Monthly Archives: July 2017

Weekly Photo Challenge: Be Ready

I’ve noticed that my state of mind plays a role in determining what I see.  It’s so easy to overlook what is right in front of you, especially if you are looking for something else.  This week I’ve been working to pay attention to what is in front of me.  I walk past an art installation on the UCSD campus each day as I head to our Summer Institute.  Fallen Star is a tiny house (back before the Tiny House movement) perched on the top of the engineering building.  We’ve had many gray mornings (one of the downsides of being near the coast), the flat gray light seems to make things all blend together.  But some early morning sunshine this week had me looking more carefully and noticing lines, angles and shadows.

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The Independence Day holiday gave us some extra time to explore our surroundings.  We headed out to a local hiking trail–a bit inland where it is hot and dry these days.  This year’s rains mean the creek is still flowing, but our native foliage is drying out.  I noticed these dandelion-like puffs along the trail, bursts almost like mini fireworks spreading their seeds as they wait for moisture to germinate.

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There are lots of interesting cars in our area.  Near the beach we often see vintage cars, especially “woodies,” those fancy old station wagons that are often featured in surfing movies.  Low riders are much less prevalent.  I’m glad that I stopped to look closely as a parade of low riders drove through the drop off circle at the beach.  I watched the drivers “dance” with their cars, lifting and lowering, showing off and posturing to each other and the crowd.

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I’ve been finding a lot of glasses on the beach glasses.  Sunglasses are pretty common, often found with an arm missing, only one lens, bent and mangled from their time in the surf.  I almost missed this pair of prescription lens buried in the kelp washed up on the shore.  I’m sure that someone is bummed that these were lost!

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After running some errands last night, we stopped by for a quick dinner.  As we headed to the car afterwards my husband pointed to the almost full moon rising.  As we looked to the sky we also noticed the oranges and pinks of the sun setting in the distance.  We decided to take the coastal route home, hoping there would be a place to pull of the road and photograph the sky.  The sun had already dipped below the horizon, but the clouds reflected the residual color.

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And when I looked in the other direction, I saw the moon again, this time shrouded in cotton candy clouds.  With just a hint of pink from the setting sun and a hint of the blue sky not yet dark, the moon was blanketed in soft swirls.

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Earlier in the day, on my way home from work, I stopped by Torrey Pines State Beach for a walk.  The weather was warm and muggier than usual.  The tide was low-ish, but not too low.  I walked in the water, letting the salty water cool my feet and wash away the work week, clearing the way for the weekend.  As I walked I noticed a big brown rock-like structure in front of me.  Or was it a rock?  As I got closer it was clear it was an animal…a seal?  A sea lion?  Dead or alive?  I was relieved to see it moving.  It was a sea lion laying on the beach.  As I approached, keeping my distance, the sea lion got up to warn some people nearby not to get too close.  I started snapping, wanting to capture the movement and beauty of the wildlife.  I’m hoping the sea lion was simply enjoying the beach and not sick.

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So, be ready for what appears in your path this week.  What will you notice when your mind is ready to see what is there and not what you hope to find?  Be sure to keep your camera handy!

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

Open your eyes and your mind to all that is in front of you.  Be sure to grab your camera and take some shots to share what you find when you take the time to #beready!

 

Take Action and Keep Reaching

One of the things I love most about photography is its complexity.  There is a pretty low floor, everybody can participate in the experience of taking photos–just point and shoot–and you’ll have a reminder of the moment you just experienced.

Because I’ve been posting a photo every day for almost five years now on Instagram (August 1, 2012 was my start date), I can track my progress as a photographer.  I can see how my choices in subject, framing, light, and overall composition continue to improve.  I can see where I have experimented with different techniques–a summer spent with a focus on my version of street photography that I called “Beach People” –and pushed my creativity and skill development.   (See #beachpeople: a documentary) I give myself new challenges to keep my photography fresh and energizing, especially since I take pictures as part of my everyday life, meaning a lot of the photos I take are at places I frequent regularly.  For me, many photos are taken at Moonlight Beach, a place where I love to walk.

Today, on our nation’s Independence Day, I was immediately drawn to the volleyball courts.  The American flags were waving, lots of people were gathering, and volleyball players were in action.  At first I wanted to capture the flags waving with the beach in the background, but then I started shooting.  My goal immediately changed and I wanted to capture a shot that showed the intensity of the play in action.  I could see that I needed to time my shot to catch the ball in play right over the net.  After a few tries, I was pretty sure I had at least one shot with the action.  Here is my resulting shot.

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The flag, the ball, the arms, and feet…and the bonus: the puffs of sand under the feet.  This image has not been edited or filtered, this is how I shot it.

Last week I was intent on capturing surfers in action during a surfing contest.  You can see my photo of Rob Machado here.  I was using my zoom lens, which makes it hard to focus and “see” the just right spot in the distance.  But I persisted and got a few nice action shots of surfers at their best.

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Leaving the beach today, we noticed some low-rider cars pulling through the beach drop off.  I started taking photos before they started showing off their hydraulics and bouncing the cars.  I was fascinated with the dance of the cars…a sort of call and response…with bobbing. popping, and even turns up on one wheel.

My camera gave me the time and focus to appreciate what these cars and drivers were offering.  I could see the complexity of the art of the low rider as I watched them maneuver their cars into position, “posture” with the hydraulics, and play with the crowd.

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I love that photography has a low floor, I was able to get started with very few skills and only minimal equipment.  My first several years of photos were taken with my phone camera.  But I also love that photography has a high ceiling.  As much as I learn, there is so much more to learn and reach for.  I still take photos with my phone and I also now use a Sony a6000 (a light, mirrorless, DSLR-like camera).  I take most of my photos in the automatic mode, knowing that there are also endless possibilities for manual adjustments.  Even in the automatic mode there are many choices that I make, from the focal distance to the framing and light.  I can see years of learning and improvement ahead of me.

Through my camera lens I am reminded that learners need both entry points and opportunity to stretch.  And that reminder carries over to my work as both a teacher of students and a facilitator of professional development for teachers too.  Let your learners in…and keep them interested in pushing themselves, in challenging “good enough” by reaching for possibility–not just completing assignments.  Just as I know there is no end to learning about photography…I also know there is no end to learning about teaching and learning.  And the goal of lifelong learning is not just my personal goal, but a goal I hold for all the learners I touch as well.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Close to Home

It’s summer vacation season…but I’m not on vacation, not yet anyway.  But even when I’m close to home I’m lucky enough to have some interesting places to visit and photograph.  I love living near the beach.  Walking to breakfast the other morning I couldn’t resist this photo of the wetsuit rolled into the car window to dry.  I love how quirky the beach community is and how cars double as drying racks for wetsuits, towels, bathing suits…

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It was the same morning as the Switchfoot BroAm surf contest, taking place at my favorite local beach, and it’s always fun when you see a world class surfer and recognize him as a community member.  Rob Machado is recognizable with his flowing dreds and red wetsuit, and even though retired from professional surfing, is still exciting to watch.  Although I have a zoom lens for my camera, focusing and capturing action is still a skill I’m working on.  It was fun to see this capture of Rob in action…I love the way both his hair and the crest of the wave spray around him!

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And after a morning at the beach watching the surf contest, we decided to fully play out the idea of staycation and head off to the expensive fancy coffee place on the main street of downtown Encinitas.  Perched at the front bar, we could sip our iced lattes and watch people stroll down the street while the sun and sea breezes came in through the wide open windows.

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I’m still working, with the SDAWP Invitational Summer Institute in full swing.  The snack table has become a tradition in writing projects across the nation. After all, writers need sustenance to get all that thinking on the page!  (Thanks to Jen for the beautiful table display–food tastes better when it is displayed beautifully!)

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In the early morning the university is quiet.  I couldn’t help noticing the juxtaposition of this scene as I walked up the stairs…the slumpy chairs lined up in front of the bright orange wall announcing Ballroom.  What message does this image send?

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Some days we can’t resist exploring other beaches close to home.  This week I found myself at three different beaches, all relatively close to home.  South of me I explored La Jolla Shores in the late afternoon between the end of the Summer Institute and the evening meeting I had in San Diego.  There is something about the pier that draws me to photograph again and again.

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And to the north, in San Clemente, is a new outlet mall that we decided to explore last Sunday.  It has an exquisite location…right off the freeway AND quite close to the beach.  After shopping and lunch we headed to the nearby beach to walk and take pictures.  Later, after washing the sand off our feet, I noticed this sign…shark sighting!  (There were people in the water…and lifeguards watching the beach!)

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So, what is close to home in your parts?  What do you do to “get away” when you need or have to stay close to home?  You might find your images in your home, in your neighborhood, or outside in nature.  If you happen to be away from home, you might consider what reminds you of home…makes you miss home…or makes you feel at home.

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

If, like me, you find yourself close to home, take some time to explore the possibilities that being close to home offers you.  Or if you’re away from home, what will you find that reminds you of home?  Be sure to share your photos with the rest of us!