Monthly Archives: May 2017

Weekly Photo Challenge: Ugly

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, or so they say. I would argue that if you look closely and with openness, there is beauty to be found all around us. I enjoy bringing cut flowers into my home, brightening up our living space with a bit of nature’s beauty. But these beauties don’t last long, their petals begin to dry and droop, reminding me of the finiteness of life. But I am also reminded that what some call ugly can also be beautiful. I spent some time trying to capture the beauty in the wilting sunflowers in a vase on my dining room table. With the afternoon sun shining on them, I couldn’t help but pay attention to the deep colors and dry curly edges.  There is something beautiful about this ugly.

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Beach walks are spectacular this time of year.  It’s still cool and the crowds are small.  I noticed this balloon at the water’s edge from a distance, and upon closer look, I could tell it was once a baseball balloon, likely for a child’s party.  There’s nothing beautiful about plastics in our ocean, but there is beauty to be found in this #litterati photo documenting this trash (which I picked up and disposed of properly).

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Recess duty gives me the opportunity to watch students playing on the playground and to observe my surroundings.  Not long ago white roses were in bloom on these bushes that are near the play structure.  But on Thursday, I noticed the blooms were gone, but the empty stems remained.  Ugly at first glance, but interesting when you get a bit closer.

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These strange little spiky balls hang from trees not far from the house.  I think the tree is a type of maple and I assume these balls are seed pods.  I often find them on the ground, so it was fun to look up and see them hanging from the tree.

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Our higher than normal rainfall this winter resulted in a spectacular wildflower bloom.  But now that the rain is gone and the weather is warming, they are starting to dry out and lose that springtime beauty.  A walk near the train tracks had me shooting the dying blooms with the Self Realization Fellowship (we call it and the neighboring beach, Swamis) in the background.

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A long weekend watching our twin grandsons is a pure treat!  (Who can resist the sweet faces and activities of 15 month old boys!?!)  It also offers opportunities for new sights!  This old house is visible from a walking trail not far from modern suburban homes…it seems so out of place here!  I would expect to find it in a much more rural area.

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And they grow their weeds large here!  I started to notice dandelion puffballs about the size of my fist!  I couldn’t get close enough for a great photo of the ball, but I think you can get an idea of the size from the remaining husk.

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So, this is your week to take a look at ugly and figure out what makes it interesting (or beautiful) to you.  You might find your inspiration in nature, in your home, or out and about in your community.  Maybe it will inspire some action (as in the #litterati example), or at the least raise your awareness about what is around 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 #ugly for this week and include @nwpianthology in your post.

Head out with your camera…and snap those bits of ugly.  What interesting photos will you find to share with us?

Weekly Photo Challenge: Whimsy

I love the way my camera makes me pay attention.  I’ve said it before–and it’s true.  On a walk last weekend I waited for a while at a crosswalk.  It’s one of those new systems styled to prevent serious injury by pedestrians hit by cars by stopping all the traffic at once and allowing people to cross not only from corner to corner at an intersection, but on the diagonal as well.  And as I crossed I noticed the fire hydrant–painted like a cow!  I couldn’t resist this bit of whimsy and knelt to snap the photo.

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On the beach not far from there I found myself watching a family with a kite.  It was sunny, but cool and breezy along the beach–perfect kite flying weather.  As they launched the kite, I noticed it was a panda…complete with long legs.  I snapped away eager to capture that panda in the air.  I do love the whimsy of the panda skimming the surface of the ocean.

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Sometimes you have to make the best of the errands you need to run.  I headed down towards the airport in the middle of the week to pick my husband up from a trip.  I had fifteen minutes before his plane landed…and rather than park and wait at the airport, I veered off toward the waterfront downtown.  I found a parking place, grabbed my camera and started walking.  The masts and rigging of the historic ships beckoned, even with the sleek lines of the massive cruise ship in the background.  I looked up and noticed the sun peeking through the sheets of the sail, with clouds providing background texture.  I love the whimsical interplay of nature and design, organic shapes and sharp angles.

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Sunsets are always a favorite, the golden yellows and oranges lighting up the sky as the sun dips below the horizon.  But sometimes, shooting near the beach, the view looks similar shot after shot.  Last week’s sunset photo had me searching for something more and I found myself kneeling near wildflowers, behind tree branches, framing the setting sun with a whimsical extra.  Here’s one of my creations.

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A meeting with our writing project state network had me on a quick trip from the southernmost corner of our state where I live to Sacramento, our state capital, about three quarters of the length of the state away.  With such a large state, there are many differences from place to place, including climate and sunlight.  Away from the coast I was noticing the heat…and smelling the agriculture surrounding us.  I love these little wheat-like plants I found growing near the parking lot.

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I’m always in wonder about the work of architects.  As I walked into the building for our meeting, I was struck by the high ceilings and the light.  There’s a wonderful whimsy about the blue beams framed beneath the white ceiling, making me wonder about the intents of this design by the architect.

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And I love that so many airports have embraced art as an iconic symbol of place.  I’m not sure why the Sacramento has a giant red bunny  perched between the escalators–but I love the whimsy of it!  And for me, it seems to represent Sacramento as a quick hop–a place I seem to bounce in and out of as I meet with colleagues across the state.

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So take a look around you, where are you finding whimsy this week?  What strikes you as playful or odd or a combination of the two?

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

Be on the lookout for the whimsical…and share your whimsy with us!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Path

As is typical in the morning heading to my classroom, I had my coffee in one hand, my backpack over my shoulder, another bag of “essentials” draped over my arm and my lunchbox hanging off the other.  At that moment, I spied the snail making its way down the hallway away from my classroom.  It’s wet trail caught my eye and I started juggling my piles of stuff to grab my phone from my pocket and crouch down low to capture that story in a photo.

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I love the tiny sharp antennae and the idea of leaving a trail marking the journey.  I was reminded of this Emerson quote and set out to find the words I thought I knew.

Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.

~Ralph Waldo Emerson~

And so my week has progressed…thinking about paths and trails and the traces we leave.  My friend Janis has been working on a large art sculpture for the city of Vista, CA featuring her beach plastics and her message of advocacy for our environment.  When I saw the newspaper article showing its installation, I had to set out–in spite of the rain–to find the sculpture and see it up close for myself.

I love the paths this art has traveled.  Janis’s paths along the beach picking up trash, her visits to classrooms where she engages students with the trash into making preserved only by the photographs they shoot, and her own photographic displays that use the stunning beauty of her artistic eye to bring attention to a problem we must address collectively.  Into the Current is another stunning reminder that we must all walk the path toward preservation of our planet’s natural resources.

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My own path often leads me to the beach where my feet follow the familiar sandy shores and my eye is drawn to the ever changing ebbs and flows of the sea.  With my camera around my neck, I stop often on my walks to snap photos–of the stunning vistas, the playful birds, surfers in action, and anything else that catches my eye.  Sometimes I surprise myself with finding a new view of a place I frequent.

This week has been cold and rainy, so moments of sunshine feel like a huge boost of energy.  I love the way the clouds create a path that almost echoes that of the waves below.

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And then there’s the seabirds that seem to follow invisible paths in the sky, creating their own passing lanes and moving in precise formations. Huge pelicans are surprisingly agile, gliding with tremendous speed overhead as I walk.  I love when I can capture a crisp shot of these interesting creatures.

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My usual path to and from the university takes me near the Torrey Pines Glider Port.  Sometimes I veer from my singleminded effort to get home and pull off to watch the hang gliders in action.  Yesterday was one of the those days.  It was sunny (my weather app forecasted “lengthy sunny spells”) and breezy and the gliders were out enjoying the conditions.  I switched to my tennis shoes and headed out along the beach cliffs carefully navigating the precarious pathways to snap the gliders following their own invisible paths over my head.

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As I watched them swoop and soar, snapping shot after shot, I noticed the line of pelicans intersecting with the hang glider above.  I wonder what they thought of each other as they came into close proximity, crossing paths.

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Thinking about paths also leads me back to my students.  I often think about their paths and how our interactions make learning pathways possible.  Yesterday was a field trip day–we headed off to watch a youth production of The Lion King.  This version was a lot like the broadway version with intricate choreography and beautiful head pieces and make up.  An added bonus was that two of our students were part of the cast.  It’s interesting to watch students as actors–and students as audience members and all the learning connections that can happen in the theater. There’s something magical about the hush as the lights dimmed and more than 400 children settle into a live performance.

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This has been teacher appreciation week in our school district, a time when families send in notes and flowers expressing their care and love. Instead of the usual sweet treats, the families in our class coordinated and treated us to fancy coffee in the mornings–and a couple of families brought us a ready to heat dinner!  Today I came home with gourmet quality quiches that made a perfect end-of-the-week dinner…Yum!  There is something about the pathways that food carves that leaves a lasting impression, especially when a bit of love is added to the recipe.

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So, what paths are you noticing or traveling this week?  Which are you following and which are trails you are blazing?  Have you found an unexpected path, or one that seems invisible to others?  Perhaps the path is one of learning and exploration.  Keep your eyes open!

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.

Use your lens to make a path this week…and share it with us!