Monthly Archives: July 2016

Weekly Photo Challenge: Sound

I tend to be drawn to silence, those quiet spaces where my mind can wander while my feet move. But it’s summer in San Diego, crowds gather and space becomes a premium.  The sounds of the waves are dwarfed by the screams of delight as kids rush into the cool, salty waves, families laughing and talking over chips and sandwiches, and the loudspeaker of the lifeguards reminding swimmers to stay in the zones deemed safe from the dangerous rip currents.

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But early in the morning, the quiet remains. The beach is mostly empty, wide open for exploration and introspection. Damp morning air kisses my cheeks as my feet delight in the almost warm summer surf.  (I did say almost–probably not warmer than 68 degrees!)

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I notice others who revel in the sounds of the morning beach too. A seagull tucks his head as I appreciate the mirror-like effect of the wet sand.

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I wonder about the sounds the surfers hear as they ride the waves.  Are their ears filled with the whoosh and roar of waves and water?  Or is there an exquisite quiet that happens when the waves wash away sounds from the shore?

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And what is the sound of dilemma?  Rock or surf or smile?  You pick which direction to head!

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I can hear the sounds of conversation in these windows, fun artistic silhouettes I found in these warehouse buildings.

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So…take a look around for sounds.  Sounds of silence, of delight, of pain, of loneliness, of summer–you decide.

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

Listen with your eyes this week–what sounds do you hear and how will you represent them in your photographs?  Be sure to share…I can’t wait to hear your sounds with my eyes!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Appreciating the Ordinary

Some weeks just don’t lend themselves to extraordinary photography. Now I’m not complaining about my week–it’s been fun and busy, with lots of writing and thinking as we complete week two of our 4-week SDAWP Summer Institute.

Sunsets are not always a sure thing here on the coast–night and morning low clouds can interfere with sun sightings.  Last weekend, we decided to risk it and headed to the beach near sunset.  We were treated to some pretty orange as the sun dipped low.  If you look closely you might noticed the pelicans in the upper left corner flying through the frame.

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It’s not unusual to see these flying billboards–banners attached to small planes that buzz the coastline mostly advertising alcoholic beverages.  I noticed these two different planes flying by and saw that they would cross paths right overhead.  They were not dangerously close, but I’m glad they were paying attention to each other!

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We’re pretty fortunate that the beach we frequent is mostly free of garbage in spite of the heavy usage, especially in the summer.  Balloon trash is pervasive though.  This balloon looks to have been around for awhile–with most of the words worn off.  The #Litterati movement (and my friend Janis) reminds us to pick up trash where we find it and dispose of it properly.  I love the sky and the sea in this unfiltered photo, there’s something about the clouds and the sea foam of the waves that creates a texture and an echo.

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The walk from the parking lot to the building where the SI takes place each day can be both ordinary and interesting.  I noticed these two small orange birds as they perched on the sign near the sidewalk where I walk. Using the app Colorsplash, I turned the photo to black and white and then allowed the bird color to remain in my hopes of highlighting them.

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I was reminded of the power of nature…even just a tree in a parking lot…to affect my mood.  Rachel Carson’s quote captures the jolt of strength and sense of oasis that I experience when I look up through the leaves of the tree.

“Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature—the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter.”
— Rachel Carson

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The practice of noticing makes an incredible difference in my life.  The photos I take capture only a fraction of what I notice, and noticing helps me appreciate the little things in the ordinariness of my life. So take a look around, how might you view the ordinary in new and more appreciative ways?

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

What will you find when you pause to appreciate the ordinary?  I can’t wait to find out!

 

I Used to Be…

Summer is the time for the San Diego Area Writing Project (SDAWP) Summer Institute (SI), a place where a group of teachers (K-16) dives deeply into the teaching of writing.  Part of that experience means sharing an aspect of your own teaching practice through a demo lesson.  Today’s lesson, presented by Nicole, invited the group to consider the idea of change…I used to be, but now I am.  As I considered that prompt I was reminded of an experience a few weeks ago during our visit to the Pacific Northwest.

My eyes scanned the horizon, I was hoping against hope that I would spy a whale out on the Puget Sound. Would I see an orca breaching or a humpback emerging for one of those infrequent breaths? That endless blue remained endless, unbroken by emerging whales.

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As we neared Victoria by ferry, my attention was drawn to the sky. I heard that familiar buzzing that I recognize as an airplane. But wait! This wasn’t the usual biplane or other small plane I am accustomed to seeing off the coast at home. The plane clearly had something on the bottom of it…pontoons. This was a seaplane and I watched it bank and turn, get lower and lower until it was right above the water and at that moment transformed from a plane to a boat.

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Walking around Victoria after leaving the ferry, I kept noticing these seaplanes taking off and landing. Standing on a bridge, I noticed one land nearby and braved the conversation with my husband. “How much do you think they charge for a ride in a seaplane?” He replied in his typical, “It’s probably more than $250 a person” fashion. And then made a comment that I continue to think about. “Why do you ask? You wouldn’t want to ride in one anyway.” I pursued the idea, “Let’s go find out!” A walk down onto the pier led to a miniature airport where we found a seaplane airline offering flights into Seattle and Vancouver…and tours of Victoria. It wasn’t long before we had our boarding passes and a boarding time.

So why did he think I wouldn’t want to tour the island in a seaplane? I do admit to a fierce fear of heights. I’m reluctant to walk to the edge of a railing, to look over the edge of a cliff, even to watch someone else do those things. My hands sweat watching people scale heights on TV! But in spite of that fear, I have been climbing higher and working to endure the discomfort in order to appreciate the thrill and view that heights have to offer. Last summer I stood 103 stories up on a clear plexiglass platform in the building formerly known as Sears Tower in Chicago…and that was after a Ferris wheel ride view of the city from Navy Pier the day before. I’ve been hiking up mountainsides and inching closer to the edges of railings on rooftops and bridges.

And I’ve taken a seaplane tour of Victoria! Seatbelted in the plane wasn’t fear invoking at all—it felt much like a commercial airline flight, only better. The small plane meant I had both a window and aisle seat—and plenty of opportunity to see the island from a variety of angles.

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From the plane I had a breathtaking view of the beauty and variety that Victoria has to offer.

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I’m working to change my narrative from fearful to risk-taking. I’ve even been toying with the idea of skydiving…just once, for the experience, inspired by Esther who skydived for her 80th birthday. But for now I’ll just keep inching closer to the edge (and carry a small towel to wipe those telltale sweaty hands!).  So…I used to be afraid of heights, but now, even though I’m still afraid, I’ll keep climbing!

 

Blog Birthday: A Reflection

Reblogging this reflection on the first anniversary of my blog. Reminds me about the importance of paying attention to the little things. Would
Love to hear your Hughes and reflections too!

Thinking Through My Lens

Today marks one year since I began this blog.  I began with a 30 day blogging challenge for myself–creating an urgency to blog every day for 30 days in a row.  And in retrospect, that was a smart move to help me establish a habit of writing every day, day in and day out, even when I wasn’t feeling like I had anything to say.  In the last 365 days, I posted a blog post 293 of them…that’s a little over 80% of the days in the year!

This morning I had plans to read all 293 posts and then create some kind of reflection based on that reading.  And while I think it’s a good idea to go back and read all my posts, I only managed to get through the first 30 days before my life called and I was off to the beach and running those errands…

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Spiky

My week has been a whirlwind…a lovely long weekend in the Pacific Northwest followed by the beginning of the SDAWP Summer Institute. And in spite of the hectic nature of my re-entry into work life, interesting images swirl in my brain.

With a few hours in the morning before our flight back home, we decided to visit the Chihuly Glass Museum in Seattle City Center.  I’d heard good things about it, but the experience far exceeded my expectations.  The glass sculptures were exquisite!  This large spiky piece fits perfectly into the outline of the atrium structure behind it.

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And the gardens were a perfect complement to the glass, plants and flowers matched in color and shape to the sculptures they accompanied. I fell in love with these unfamiliar flowers, their spiky petals seemed to attract the bees, creating a buzzing, moving tableau.

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And not knowing the name of these flowers, they remind me of artichokes…perhaps a part of the spiky thistle family…that was also a part of my dinner tonight!

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But I digress…  On the same grounds as the glass museum was the iconic Seattle Space Needle, an interesting spiky structure.  I didn’t head up to the top this time, but took a number of pictures from below.  This particular picture was taken from afar while riding the ferry from Bainbridge Island into the city.

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We also found these whimsical interactive oversized spiky flowers…called Sonic Bloom…near the glass museum.  When you walk near them they interact with your presence, creating sounds as you move.  But even in silence, they are fun, bright and definitely brought a smile to my face.

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So take a look around for the spiky this week.

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

Look up, down and all around in search of spiky.  Where will you find protrusions to share?  I look forward to seeing what you find!