Weekly Photo Challenge: Finding Fall

Today is the first day of fall…according to the calendar.  Seasons aren’t prima donnas in these parts.  They don’t demand a lot of attention.  In fact, seasons are subtle, making their entry is small, sometimes overlooked ways.

A predicted heatwave over the weekend never materialized on the coast. When we headed to the beach for walk late Sunday afternoon, instead of heat we were greeted with damp, gray mist.  It was warm, but not your picture perfect beach weather.  That didn’t bother the seabirds though. They were out enjoying the low tide and the emptiness of the beach now that the tourists have mostly left town (for now).  I couldn’t resist this little fellow with its foot in action and  its crisp reflection visible on the sand.

Processed with Snapseed.

I like the mood the fogginess brings to the beach.  It brings the world in a bit closer and adds that fall-like mystery.  I wasn’t feeling like I do in the summer, escaping from the heat and relishing the sun on my shoulders. Instead, I was noticing the cool and reveling in the emptiness of the wide open space in front of me.

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Surprisingly, Tuesday brought rain!  (Remember, average rainfall for us is about 10 inches annually…and we’ve been in a severe drought for several years now.)  The sky was beautiful in the morning, with the dark blue skies and thick layers of clouds.  It was definitely a sign that we would have a rare weather episode!

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It did end up raining a good part of Tuesday and into Wednesday morning.  We were loving sandals and skirts and sleeveless tops in the warm, balmy rain.  Our students showed up in rain boots and jackets–I guess you deal with being too warm when you have so few opportunities to sport your rain wear!

A trip into the backyard yesterday afternoon had me thinking about fall!  I noticed the unusual pools of water filled with the seed pods that fall from the tree.

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And the brilliant red of the Japanese maple shouting at me to pay attention to the impending change of season.

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I’ve never noticed these seed pods before but I love the gold, tan, and black–neutrals that remind me of fall.

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And I’m noticing the light changing as the days get shorter.  The lowering sun was making this dandelion glow.  I decided to mess around with it in prisma to see what effects I might get.  I like the way this one captures the glow and the textures of the plant.

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So, what will you notice when you set out to find fall?  Maybe you’ll find the traditional colorful leaves dressing the trees in brilliant colors or maybe like those of us in these parts, you’ll have to pay closer attention and look for more subtle seasonal changes.  Or maybe you’ll find fall indoors, or through the food you eat, or in some other way!

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 #findingfall for this week and include @nwpianthology in your post.

Grab your camera and head out in search of fall.  Don’t feel confined to iconic images of fall foliage–embrace what you find!  What does fall look like when you look for subtle, often overlooked evidence?  I’m looking forward to seeing what you capture when finding fall through your lens!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Fighting the Blahs

Some weeks my photography feels uninspired.  I simply don’t have the opportunities to get out and find the inspiration that bring photos to life for me.  But I’m determined to keep up my practice of taking daily photos…so out of the blahs, here’s a few shots that keep me going.

Scouting out some local hiking places meant an excursion into a nearby place we hadn’t previously explored.  I love our native plants for many reasons–their drought tolerance, their earthy smells, and their resilience. But they aren’t always beautiful in that ornate, photo-ready way.  I do love the old oaks in our area, especially when the sun shines through them.

img_3227A closer look at one of the smaller coast live oaks revealed acorns!  I love this one that reminds me of Halloween candy corn!

Processed with Snapseed.

If you pay close attention, you will also notice the insect life around. Swallowtail butterflies are pretty common in the area…and this guy even sat still long enough for this portrait.

Processed with Snapseed.

And I couldn’t resist this web built into the corner of the fencing along a portion of the trail.  I love the way that it is tucked into the corner, creating a lacy effect.  I didn’t see a spider…and this looks like it may have abandoned.

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It was disturbing to see these dead palm trees in the distance.  We learned that they have been intentionally poisoned as part of an effort to restore this preserve area to its native state.  The palms are an invasive species and removing them will bring back native plants…and the ecosystem that native birds and other animals need to support them.

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And a trip to the local mall offers an antidote to the blahs.  There’s a lot of construction going on as the mall is updated to better accommodate the growth in the area.  The cranes particularly caught my eye…along with the way the sunlight was streaming down towards them.

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So…how might you use photography to fight the blahs…or adjust your eye to fight the photography blahs?  You might have to force yourself to start snapping and trust that something interesting will come up.  I try hard to remind myself to take at least one photo every day–even when I don’t feel inspired!  (Hence the construction photo!)

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 #blahs for this week and include @nwpianthology in your post.

Head out with your camera and take some shots…you’re bound to find something interesting and that will help with fighting the blahs.  And in the process, you might learn something about the place you live, the people around you, or even about yourself and the way you look at photos! Fight your blahs this week…and share a few shots with us!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Look Closely

Sometimes the most amazing sights are right under your nose…and you walk right past them regularly without even noticing.  Lucky for me, having a camera at my fingertips helps me pay more attention to my surroundings.

It also helps to have a classroom full of kids pointing out interesting things, like this insect sitting on the yellow cucumber in the garden.

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I love the way the composition takes advantage of color and texture…and still draws the eye to the winged insect in the center of the image.

And there’s that planter box right outside my classroom door, which has become a science lab for learning about monarch butterflies.  The milkweed attracts butterflies, who lay eggs on the leaves that hatch into interesting black and green and yellow caterpillars…and this week we have found three resulting chrysalises.  (Unfortunately one disappeared–likely nabbed by an over interested child, probably from another class.)  Two were still there when I left school this afternoon.  Here’s the one I snapped yesterday.

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I love the intricate gold detail on the brilliant green casing.  I hope a butterfly emerges!

This student performance by second graders at our school this morning had me looking closely at the light and the clouds in the distance (you can see that wall of marine layer just beginning to burn off in the distance).  As they sang about the constitution (School House Rock version), they waved tiny American flags in honor of Constitution Day and Patriot Day celebrated in September.

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Friday morning breakfast with colleagues has become a long-standing tradition at a local restaurant.  Parking is always at a premium, and today I ended up around the corner near this electrical box that I have seen before but never photographed.  So today was the day I looked closely and snapped a shot of this whimsical piece of found art.

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You already know that the beach is a source of inspiration for me, but sometimes I miss the ordinary beauty of something as simple as a sand castle.  This one caught my eye the other day.

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And sometimes we venture beyond the closest beach and explore other nearby places.  Out on the pier in Oceanside (to the north), I looked closely and noticed so much action out in the ocean including these sailboats seemingly racing on a beautiful holiday Saturday afternoon.

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Walking through coastal Oceanside also offered us the opportunity to see some street art up close.  Many walls were painted with murals…there were eyes, retro western scenes, and my favorite, this triptych of birds in flight in an alleyway.

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So, look closely.  What do you see?  You might have to look down from up high, get low and look under, or have a child point out something you might otherwise overlook.

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 #lookclosely for this week and include @nwpianthology in your post.

Open your eyes and your mind as you look closely, you might be surprised at what you’ll see!  Take some shots and share them…we’d love to see what you find!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Best of Summer

With Labor Day right around the summer, it’s time to step back, reflect, and curate some of those summer gems!

Some of my favorite images from the summer come from our trip to the Pacific Northwest, outside of Seattle.  There’s this wonderful town called Sequim that boasts a lighthouse accessible only at low tide.  And even though we didn’t time our visit to allow for the (long) walk the lighthouse and back, my zoom lens let me capture this view from a distance.  I’m in love the with monochromatic effect featuring all the shades of blue.

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And this is the same area where we glimpsed several bald eagles.  These magnificent birds were not easy to photograph, but I fell in love with this one perched on a piling recognizable by its distinctive white head.

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Back at home I continued my practice of taking regular walks on the beach.  This hasn’t been a particularly warm summer–in fact there were many days when the marine layer kept the sky gray all day.  I noticed this seagull on one of my walks with its head tucked in. Since the day was already so gray, I played around with black and white making the seagull and the shadow even more the focal point of the photo.

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Living in a place that others travel to creates opportunities for “happening” upon special events like the Switchfoot Bro-Am surfing contest and concert at our local beach.  We enjoyed exploring the exhibits on the beach, listening to the opening band of young teens, and watching the surfers paddle out to compete.  We were even lucky enough to watch a local favorite, Rob Machado, in action!

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I love it when I’m fortunate enough to capture the quirkiness of beach life in an interesting photo.  I noticed these wetsuits laying up along the seawall as I walked not long ago.  When I saw them I couldn’t help thinking of snakes, leaving their empty skin behind when they shed.  I like that you can see the flatness of the wetsuits against the depth of the stairs.  I took this picture as I walked one direction, and when I walked back passing this place again, they were gone.  Sometimes it’s all about timing!

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And no set of “best of” photos would be complete without a food shot. My favorite of the summer is this shot of Geoff’s homemade beignets and cafe au lait…a wonderful treat of a breakfast on a lazy summer weekend!  The overhead shot captures the contrast of light and dark–perfectly fried southern “doughnuts” awash in powdered sugar, yum!

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I ended my summer with some work in Tucson, AZ and managed to squeeze in a few photos before and after the long days of work.  The University of Arizona campus is an interesting one and the building I was in had many interesting architectural features.  I captured this unedited image of the endless corridor with brick walls.

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And who can resist the natural beauty of our National Parks?  We discovered that Tucson is home to Saguaro National Park, a place where the majestic Saguaro cactus grows abundantly.  I loved seeing these tall cacti up close, I’ve read many books and taught many children about these unique and special plants.  The monsoonal rain clouds and setting sun create the perfect backdrop for Saguaro silhouettes.

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So, here’s an invitation to take a walk down memory lane and relive a bit of your summer.  Take some time to curate your summer photos and pick one or two (or more) to share as your gallery of “Best of Summer” photos.

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 #bestofsummer16 for this week and include @nwpianthology in your post.

And if you haven’t yet taken those summer photos yet–no problem! Head out with your camera and get snapping…don’t forget to share your best of with the rest of us!