Tag Archives: black and white

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: Black and White

This week we’ve been plagued with the notorious “May gray,” days with a marine layer so thick that it’s as if the world exists only in black and white.  And in these days of digital photography, I take all my photos in color…but find myself sometimes wondering if a particular image would look better (or different) in black and white.  So since our days have been lacking in color anyway, what better excuse for exploring images in black and white?

I noticed these motorcycles lined up across the street from me when we visited Julian over the weekend.  With the gray skies and their headlights on, I wanted a way to focus attention on the motorcycles and their lights.

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I loved the light in this photo of the dark red tulip and wondered what would happen if it were in black and white.  The light is still the focal point, even with the absence of color.

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That had me looking for an image with movement…like this one of the waves breaking under the pier.  I miss the beautiful turquoise of the water, but love the vibrance of the splash against the pilings.

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And there’s the ever iconic UCSD Geisel Library…this most recent photo was my attempt to capture the clouds behind it.  There is something timeless about black and white images…

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So this is your week to explore with the absence of color.  What images will you capture in black and white?  Which work well…which need color to bring out their beauty?

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 for this week and include @nwpianthology in your post.

Even if you are not immersed in the gloom of “May gray,” experiment with black and white.  I look forward to seeing black and white through your lens!

The Rule of Thirds

I woke up this morning thinking about where I wanted to go today to take some photos.  I wanted to stay close to home…and I didn’t want to head to the beach since I take a lot of beach shots.  I finally decided to head up near a golf course not too far from home, thinking about some greenhouses I pass every day and never take the time for a close look.

For February’s #sdawpphotovoices, we are playing with photography techniques and spending a week on each of four different aspects of those techniques.

I headed out this morning specifically thinking about the rule of thirds–the technique of placing the focal element of the photo off to the side rather than centering it in the frame of the lens. This is a technique I do pay attention to, and sometimes it creates spectacular shots.  I notice that when I move the focal point off the center, I also allow something else interesting into the shot.

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In the case of this watertower, it also allowed the beautiful flowering trees and the mottled clouds to enter the stage.  In some cases, moving into the thirds also works to simplify the scene and allows the viewer to see what you are looking at and not everything your lens might otherwise see.

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As I was thinking about the rule of thirds in photography, I was also thinking about the value of applying that rule to instruction.  Sometimes the best approach to learning is coming at it from the side, letting context take center stage.

We saw evidence of this at the end of last week when we asked students to reflect on the service learning project we’ve been working on.  While we did revisit the importance of some kind of introduction and conclusion to a piece of writing, as students wrote about something they were not only intimately familiar with but also something that they were engaged and invested in, the writing flowed.  And we even had that wonderful experience of having students beg for more writing time!

Sometimes you barely notice the rule of thirds being applied.  You might remember that I mentioned greenhouses at the beginning of this post.  The area where I live used to be covered with flower fields and greenhouses.  Development has pushed much of the agriculture out of our area, fields and greenhouses now replaced by million dollar (or more) homes.  As I explored this morning, I captured some shots of one of the remaining operations–surrounded by a suburban housing development and across the street from the golf course.

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In this case my focal point was the bird of paradise in the foreground.  The greenhouses and the sky serve as a beautiful backdrop.  I was wishing for the sides of the greenhouse to open. There are many days when I drive by and notice the plastic walls open, offering a peek at the colorful flowers within.

And finally, it’s sometimes the simplest of things that makes for a beautiful photo.  This tree and fence and clouds taken from the back of the golf course seemed a perfect candidate for a black and white application.  I think the white fence and the white clouds create the kind of contrast that is needed with black and white.

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I had a lot of fun playing with the rule of thirds and exploring the local community.  It’s interesting to drive down side streets and behind the places I see so often only from my car window as I commute to and from work.  I’m thinking that a month focused on photographic technique may offer me many new ways to play…right here, close to home.