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Weekly Photo Challenge: Up and Down

It’s been a crazy week.  We had bright, sunny warm skies on Monday, the sugar high of Valentine’s Day on Tuesday, and as we head into a week off from school (our district calls it Family Week), a storm brewed all day with high winds and expectations of lots of rainfall.

Like the kids, I was excited this morning–after school I was heading off to the airport to catch a flight to see my twin grandsons.  But those hopes were dashed when the text came through saying my flight had been canceled.  Ugh!  I’m feeling the roller coaster of the ups and downs of the week.  One look up at the palm trees bordering the school playground made clear why the planes were grounded.  The winds are scary today! (But I’m still disappointed that I’m at home for an extra day instead of playing with my sweet babies!)

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That view (today right after lunch) makes it hard to believe that this was my view on a walk after school on Wednesday.  Blue skies with a pelican in flight…and the greens that we have because of all the rainfall we’ve had this winter.  I didn’t even need a jacket as I walked along the shore.

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Looking down as I walk is a requirement when the tides toss the rocks onto shore.  There have been huge piles to navigate lately.  I couldn’t resist a shot of this seagull “on the rocks” who was clearly unconcerned about me and my camera.  He let me get quite close!

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And the sun made our work with cyanotypes possible this week.  The kids were excited to experiment with photo-sensitve paper, creating a “sun print” by laying objects on the treated paper and then wearing plastic gloves (a highlight!) to rinse the chemicals away after exposing it to the sun.  They learned a lot from their first iteration using natural objects that improved their outcomes with iteration number two.  I love the intersections of science and art!

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Looking down on my way into my office at UCSD meant this found still life caught my eye. I love the juxtaposition of the pine cone and the dandelion laying on the grass.

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I chuckled as I looked up as I headed out of Starbucks with my coffee to notice this dog in the driver’s seat of the car.  You never know who you will find driving theses days!

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So, this is the week to consider your ups and downs.  Look up–what do you see?  Look down, what’s there?  Or maybe consider mood as your filter for ups and downs rather than a literal glance in the up or down direction.

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

Look up, look down–snap, click, post!  Can’t wait to see what you find.

 

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Natural

One of the things I love most about heading out into the world with my camera is the power it has to help me pay attention to the beauty and the details around me.  It’s been wet around here this week–rainy again. As I pulled into a parking place at the university this week, I noticed the leaf debris on the ground as a result of all that rain and was drawn to the natural beauty of the eucalyptus leaves.  It was a welcome relief after the hassle of trying to find a parking place!

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As the storm moved out, the moon became visible winking above the clouds.  I stopped on my way home to find a place high enough to look above the buildings and houses to capture the moon in all its natural brilliance.  I was particularly drawn the blues and greens in this shot looking east.

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The moon reminded me that I was also likely to find some low tides–and I was rewarded as I headed to the beach for an afternoon walk.  But, while the weather report promised a warming trend, the beach areas were shrouded in fog.  (We could watch it wafting in around ten in the morning from the classroom!)  But there is something peaceful about walking wrapped in clouds, visibility limited, breathing in the benefits of the damp natural air.  It’s like walking in a black and white film, with everything in shades of gray.

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And even as I walked, I could feel the sun penetrating the thick blanket of fog, creating a natural shine reflecting on the water.  The low tide reveals so many interesting rock formations–the beach is new each time I walk!

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As I walked again after work yesterday (such a great way to end the work week!), I noticed this sea plant tossed up onto the rocks.  Up close the fog doesn’t wash the colors away–you can see the bright red of the plant against the multi-colored sea rocks…a natural still life!

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I’ve been seeing a great white egret over the last couple of weeks.  Yesterday, I spied a distinctive white bird in a different part of my walk.  I stepped carefully across the natural carpet of algae to get close.  I noticed that this white bird was different.  Instead of a yellow beak–this one was black…and its feet were bright yellow!  A little research led me to its name–a snowy egret!  It let me get quite close and snap some shots before it flew off to another part of the beach.

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So, head out with your camera and let what’s natural guide your lens.  Of course, you get to decide on the definition and parameters of natural for yourself!

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

What will you find when you focus your lens on the natural?  I look forward to seeing what you find.

 

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Out of the Ordinary

When people think of southern California, images often include sunshine, palm trees and sandy beaches. And while some of that is certainly true, it is also a place that is within easy reach of snowy mountaintops and deserts known for extreme heat and unusual beauty.

Even our usual palms were looking out of the ordinary earlier this week as they stood shrouded in dense fog, turning the sky from its predictable blue to shades of gray.  I stopped on my way to work to snap this foggy image with my phone.

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Just days earlier we had trekked to the top of our local mountains for a hike in the snow.  We weren’t entirely sure we would find snow–it had stormed the previous week, but had been warm and sunny during the week. But our luck held out and we found plenty of snow…and a few other out of the ordinary photo opportunities like this metal watering hole with ice floating in it.

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And this large metal ball-shaped thing.  I have no idea what it is or what purpose it serves beyond piquing my curiosity!

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A low tide walk on the beach revealed some out of the ordinary artifacts too. It’s not common to find an entire clam or oyster shell positioned on its hinge in the sand.  You can even spy a bit of algae growing on it!

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The classroom is often ripe for out of the ordinary possibilities.  Today our friend Janis came to share her passion for taking photos of trash she finds on the beach with our students.  She brought bins of color-sorted plastic debris for students to use to create still life arrangements to photograph as part of our study of photography and photographers.  The kids loved playing with the trash and created some beautiful and thought-provoking art.

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Yesterday we headed out with our devices to try something new photographically.  I loved watching students lay down under the play structure to photograph the polka dots they noticed when looking up and the delight on the face of a third grade boy when he managed to shoot down the baseball bat holder and capture the image of the spider in his shot.  I noticed this rake hanging on the fence by the dog park…getting close created an out of the ordinary view.

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I took a quick beach walk after school today to clear my head and welcome the weekend.  The sky was filled with clouds that created interesting textures and colors.  But my eye was drawn to the flock of tiny seabirds who moved in unison with the waves.  When I got low and focused on them, all the color seemed to drain out of the scene, taking me back to a time of black and white.  This out of the ordinary scene is unfiltered and unedited.

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So, head out with your lens and see what you can find that strikes you as out of the ordinary.  Perhaps it will be a new vantage on something you see every day or maybe you will turn your head and see something you’ve not noticed before.

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

Take a look around…what will you find when you look for the out of the ordinary?

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.

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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…

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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).

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And here is my Ansel Adams inspired black and white version.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

 

 

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.

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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.

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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.

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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?)

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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.

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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

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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.

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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!