Monthly Archives: November 2014

Minimalist Pleasures

I love the beach.  I love to walk.  I love to take pictures.

And a perfectly timed super low tide, summer-like weather (in November!), and the just-right prompt set me off for a meditative adventure (is that an oxymoron?) this afternoon that combined the three.

I’m always surprised by how much the beach changes from week to week…sometimes even day to day.  When I arrived today, I noticed right away that the fairly flat beach had been replaced by a large berm, seemingly to protect the permanent lifeguard structure and upper sandy area from the late fall/winter tide patterns.  And as I began to walk, the super low tide revealed rocks that have been covered by sand all summer.  What was a smooth sandy beach a few weeks ago, is now rocky.

uncovered rocks

The simple, minimal beauty of rocks and water and sky is profoundly calming and relaxing.  I found myself breathing deeply, soaking in the peace.

Walking further, I found I could walk on sandbars that put the open ocean on one side of me and pools and rivers of sea water on the other.  I was mesmerized by the reflections of light and the soft ripples as the wind played with the water.

low tide blue

A recent Huffington Post article entitled Why Being Near the Ocean Can Make Your Calmer And More Creative seems to confirm my experiences with the beach.

The monochromatic shades of blue, a minimalist masterpiece of blue sky, blue water, blue shadows…caught my eye as I caught this bird in flight.

bird in flight

As I turned around to head back to my starting place, the sun had moved lower in the sky, painting the landscape with warm light.

stairs to nowhere

Oranges and yellows replaced the blues as the sun painted the sky.

rosy reflection

A lone bird, the sun multiplying as it is reflected in the water and a minimalist portrait of solitude emerges.

bird and sun

A perfect, peaceful ending to the work week.




Weekly Photo Challenge: Time Change

Do you speak in images? Enjoy taking photos to document your experiences or just to express what you notice in the world? Love to share them with others? Welcome to the weekly photo challenge! I post a new challenge each week…check in regularly and join the fun!

I’m not a fan of the time change in the fall.  I mean, I love getting the bonus hour…for sleep, walking, exploration, photography…but I hate getting home when it is dark, especially when it isn’t even 5pm!  But in this first week of the time change, I have found some interesting images BECAUSE of the time change.

I’ve been trying to squeeze more time for physical exercise into my life…and this week I’ve been carrying my gym shoes so I can take the time for a walk at the end of the day.  Earlier this week I had a late meeting near UCSD, so when I finished my regular work day I put my gym shoes on and took a nice long walk around the campus.  As the sun dipped lower and lower into the sky, I loved watching the way it caressed the buildings and played hide and seek through the trees.

In this image, the low sun found its way through the tall buildings, lighting up the midsection of the eucalyptus trees in front of them.

reflected light

In this shot, the harsh setting sun created a flare of light as I shot directly into it.  Using an app to convert it to black and white created a neat effect with the light.

sunset in black and white

The Geisel Library at UCSD is such an architecturally interesting building that I couldn’t resist framing some shots.  You can see the sun setting behind the building in this shot focused toward the west.  Again, I changed it to black and white, creating lines of light framing the building.

library light

And as I walked I noticed the moon rising.  I chased it through the trees, tracking it down when it hid behind buildings.  And as I circled back toward the library, I found the moon sitting on its shoulder with the colorful afterglow of sunset in the background.  This image is almost otherworldly!

moon over library

Yesterday I was at school late, after all, it is report card season.  And it’s hard to stay focused on work as the classroom gets darker and darker as the sun sets.  About a half hour after the sunset, my teaching partner and I headed out…and looked out toward the end of the hall and saw the most incredible colors in the sky.  Brilliant oranges sat on the deep turquoise sea, and even as I took the time to snap a few images I knew that my camera would not do justice to the intensity of the colors.

late at work bonus

And here is one more, looking across the field at the baseball backstop with the ocean just beyond.

plsyground afterglow

How has the time change impacted you?  What are you seeing and capturing in your photos that are because of the time change?  My pictures happen to take place as the sun went down, but I can imagine that the morning light is also different, changing what you see.

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

How did you take advantage of your extra hour?  What are you noticing now that our days are shorter and our nights longer?  I look forward to seeing the time change through your lens!


Playing with Constraints: Twitter Memoir

There is something about constraints that create conditions for creativity…especially when I’m just getting started with something.  Jeremy, a colleague over at the NWP iAnthology last week offered as a writing prompt an invitation to write a memoir in 140 characters…a tweet!  Here’s his directions:

One of the activities that I have my students do is something called a Twitter Memoir. It is a way for me to scaffold with my students on writing memoirs. We slowly build from 140 characters to 25 word memoirs, then 50 word memoirs. Finally they write their full blown memoir about a personal experience in their life. Many of my students are not on Twitter, but as I am introducing this exercise, I get a few to sign-up. I don’t require my students to be on Twitter because I have a Tweet board in my classroom where they can post their Twitter Memoirs.

So, I challenge you this week to write a short 140 character memoir. It does not have to be on Twitter. For the sake of simplicity let’s just write them here at the iAnthology. Also, if you want to know more about this process you can check out the book Troy Hicks and I co-authored titled Create, Compose, Connect. Have a blast doing this, my students do!

I was intrigued by the idea of a memoir in 140 characters and spent some time composing.  I was able to whittle down to 140 characters…but realized that I wouldn’t have room for hashtags if I used all the allowed characters.  So I trimmed some more hoping to get down to a point where I could include a hashtag like #ce14 (for connected educator month) or #digiwrimo (for digital writing month).  I finally posted this Twitter memoir in the iAnthology prompt space, I wasn’t able to get the characters quite small enough for the hashtags I wanted to include.

Here it is.  It includes 138 characters (spaces, punctuation, and letters)…and it happens to be exactly 25 words, so it fits two of the criteria Jeremy set out.

With phone in hand I explore my world, snapping photos, collecting thoughts & ideas, searching for new vantages. Through images I connect.

And of course, it wouldn’t be complete without a photo!  (This one is from an urban hike on Sunday…just beyond my neighborhood.)

Bare Tree

What will your Twitter memoir say about you?  Can you craft it to include a mere 140 characters?  I’d love to see yours…on your blog or on Twitter!  (You can find me @kd0602)  I’m going to tweet this post that includes my Twitter memoir…and include some of my hashtags along with the link.  I hope you’ll share yours with me too!

As the Sun Descends

The days are shorter and finally cooler.  The crisp of fall rides the air currents and shoes and socks are beginning to replace weekend flip flops.  Rain (finally!) pelted the parched ground overnight and clouds still gather, hunched over the horizon, adding texture to our often cloudless, pure blue skies.

beachside clouds at sunset

As the sun continued its descent, the seabirds played on the breeze, cruising the currents, darting and dancing with seeming delight at the change in the weather.

clouds near sunset with gull

Dipping into the sea, the sun takes the day away and lets night in.  The smell of bonfires mixes with the briny sea air, the glow of the fires becomes visible as the cloak of darkness wraps the sky.

sunset with gull

I pull my sweatshirt hood up, zip to my chin, and snuggle close to my honey.  It’s cold…at least by San Diego standards.  Finishing its descent, the sun leaves a glow on the horizon and signals time to head home to its watchers.  And tonight will also mark our time change, falling back from daylight savings time to standard time.  We’ll have short days and long nights to look forward to for the next couple of months.  Welcome fall…and daylight’s descent toward winter.

last minutes of sun