Tiny Celebrations

It’s easy to get involved in all the chores and duties of life and leave the actual living behind.  Loads of laundry, stacks of dishes, the carpet that needs vacuuming, stopping by the gas station after work, the quick trip to Trader Joe’s for cat food and yogurt…  In that blur of activity, a focus on what matters most can easily slip.

For me, that’s where my camera comes in.  When I head out with my camera, even if it is only out into the backyard, I start to pay attention to the beauty and life around me.  I find an appreciation that might otherwise be overlooked.

Today, instead of a walk after work, I headed home.  But even though time was short, I knew I needed time outdoors, so to the backyard I went. The ground was pretty muddy from all the rain, weeds sprouting where grass used to grow.  Plants in pots have gone crazy, with succulents growing large and lavender beginning to blossom.  I leaned in, zooming close with my macro lens.  I love the way that this close up shot brings the lavender into focus, blurring the background into a beautiful abstract painting.  And I was delighted by the bokeh effect, scattering the light behind the lavender without using any special effects.

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As I walked along the fence line, I noticed some blossoms on the pear tree that we thought had died.  The drought has taken a toll on our yard, killing most of the lawn and any other plants that were not well established.  This young tree is showing some signs of life…but is certainly neither robust or likely to bear fruit any time soon.  But the blossoms are delicate and dainty–reminders that spring is on the way.  Time outside helps me find focus and reminds me that there is more to life than daily chores.  Tiny celebrations make all the difference!

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I read an article I found on Twitter the other day about the power of five post-it notes to make you happy, confident and successful.  I feel like I can achieve the same effects with my camera.  Look closely and find something beautiful, something unusual, something funny (like this photo of the little girl hula hooping in her tiara and long pageant gloves)

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…all reminders of what life has to offer when you make time everyday to appreciate the world around you.

Waiting

We do it every day in lots of ways.  In the line at the grocery store or as the barista prepares that perfect latte.  In the dentist’s office or in that line of cars on the metered freeway onramp.  For the ladies room during that oh-so-short recess break or that important phone call you were expecting half an hour ago.  Waiting…

As I walked the beach the other day I noticed a bunch of surfers out on their boards on the waves…waiting.  Or were they?  Does it only count as waiting if it feels like time is slipping away?  That you could be doing something more important or more productive (or more fun)?  As I’ve watched surfers over the years, I notice that surfing involves spending quite a bit of time sitting on the board, watching the waves develop, visiting with other surfers, perhaps even enjoying the sun (or rain or fog or even cold) in the time between actually paddling into a wave and standing up.  Do surfers see that time as waiting?

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When I know I am going to wait, I come prepared.  I carry my book or some work I need to get done, I pull out my phone, flip through social media, news, photos.  If it’s a long wait–like an airplane ride, I bring an assortment of activities and hope for access to a movie or TV shows to help pass the time.  The worst waiting for me is the kind of waiting when you can’t do anything but wait–like sitting in rush hour traffic.  My only options then are to listen to the radio or maybe squeeze in a phone call (hands free, of course!).  But sometimes, waiting leaves you with only you to spend time with.  Time for thinking and reflection…alone with your own thoughts.

So maybe waiting is about your frame of mind.  When it is part of an activity you enjoy–like surfing, waiting isn’t waiting, it’s just what you do.  So what about those lines at the grocery store? Can we make them more enjoyable, time spent in thought, perusing tabloid papers, visiting with the stranger in line in front or behind you?  Maybe we need names for the different kinds of waiting–like the names for snow in those really cold places–to express the nuanced differences between them.  I’ll be thinking about that as I sit in traffic tomorrow…

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Water

I know I often take it for granted–that precious liquid that fills our bodies, covers most of our planet, and that has been rare here where I live for the past six years.  Drought reminds you how much you depend on water and all the dead lawns in the neighborhood are visual reminders of the impact of ongoing water restrictions.  But it’s been raining a lot around here lately.  Normal rainfall is about ten inches a year…and this year we’re already over eleven and a half inches with March still to come.  We returned to school on Monday after a week off with the rain steadily falling–and it rained and rained and rained.  We had rain for nearly 24 hours straight–something our area doesn’t handle very well.  When it rains like that, a waterfall appears in front of my classroom door.  I noticed this overflowing drainpipe Monday.

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And needless to say, our students were not enjoying their usual lunch area–instead they were ensconced in our classroom all day long.

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You might notice that there are few ways to get around without getting wet when it rains like this.  Kids get soaked going to the bathroom, we all got soaked on our way to the school library.  Water was everywhere on Monday!

On the day before, it was pretty clear that a storm was coming.  A walk on the beach was an exercise in dodging raindrops (success on that point!) and reveling in the many shades of gray as the clouds gathered overhead.  The wind attracted an intrepid windsurfer with a bright green sail…and my camera followed him around as I walked along the shore.

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And after a rainy Monday, it was surprising how beautiful the rest of the week has been.  By Wednesday, I walked in the afternoon sunshine after work.  You can see that this seagull and the surfer in the background where also enjoying the water…and the sun!

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After work today, I knew I would head for the water.  But I also wanted a change of pace–a new view, something to spark my imagination and my photography.  I headed to a nearby beach–but not the one I walk routinely.  The tide wasn’t very low this afternoon so I had mountains of rocks to climb.  I also found flights and flights of stairs.  I climbed for  a view above the water–and was rewarded with a treat for the eyes!  (No editing was needed or used as I captured this view of endless water.)

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But I did play around with this shot of a paddle boarder enjoying the cool waters on a Friday afternoon.  I wanted to intensify the colors and highlight the way the sun was shimmering on the water’s surface.

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As I scrolled through my photos this week, water was ever-present in one form or another.  What role does water play in your life and photography?  Does it fall from the sky or flow from the hose in your garden?  Do bodies of water call your name or do you find water in less obvious places?

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

Take a look around for water–in any of its forms.  What will you discover when you look at that amazing substance through the lens of your camera?  I know I can’t wait to find out!

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Day in the Life

Sometimes it’s the ordinariness of our lives that make them extraordinary. Or at least that’s been my experience this week. With a week off from work, my week could have been spent on an amazing vacation (theoretically).  Instead, I spent this week hanging out with my sons, daughters-in-law, and my precious grandsons. And I have loved time spent with the ordinary tasks of a day in the life.

I have read endless board books (I highly recommend The Pout Pout Fish), sung silly songs (in my off-key singing voice), played peek-a-boo, changed poopy diapers, spooned mouthfuls of strained fruits and vegetables into tiny mouths, and torn food into tiny bite-sized pieces…and loved every minute! I’ve followed little crawlers all around the house, much of the time on my own hands and knees.

I loved pushing little guys on these animal toys–I definitely logged some miles!


I also spent time traveling. I rode BART on a rainy afternoon, and enjoyed the cloudy skies, cool breezes, and quiet time for reflection.

I noticed the flags flying over the airport, with the clouds as a backdrop. The American and California flags were expected…the third flag is more of a mystery.

Arriving home to our local airport, seeing palm trees is a regular sight in a day in my life–but the lights on these palms caught my eye.

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Home for a day, I couldn’t resist squeezing in a walk on the beach.  After last week’s storms, the beach is rocky and mostly empty–perfect conditions for walking and taking photos!  I do love that a walk on the beach is a part of a day in my life!

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Then I repacked and headed out again…to repeat the same activities from earlier in the week.  Lots of board book reading, lots of playing and hugging and squeezing…singing and diaper changing.  And some celebrating too…turning one is a big deal!

But again, it is the ordinary that I cherish…like the tiny shoes lined up next to my son’s much bigger ones.

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What does a day in your life look like?  What pieces of your ordinary routine do you cherish?  What images tell us the story of your life?

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

As you go about your life this week, pull out your camera and document the ordinariness of a day in the life from your perspective.  What images will tell the stories of your days?

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.