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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!

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Odds and Ends

Most days I turn to my camera for inspiration, for relaxation, for opportunities for creativity.  It’s flexible and convenient and I find ways to fit picture taking into even the busiest days.  Except when I don’t.  Those days are rare, but this last week was one of those weeks.  I did turn to my camera, but with less frequency and less inspiration…and I ended up with some odds and ends.

Like the afternoon that I wandered about my yard looking for something I wanted to take a picture of.  Actually, I was probably avoiding the pile of work I needed to do…but I did find inspiration…in the light and color of the faucet on the rain barrel on the side of my house.  One of those odds and ends…

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It has been tricky going directly from the end of my school year on Monday to the first day of the Summer Institute on Tuesday.  I missed having a day or a few to take a few deep breaths and reset my brain for summer learning.  I noticed this table and umbrella with the solar panels fueling a charging station while walking to the room where we hold the SI the other day.  I like that the UCSD triton is visible in the background.  I’ll have to try out the charging station one of these days.  Another of my odds and ends.

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During my teaching demo I asked the teachers in the room to play and reminded them that robust and long-lasting learning comes from play and playfulness.  There’s nothing like an index card with a piece of tissue paper and some colored markers to encourage a bit of play.  Here’s a couple of creations.  (The photos are mine, the creations belong to others.)

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A trip to the airport late at night to pick up my husband…right in the middle of the week…brought me face to face with this sculpture of travelers.  Hands full, facing forward, waiting in line…it takes some seriousness to navigates the perils of travel.  The airport was surprisingly full, and ripe for people watching, as the hour approached midnight.  Another shot to add to my odds and ends collection.

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One of the highlights of the Summer Institute (SI) is the opportunity (or pressure) to write…and to share that writing for feedback in Writing Response Groups.  As I was working with my group, this view of the long corridor caught my attention, reminding me that thinking and writing and teaching–at its best–requires that we explore the corridors of our minds, making connections, taking twists and turns, opening doors that we might not even have known existed.

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So…what odds and ends have you collected this week?  Even when you are at your busiest and it seems that an interesting photo is impossible, pause for just a moment and snap one of those odds and ends.

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

Take a moment and snap some of those odds and ends this week.  The advantage of that camera in your pocket or purse (you know, your phone!) is that it is always with you.  Pull it out and see what you can see.  Be sure to share with us!

 

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Endings

Things end.  Sometimes we look forward to endings, anticipating what will follow.  Other endings are more bittersweet. June can be gray and overcast here along the coast, what we fondly (or not so fondly) refer to as “June Gloom.”  Last week was gray…and by the weekend, I was ready for the sun to shine through.  Saturday the gloom was so thick that we needed windshield wipers, and even Sunday morning things were gray.  But as we headed out for breakfast, we noticed the coast was brighter than inland.  So after breakfast and some much needed work in my classroom, we headed up to Oceanside to walk along the pier since the tide was too high for walking at our local beach.

Once there, the gloom ended and the sun shone through.  We spied this sailboat from the pier.  There’s something beautiful and calming about the monochromatic blue.

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Under the pier is always an interesting view.  I particularly like way the light and shadow plays with the pilings and the pier deck, ending in the sand below.  It isn’t easy to take “new” pictures under the pier…but I feel like this one has a bit of a different vibe.

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This was the last week of school, so endings have been front and center both in my mind and in this week’s activities.  In our multiage class we have a tradition of ending the year with a musical production.  It takes the form of a review of the school year, highlighting learning with third graders as featured speakers and all the kids singing and dancing.  This year also marks the end of the multiage class.  After 23 years of teaching students in this format that features three grade levels in the same class with two teachers, next year I will be in a single grade classroom with third graders on my own.  I am both sad and excited, knowing that change brings new opportunity.

We were surprised at the end of the musical on Monday evening to not only have the third grade parents and their children present us with a book of 23-word stories (inspired by some 25-word stories we had done earlier in the year) to honor the 23 years of the class (yes, I’ve taught it all 23 years, with two different teaching partners!), but then to have a third grade parent who also happens to be the mayor of our local community step up to the microphone.  When she introduced herself as the mayor rather than as third grade mom, I realized that something more was coming.  She presented us with a Mayor’s Certificate of Recognition highlighting the work we have done through our multiage teaching…such a touching gesture and honor.

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Busy weeks make daily photography a bit of a challenge.  In spite of that I try not to end the day without a picture or two.  Sometimes it means trying to find a new angle on something that is ordinary.  I noticed the fuzz on this tree on our walk in the neighborhood the other day…and the light seemed to magnify it.

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And these wildflowers with the sun dropping behind them reminded me of a sunset at the end of the day.  I kind of like the green of the solar flare in the center.

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Busy days mean resorting to eating out, including a quick trip to a Mexican seafood place the other night.  This is your quick and informal kind of place, yet the small jars of wildflowers caught my eye, especially with the light coming in the window and the flier in reverse since it was posted on the outside of the window.  I did play around with the light balance and contrast in the app Snapseed to brighten this display.

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School ended yesterday…at least the part with students.  As I worked to downsize my classroom from two rooms to one, I found myself making tough decisions about materials, files, books and more.  By the time I got home in the evening, I was exhausted.  But when my husband suggested a trip to the beach to watch the sunset, I was eager…and grabbed my camera as we headed out.

The tide was pretty high, not ideal for walking, but we noticed a guy with a large bubble making wand on the shore.  With the sunsetting behind him, it was fun to try to catch shots of the bubbles before the kids ran up and poked and popped them.  I got some interesting shots, but this is my favorite…and it was such a perfect ending to an emotional and tiring day.  After taking photos and talking with the bubble guy, we sat in the sand and watched as the sun dipped lower and lower into the ocean.  Taking time to breathe and appreciate nature’s beauty is a perfect way to end the day…and the school year.

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So, what do endings look like where you are?  Feel free to interpret ending in whatever way works for you…it might be a physical ending like the end of the pier, an emotional ending, or something only you can imagine and photograph, you always get to choose!

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

Grab your camera and find those endings…be they happy, sad, bittersweet, or something else entirely.  Be sure to share your endings with the rest of us!

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Perspective

With 5 more student days of the school year ahead of me, I’m working to keep myself focused and in the moment.  These are those bittersweet endings that are inextricably intertwined with the anxiety of pending deadlines (report cards, classroom organization, classroom musical…), the excitement of summer, and the uncertainties of the changes ahead. So this week, my photos remind me about perspective.

A meeting earlier this week to do some planning for this year’s Invitational Summer Institute (SI), brought me into contact with a friend’s dog.  I couldn’t resist this photo of Siggy curled up in a favorite chair, complete with a red wrap to both give him that fashion flair and to keep him comfy. Siggy definitely reminds me of the importance of self-care and the value of down time.

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This is the last year of my beloved multiage class.  We have so many traditions…one of which is taking our third graders rock climbing as a way to celebrate the end of their three years with us.  Rock climbing seems like such a perfect metaphor for all that happens over the course of three years with the same students.  We get to witness such growth in confidence and risk-taking as they take on more and more leadership within the safety of the classroom.  And who can resist the perspective of a student in flight, hanging in midair perfectly relaxed, enjoying the view from new heights?

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The fair’s in town!  The state fair is always here in June, running through the 4th of July.  I’ve been going to this fair my whole life, walking through exhibits, sitting through cooking demonstrations, viewing student art, and petting goats.  Living where I do, the arrival of the fair also means an increase in already heavy traffic.  I knew I would be dealing with fair traffic as I headed home from the university the other day.  I started to feel annoyed, knowing the commute would crawl through Del Mar.  Instead, I decided to change my perspective and pull off to take some pictures.  I found a parking place and walked up to the mouth of the lagoon where you can see the fun zone of the fair from the back.  It was fun taking photos and looking at the fair with fresh eyes.

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I crossed the street and found this dramatic entry to the beach.  I ended up walking back to my car by strolling on the shore of the beach, enjoying the sea breeze and watching egrets navigate the surf.   When I got back in my car, the traffic was no longer irritating me!

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Back in the classroom it’s been Ocean Week.  Every year our entire school takes a week to focus attention on the ocean (it is right outside our door, after all!).  Traditionally we have a sing-a-long and ocean parade on the last day, with all our young students wearing ocean-themed “costumes.” In our class, we decided to stretch the definition of costume this year and instead have the kids make signs to carry.  They came up with informative slogans for one side, collected beach plastics and other trash in the week or so before the parade, and created a watercolor sea creature to swim among the trash on the other side of the sign.  Wearing all blue, we became a sea of activists advocating for the sea!  (And hopefully changed some perspectives about this precious resource along the way!)

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A Friday afternoon walk on the beach has become a pretty regular habit for me, and as the weather warms, for others as well.  As I knelt to take a picture of some trash I was picking up, I ended up with this shot of a woman reading as she walked along the beach. You can see that I missed the trash in my shot, but I kinda like the blurred shot of the reader.

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I’ve included quite a few shots of stacks of rocks along the beach lately. And yesterday there were more stacks in some different places along my route.  I was drawn to this tall stack that looks out on one of my favorite parts of the beach.

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So head out in search of a new perspective.  What will you find when you look at the world from a different angle?  You might literally move behind a familiar scene or kneel low to change you view or simply change your outlook and look with fresh eyes.

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

Grab your camera and change your perspective.  What will you see?  Be sure to share your photos with us here!

Weekly Photo Challenge: In a Line

Sometimes things line up.  I’ve been to this airport hundreds of times…and a bunch just in the last few weeks, but this view stopped me in my tracks.  I love the lines of the plexiglass window, the horizon reflected from behind, the palm trees along the right side, and the traffic snaking along below.  I took this photo with my phone…and I just love everything about it!

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I was surprised to find these mailboxes on a walk not far from my son’s suburban home.  I think of mailboxes like this as something I would find on a rural lane.  I love they way they are all in a line, there is something about the differences in color and degrees of rustiness that add to their character.  (Along with that branch on the end!)

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This nearby canal runs alongside a line of hiking/biking/running trails.  We took our grandsons out in the stroller to walk along them and Geoff did some running to keep up his training for the Rock and Roll half marathon tomorrow.  I love following the line of the canal with your eye and seeing the mountains in the distance.

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These drying flowers also seem to hang in a line, remnants from the profusion of spring wildflowers.

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Back at home brought me back to the beach.  Along the cliffs there were stacks and stacks of rocks, all in a line.  I wonder if they are stacked by the same person(s) or if people see them and add to the piles.  I saw them a few weeks ago, and there are even more in the same spot now.  It’s hard to get a photo that shows the number of stacks.

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As I drove to my other son’s house last night, I watched the sunset as I followed the line of freeway that stretches its way from one end of our state to another.  The huge orange ball slowly sunk, making the taillights of the cars ahead even more prominent.

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I spent the day today with my other grandson while his parents prepared to celebrate my daughter-in-law’s completion of her pediatric residency at a dinner with all the other residents.  I’m loving these grandma moments, getting to watch child development from a new perspective.  As I watched him run from one end of the backyard to the other, touching the grass,, crinkling dry leaves in his fingers, poking his finger in the sprinkler heads I was reminded of the power of exploration and curiosity.  How lucky I am to look at the world again through the eyes of my three young grandsons!

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So, what’s lining up in your world this week?  Take a look around and captures those lines in a photo or few.

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

Be on the look out for those things that are in a line…or create some lines of your own.  Be sure to share with the rest of us!