Monthly Archives: April 2014

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!

The Threshold of Possibility

Long skinny boats, a sunny and cool spring morning, and enthusiastic college athletes…and so began my spring break.

crew

I’ve never been to a crew event before, even though the Crew Classic happens in my hometown every year.  I’ve watched rowing on TV and seen it during the Olympics.  But recently, my nephew, a college sophomore became the coxswain of his college crew team…and their team was participating in our local event.  So I had to go…and who wouldn’t enjoy a morning on the beach in beautiful San Diego?

boats

The long skinny boats lined the beach, propped up upside down until each team carefully lifted the shell up over their heads and carried them down to the water.

carrying

There are interesting traditions within the sport.  Coxswain are smaller and lighter than the rowers–and charged with keeping the rowers on cadence.  They wear high-tech equipment, magnifying their voices above the wind and water for the rowers to hear.  Apparently coxswain don’t wade out to the boat (or carry it either), and are lifted into the boat by a rower on the team.  I caught this picture of the coxswain being lifted to his perch at the front of the boat…or is it the back?

coxswain

I find myself thinking about all these young people on the threshold  of adulthood.  I know they are technically adults, after all, all of them are 18 or older.  But I also know they are still in the process of figuring out how they will live their lives as grown-ups, separate from their parents.  And it seems that the camaraderie and teamwork from sports and other team-oriented activities in college support these young adults as they find their way to independence.  And it was fun to see the families cheering their young people on…and delighting in their efforts, even if the result of the race was 4th out of 4 or the boat came trailing in much later than the others in the race.  It isn’t about winning or losing…it’s about playing, being together, learning together, figuring how to be a team.

My spring break is bookended with two threshold events: cheering on my younger nephew as part of his rowing team and then celebrating the wedding of my other nephew at the end of my break.  They are both embarking on new chapters of their lives, figuring out their places in the world.

And there is something about standing at the edge of water on a gorgeous spring morning, the threshold of my spring break, that suggests possibility, play, and learning for me too. Sometimes just taking the time to try something new or explore a new aspect of my hometown is enough to break up the routines of the ordinary.  I can’t wait to see what these days ahead will hold for me.

sky

What thresholds are on your horizon?  What inspires new beginnings in your life?  How do you breathe possibility into your everyday life?

Weekly Photo Challenge: Rebel

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

Although I know that the official definition of rebel has to do with opposition to authority, particularly a government or ruler, I am drawn to small instances of rebellion (yeah, I know, I do take some liberties with language!).  When I saw this red bloom amid a sea of yellow blossoms my first thought was…a rebel!  One who defies authority and asserts individuality.

rebel red flower

Which then reminded me of this photo I snapped of one of my third graders a couple of weeks ago who arrived at school in the morning in this pink fedora.  It immediately became a symbol for me…of play and playfulness, and rebellion!  I like these small pushes against the status quo and the expectations of how everyone should behave (or dress).

pink fedora

And then, if you follow my blog at all (www.thinkingthroughmylens.wordpress.com), you know that I have had a recent obsession with weeds and a previous fascination with dandelions. When I looked at this image (from my front lawn), I again saw a rebel in the form of a dandelion standing tall above the grass.

dandelion puff

So this week’s photo challenge is to find images that represent your concept of a rebel.  Small rebellions are great–or even just some push against the status quo as represented by an image.  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 #rebel 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. Maybe we’ll start a movement as we uncover rebels in our midst!

Playground Life

I spend three mornings a week out on the playground watching children play.  These early morning duties are generally calm, giving me an opportunity for reflection and observation.

I notice children making up games, resolving their own conflicts, and through their play, improving their coordination and fitness.  I see the same early arrivers most mornings and watch the seasonal changes in the sports of choice.

Balls are always popular, the current favorite ball games are wall ball, basketball, and a blacktop version of baseball that requires no bats or mitts and involves a large rubber ball.

I wasn’t sure this morning that the kids would get to go out and play.  We had a rare rainy day and I ran my windshield wipers all the way to work.  But by the time kids arrived, the sky was still dark, the ground was still wet, but as long as no drops are falling, the kids can play.

rainy playground

The day turned out bright and sunny–and I am doubly glad that I stopped to capture this wet, cloudy moment of children at play.  And so this becomes my Street Life for the Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge.

It’s supposed to rain again tomorrow.  We need the rain so badly that I’m not complaining about the inconveniences of rainy day schedules.  Instead, I’m looking for the silver linings…