take my camera out and find an interesting shot each day.  Lucky for me, a focus on appreciating small details has helped in so many way.  It has reminded me just how fortunate I am, pushing me to take a positive view even when I am feeling tired and overwhelmed with all there is to get done.  And I am actively searching for ways to document my appreciation, letting an image represent a bigger idea.

At the end of the first week of school, Geoff and I decided even though Fridays are the day we feel exhausted, that we would take the time to watch the sunset and go out to dinner.  There is something healing about watching the sky transform from blue to pinks and oranges.  And the bubble man was out again too, creating kid-sized bubbles and coaching kids to run inside of them, trying to keep it from popping too soon.  The kids delight in this game…and who can resist, especially when combined with the soothing feel of salt water on your feet?

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Earlier in the week, one of my students came into the room with these beautiful flowers clutched in her fist.  “They’re dahlias, Mrs. Douillard,” she announced.  I love the geometry of these lovely blooms, my eye returns to them throughout the day as I notice new details.

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I often complain about the gray of the marine layer we experience here on the coast.  The clouds seem to flatten my photos, making everything feel drab and dull.  This week, with a heatwave in our region–many areas of our county experience temperatures in the triple digits–I am appreciating the thick gray dampness that blankets the sky.  Without air conditioning in our school, the fog has kept things a bit cooler and more bearable.  I watched these seabirds frolic in the gray as I walked the beach on my way home from work the other day.

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Getting home last night, after our late dinner following our sunset expedition, I got out of the car and looked up.  Through that one tree that grows along the side of our driveway, I caught a glimpse of the moon shining through.  My camera was in my bag, so I pulled out my phone, framed my view through the branches of the tree and clicked the shutter.  I appreciate the reflected glow of this celestial orb and the way it lights up the night.  And my tree created a perfect, interesting frame to look through.

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So, what are you appreciating this week?  Take a look around for the little details that make a difference in your life or in the life of others.  And as I consider life’s bounty, I also realize that people are suffering, dealing with natural disasters like hurricane Harvey, illness and death, war and conflict.  Appreciation helps to keep me grounded and hopeful, and ready to reach out and help others in the ways that I can.

Share your #appreciation this week, maybe your photos will boost someone’s spirits or inspire them to take positive action.  You can post your photo alone or along with some words: commentary, a story, a poem…maybe even a song! I love to study the photographs that others’ take and think about how I can use a technique, an angle, or their inspiration to try something new in my own photography. (I love a great mentor text…or mentor photo, in this case!) I share my photography and writing on social media. You can find me on Instagram and Twitter using @kd0602. If you share your photos and writing on social media too, please let me know so I can follow and see what you are doing. To help our Weekly Photo community find each other, use the hashtag #appreciation.

Take a moment to reflect on small details and appreciate how they contribute to life’s bounty for you.  Grab your camera and capture that appreciation in a photo.  I look forward to seeing appreciation through your lens this week.

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Odds and Ends

This has been quite a week of ups and downs.  And the weather here seemed to reflect that too.  Last weekend was bright and sunny, enticing us to head to Torrey Pines (a beautiful local state beach and park with incredible views of the ocean) to do some hiking and photography.  This place is known for its iconic Torrey Pine trees, trees not found in many other places.  They are perfectly adapted for life on windy cliffs, have resources for collecting water from the ever-present marine layer (you may know it as fog), and are simply beautiful.  Here’s one I captured on our hike.

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Giant flying beetles have become more prevalent lately.  Brilliant green and LOUD, they’re hard to miss.  As we hiked, I slowed down and took some time to watch this guy go about his pollinating duties, hunkering over some native plants.  I wish I could get a dragonfly to slow down a bit and let me get close enough to photograph it!

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It wasn’t perfectly clear, but the view was still pretty spectacular from my vantage on the cliffs.  If you look closely you’ll notice the high tide as the waves wash close to the foot of the cliffs and off in the distance you can almost see the Scripps Pier near La Jolla Shores and the village of La Jolla jutting out at the end of the curve.

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By Tuesday the marine layer had thickened so that it was essentially rain!  My errands left me soggy as I headed out without a jacket or umbrella.  Luckily it was still warm-ish, although not the summer weather we all imagine when we think of the beach.  But nothing could dampen my spirits–my son and grandson were on their way for a short visit!

I have enjoyed days spent with small boys this summer.  Now 17 months, all three grandsons are mobile and curious about the world.  By Wednesday the sun was back and we headed to the aquarium to take a close look at fish and other marine life.  We were greeted by the life-sized whale sculptures–part of a fountain–in front of the aquarium.  I am always amazed at how much the sky looks like the ocean…are we looking up or down?

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We loved the jellies and the seahorses, weird and wonderful, floating effortlessly in their tanks.  And these enormous sea stars showing off their suction feet in the eerie blue light remind me of all the life I don’t get to see as I walk along the shore of the wondrous ocean.  It was fun watching my grandson delight in the sea creatures…and the glass and the lights and everything else he noticed!

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But the highlight of our week was Thursday’s trip to the beach.  A year ago when my grandson was still a baby, our trip to the beach wasn’t much fun.  It was windy and cool and the ocean water was cold, resulting in a crying baby.  This year, a now mobile toddler on a warm and sunny day, couldn’t wait to run on the beach.  And his first touch of the salty water resulted in giggles and screeches of delight.  He couldn’t get enough of that salty, sandy ocean.  I can’t wait for his cousins to put their toes in the glory of summer’s Pacific!

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Friday was a sad day.  My son and grandson had to head home and our beloved cat of 17 years died.  Jack (and his brother Phil) were adopted at 16 weeks seventeen years ago and have been integral family members since that moment.  Phil passed in March, with Jack hanging on months longer.  Our house is quiet and Geoff’s lap is empty.  Jack would sit on him for hours and hours–we called Geoff “cat couch” since both cats loved to be in his lap.  We’re taking a break from pets for now, taking time to grieve and to explore life without cats.  We are truly empty nesters at this point!  (This is Jack from a couple of years ago)

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With our house echoing, we spent most of the weekend out and about.  Yesterday we ended up in Alpine, a small town midway up our local mountains.  We explored an outlet mall on an Indian reservation, had lunch at a local cafe, and turned down roads to see what we could find.  Geoff loves bears, so I had to get out and take some photos when we found this family of bears carved of wood in front of a home on a hillside.

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My photos this week are a collection of odds and ends, with no real theme tying them together other than telling a story of my week.  What odds and ends might you find through your lens this week?

You can post your photo alone or along with some words: commentary, a story, a poem…maybe even a song! I love to study the photographs that others’ take and think about how I can use a technique, an angle, or their inspiration to try something new in my own photography. (I love a great mentor text…or mentor photo, in this case!) I share my photography and writing on social media. You can find me on Instagram and Twitter using @kd0602. If you share your photos and writing on social media too, please let me know so I can follow and see what you are doing. To help our Weekly Photo community find each other, use the hashtag #oddsandends for this week and include @nwpianthology in your post.

So grab your camera or look through your camera roll and see what odds and ends you can find to tell a story about your week.  Whatever life serves up, I’m always glad to have photography to help me process and understand my experiences.  I look forward to seeing and hearing about yours!

Plus, here’s a link to an article I read this week about how photography can actually help your stay in the moment.  I know it works for me!  https://www.wired.com/story/stay-in-the-moment-take-a-picture/?mbid=social_twitter_onsiteshare