Monthly Archives: January 2018

Establishing Scale

It was a rare rainy morning, the kids had been in the auditorium before school since it was too wet to play on the playground.  As they crushed through the outdoor hallways to the classroom, I heard one of my students call out, “Look at the millipede!”  Sure enough, on the wall outside the classroom hung a pretty good-sized millipede.  As we looked, our principal approached, always interested in creatures and eager to help move the millipede from the wall to a protected natural place.  But before she moved it, I had to take a photo.  On her suggestion, another of my students laid her finger alongside it to establish scale.


This idea of scale is one I have been thinking about all day.  Relative size, importance, and impact can all be aspects of scale.  And scales are variable.  I often joke about the way our local weather newscasters talk so seriously about “storm watch” when referring to a chance of rain.  A colleague seemed to be amused by all the concern as she referred to the storm warnings as “SD-style storms” in an email…perhaps because of her upbringing far from the mild weather associated with San Diego.  (To be fair, the storm was a big one for us, bringing more than an inch and a half of rain at the airport and more in other places around the county. And since storms are rare, they definitely cause havoc!)

Scale comes into play when reporting student progress too.  A conversation on Monday in a district meeting had us debating the relative merits of rubrics and role of the report card in teaching and learning.  Do students need to be “above average” or at the top of the reporting scale to be successful learners?  Is the scale relative to other children in the same grade or to the student herself?  What is the difference between consistently meeting standards and steadily progressing toward those same standards?  How does the reporting help or hinder the learning process?

I don’t have the answers to these meaty questions, yet understand the worries of parents, of the public, and of educators striving to do their best for students.

Back to the millipede, I’m glad to have a record of it being as long as my student’s finger.  I’ve seen bigger millipedes, but not in the wild crawling up my classroom wall.  But I also wish I had a photo without the finger to allow the focus to be on the creature itself, to appreciate its unique beauty, and consider what it has to offer in this world where we live.

15 Seconds of Fame

While the midwest and east have been blasted with arctic storms and crazy wind chills, here in San Diego weather has been mild and warm with Christmas temperatures in the 70s on the beach.  We had that moment in the spring where it seemed like the years-long drought was over only to have months without rain capped by devastating wildfires throughout California in late November and December.

After two weeks off for winter break, we returned to school today.  Fresh faced kids greeted me with tales of their holiday exploits, eager to be back with friends and ready to get back to the business of school.  I am grateful to teach a room full of kids who love to learn.  And all day we could feel the weather change in the air.  Clouds gathered and loosed a few droplets here and there throughout the day, but the real rain held off.

stormy ocean

An after school meeting encroached on my afternoon walk, but I felt the urge to head to the beach, even for a few minutes, to see if I could snap a few photos of the approaching storm.  It was gray but not yet dark as I pulled up to park at my favorite beach.  I grabbed my camera and stepped out of the car only to have the wind slap me with a face full of sand.  I made my way to the edge of the cliff to see what images would appear in my viewfinder and snapped a couple of shots when I was approached by a young woman with a microphone.

windy seaIt turns out the woman was a reporter from a local news station in need of someone to interview about the weather.  She told me I’d be doing them a favor if I would come over and answer a few question (on camera!).  So, as the wind whipped and the raindrops started to fall, I talked about the weather on camera.  When I got home, I turned on the news…and with perfect timing, my husband walked in the door from work in time to see my 15 second interview!  And I managed to videotape it on my phone from our TV…thus my 15 seconds of fame!  (Here’s a screenshot, you can see the video footage on my Instagram post if you are interested.)on TV



Weekly Photo Challenge: Details

As a photographer it’s easy to see the big things…the colorful sunset, the magnificent vista…and I’ve taken many photos of those, many that you have seen if you follow my blog.  Lately I’ve been looking closely in an effort to notice the smallest of details in hopes of creating something different, more nuanced, through my lens.

The moon was spectacular in December, well before the super moon made headlines (unfortunately it was too foggy here to get a good view). My eye was drawn to the bright crescent and I worked to snap that crisp clear shot.  With some light in the sky right past sunset, I was able to get a view that satisfied my inner critic.


A trip to the zoo with my grandsons had me searching for animals that they could spot…and it wasn’t easy since many hide in the shadows on a warm day.  But looking up I kept noticing the Skyfari ride and the ways the buckets passed each other every so often. I particularly like this shot with the iconic palm tree in the frame.


Much to my husband’s dismay, our front yard has become a haven for dandelions.  He cuts the grass and the dandelions pop right back up.  I love the way the light shines through the puffs in this shot with the bicycle rider in the background.  Sometimes my own front yard is the perfect venue for a photograph.

dandelion garden

This week has been marked by extreme low tides in the afternoons, a favorite time for walking for me.  I love the wide beach and the way the landscape is changed as the sea pulls back.  This fisherman was way out on the algae-covered outcropping when I heard the helicopter overhead. The juxtaposition of fisherman, helicopter, clouds and light pique my interest.  I haven’t tried any editing on this image yet, I wonder what might make it even more interesting…

fisherman and helicopter

The low tide has also brought out the playfulness of the pelicans.  Walking out along the waterline brought me closer than my usual vantage.  I stood and watched this guy float, then fly up and search the surf only to drop into a cannonball-like dive.  I managed to catch this shot of the head-first dive.

diving pelican

I don’t usually do much food photography–mostly because I don’t eat very interesting (or photogenic) food.  But today I decided to try the portrait mode on my iPhone to take this unedited shot of my Mexican chicken soup from Jorge’s Mexicatessen.  I like the sheen of the fat on the surface of the broth, the green of the avocado, and the silvery aluminum foil that holds yummy hand-made tortillas.  This is the BEST soup, a cure for all that ails you.  Luckily, I’m not feeling sick, but it never hurts to have a dose just for good measure!


So, it’s your turn.  What details will you find when you head out with your camera?  The curve of a smile, the wag of a tail, a tender bud poking up through the snow?  (That last suggestion does not come from my reality…but I am obsessed with snow pictures!)

Share your #details this week, in images or words…or both. 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 #details, you can also link your post in my comments.

Sharpen your vision and look closely for details.  Be sure to share your image(s).  I can’t wait to see the details you find through your lens.