Monthly Archives: April 2014

Weekly Photo Challenge: Small

Enjoy taking photos?  Love to share them with others?  Welcome to this week’s photo challenge! (I post a new challenge every week…check in each week and join the fun!)

Small things are often underestimated in our biggest, strongest, fastest focused world.  Too often, small gets overlooked or trivialized as merely cute.  And yet, when you look closely, small can reveal so much more.

I was out with my macro lens in my backyard yesterday and noticed these tiny weed buds neighboring up to a potted plant.  I love the gentle curve of its stem, like a dancer in motion rising from its leafy brethren below.

tiny weed bud

And then there’s the energy and inquisitiveness that comes through this small hand…the hand of a child who just discovered this bean growing in the school garden.  She was excited to taste this morsel, exploring the bounty students planted and nurtured.

hands with bean

And how often do we dismiss or turn in disgust from these small, slimy creatures?  I came across this slug on my sidewalk as I ventured out to take a peek at the moon the other night.  I nearly missed the small brown creature…or worse, nearly stepped on it!


And sometimes something small is revealed by something larger.  This hearty, healthy dandelion emerged from a small crack between the sidewalk and wall.  Weeds don’t need much space to grow–they grow where they can, making use of small, often unused spaces.

weed in the crack

So this week’s photo challenge is to look for and capture small. Interpret small in ways that work in your context.  Small might mean smaller than your palm, or small in relation to something larger than life.  Use a macro lens, lean in closely, or maybe even pose your small next to something large.  Post either the photo alone or along with writing inspired by the photo. I also invite you to use others’ photos as inspiration for your own writing and photography. I often use another photographer’s image as “mentor text” for my own photography, trying to capture some element in my own way.

I like to share my images and writing on social media…and I invite you to share yours widely too. (You might consider Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Google+) Use the hashtag #small and include @nwpianthology to make it easy for us to find and enjoy. You can find me on Twitter and Instagram @kd0602. I’d love to follow you if you share your handle.

You can also share your photos and writing by linking to this blog post or sharing in the comment section below. I’m looking forward to seeing small through your lens!

Spring Break: In 25 Words

Sometimes in writing (as in life), less is more.  Coming back from our spring break, we asked our students to zoom into some aspect of their spring break activities and compose a 25-word story to capture the experience.  25 words is short…and it’s not as easy as you might think to come up with a “story” in only 25 words.  But our first, second, and third graders gave it a try. Here’s a couple of examples (the links are to their published blogs–they would love comments if you have time!):

There is new growth in my family garden! Carrots are growing in nice soil (getting sunshine, too!) Making me want to eat the delicious vegetables!  (E.F.)

My brother fell out of a tree, he was in pain! He got crutches, he screamed a lot! Hopefully he didn’t break a bone! (M.B.)

My friends and I went to my Gramma’s house, we had tons of pure fun. We got lost sometimes but it was still extremely fun. (N.B.)

Biosphere two is an amazing place where the scientists are in Arizona, the desert and survived 2 years trapped, researching plant life in threemile greenhouse. (A.R.)

And then there is the student who writes the 25 word story…but can’t resist expanding on the story in her blog post!  (A girl after my own heart!)  Here is the 25 word version…you can click on it for her blog post.

Suddenly a foul ball comes hurling our way. It bounces, jiggles, is everywhere. It happens quickly but suddenly the ball’s in my brother’s sweaty palms. (M.O.)

And of course, I had to try to my hand at a 25-word story about my spring break.  It took me a number of tries to come up with this one…and I might have to try another dozen or so to really craft a story.  And I will include a few photos to enhance my words!

nashville mural

Toes tapping and fingers snapping, she explored the city along the banks of the Cumberland in her new cowboy boots. Her camera captured the details.

Nashville downtown

Cumberland river



Haunted Wedding Selfies

Last weekend I attended a haunted wedding. Okay…maybe not a haunted wedding, but a wedding that took place in an old southern mansion…that just might be a little bit haunted. The Riverwood Mansion is located in a residential neighborhood outside of Nashville, TN. There are the requisite beautiful tall old trees, long gravel driveway, and stately old architecture complete with a pillared front porch. (You can see a photo of the mansion in yesterday’s post, here.)

Don’t get me wrong, this was a lovely wedding. The early evening outdoor wedding in the garden area enjoyed a warm gentle spring breeze, sunlight just beginning to settle down into the treetops, and of course a gorgeous bride walking down the aisle to join my nephew in marriage. And the idea of haunted really didn’t cross my mind—at least consciously at that point. I knew the wedding would take place at a venue that was an old plantation house, and of course all things southern come with lots of history (and often a ghost or two!) as well as rich, and often complicated stories..

It wasn’t until the reception that ghosts and haunting crossed my mind. The sun had set and candles and twinkly lights accompanied the softly lit reception room and the house itself. We headed up the stairs for the buffet and found ourselves in front of an old, elegant floor-to-celling mirror. I immediately wished for my phone/camera (the downside of women’s dresses—most, including mine, lack pockets) as I saw the four of us in the mirror. Luckily, Geoff had his phone and snapped a picture of us in the mirror. As I looked at the photo, I kept expecting to see the image of a ghost in the background—like the hitchhiking ghosts on the haunted mansion ride at Disneyland.

4 of us

And I couldn’t resist. After dinner and the toasts by family and friends, I headed off with my phone on a photo walk. I found old upholstered furniture with that velveteen fabric and intricately carved wooden backs that seemed to be so popular in the past.


And an interesting staircase with solid wood banisters leading to rooms above with a stained glass window highlighting the landing below.


I peered out a window into the garden where the wedding took place and noticed the archway lit up with tiny lights. When I went to take a photo…an apparition appeared…me!

dark reflection

And from that point on, every photo I took seemed to capture my own reflection…in windows, in mirrors…

fireplace selfie

And then I had to pose just one…I dragged my husband back to that mirror I described before so we could pose in that silvered, antique mirror. And the result seems to me to be a new (or old and new) version of the famous American Gothic painting with the man and woman and the pitchfork. Our version replaces the overalls and farm clothes with wedding finery and the pitchfork with our cellphones…and I love the result.

american gothic selfie

My poor husband…I’ve been spending time over the last week or so working on improving my selfie skills—most with him included. And then, without even thinking about it, the wedding created unplanned selfies. I think I will call this series of selfies the Haunted Wedding Selfies.

Have you taken any haunted selfies? Or maybe just unexpected selfies? How are they different from your intentional selfies? Or is all of this just an exercise in narcissism and vanity? It probably is…but it’s also fun. I’d love to see an example of an unexpected or haunted selfie from you…share please..and link back to this post!

Monumental: Old and New

I love the complexity and juxtapositions of urban spaces.  They are crowded, often teeming with tourists, business people, and very often, the down and out.  Downtowns are an amalgam of old and new, history and current events, a place where wealth and poverty rub shoulders.

I’ve noticed this in my hometown, in big cities like San Francisco, New York City, Chicago…and I saw it again today in downtown Nashville, TN.  Music City.  Downtowns have their own personality.  Some are all about food, some all about architecture, and some, like Nashville, are all about music.  Live music poured from bars and restaurants…even before noon.  Guitars and banjos were prevalent, and street performers were also in evidence.  There were the requisite bars on every corner and tucked into alleys and happy hour seemed to start early on this warm Friday afternoon.

And today I was especially tuned in to the contrast between the old and new.  New (ish) restaurant chains occupied historic buildings…and springing up in the background were shiny, reflective, skyscrapers.

old and new nashville

And in some instances, the new buildings seemed to emerge from the top of the shorter, older ones.  Almost like they were grafted on, breathing new life into an older, more classic and established host.  (Isn’t that how it works with fruit trees?)

springing up nashville

And while taking a photo of the Ryman Auditorium, I noticed that the more interesting shot was the reflection of the auditorium in the facade of the glass of the building across the street.  A reflection of the past in the shine of the present?  A mirror of the interconnections of history and current events?

Ryman reflection

There is something monumental about this juxtaposition of the past and the present, the intermingling of history with life today.  The present keeps the past alive and relevant…the past keeps the present grounded and forward thinking as it reminds us all to learn from history.

And then there is the river…the powerful force that gives us energy and life, and if we are not careful, takes both away.  Downtowns always seem to be close to water too.  Maybe water is the true monument.

river in Nashville

Weekly Photo Challenge: Water

Here’s the week 12 Weekly Photo Challenge prompt for the NWP iAnthology!

Water: essential to life, powerful, relaxing…devastating in excess and in scarcity.  It’s a source of entertainment, a source of beauty, a source of energy, and so much more.  My go-to image of water almost always has to do with the ocean–probably a side effect of living not too far from the sea.  So I had to look further to capture a variety of water images.

Here is one of water flowing down some chutes at a local water conservation garden.  I like that this image captures movement and energy.

water flowing

And here’s another with some movement captured looking into a koi pond not far from my son’s house in the Bay Area.  I like the way the bubbles sit on the surface of the water as the colorful fish swim by underneath.

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

And here is another view of water…where the water isn’t even visible!  This is a water tower at a nearby golf course.  You can’t actually see the water, but the sight of the tower suggests water.  I do wonder if this is the source of water for keeping the golf course green and lush.

water tower

And then there is that rare form of water for me…rain.  I captured this shot during my morning playground duty on a rainy morning a week or so ago.  I love that wetness is not a reason to keep our students in!  (You’ll notice it’s wet, but it isn’t actually raining at the time of the photo.)

rainy playground

And of course, I can’t resist one ocean picture!  Here is a shot of a surfer riding a wave in Ocean Beach.  I took this photo from my vantage on the pier, looking down onto the surfers below.  I got a series of shots of this guy…he got quite a ride!

surfer in action

So this week’s photo challenge is to find images of water in any form.  They can be natural bodies of water: rivers, streams, puddles.  It can be water from a sprinkler, a tap, your pet’s water bowl…you decide!  Post either the photo alone or along with writing inspired by the photo. I also invite you to use others’ photos as inspiration for your own writing and photography. I often use another photographer’s image as “mentor text” for my own photography, trying to capture some element in my own way.

I like to share my images and writing on social media…and I invite you to share yours widely too. (You might consider Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Google+) Use the hashtag #water and include @nwpianthology to make it easy for us to find and enjoy. You can find me on Twitter and Instagram @kd0602. I’d love to follow you if you share your handle.

You can also share your photos and writing by linking to this blog post or sharing in the comment section below. Can’t wait to see the watery world through your lens!

Breaking Into Spring

Seems like spring has gotten a lot of attention this year.  Maybe the especially harsh and strung out winter in so many parts of the country has made people long for warmer weather, blue skies, flower blossoms, and baby animals.  Here where I live, winter forgot us this year…and yet, the yearnings for spring remain.

And this is spring break week for me.  People who know me well know that it is hard for me not to work, even when I have a week off.  But I am trying to make each day a bit of a treat.  Luckily, with some family visiting, that hasn’t been too hard to do.

Today’s treat was lunch out followed by a walk on the beach.  Since I spend plenty of time at the beach, taking pictures that are somehow different from those I have already taken becomes a priority.  We managed to hit the beach at low tide, and tide pools were exposed.  I came across this bivalve still attached to a piece of algae, opened–making it evident that the creature who once lived inside had left (or became some other creature’s lunch!).  These pools of water are fun to explore, especially while walking barefoot.

tide pool bivalve

And I always love sandpipers.  They are such energetic birds, and when they gather it reminds of a party.  They flit here and there, seeming to engage in small talk as they poke their long beaks into the sand for a tasty tidbit.  For a bit of variety, I played with filters and used a sepia tone on this version of the picture.

sandpipers in sepia

Even though it was warm today, into the 70’s even along the coast, sea breezes make the air feel cool and it’s evident that the trees along the shore deal with harsh breezes regularly.  As I looked up through this tree, I noticed the halo around the sun…an effect of the cloud cover.

beach sun

I’m enjoying a beachside spring break that isn’t about tropical drinks and sunbathing…although both sound appealing!  Instead, taking time on the beach is an opportunity to commune with nature, to appreciate the natural beauty, the cool breezes, the relaxing sounds of the surf and the chatter of the sea birds, and enjoy the company of my son and daughter-in-law.  Spring break is off to a great start!