Monthly Archives: January 2017
Weekly Photo Challenge: Scrutinize
Kids love big words…and we delight our students each week by including a new (big and sophisticated) word each day in our morning message. They use context clues to guess the meaning, building on their understanding each day (and if they listen carefully, by our use in our conversation and instruction too). Once we reveal the word at the end of the week, we also come up with a gesture…and forever after, whenever they hear the word they use the gesture to indicate their understanding.
I often find myself using the vocabulary word more often once it debuts in our classroom–and this is certainly true of this week’s word: scrutinize. I was scrutinizing the abundance of frothy foam on the beach…resulting from the aftermath of rain (wind and runoff). It was like someone’s washing machine overflowed on the beach.
I noticed some kids on the beach…in wetsuits and winter hats playing in the foam. It seemed to echo what I imagine its like for kids to play in the snow. I couldn’t resist snapping a shot. You can see it here.
We recently launched a study of some photographers…by reading a couple of fine picture book biographies. Both Ansel Adams and Dorothea Lange are inspiring our students to try their hands at photography. We sent them out on a photography scavenger hunt, asking them to take photos from various vantages (worm’s eye, bird’s eye, side view, find lines…). We set them loose on campus and let them explore. And of course, I was also exploring. Shadow was one of the categories…
I love the intergenerational learning going on here with one of our third graders mentoring our lovely 80+ year old Esther on the scavenger hunt. You can see the two of them scrutinizing their checklist.
The following day we asked them to scrutinize their images and figure out how to improve one. We set out again–and I worked to improve my photo of the swing set. I was working to capture the lines (diagonal and straight) in the side view.
And I couldn’t resist this one of a student laying on the ground under our tall palm tree, shooting straight up in his attempt to improve on a photo taken the day before.
As the rain moved out, sunny but chilly weather moved in. I’ve been out walking most every day, delighting in the low tides this week. For two days in a row now I’ve come across a great white egret feeding in the tide pools–and even though my lens isn’t quite zoomy enough to get great images, I’ve been watching and photographing this guy.
Today as I chatted with a fellow photographer (she said she’s seen this egret three days in a row), I caught a shot of the egret scrutinizing itself. Actually, it was probably scrutinizing the water for food but it’s fun to think this gorgeous, elegant creature was simply admiring its reflection in the water.
And what is a tide pool visit without a glimpse at a sea anenome. I often scrutinize these flower-like creatures in the pools of water revealed at low tide. The algae is colorful this time of year creating a little garden under the briny water.
So, what are you scrutinizing this week? What’s making you look closely and pay special attention? Is your camera helping you notice something you haven’t seen before? In the words of Dorothea Lange:
The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera.
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 #scrutinize for this week and include @nwpianthology in your post.
Scrutinize your world and let your camera teach you how to see…and share your results with the rest of us!
Weekly Photo Challenge: Path
Some weeks I find myself retracing my steps, traversing paths that are familiar, my feet knowing the steps almost automatically. But sometimes I have to stop, bend low, and take another look to see the path in a new way. I felt that way in my back yard earlier this week. It’s been raining a lot here this winter–or at least it feels like a lot after six years of drought, so plants are growing, weeds are growing, cacti and succulents are sprouting these magnificent blooms. And the scented geranium beckoned with a green that nearly glows. I love the sense of abstract art conveyed with this shot.
Over the long weekend I was lucky enough to be in Los Angeles (playing with my grandson) and hanging out with my son and daughter-in-law. My usual path as the sun sets leads me to the ocean. But in this part of LA, the ocean isn’t near. I found this sunset while standing on the upper level of a parking garage, looking out over the LA skyline.
I frequently walk this path at a local beach…this is the place we call “the corner,” where the beach seems to turn slightly. It’s also a place that is difficult to get past when the tide is high. This particular shot feels like a painting to me.
I’ve been playing around with black and white this week as the clouds create paths in the sky and diffuses the light, creating shades of gray.
Yesterday, after a rainy morning and with forecasts of rain all day today, I decided I needed to squeeze in a walk on the beach on my way home from work. I stopped at Torrey Pines–a path I frequently drive by, but seldom stop to walk. I’ve been thinking a lot about Ansel Adams as we’ve introduced him to our students through the book Antsy Ansel written by our colleague and friend Cindy Jenson-Elliott as part of a study of photographers, photography and biography. As I walked I found myself drawn to light and shadow, trying to capture the contrast knowing that I would be transforming my image with a black and white filter. I know from experience that I need the right image to get my intended effect in black and white. I loved the path the sun was taking across the lifeguard tower, the dark of the cliffs and the shades of white and gray of the clouds in the distance. Here’s the original photo (no edits).
And here is my Ansel Adams inspired black and white version.
I do love the effect!
As predicted, this morning dawned wet, painting my morning’s path with raindrops, puddles, and watery lights reflecting in the darker than usual sky. I couldn’t resist a quick photo while stopped at the intersection, capturing the action in that split second. It was also a reminder that I would spend my day inside with more than 40 energetic children excited by the wind and rain, a path that we don’t often travel in this arid climate. Mixed blessings…needed rain, the exuberance of childhood, and an opportunity for me to practice patience and appreciation. I do love my work!
So, as you head out on your daily pathways what will you find? What’s usual? What’s unexpected? Will you seek out a new path with your camera in hand?
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 #path for this week and include @nwpianthology in your post.
Whether you let your feet determine the path or your eye, head out with your camera and document what you find. What will your path reveal?
Weekly Photo Challenge: #findjoy
When I get up each day and make my way into the world, I find myself looking for scenes and images that speak to me. Sometimes I take ten photos and one “works,” the others lacking in something that makes them special. Sometimes I take one photo, seemingly a throwaway, and it sings, bringing me joy and helping me frame my day. I was reminded by a blogger/photographer that I follow, Joy over at Joyfully Green, that photography can be a way to find joy and peace in our turbulent world.
I walk this path frequently, it is familiar yet ever-changing. This week’s weather has brought lots of clouds our way–this day my attention was drawn to the clouds that seemed to be sitting on the horizon line. I was having trouble getting a shot that captured that sense of the low-lying clouds. This seagull caught my eye…and helped me frame the cloud formations as well.
Some days my photo opportunities are related to the errands I need to run. I noticed the moon the other evening as I got back into my car in the Trader Joe’s parking lot. And when I didn’t love the photo, I set to playing around with some apps to see if I could produce a different effect. I like the monochromatic effect and the way it helps bring focus to the moon peeking through the tree branches.
Another beach walk brought the light to my attention. I think my favorite time of day for photos is the time before sunset when the sun seems to kiss faces and highlight waves. Again, clouds were my muse allowing me to capture the color and light like a watercolor painting.
Sometimes it’s that one shot that calls my name. I stopped on my way home the other afternoon and was drawn to the silhouetted trees framing the ocean and sky in the background.
Rainy days as a teacher means the kids are cooped up inside all day long…no recess time, nowhere to go to eat their snacks or lunch. The classroom becomes a space for playing and eating as well as learning…blurring the boundaries and offering fewer outlets for youthful energy. It was a relief to have no rain on Friday so the kids could get out and RUN! I love the way the ponytail is flying back in this image, hinting at the action and the joy in releasing energy taking place in this still photo.
I’m sure our plants are always confused here in southern California. It’s hot, it’s cold, it’s dry, then it rains… The tree in my front yard recently burst into tender green new leaves…in December! And the trees outside my office at UCSD were raining down fall colors with the raindrops earlier this week, adding some liveliness to an otherwise dreary and gray day.
And when I look closely, I can find joy and beauty in the dry, dead blossom clinging to the orchid in my kitchen window. There is so much inspiration around us if we just take the time to look and pay attention to details.
So, for this week, take a look around, snap some picture that bring you joy. You might find it in the petals of a dying flower or the beauty of a sunset. Or you might notice an interesting pattern of light and shadow or the smile of a stranger. Maybe you take joy in preparing food or folding clothes for your family…snap a few shots and see what you notice.
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 #findjoy for this week and include @nwpianthology in your post.
Head out with your camera with joy as your muse…what will you find to share with the rest of us?
It’s so easy to break a good habit, even after it has been well established. When I started this blog, I wrote daily for months on end. Of course, I did it because I knew if I stopped (and I was afraid to stop for even one day), I would have a hard time getting back on track.
I guess I was right.
This week, my friend and colleague Kevin posted a prompt on the NWP iAnthology, inviting some short-form writing in the form of Haiku, 3 line poems, for the purpose of healing the spirit. #haikuforhealing is a hashtag where people are sharing these poems meant to raise spirits. I noticed Kevin writing them in December, making posters of them with inspirational images as their backdrop. I enjoyed them…and thought about writing some of my own.
So when the prompt came up on Saturday, I decided to try my hand at it. I started with a photo I had taken and posted on Instagram. I imported it into Canva and added my words. My first #haikuforhealing was born.
On Sunday my schedule didn’t allow for a long photo-taking walk. Instead, I snapped a shot of the moon through the trees in the Trader Joe’s parking lot. I messed with it a bit in prisma, amping up the color. Hmmm…a Haiku about the moon? I could do that.
It rained quite a bit on Monday, but it had stopped by the time I left work. Knowing rain was in the forecast later in the week, I decided to take a walk on the beach on the way home. The clouds were sitting low, hugging the horizon, as the sun tried its best to peek through. Inspiration for another #haikuforhealing? Why not?
Should I go for four days in a row? One of the things I love about living near the coast is the proximity to the trains. I hear them as I walk on the beach, I hear them as I teach, and they frequently hold me up at intersections as the guards lower, the lights flash, and the train barrels past.Today I was walking toward my car when the rail guards dropped, giving me just enough time to snap a few shots…and think about a Haiku…
I don’t know if I have re-established a habit of daily writing, but I am four days into daily #haikuforhealing writing. I’m enjoying it. I like creating the poster with my photograph and words…and sharing it on Twitter (@kd062) makes me feel accountable (at least to myself).
Join in the healing, let Haiku shift your perspective and help you find inspiration, beauty, meaning… And if you have other ideas to keep the daily writing fresh and doable, I’d love to hear about them!
Weekly Photo Challenge: Weather or Not..
We returned to school, deep in winter. Flurries of white (paper) mounded as students began their study of snow and inquiry into how to cut hexagonal snowflakes from a square piece of paper. Outside was cold by San Diego standards with students mostly in long pants and surfers in their full wetsuits.
Weather is rare in these parts. We hear stories of snow and ice across the country and across the state, but here weather changes are subtle. Clouds change the looks of our mostly blue skies, creating opportunities for dramatic photo images.
More common for us is the grayness of fog. Sometimes it’s just the grayness of cloudy skies that obscure the sun. Monochromatic landscapes emerge from the grayness, like these birds in flight near the shore. I am struck by how much this one looks like a painting with the hints of sunset in the background.
Our oft-promised rain actually materialized this week, giving us a full day cooped up inside the classroom. At UCSD, the fog rolled in with the rain, painting the world white as the sky crouched low to the ground. (And what is better than a polka-dot umbrella to brighten a gray landscape?)
Arriving home later that evening after a late meeting, the half moon beckoned, daring me to try to photograph it. The result, better than I had hoped (no editing or filter here)…with the palms across the street appearing in the dark photo.
And after the rain, yesterday dawned bright. To cap off the workweek, I headed to the beach for a walk on the beach to clear my head and breathe deeply. I was treated with creamy sun-kissed waves washing up on the shore as the tide crept to its peak. I was reminded of a poem we had studied in class with our students about “bubble and froth.”
“Life is mostly froth and bubble,
Two things stand like stone.
Kindness in another’s trouble,
Courage in your own.”
― Adam Lindsay Gordon
When I looked up, I noticed the moon again, this time in full daylight. This is the blue sky I am used to, punctuated by the palms on the cliffs above the beach. Sometimes it’s about the weather…and sometimes not.
So, what will you find when you consider the weather…or not? How does weather impact your choices in photography? Do you choose subjects differently? With weather (or a lack of weather) as your muse, what will you find?
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 #weatherornot for this week and include @nwpianthology in your post.
How will the weather impact your photography this week? And weather or not it does, be sure to share some of your images!
One Little Word 2017: Possibility
I’ve never been a resolution maker. The idea of changing my life by making pronouncements on January 1st just never appealed to me…and I know me, sticking to “rules,” even those I make, doesn’t seem likely over the course of a year. But when I heard about the idea of one little word a few years ago, I was intrigued. The concept of choosing a word as a muse, as inspiration and aspiration seemed like a perfect idea.
In 2014 I chose the word play, and let it guide my year. And play I did. I took some time for reflection on my word before choosing a new word here. In 2015 my word was explore. Explore helped me take play to a new level. It had me searching for new experiences and seeking out new places. I know that I surprised my husband with my willingness to do things he didn’t think I would do–and I know I surprised myself as I faced fears and branched out in new ways. By fall of 2015 I learned that 2016 would be a year of change for me and my family as we welcomed new family members–babies! I selected expand for 2016, going beyond the literal meaning of adding family members. I knew that I would need to expand my horizons and perspectives in addition to embracing my new role as grandma to three baby boys!
Learning the power that one word can have on my life over the course of the year raises the stakes on choosing a new word. I often wait a few weeks into the new year to make my selection; pondering, trying on, discarding. I like to see others’ choices and read their thinking as another window into the selection process. This year has been the same. I’ve been reading the choices of others, reflecting on my past choices and considering potential words for 2017. And even though it’s only the second of January, I feel convinced that I’ve found my word.
I’ve been looking for a word to help me push beyond my usual boundaries, to see past barriers–perceived or real–that limit my thinking. I want this year to be about possibilities. Possibilities like dandelion seeds, taking root where they land and thriving in unexpected places.
I want possibility to encourage me to be kind and curious, strong and creative. To reach out to others and seek new collaborations with possibility as a signpost.
I want possibility to frame my thinking and take me to new understandings…and new actions. I want to keep growing, personally and professionally, going beyond the usual and predictable and maybe even comfortable paths I have already traveled.
I look forward to a year with possibility as my muse, a reminder to branch out, consider alternative solutions, blaze new trails, and push myself and my thinking. I want possibility to help me build stronger relationships with family and friends and create better learning opportunities for my students. I look forward to the possibilities that photography offers as I explore my world, familiar and beyond.
Right now, the possibilities seem endless.