Monthly Archives: November 2015

Looking Closely to Look Back: December’s Photo-a-Day Challenge

We’ve reached the twelfth month, the last of the calendar year.  Traditionally, it’s a time for reflection, of taking stock of the year in order to make progress in the new year.

So…what if we look to the world around us, paying careful attention to what is currently in front of us–and use those images and related thinking to look back, to reflect on the year?

Just last week I had the opportunity to watch some college students dance (many thanks to my niece, a dance major).  Their energy and passion were obvious–and contagious!  Looking at this image reminds me that we are not attached to the the ground…we are also in flight, ready to follow our imagination.

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We tell ourselves so many stories–including stories that fuel our frustration and impatience.  Sometimes we need to reframe a story, view it from a new perspective to change our feelings and perceptions. Traffic can be a pain…or an opportunity depending on how your look at it.

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And sometimes doors don’t look like doors.  They might just be spaces you haven’t noticed before.  I’m determined to ride the train to Los Angeles one day soon…and this image will remind me to include this on my to-do list.

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Those quiet moments of waiting and watching sometimes pay off in a beautiful photo, but always fill my heart with wonder and joy…even when the photo doesn’t happen.  I get just enough rewards like this one to remind me to stop, listen, watch, enjoy what is right in front of me.

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I see dozens and dozens and dozens of seagulls–at the beach, when I drive down the freeway, at school–and yet I never tire of them.  There is a certain elegance about taking flight, gliding on the currents, and over the currents (and waves) below.  Does anyone remember reading Jonathan Livingston Seagull back in the day?

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Going to different places means seeing things that are familiar…and well, ordinary.  I like to notice the new…the magnificent architecture, the iconic art…but sometimes find myself snapping a photo of the familiar, like this walk sign.  (Now I find myself wondering if walk signs are really the same all over, maybe I need to take some more photos of them!  This one is from Minneapolis.)

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And then there is light.  Sometimes it is sunlight, sometimes moonlight…and sometimes a wonderful art piece that is all about light.  Add dark to the light and the camera creates effects that are even more interesting, reminding me that we can’t always capture images as we see them…sometimes they create themselves right in our own hands in front of our eyes.

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To get you started, here are some prompts for the month:

  1. Spaces
  2. Places
  3. Movement
  4. Relationships
  5. Home
  6. Outdoors
  7. Family
  8. Story
  9. Favorite
  10. Gift
  11. Memory
  12. Dozen
  13. Night
  14. Nature
  15. Quiet
  16. Rhythm
  17. Sharp
  18. Warmth
  19. Flame
  20. Moment
  21. Light
  22. Sky
  23. Doors
  24. Ground
  25. Celebration
  26. Water
  27. Delicious
  28. Hands
  29. Reflect
  30. Dance
  31. New

As always, our challenge will allow us to learn from each other as we shoot our own photos and study the photos others shoot. The prompts are there to help you pay attention to your world and reflect on the year and your experiences. You can use them in order or pick and choose as you like–you are welcome to add a new prompt into the mix if you are so moved. 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.

Let’s look closely to look back and move forward as we bring 2015 to a close.  Enjoy the winter holidays, whatever version you celebrate, and let your camera help you find the joy and wonder of the season.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Through the Window

Family is everything.  And sometimes you do crazy things to make sure you can spend time with your loved ones.  Like battling Los Angeles traffic on the day before Thanksgiving, knowing that the drive that should take between 90 minutes and 2 hours will likely be at least double that.

We left early in the morning on our way up to LA, well before sunrise, and were treated to a huge and gorgeous full moon sitting over the Pacific ocean as it got ready to set.  I would have loved to have had time to park at the beach and try to capture this rare moon viewing through my camera lens, but this was a day for travel.  And since I wasn’t driving, I pulled out my camera and did my best to shoot through the car window.  In the dark, my camera shutter was slow–and the car was fast (yay…no traffic yet!), creating a streaking and blurring effect.  I was delighted to find this abstract portrayal of light as I shot the moon.

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After a wonderful day with my son and daughter-in-law, we got back in the car to head back home knowing that traffic would be heavy–but wanting to get home not too late so my husband could start baking his pies for Thanksgiving.  And heavy was an understatement.  After inching along the I5 for about 30 minutes and covering less than 10 miles, we decided to let Google maps on my phone take us on an adventure.

As we moved from one freeway to the next, we glimpsed views of downtown LA, watched airplanes and helicopters in their own freeway in the air, and noticed public transport rolling by on raised platforms.  All along the way I pointed my lens out the window, trying to capture the interesting and beautiful things that caught my eye.

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With the drought on our minds, we’ve been noticing the aqueduct system running below the power lines.  Without the ability to stop and frame shots, I had to focus and shoot quickly hoping that I captured the image I was envisioning.  This is my personal favorite, a serendipity of light and shadow and composition.

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Part of the time we found ourselves on city streets, deep in an industrial area.  Street art decorated the walls of buildings–some sanctioned (like the mural on the Farmer John compound) and some probably not. As I looked up, I noticed the graffiti-laden train overpasses and snapped a few more shots.

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Heading onto yet another freeway (we found numbers we didn’t even know existed in Southern California!), I noticed tons of white birds sitting in a nearly empty aqueduct.  Since I couldn’t see over the railing, I shot through the cement openings hoping to capture what I was seeing below. I’m pretty happy with the effect!

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As the sun began to sink, the sky took on a gentle glow, silhouetting another of the miles of power towers that line the freeways.

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And while our adventures in LA were fun and interesting, we were not alone or without traffic. Brake lights glowed red, lighting up the freeway like Christmas decorations.

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Our trip ended much like it began as we watched the full, huge moon rise into the sky.  It played hide and seek, first with the buildings and overpasses and later with the clouds.

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It’s hard to know whether our “fastest route” actually saved us any time (we’re guessing we saved about 30 minutes), and it certainly wasn’t fast.  But it was such a relief to keep moving and not spend hours inching in stop and go freeway traffic.  We explored, we chatted, we noticed, and I took photos.  We arrived home tired, yet relaxed.  And we might just try that choose your own adventure route through LA again someday.  There is so much to see when you take the time to look through the window.

So…what are you seeing through the window these days?  Is it a car window, your house, or someplace else?  Or is it a metaphorical window–the space between stormy weather conditions, phases of activity in your life, the break between holidays?

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

What are you seeing through the window?  Take out your camera and give us a glimpse through your lens!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Place

I appreciate the opportunity to travel and explore new places, although many of my travels are work-related and involve long hours of meetings in hotels that look very much like the ones in other cities.
Spending time in downtowns means lots of time looking up. Buildings are tall and the whole world seems framed in them. Downtown Minneapolis is no different than most urban cities, skyscrapers rise up overseeing the traffic, the tourists, the business people, and the homeless. Steel and glass giants rub shoulders with their smaller, older cousins who hold the memories of days gone by.

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Cities stay up late, lighting up the night sky. Looking out the window of a hotel room brings the city up close, winking and twinkling with seemingly endless energy. I thrive in this environment…for a few days, then long for home and my familiar spaces and rhythms.

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And yet, even in this urban space, I can find nature peeking through. The moon played hide and seek in the clouds last night as we headed out for dinner, framed by the bare trees.

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And even as I waited…and waited in the Denver airport on my trip here, I could glimpse the mountains in the distance, already dressed in a layer of white.

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I love exploring a place and thinking about how the pieces fit together and shape the lives of those who live there. And I love exploring my own place too–understanding the familiar as I examine it through my camera lens.
So this week, what place is calling you? Are you visiting family or friends to share a Thanksgiving meal or to appreciate those you love? Are you staying home–and looking at the familiar in a new way?
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 #place for this week and include @nwpianthology in your post.
Take a look around at the place you happen to be this week…and share a glimpse through your lens.

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Service

This week was Veteran’s Day–that odd mid-week holiday to honor our service members from all branches of the military.  It seems to be a day of lots of free breakfasts, lunches, and coffee for veterans…a few parades and some visits to cemeteries for some people.  And I found myself thinking about the idea of service.

My dad is a Vietnam vet.  He served in the navy as a medical corpsman.  His high school diploma and military training allowed him to take care of all of the medical needs of a ship full of servicemen.  He was gone for months at a time when I was a young child and made the decision to leave the navy while I was still in elementary school.  It’s obvious that his years in the military made a lasting mark on his life…and I am proud to honor him for his service to our country.  I couldn’t resist taking a photo of this old snapshot that hangs in a photo collage on the wall.  Taken before I was born, this shows my parents as 19 year-olds, shortly before their wedding.  It was this #digiwrimo blog post by Michelle Pacansky-Brock that sent me in search of the photograph…there is so much about photos that evoke stories and memories and emotions.

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And then I started looking around and thinking about service…how do I express service in a photograph?  I know that I take my car’s service for granted–expecting it to take me where I need to go, to work when I turn the key.  I had a couple of days last week when the sensors in my car signaled that my car was not functioning as usual…and I was lucky, thanks to my husband, that a visit to the mechanic took care of the problems.  But even the little things like the rear-view mirrors are tools whose service I depend on.  I use them regularly, not always appreciating the service they provide.

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I spent my day off from work in LA with my son.  We spent time exploring LA’s new art museum (that will be another post) and then wandered into downtown Burbank to explore an industrial area.  I noticed this padlock, another of those ordinary tools that provide an important service.

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I was surprised to find the drainage canal with water in it.  We are already getting a hint of the potential of the expected El Nino conditions–and these canals will be of great service if we get the rain that is being predicted.

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And there’s that dreaded freeway, unpredictable, persistently overcrowded…except in the early afternoon on a holiday.  The 5 spans the state…a major north-south route.  It can make my travels to see my sons easy–or a nightmare!  Veteran’s Day was a good travel day on the 5.

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These old telephone poles are becoming a thing of the past.  And just below them are some large tanks emitting some kind of smoke or steam.  I’m not certain about the need for the service these items provide but they are an interesting find just outside a suburban neighborhood.

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So where do you see service?  Will you photograph people: the local grocer, your favorite barista, the fireman you hope you never need?  Or will you look to things: your car tire?  The stove burner? The stoplight that keeps traffic moving smoothly?

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

How will you depict service?  I’m looking forward to seeing service through your lens!