Monthly Archives: August 2015

Weekly Photo Challenge: Underfoot

As I walk along the shoreline, I can feel the grains of sand under my feet.  Along some stretches the sand feels smooth, almost like quicksand where my heels sink in the sponginess of the saturated  surface.  The sandpipers see this place as their seaside restaurant, poking their long beaks deep into the sand for a meal.

IMG_6416

Some places are firm…firm enough for bike riding when the tide is low, with surfboards secured in sidecars to make them easy to transport.

IMG_6417

Sometimes that sand underfoot can be scooped up to create magnificent castles, complete with moats and and a seashell flag on top.

IMG_6452

Other times what’s under your feet is floating on the surface of the water.

IMG_6453

When the tide is high, there’s not much place for feet at all…and even the lifeguards have to be careful that they can get their vehicles through as the tide rises.

IMG_6454

And where are the feet that belong to these shoes?  Probably out cooling off in the Pacific Ocean…the perfect summer solution for underfoot!

IMG_6455

So what is underfoot in your life this week?  Capture the surface your feet find themselves walking on this week, or maybe these things–physically or metaphorically–that seem to be tripping you up.

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

My feet seem drawn to the sand…where are you finding your feet?  I look forward to seeing how you interpret underfoot through your lens!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Endless

There is an endless quality to summer, especially those hot days in August.  Endless sunshine, endless heat, endless time…well, not that.  Time still seems to run too fast and I already see the end of that rare unstructured time.

But I have some other images of endless…this one from our local beach where I detoured on my way home yesterday after being stuck in what seemed like endless traffic.  I love the sun going down behind the lifeguard and his vehicle, with silhouettes of the beachgoers in the background.  This seems like a classic image of endless summer.

IMG_6398

And there is the endless mirror-like smoothness of the water that when the light is just right, reflects both color and figures like in this photo of the cliffs reflected along the shore along with the sandpiper.

IMG_6397

Who can resist the endless sweet and saltiness of Garrett’s popcorn?  After trying it while I was in downtown Chicago, I had to seek it out at the O’Hare airport and get “one for the road.” Endless yummy!

IMG_6357

There is this quirky little park not far from where I live that once belonged to an old time movie star named Leo Carillo.  The park features some historic structures, wide open spaces…and peacocks!  Peacocks are endlessly fascinating to me…tall and graceful…and loud!  There are tons of them there, all descendants of the peacocks that Leo Carillo loved and nurtured.

IMG_6377

I was so surprised when I noticed the peacock in the trees.  And as much as I wanted the amazing photo of the peacock in the tree, I love the way this photo captures the range of colors I saw–including the colorful plumage of the peacock.

IMG_6374

Bees are in endless motion, seemingly never at rest.  I found these guys doing their pollination work on a colorful bird of paradise.

IMG_6373

And of course, there is the endless curiosity of cats.  Phil and Jack, even in their golden years, never let anything new go unexplored.  Here they are camped out on the new printer that arrived to replace the one than gave up the ghost last week (right when we needed it most, of course).  This new one even prints from my phone!  Endless innovation!

IMG_6393

So what seems endless in your life right now?  Endless outdoor play?  Endless picnics and fresh squeezed lemonade?  Endless preparation for the new school year?

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

The dog days of summer are upon us…look around for evidence of endless. Endless might be literal or figurative…or maybe a wish for more illusions of endless.  Take some shots and share them!  I’m looking forward to seeing endless through your lens!

Architecture as Inspiration

As I walked around Chicago last week I found myself looking up.  The buildings are tall and dramatic and command attention.  They reflect, they shine, they tower, they beckon.  And I noticed them in all their variety.

This billboard caught my eye, especially with the skyscrapers rising behind it, and I stopped to snap a photo.

DSC06018

And I started thinking about architecture and its implications.  I hadn’t thought about architecture as a conversation–across time or otherwise.  I notice architecture and have written about it before in some different ways including this post, but hadn’t thought about how architects consider existing structures when they design new buildings.  Chicago is such an interesting collection of old and new, with more classical pieces from the past standing shoulder to shoulder with the new and shiny.

DSC06038

I hadn’t thought about how space…whether the building fills the entire lot or allows space for people to walk in courtyards and open spaces below and between…can either make a city feel crowded and cramped,

DSC06572

or open and airy.

DSC06527

Or that reflections of other buildings can feel welcoming, like trying on what it feels like to walk in another’s shoes.

DSC06511

Or that echoing aspects of a previous and nearby architecture honors and acknowledges that structure as the field also moves forward (and up)!

DSC06566

Some buildings seem to take us back in time,

DSC06612

and some take us back into history.

DSC06714

And as I write this, I am beginning to see those conversations across time.  I am also seeing the ways that architects can ensure that newcomers are good neighbors and find ways to embrace the old while looking forward to the future.

DSC06678

Can architectural decisions change the ways we interact with each other?  Do those tall buildings whisper in our ears, reminding us to be good neighbors, to learn from our past, to reach out and welcome change?  Inspiration can come in may forms…including the buildings around us.

In the words of Winston Churchill,

We shape our buildings; thereafter they shape us.

I know that architecture and interesting buildings inspire my photography…and now I am thinking about how it also inspires the ways we live, especially in big cities. Now I need to take some time and wander my own city center and explore its architecture more carefully!

Savoring Summer: August’s Photo-A-Day Challenge

It’s so easy to barrel through life, focused on all the tasks there are to do, checking things off on the mental to-do list, looking ahead and planning ahead…and missing what is right in front of you.  My camera helps a bit, when I am taking pictures I tend to slow down, look closely, consider angles and light…and I also seem to notice sounds and textures, smells and even tastes because I am paying attention.

I recently read something about a savoring walkit was part of a post about ways to practice gratitude, but I was immediately drawn to it as a way to pay attention and really experience the moments in front of me.  In their explanation, you should take a walk for 20 minutes each day and notice as many positive things as you can using any and all of your senses.  They encourage you to acknowledge each of these in your mind–truly savor them–don’t just let them slip away.

This struck me as an interesting way to consider taking photos.  How could a photo account for an experience I noticed with my sense of smell?  I could document that sweet candy smell that permeated the area when I walked into Dylan’s Candy Bar in Chicago by sharing my picture of the giant lollypops that hung overhead, and looking back at it would bring me back and help me remember and savor that experience.

IMG_6265

Walking through Millennium Park I noticed the flowers blooming, and when I moved closer I could hear the soft buzz of bees at work.  My husband is always reminding me to be careful, there’s bees there.  But I love to lean close and watch these fascinating creatures hum…they never seem to be still.  The macro lens is my friend when it comes to bees, helping me savor these buzzy moments!

IMG_6345

As I motored up the river on an architectural tour, the buildings were the main focus of attention.  And they deserve attention!  They come in all shapes and sizes–tall boxes, some with exoskeletons, some made up of triangles. These corn cob shaped ones are quite distinctive, with their layered rounded edges creating interesting and unique textures you can almost feel with your eyes.

IMG_6295

And as I attended to the buildings, I noticed all the window washers hanging off the sides of these metal and glass giants!  Even after my fear-conquering trip up Sears Tower, I’m sure I wouldn’t like hanging off the sides of tall buildings as my work! I wonder how many window washers are employed in Chicago?

IMG_6344

And sometimes savoring is all about standing back and taking the broad view.  I savored this moment looking across the Chicago Institute of Art and noticing my husband taking a photo of the Chicago skyline through the long lines of the Art Institute windows.

IMG_6233

A ferris wheel?  Yep, an iconic landmark…and a fun way to enjoy the view of the lake and the city.  And as we stood in line to buy a ticket, I noticed that I could see the cityscape framed in silhouette through the wheel…another moment worth savoring!

IMG_6228

Shoulder to shoulder with thousands and thousands of locals and tourists, I enjoyed an evening at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion watching the taping of the NPR show, Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me with some NWP friends.  There was a sense of community and warm summer night relaxation in spite of the large crowd.  People were friendly, laughter flowed, and fun was had by all!

IMG_6329

And the festivities continued into the evening as the smell of wet concrete mixed with the glow of the blue moon and the lights of the city to create the perfect nightscape for summer play.  It was fun to watch these young people invent games to entertain themselves as they cooled off and enjoyed a warm July evening.

IMG_6336

So take some time to savor summer throughout the month of August, slow down and go beyond your eyes to use all your senses as you notice and appreciate your world.  Here’s some prompts to get your started.

1. Sweet

2. Whisper

3. Smooth

4. Salty

5. Textured

6. Up

7. Complex

8. Layers

9. Loud

10. Crinkly

11. Below

12. Constant

13. Sweaty

14. Rhythm

15. Slick

16. Rough

17. Fresh

18. Down

19. Squished

20. Sharp

21. Melodic

22. Savory

23. Wet

24. Blue

25. Distant

26. Crisscrossed

27. Soft

28. Rolling

29. Transparent

30. Spin

31. Refreshing

Our challenge will allow us to learn from each other as we shoot our own photos and study the photos others shoot. Every day of the month includes a word prompt to inspire and challenge you as you savor your experiences . You are welcome to follow them in order, mix them up, or throw in a new word prompt for the rest of us to try. You can post every day, once a week, or even sporadically throughout the month…whatever works in your life.

Be sure to share and tag your photos with #sdawpphotovoices so we can find them! You can share on Twitter (follow me @kd0602), on Instagram (@kd0602), in the CLMOOC community on G+, on Flickr, or even link back to my blog here.

I’m looking forward to seeing how you savor your summer experiences…through your lens!