Monthly Archives: December 2016

Weekly Photo Challenge: Best of 2016

The year is winding down, we can count the hours until the ball drops and 2017 enters.  That also makes it a perfect time for reflection…and a bit of curation of this year’s photos. Instagram is helping folks out this year…creating a #2016bestnine collection based on the number of likes your photos got.  Interestingly, my best nine according to Instagram did not make my best five I had culled to share here.  Don’t get me wrong, I like these photos and I’m excited that they are not all beach photos!  There are two images from UCSD, one from Atlanta and one from Tucson…and even one that I stopped my car and took a photo on a street near my neighborhood.

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I actually picked these photos for another reason…as my contribution to Bonnie’s annual year end video compilation (I’ll add the link once she publishes it on her blog).  She asked for photos and captions to represent myself.  I have found tremendous peace in nature this year, noticing the beauty and experiencing the wonders of the natural world.  I love this moss covered branch that I spotted on a walk around the reservoir when visiting my grandsons in the Bay Area earlier this fall.

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“Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.” John Muir

Many of my photos evoke connections to my precious grandsons…three 10 month old boys, sons of my two sons.  (You can read about my anticipation of their births here.) I take many photos of them, but none will appear on social media because of my sons’ request that I not post.  But I carry them in my mind and heart constantly.  When I saw this “found heart” on a prickly pear cactus, I loved the idea of the spines protecting the heart from danger.  I’m not sure I have those prickly spines protecting my heart–but I know that I will do anything to protect those sweet boys!  (I had them in my arms this week–and am already missing them terribly!)

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I love the ordinariness and simplicity of the dandelion.  I’ve taken many photos and written many posts focused on them.  This particular dandelion caught my attention as I walked out my front door to head to work one morning.  Instead of seeing them as weeds, I think of dandelions as wishes–and possibility.  They seem to be an icon of childhood, a symbol of nature’s playfulness.

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And it wouldn’t be a best of collection for me without a beach photo…or three!  I love the beach all the time, but it is special in the fall and winter when the crowds fall away and the sun’s angles change with shorter days and longer nights.  There is a sense of silence amongst the sounds of crashing waves, gusting winds, and calls of birds.

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“When words become unclear, I shall focus with photographs. When images become inadequate, I shall be content with silence.” Ansel Adams

And there is nothing like a photographic mentor.  Studying Adams’ photos helped me figure out how to create the contrast needed for this black and white view of a walk I take regularly.  I like the way the lack of color creates a mood just right for the concept of silence.

I do find myself looking at the sky as I walk the beach.  There is something about the clouds and the birds that draw my attention.  It’s hard to get good photos of birds in flight with my iPhone and even with my Sony since I seldom have the zoom lens on (too limiting for everyday).  I do love the crispness of this pelican–even at a distance as it swoops over the waves.  It also reminds me of all the photos I am not able to take, which helps me realize that there is more to photography than the photos I take.  I see so much more when I’m walking with my camera.

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But there is nothing quite as special as the beach at sunset.  This image is from Halloween–my husband’s birthday–and the romantic and peaceful walk we took before heading out to dinner to celebrate him.  The colors were spectacular as the sun sunk into the Pacific…and the reflection on the wet sand creates the perfect mirror image.  Ahhhh…

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So, take a little time and find your best of 2016 images.  You might look back through the whole year…or just the past few months.  If you haven’t taken many photos this year, you might just head out with your camera and take a best of today to get yourself started!

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 #bestof2016 for this week and include @nwpianthology in your post.

Share your favorite images this week and create your own #bestof2016.  I look forward to seeing the best of 2016 through your lens!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Light

During these short days, light becomes a focus.  And many of the winter holidays include light as an aspect of celebration.  There’s something about light that brings out the reflective qualities–those caused by the light, and those internal reflections provoked by the magic of light.  As a photographer, light has become an obsession for me.  I notice it, but don’t always master all I need to know and do to create the shots I envision.

We’ve had stormy weather here this past week, bringing some much needed rain to our parched earth.  I love the period after the storm (or between storm cells) when the sunlight peeks through the dark clouds creating a magical sky view.

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Sometimes light becomes quite literal.  I noticed these industrial lights when we were at Home Depot picking a Christmas tree.  Even though it was mid-day, the light was on.  I couldn’t help noticing the brilliant green of the leaves behind it and the bright blue sky.

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With the tree home, we set to work decorating.  Sorting out the string of lights is just the kind of job the cats love to help with (Jack is just outside this shot).  I like the way the lights glow and reflect on the wood floor.

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It was nice to take a break from the cleaning and decorating and shopping for a dinner out with my hubby.  As we waited for our pizza at a local brewery, I noticed the lights reflecting off the window.  I like the way the inside and outside come together–it was a perfect way to spend a rainy evening.

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With a short reprieve before the next rain storm hits later tonight, I squeezed a quick walk on the beach into my schedule.  It was as empty on the beach as the roads and stores were full today.  I appreciated the quiet of the rush of the waves and the wind in my face as the light played with the clouds and water.  This is where I come to think–and to not think.

If you look closely, you can see the pelican.  It was soaring and diving, obviously enjoying a pre-storm lunch.

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So, take a look for light in your life.  You might find it in holiday celebrations, in nature, or maybe just in a quiet moment of reflection.

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

Share the light in your life this week–literal or metaphoric–I know I am looking forward to light through your eyes, and your lens!

Weekly Photo Challenge: By the Numbers

It seems that this time of year is all about the numbers.  There’s the constant countdown of shopping days, days til the new year, and as a teacher, days until our winter break.  Today was that day, the last day of school before the break…and it was a rare rainy day.  A day that resulted in a canceled assembly (ours take place outdoors), canceled recesses, indoor lunch (we do not have a cafeteria), and canceled cardio club (a school-wide running club)–which meant that on the last day before a two week break, the kids were in the classroom all day long!  Luckily, we had the novelty factor to help us out and we really do need the rain.  I can count the rainy days we’re had on one hand!  Here’s the view from the library window where we went for a change of pace to read a story.

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I’ve been noticing numbers in other places this week too.  A walk at the beach early in the week had me look up and notice this 2 groups of 2 arrangement of pelicans and palm trees.  I had fun playing around with the image to layer in some color too.

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I also found these three seagulls hanging out in the silvery gray light of a late fall sunset.  I’m always excited when reflections are crisp against the shiny shore–it is all about the light!

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And the Christmas lights are in full effect in my neighborhood–and the number of lightbulbs seem uncountable!  My neighbor consistently puts on quite a display, with hundreds of lights on display (quite a contrast to my undecorated abode!).  I always have fun trying to capture the colors of the light in the darkness–this is the view from my front yard.  (Night photography is still a pretty steep learning curve for me!)

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This shot, taken with my iPhone, features one light and one moon as the focal points.  I love the Hopper-esque quality of the light in the image. (Think Nighthawks)

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And then there’s that tractor making trip after trip, carrying sand from the shore to build up a protective berm along the high tide line.  I am continually fascinated when I spot a tractor on the beach…always at low tide, counting the minutes ticking away as the water inevitably rises.

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So, how might your view change if you look by the numbers this week?  What are you counting?  What is involved in your countdown to the holidays or the new year?  What numbers emerge for you?

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

 

Start counting…or multiplying or subtracting.  What will you see when you look at your world by the numbers?

Weekly Photo Challenge: Play

When things get busy…like during this time of the year…I forget to do really important things, like play!  But playing is the very thing I need when I am feeling over-the-top with all the demands of work and responsibility and the holidays (I always forget how much cleaning and organizing comes with decorating).

Maybe that’s why we scheduled a field trip in the first week of December (what were we thinking?) to the Children’s Museum.  We planned our trip around the idea that play and experience would inspire writing for our students.  I brought my camera with me…and I both played with my camera and with my students.  I loved the way that play was physical…like climbing these ropes suspended like a web.

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On hands and knees I crawled around dark corners in tight spaces until it opened up into a room with hundreds and hundreds of spoons suspended from the ceiling, creating a visual and aural experience.  The low light meant the photo images were about play too, as reflected light bounced off the gently swaying metal as my camera attempted to freeze time.

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Writing became part of the play as well.  “Taking 5” meant time to be inspired and play with words.  Our students also found interesting places to perch themselves for this writing, playing with the physical act of writing too.  (I played around with Prisma to disguise my student, but still let you see the writing perch he found!)

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And when the walls are filled with quotes and images, my mind wants to play with those too.  I found myself fascinated with the ways the light was coming in the windows, illuminating bits and pieces.  I love that Ask Great Questions is highlighted here…knowing that curiosity is the key to learning.

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I was still playing later in the week when I noticed the heavy fluff of the dew-laden dandelions in the front yard.  I can only imagine what the neighbors were thinking when they saw me kneeling in the wet grass as I headed out for work trying to capture that heaviness.  I decided to pull this iPhone image in close and make it black and white to emphasize the beauty of the simplicity.

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I feel like the moon has been playing chase and tag with me all week.  I’ve been noticing the waxing moon in the late afternoon all week.  After I got my phone repaired this week (I had one of those defective 6s batteries!), I noticed the moon working hard to be a decoration on the local mall Christmas tree and I played with angles using my newly repaired phone to capture the moment.

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And in spite of that heaviness of exhaustion, after school yesterday I made a spur of the moment decision to find the street entrance of a beach I have only previously seen from the sand level.  I was not disappointed–in fact, I felt energized.  The tide was getting high and as I walked over mounds of rocks I looked back at the cliffs and noticed the moon following me in a playful game of follow the leader–with me leading this time!

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So, let’s focus on play this week.  How will you capture play in your photos…or play with your images?  How will you push pass the demands of each day and discover moments for playfulness in your busy routine?

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

Get out and play around!  Be sure to share your play with the rest of us!