Monthly Archives: September 2015

Some of My Favorite Things: October’s Photo-a-Day Challenge

More than three years into participating in photo-a-day challenges, the taking and posting of daily photos has become a firmly ingrained habit (my husband often calls it an obsession!).  I create a new challenge each month to keep myself challenged and to invite others to play along with me.  Some months I notice that I mostly ignore the prompts (that I created) and post whatever strikes my fancy.

So I thought we’d try something a bit different this month.  Let’s just focus on our favorite things…images that reach out and grab your attention.  But…let’s challenge ourselves to use a variety of different approaches/techniques each week.

During each week, work through the following seven approaches…in any order.

  1. Black and white
  2. Use a filter
  3. Use the rule of thirds (or simply avoid the middle)–what happens when you frame your subject off center?
  4. Use a natural frame
  5. Experiment with light
  6. Use leading lines—frame your shot by letting the natural lines (fences, roads, walls…) direct the viewer’s eye
  7. Get close

So…to get you thinking, here are few of my most recent favorite things!

Here’s the super moon eclipse, using the rule of thirds and no filter.  It became nearly impossible to photograph as it got darker…but it was pretty right before the light faded away.


I got up close to this little crab.  I love the brilliant colors…and playing with my new iPhone camera!


The archway at the Griffith Observatory made a natural frame for the Hollywood sign in the distance.


The soft light and shadow caught my eye as I spied this unusual flower growing along a fence on a walk to the beach.


The reflection of the sun on the water creates a leading line that also highlights the lines of the waves and the clouds.  Straight lines and curves playing together.


And because I love to break my own rules, here’s one that shows action.  It’s not on the list…but I love the play of the splash on the rocks–it doesn’t need a filter in my opinion!


As always, our challenge will allow us to learn from each other as we shoot our own photos and study the photos others shoot. Remember, each week try a different technique each day…you can follow the seven above in order, mix them up, and/or invent your own like I did. 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 can’t wait to see some of your favorite things…and share lots more of my own!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Manmade

I love spending time outside, appreciating the breathtaking beauty of nature.  The brilliant blues of the waves crashing on the shore, bees buzzing near vibrant blossoms, colorful sunsets and more…  Yet, sometimes I find myself in places where nature’s beauty takes a backseat and I find myself noticing interesting manmade creations.

Last week I had the opportunity to visit the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles.  It wasn’t nighttime, so I didn’t get to star gaze and experience the telescope…but the building is spectacular!


The beautiful sunny day created a perfect backdrop for the architecture of this building.  And from another angle, you can see the dome that houses the telescope.


Indoors, there are many informative exhibits–open to the public, free of charge, everyday!  From the Foucault’s pendulum to the design of the windows, this is an extraordinary place.


While I didn’t get to go in where the current telescope operates, this “retired” version was on display. I am struck by its intricacies and beauty!


And looking out from the park, you can see the LA skyline from one side and then spy the iconic Hollywood sign in the other direction.


And sometimes interesting isn’t necessarily beautiful.  A trip to LA is almost always accompanied by traffic–and this trip was no different.  But since I wasn’t the driver this time around, I could take some photos out the window.  I was interested in watching the train that traversed the freeway…although the moving car didn’t allow me the best angle!


So take a look around for photos that feature the manmade.  Where do you find manmade beauty or objects of interest?  Is it in the architecture?  In the technology or transportation available?  Something right in front of your eyes that you hadn’t paid attention to?

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

Take a look at the manmade this week…what do you notice?  I can’t wait to experience manmade (or womanmade) through your lens!

Wordless Books and the Power of Words

Yesterday we embarked on a study of graphic novels in our classroom by reading Owly and Wormy Friends All Aflutter by Andy Runton.

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This picture book is a nice entry into the world of graphic novels for our young students–even though it may not technically fit into the definition of graphic novel.

Our students aren’t new to reading wordless books, last year we delighted in the wordless books of Flashilight and Inside Outside by Lizi Boyd (you can read about these adventures in a post by my teaching partner here).

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So there were no surprises yesterday when we began to read about Owly and Wormy.  Our older students were eager to “read” as we turned pages under the document camera, and it wasn’t long before our young students began to join in, volunteering their own readings.

Wordless books, and particularly those with a graphic format, allow confident readers to emerge–even if they are still struggling with decoding print.  Our students showed off their wealth of symbolic knowledge–recognizing that a four leaf clover in a speech bubble is a message of good luck and that a light bulb represents a new idea.

Imagine my delight when one of our first grade boys raised his hand…with two things to share. He quickly pointed out that this book was filled with verbs.  You might wonder what he was thinking…this is a wordless book.  But I knew that we had been working with vivacious verbs last week, using George Ella Lyon’s All the Water in the World and Thomas Locker’s Water Dance as mentor texts for this year’s first attempt at poetry.  As I asked this student about the verbs in the book, he pointed out that Owly and Wormy were reading, sleeping, planting…  It was obvious that he understands verbs!  (And I wish I had recorded the actual verbs he pointed out…they were better than my memory!)  I don’t remember the second thing he shared–it was relevant–but not as exciting as his noticing of verbs in a wordless book!

We’ll continue our study of graphic novels, focusing on the features as we connect back to Owly and Wormy and also to Julia’s House for Lost Creatures by Ben Hatke (a hybrid graphic novel/picture book that we read the first week of school to talk about what we needed to do to get along as a community).

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And we’ll take our study further as we explore Hatke’s latest graphic novel, The Little Robot as a class read aloud.

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The more I read wordless books and graphic novels, the more I am intrigued by the power of images and the resulting power of words that my students bring to our conversations about these rich, complex, and layered books.

What are your favorite wordless books and graphic novels to use with students?  For yourself?

Beach Hues: Monochromatic

The beach offers me endless inspiration, stimulating my senses with the light, the life, the variety…and the sameness.

The ocean and the shoreline is an endless variety of blues, whites, and grays.  Some days the colors are vibrant and fully saturated, other days, they are muted–layering hues of a single color in subtle textures like this image of a seagull taking flight toward the wave rolling in.


Sometimes the sky is reflected in the wetness of the ground.  Clouds to walk in, waves to walk in…echoes of each other.


And look up and see the clouds like waves, a backdrop for a tiny airplane, perhaps a biplane, awash in blue and white.


It is the monochromatics of the beach that help me see texture, that force me to look closely to notice the daily changes and the endless variety of the cliffs, the waves, the sky, the shoreline…


Light and angle–twin photography tools–teach me about seeing and finding the beauty in the extraordinary sameness of the beach.