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Heron Blue: NPM22 Day 9

Heron Blue

Misty tendrils

the softest breath

caresses my arms, musses my hair

exhaling as I inhale familiar saltiness

Not eggshell blue of soft pastels

or jay blue of bright flashes

today is heron blue

almost gray

dark

but not quite

after the sun fades

but before night arrives

In the distance

curved neck, sharp beak

unmistakeable silhouette

I hurry but not too fast

Your silence matches mine

while wave songs play in the distance

You stretch, becoming a roller coaster

of twists and turns

searching, scanning

hunting

patient

In a slow motion

stretch of wings

you lift

effortlessly launched

shape shifting into flight

I watch and wonder

energized by the power of stillness

and the reverence of blue

from sky to sea

to feathers

heron blue

@kd0602
Great Blue Heron in Flight @kd0602

Somehow Dixie over at Ethical ELA conjured this heron into my path today…the day she offered bird as our #verselove poetry prompt. Thanks Dixie–readers here know I love my egrets…and their cousin, the great blue heron is a welcome sighting any day!

Advice from a Willet: SOL22 Day 13

On this “spring ahead” day, I found myself watching a shorebird, a willet, and thinking about those “advice from” posters and bookmark you see around. Maybe after watching and taking plenty of photos of these guys over the years, I can write from a willet’s perspective…giving some advice.

A willet and its reflection @kd0602 2022

Advice from a Willet

Hang out on the shoreline, inhale its briny breath, breathe out the day’s worries

Take time to reflect, look back to move forward

In the light @kd0602 2022

Enjoy the light, energize yourself with sunshine

Stop to pose, let others appreciate your unique beauty

Over the shoulder @kd0602 2021

Look over your shoulder, remember where you’ve been and where you came from

Stretch, keep your body moving and flexible

Wings out @kd0602 2016

Dance and sing, even if you are the only one who hears the music

Spread your wings, be ready to take flight and explore the world

@kd0602 2022

Growing Advocates and Activists: SOL22 Day 12

I love writing project work and the ways that teachers are the driving force behind proactive change. A conversation with a colleague a few years ago–about the need for climate/environmental education to become “ordinary,” something that students experience regularly, in all their classes, throughout their education career–has stuck with me. And as a result, this year in our local writing project, we convened a group of SDAWP educators to explore that very idea with an added twist: how can we make environmental literacy and justice both ordinary and also have writing at its center?

Today was our celebration and the opportunity to hear details about the work that teachers in this group accomplished. Each put together a 5 minute overview of the work, highlighting student engagement and involvement through writing.

Wow! I felt like I could see these young people growing into advocates and activists right before my eyes. They wrote and spoke with passion about our world, recognizing its beauty AND our need to take better care of it for their future. There were letters, informational pieces, persuasive essays, narratives, poems, artwork, speeches and more. I felt my heart grow three sizes just witnessing this incredible work facilitated by my writing project colleagues.

Our next step is to figure out ways to take this work beyond our group, to and beyond our larger writing project community, and to establish this as something students can expect throughout their schooling. The beauty is that these teachers did not take away anything they were required to teach, instead they worked this content into the learning the students were expected to experience anyway.

There will be more to come…

Surfing Pelican; @kd0602

SOLC Day 16: Appreciating Unexpected Gifts

In this upside down world where nothing feels normal, a walk on the beach feels like a treat. Hearing that others in our state are getting directions to “shelter in place” makes me feel like my open air walks may be a thing of the past very soon. I worry about going stir-crazy with no outlet for exploring the natural world!

I did get my beach walk in today…an extra long one since rain is expected later tonight. But my real treat came later…in the most unexpected way.

If you’ve followed my blog or Instagram (@kd0602) you might know that I’m pretty obsessed with egrets and herons. I’ve written about them here and here and here. Now that both my husband and I are working from home, every invitation to go outside the house is a welcome one. So when he asked if I wanted to walk down the street to check the mail, I jumped at the chance. We headed out–the skies were gray and the wind was kicking up in advance of the storm forecasted for tonight–walking down the hill on the sidewalk in the neighborhood. And we saw it…that distinctive shape, pure white, landing on the deck of a neighbor’s house. A great egret. Perched on the deck wall, we had a perfect view from afar.

I never see egrets in my neighborhood, but like on the beach, I crept closer feeling lucky my phone was in my pocket and not in the house. When photographing birds I know to take many shots, increasing my odds of a good photo. As it took flight, I continued to press the shutter…

and then follow it as it landed across the street near the park and our mailboxes. Unlike the snowy egrets I see on my beach walks, the great egret does not have bright yellow feet. But it does have a yellow beak where the snowy’s beak is black.

It seems a bit strange to have an egret visitor in the neighborhood today, but what an unexpected gift it was! I love getting close enough to see the texture of the feathers, especially as they were ruffled by the wind. On days and weeks like these, I’m learning to appreciate the little things…like a neighborhood visit by an egret.

Writing and Photo Challenge: Reflection

Reflection in writing and thinking has become habit for me…and it’s something I emphasize for my students.  In fact, I did an extensive study of reflective thinking and writing for my MA quite a few years ago now.  I know that reflection helps learning stick.  It creates opportunities for problem solving and connections.  In the classroom we talk about reflection as a way of collecting learning.

Over the last week or so I’ve been playing around with reflection in my photographs.  It’s a bit different from reflective thinking and writing.  Instead of examining your thought processes and searching memory, this kind of photography requires a shiny surface of some sort to catch the reflection.  Low tide walks are perfect when there is some sunshine to create reflections.  I’ve had to tinker with angles, how close to get to the reflective surface, and what kinds of objects reflect well.  Yesterday, low tide was near sunset.  Perfect weather, warm and clear, allowed for a refreshing walk in the water.  I noticed the reflection of the pier, light posts, pilings, and even people, creating a perfect mirror image on the wet sand.

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I couldn’t resist trying to capture the color in this reflective photo of the buildings and palm trees along the shore line.  I love the brilliance of the blue sky reflected on the wet sand.

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I noticed this reflection as I worked to create an interesting photo of some trash on the beach.  As I turned my phone to find an interesting angle, I noticed the reflection of the palm trees.  While the angle isn’t perfect, I was able to get an interesting #litterati photo and get some plastic off the beach and out of the ocean.

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I’m a bit obsessed with seabirds.  I try to get as close as possible without spooking them, getting low if possible.  These guys are pretty perceptive and love to start walking away when they see me in the distance!  I particularly like the soft light of the setting sun warming up their reflection with the pier in the background.

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I captured this guys’s image earlier in the week.  The day was a bit gray and blustery, ruffling his feathers and making the texture dimensional. This is the only photo in the post that I have edited.  I found that by darkening and brightening the image, I could draw attention to the detail of the feathers, the beak and the reflection.

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Reflecting on all this reflection reminds me how much there is to learn from thinking about the processes we use.  While photography uses different skills and processes than writing, they both benefit from taking time to reflect on successes and frustrations.  And it always helps to study the work of another.

So, head out with your camera and try your hand at capturing reflection. Low tide created a perfect shiny surface for me.  Will you find another body of water?  A wet patio deck? The shiny side of your car?  And what will you learn when you take the time to think back and write about your experience capturing reflection through your lens?

Share your #reflection 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 #reflection.

I can’t wait to learn from your reflection photos…and your reflections on reflection this week!

Writing and Photography Invitation: Black and White

We live in a colorful world, filled with blue skies, green grass, flowers of infinite variety and so much more.  But some days, it is by draining the color away that we truly notice details.

I like the way that black and white photos bring the focus to contrast and highlight light and shadow.  This lifeguard tower, empty now that summer has passed, becomes an intricate maze of ladders in black and white as the shadows blend with the actual steps.

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I’m still working on my nighttime photography, something I just don’t get enough practice time with.  The other night the full moon was rising just before I headed to bed and I stepped out onto our deck to observe.  It’s hard to get a clear moon picture, especially with my phone camera.  Even though there was little color in the original, black and white seems to highlight the glow of the moon against the silhouette of the roof.

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Low tides at the beach offers expanses of wet sand, another vehicle for reflecting light.  The tide was quite low last week, creating perfect conditions for long walks and interesting photos.  I love the way the wet sand reflects the cliffs in the black and white version of this image.

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These white stairs to nowhere are a favorite photography subject of mine.  They sit at the beach below the Self Realization Fellowship and I imagine they were once an operational path to the beach.  Now, in their brilliant white, they create an interesting contrast to the sky and the cliff.  (I wonder if they are painted regularly, they seem to maintain that clean white quality over the years.)

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Those weekend low tides also meant that intertidal creatures were on display.  This sea anenome was hanging out in a shallow pool of water in the exposed rocks on the shore.  You can see some of the other life forms that it shares its home with too.

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And sometimes the beach itself is an exercise in monochromatic tones.  I used Color Splash to take away color in order to bring attention to this light blue soccer ball and its reflection.  Just a hint of color brings the focus to the ball, seemingly abandoned on the shore while people play in the background.

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So play around with black and white this week, in your photos and in your writing.  You might take some new photos with black and white in mind or play around with some existing photos, noticing what changes when you drain the color out.  How does that work in your writing?  What does black and white writing look like?  How does focusing on light and shadow change your writing?

Share your #blackandwhite 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 #blackandwhite.

So play around with your images…and your words.  Share your favorites with the rest of us!

Writing and Photo Invitation: Change

Change happens.  Sometimes when you least expect it.  It’s still warm and sunny and shorts are my go-to weekend attire, but on my beach walk Sunday I was thankful I had grabbed my sweatshirt.  The breeze was chilly…and honestly, it has felt fall-ish all weekend.

On my way to work each morning I drive along the coast.  Lately I’ve been noticing the field of pumpkins, bright orange and framed by the row of palm trees.  I read something today that informed me that these are grown by people at the Self Realization Fellowship (located just to the west) and they become a magnificent display of creatively carved jack-o-lanterns on Halloween each year.

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Seasonal change is subtle in San Diego.  I’m starting to see posts and photos by friends who live further east and further north.  The trees are turning and color is dominating the natural landscape.  Instead of brilliant reds and oranges, I am noticing that the beach is wide open with many fewer tourists visiting and maybe many locals occupied by piano lessons and soccer games instead of those long lazy summer days on the shore.  I love this time of year with the sun warming my shoulders, my feet in the surf, and long stretches of open space in front of me.  The shore birds seem to enjoy it too, less skittish as I come near with my camera.

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There is lots of change in store decor these days too.  Supermarkets are filled to brim with pumpkin flavored this and that and those pop up Halloween shops are opening.  A trip to Home Depot over the weekend revealed lots and lots of fall flowers.  The bees were happy, flying around and doing their pollinator thing, regardless of the change around them!

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And all change isn’t seasonal.  My teaching life is profoundly changed this year too.  After 23 years co-teaching a multiage class, I am on my own with third graders this year.  I am adjusting to the change in workflow and loving the intimacy of time alone with my students.  The rhythms are different, but the work is familiar and fulfilling.

img_8389What does change look like in your place, in your life?  You might consider the seasonal changes…or not.  There are lots of changes that we experience, some because of the change in the weather and some because of other changes in our lives.

 

Share your #change 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 #change.

Take a look around and notice change in your life this week.  Pick up your camera, phone, notebook and pen and document all that you see and experience.  Be sure to share…I look forward to seeing and thinking about your change too!

 

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Distance

Some weeks are about getting close, putting your nose up against the window, noticing every detail.  But for me, this last week has been about the long view, looking into the distance.

There’s nothing like a road trip to get you looking long.  The seemingly endless freeway laid out in front of you, promising hours and hours in the car until you reach that destination.  It seems a shame to waste all that time, lucky for me, my camera turns that long, endless highway into an opportunity for a study.

California is fascinating.  I live at the bottom of the state, the southern boundary, nestled right up next to Mexico.  We are known for our beautiful beaches and temperate climate. And who doesn’t love the beach?  Here’s sign in the distance meant for dog parents (although who is really reading when the beach is beautiful and the water feels so nice?).

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When the high tide prevents you from going in one direction, you simply turn around and head the other way.  This stretch of beach led us to a bridge where the river mouth allows the lagoon and beach to connect…and creates new playgrounds.  Can you see the floaters in the distance?

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I can never resist a sunset, although the marine layer along the coast has made them a bit unpredictable lately.  We thought we might not see any sunshine as we headed to the beach last weekend, but a bit of sun peeked through the thick clouds.  As we walked, we noticed the bubble man in the distance and I had to stop to snap some bubble photos.

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You can see the sun trying to make its way through the clouds behind the bubbles.  It’s such fun to watch the giant bubbles form and float into the distance just out of reach of all the hands trying to touch and pop them.

Another night I noticed the sun setting through the window at home.  I headed out with my camera to see if I could catch the colors I was seeing in the distance.  A bit of editing made the sky pop with the colors I was seeing.

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Back to the road trip.  We’re making our way up the length of the long narrow state, first crawling through LA traffic (with a quick stop for hugs and kisses from one grandson) and then back on the road, over the grapevine into the central valley to stop for the night.  Of course, again I needed to catch the sunset through my lens, and through the gas station parking lot.

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The next morning had us back on the road heading to see our other two grandson for the next leg of our adventure.  The tomato trucks always catch my attention (you can see that I’ve written about them before), there’s something about the open trucks piled high with red, ripe tomatoes that makes me pull out my camera.  I also learned that California grows the majority of tomatoes for the nation, with most of them farmed in the central valley area because of the hot, dry summers.  I watched and snapped truck after truck after truck as we passed them on the long stretch of highway.

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As we turned from highway 5 toward the 580, instead of trucks it was windmills that caught my eye.  The Altamont Pass wind farm was one of the first in the United States, a response to the 70’s energy crisis (something I just learned after taking photos of the wind turbines).  There are nearly 5000 perched on the distant hillsides as you make your way into the East Bay.

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And when I turned back to look behind, I noticed all these cows on the hillside too, seemingly undisturbed by the windmills in the distance.

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So, take the long view this week.  What do you see in the distance?  Will you look through a window, from the top of a hill, from the end of your driveway?

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

Gaze into the distance…what will you see?  I can’t wait to see what you find!

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!

 

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!