Tag Archives: connected learning

Stories in Glass: Reflections on Making and Learning

Intense heat and human breath give shape to these vessels. Twirling, pinching, another breath, back into the fire, working and reworking until art emerges from what was once sand and rock. Is this what makes us human? The ability, the desire, the necessity to make…to create from the materials around us?

Evidence abounds, from cave paintings to stained glass creations, super-sized cloth installations that line valleys and islands and spray-painted graphics on the sides of railroad trestles and freeway overpasses. They all suggest a need to make and mark our world.

A visit to the Chihuly glass museum in Seattle served to pique my interest in this question of making and art. I love an art museum and had heard from others that this was a museum worth visiting. I had seen photos of glass art and had already visited a glass studio, just down the street from our favorite donut shop in Seattle. Yet, I was prepared to be underwhelmed, to see beautiful bowls and other vessels, delicate blown glass creations too pricey for my budget.

Instead, I walked into the first display and was mesmerized. My eyes were drawn to the white: shiny glass lighting up a dark room. Long stalks of lighted glass protruding like shoots from irregularly shaped bulbs. As in nature, the irregularities were an essential part of the beauty as this stalk curved, that bulb leaned. It was impossible to see where one piece ended and the reflection from the shiny black floor began, creating a sense of infinity that stretched the exhibit well beyond its actual size. This wasn’t a piece of blown glass that I was enticed to purchase, this was an installation of many glass pieces arranged and lit to create an effect. I was drawn to the description “…created by simultaneously blowing and pouring molten glass from a stepladder to the floor below…electrically charged by argon and mercury…” I stopped to take a picture or two, knowing that I would want to look at it and think about it again and again.

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I moved from space to space, now intensely curious about what each turn would offer. In one room an enormous sculpture twisted and curled to the ceiling; fish, octopi, and other sea creatures nestled within it. In another, the room was bare…until I looked up and found a glass ceiling filled with individual pieces that together created a stained-glass effect of intense color and variation. When did glass bowls and balls morph into something more: stories in glass, sweat, heat and breath?

I find myself thinking not just about the exhibits and sculptures, but about the maker and making behind the art. I’m a maker too. As a writer and blogger I use words to pull ideas closer so that I can think about them, poke and prod at them, turn them over and look under them, and invite others to look along with me. As a photographer, light becomes my medium to inscribe meaning through my camera lens. And I know that ideas in my head often don’t come out through my words or my lens in the ways I intend. But that, for me, is part of the allure…the seduction of making. I surprise myself with new understandings born from moving my fingers on the keyboard or ducking under the bench to get closer to the weed growing along the crack in the sidewalk.

I’m reminded of Seymore Papert and his theory of constructionism. In this theory, different from constructivism, learning happens when the learner is engaged in a personally meaningful activity outside of their head that makes the learning real and shareable. The activity could be making something tangible like a robot, a puppet, or a model bridge—or it can be something less concrete like a poem, a conversation, or a new hypothesis. What’s important is that the making come from the learner rather than being strictly imposed and directed from the outside (from a teacher or an employer). This element of choice and ownership often propels the maker to tinker and improve their make to meet their own criteria for better, allowing for reflection and reworking based on that reflection. This self-directed making can be a challenge in the classroom.

Traditionally it is teachers who direct and make decisions about student learning. So it’s important to create spaces that allow students to see possibilities beyond their own experiences, yet still offer choice and opportunity for experimentation and iteration. Chihuly’s first experience with glass blowing came from a college classroom assignment that required him to incorporate a nontraditional, non fabric material into a weaving. He wasn’t directed to use glass, but may not have experimented with glass without the constraints and possibilities of the assignment.

Making is about transformation. Transformation of materials, like glass or words, or images through a lens. It is also about transformation of thinking and ideas. And it begins in playfulness. Mitch Resnick of the MIT media lab describes a cycle of learning (and making) based on his observation of young children. Beginning with imagination and spiraling out to creating, children make and learn based on their ideas. As they play with their creations and share the ideas and creations with others, they have opportunities for iteration and reflection on their experiences, which leads them back again to imagine new ideas and new projects to work on or ways to improve their original idea.

I could see this in Chihuly’s glass creations. Elements of one sculpture showed up in new ways in another, chandeliers hanging from ceilings in one display turned into bigger and more elaborate free standing sculptural elements in another. And yet, each also showed new thinking—about color, about translucence and light, about placement and size, about cultural references and interactions with the larger world. I watched a few videos that included Chihuly’s reflection on his work where he talked about how his experience with a particular exhibit gives him vision for the next. I was particularly interested in the garden beneath the Space Needle in Seattle and its origins. I learned that this space, formerly a parking lot, was a blank canvas for Chihuly, something he—in collaboration with the landscape architect—could transform to allow others to see the beauty of his hometown in new ways, to expand their experience beyond the glass into the fairyland where light and glass and flowers and bees play with the backdrop of Mount Ranier and the Space Needle. Chihuly’s reflective videos helped me see and understand the spiral of experience and design and how it propeled him to new ideas and new thinking about his chosen media.

Photography is like that for me. I find myself looking at my world through the lens of my camera, and instead of limiting my view, the lens draws my attention to details of light and shadow. I see the variation of blues in the ocean waves and the foamy white of the lacey breakwaters. The white head of the bald eagle catches my attention and I watch, rapt, as it dives and swoops and then soars into the trees. I have many photos that are not taken, where I’ve missed the moment because I moved too slowly, had the wrong lens in place, or simply had to stop and wait and watch. But those missed photos become inspiration and information for tomorrow’s attempts. As I imagine, make, share and reflect, new thinking emerges and my understandings transform.

I want this for my students too. Opportunities to make and create new understandings, to transform the world as we know it. Learning, like blowing glass, needs to nestle close to the flame—the flame of needing and wanting to know and understand—and then the learner takes a breath and blows out and maybe even includes the breath of another to add dimension, depth, and diversity. Learning needs to be shaped by the learner, to expand beyond basic facts and figures and matter in the world, and in the world of the learner. Learning needs space for reflection and nudging from co-learners and outsiders—and teachers and employers—to expand the realm of the possible. Maybe we need a museum for visitors so they can walk through the breathtaking beauty of learning at the hands of those who learn best: children.

Rather than pushing children to think more like adults, we might do better to remember that they are great learners and to try harder to be more like them. –Seymore Papert

Energize Your Leap Year: February’s Photo-a-Day Challenge

Leap year comes only once every four years, bringing an extra day that evens up the calendar with the rotation of the earth around the sun. With all that rotating and leaping going on, it seems like a perfect month to continue the theme of energize with our photographs too!

Out hiking in San Diego’s back country today I noticed this sign advertising the dangers of entering the area…along with the bullet holes evident through the metal!  Luckily today was not a fire risk day and the hike was beautiful!

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On a beach walk I took recently I noticed this surfer with his surfboard carefully balanced on his head.  I couldn’t resist snapping a picture…and he smiled when he noticed me.  It’s importance to practice balance in lots of ways.

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I’ve been noticing other photographers “in the field” and have enjoyed photographing the photographer.  Watching others with their cameras gives me a way to think about and understand my own processes.  I couldn’t quite decide what this guy was focused on.  You can see the fisherman in front of him, but I never did confirm his subject–he might have been photographing the waves.

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I love watching seagulls and capturing their antics through my lens. Many of the photos are static, making this one even more interesting as I caught the seagull wading as the rising surf moved into his space.

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And here’s one from a while back when I went to watch my niece dance at her university. This recital ended with an exuberant African dance to the beat of music played by drummers in the room.  I love the energy of the dance and the way even the small movements seemed to leap from the floor.  (I loved my niece’s dance too…but this African piece was contagious!)

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When I heard the giggles of these kids playing in the surf, I immediately turned my camera lens to catch them in silhouette.  I love all the ways to enjoy the beach–regardless of age–

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from playing to meditating (like this guy crafting a meditative mandala maze)–there is something for everyone!

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So for the not-quite-as-short-as-usual month of February be on the lookout for shots that energize.  Look for action both subtle and obvious. Capture the moment of the leap, figuratively or metaphorically.  To get you started, here is a list of verbs to remind you of the variety of action and energy you might find as you head out with your camera.

  1. Advertise
  2. Balance
  3. Bloom
  4. Craft
  5. Design
  6. Ease
  7. Flip
  8. Giggle
  9. Help
  10. Inquire
  11. Jot
  12. Knot
  13. Leap (of course!)
  14. Meditate
  15. Nurture
  16. Ooze
  17. Practice
  18. Question
  19. Revise
  20. Shine
  21. Think
  22. Understand
  23. Vanish
  24. Wait
  25. Wade
  26. e”X”amine
  27. Yawn
  28. Zip
  29. Your choice!  (This day only comes once every four years!)

As always, our challenge will allow us to learn from each other as we shoot our own photos and study the photos others shoot. The prompts are there to help you find new ways to look at your world, to find the unexpected in the ordinary and the beauty in the mundane. You can use them in order or pick and choose as you like–you are welcome to add a new prompt into the mix if you are so moved. You can post every day, once a week, or even sporadically throughout the month…whatever works in your life.

Be sure to share and tag your photos with #sdawpphotovoices so we can find them! You can share on Twitter (follow me @kd0602), on Instagram (@kd0602), in the CLMOOC community on G+, on Flickr, or even link back to my blog here.

Energize February with your photos of action, leaps of imagination, and innovative designs.  Let February be your muse as you view the world through your lens.

 

Looking Closely to Look Back: December’s Photo-a-Day Challenge

We’ve reached the twelfth month, the last of the calendar year.  Traditionally, it’s a time for reflection, of taking stock of the year in order to make progress in the new year.

So…what if we look to the world around us, paying careful attention to what is currently in front of us–and use those images and related thinking to look back, to reflect on the year?

Just last week I had the opportunity to watch some college students dance (many thanks to my niece, a dance major).  Their energy and passion were obvious–and contagious!  Looking at this image reminds me that we are not attached to the the ground…we are also in flight, ready to follow our imagination.

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We tell ourselves so many stories–including stories that fuel our frustration and impatience.  Sometimes we need to reframe a story, view it from a new perspective to change our feelings and perceptions. Traffic can be a pain…or an opportunity depending on how your look at it.

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And sometimes doors don’t look like doors.  They might just be spaces you haven’t noticed before.  I’m determined to ride the train to Los Angeles one day soon…and this image will remind me to include this on my to-do list.

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Those quiet moments of waiting and watching sometimes pay off in a beautiful photo, but always fill my heart with wonder and joy…even when the photo doesn’t happen.  I get just enough rewards like this one to remind me to stop, listen, watch, enjoy what is right in front of me.

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I see dozens and dozens and dozens of seagulls–at the beach, when I drive down the freeway, at school–and yet I never tire of them.  There is a certain elegance about taking flight, gliding on the currents, and over the currents (and waves) below.  Does anyone remember reading Jonathan Livingston Seagull back in the day?

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Going to different places means seeing things that are familiar…and well, ordinary.  I like to notice the new…the magnificent architecture, the iconic art…but sometimes find myself snapping a photo of the familiar, like this walk sign.  (Now I find myself wondering if walk signs are really the same all over, maybe I need to take some more photos of them!  This one is from Minneapolis.)

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And then there is light.  Sometimes it is sunlight, sometimes moonlight…and sometimes a wonderful art piece that is all about light.  Add dark to the light and the camera creates effects that are even more interesting, reminding me that we can’t always capture images as we see them…sometimes they create themselves right in our own hands in front of our eyes.

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To get you started, here are some prompts for the month:

  1. Spaces
  2. Places
  3. Movement
  4. Relationships
  5. Home
  6. Outdoors
  7. Family
  8. Story
  9. Favorite
  10. Gift
  11. Memory
  12. Dozen
  13. Night
  14. Nature
  15. Quiet
  16. Rhythm
  17. Sharp
  18. Warmth
  19. Flame
  20. Moment
  21. Light
  22. Sky
  23. Doors
  24. Ground
  25. Celebration
  26. Water
  27. Delicious
  28. Hands
  29. Reflect
  30. Dance
  31. New

As always, our challenge will allow us to learn from each other as we shoot our own photos and study the photos others shoot. The prompts are there to help you pay attention to your world and reflect on the year and your experiences. You can use them in order or pick and choose as you like–you are welcome to add a new prompt into the mix if you are so moved. You can post every day, once a week, or even sporadically throughout the month…whatever works in your life.

Be sure to share and tag your photos with #sdawpphotovoices so we can find them! You can share on Twitter (follow me @kd0602), on Instagram (@kd0602), in the CLMOOC community on G+, on Flickr, or even link back to my blog here.

Let’s look closely to look back and move forward as we bring 2015 to a close.  Enjoy the winter holidays, whatever version you celebrate, and let your camera help you find the joy and wonder of the season.

Re-Imagining Oneself Through the Lens of the World

This post was originally posted at Digital Writing Month:  http://www.digitalwritingmonth.com/2015/11/09/re-imagining-oneself-through-the-lens-of-the-world/

A few years ago I noticed a colleague of mine taking photos with her iPhone. They weren’t the usual photos of a group of friends or of your cute child or even the requisite selfie to document a moment in time, instead, she took photos to a prompt…and posted them on Instagram. I was intrigued.

Photography was always something that interested me, but I simply couldn’t be bothered lugging around all that equipment, setting up for perfect shots…or even knowing what made a perfect shot. But with my phone (and camera) in my pocket, it was handy…and I was ready for a challenge.

So I found a photo-a-day challenge with daily prompts and set out to give it a try. Prompts like one, logo, spoon, and inside sparked my imagination and I started looking at my environment through different eyes.  I not only took at least a photo a day, I also posted at least one photo a day to my Instagram account (you can find me @kd0602). I took photos for a month, then a year…and now I continue to take and post photos regularly to Instagram. Somehow the more I took photos, the more I started thinking about the idea of blogging—an opportunity to write and share my writing in a public way.

When I started blogging in July of 2013, my goal was to write a blog post every day for 30 days.  I knew that was ambitious and I also knew that I needed to challenge myself and keep to it to create a sustainable habit.  Even as I picked a theme for my blog, I already knew that making a connection to my photography would motivate me.  I called my blog Thinking Through My Lens–a play on the double meaning of the camera lens and my own perspective on the world. What I didn’t realize until I started to blog every day was the power that the images I was snapping would have to stimulate my writing and help me frame my thinking.  A yellow sign I photographed at a gelato shop featuring locally sourced ingredients became inspiration for a post about the importance of growing and valuing local leadership in writing projects and educational settings. Each image I took filled my head with language as I sorted through my thinking.

When I’m out viewing the world through my camera lens, I find myself thinking…about teaching, about life, about the world.  My photos stimulate my thinking and my thinking sets me out in search of images.  

Recently I was out in the mountains of Alabama, looking for the foliage that represents autumn in so many places–and that is mostly missing in my place (San Diego).  Although the unseasonably warm (high 70s) and cloudy weather made the colors less vibrant, I noticed trees of gold and some touches of red.  As I walked along some forest paths, I spied this brilliant red leaf among the brown, crunchy leaves and stooped to photograph it.

red leaf

And as I look at it, I find myself composing the writing…about standing out in a crowd…about being different…about risk taking.  t’s not written yet, but it’s brewing.  I also found myself composing the photo, leaning in close to capture the details.  And then later, maybe I’ll crop it, moving the red leaf away from the center of the frame, add a filter to brighten the red and increase the contrast…  As with the writing, composing is a process and the framing, the editing, the balance of color and light all impact the ways the image will be read and understood.  The images speak to me…and I hope they also speak to others, telling them stories that are likely different from mine.

Some images capture moods…the quiet introspection of a traveler with pant legs rolled up and his feet in the surf,

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or the somber quality of birds silhouetted in a tree on a cloudy day.

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And sometimes when it seems that there is nothing interesting to see and photograph, I head outside and explore. I push myself to play and re-imagine possible images. On one of those days not so long ago I picked a dandelion from my front yard (those glorious weeds seem to bring out my playfulness—and oh, does my husband rue their existence in our lawn!) and wondered how to photograph it in a different way. I noticed my car in the driveway and considered how I might capture the image if I blew on the dandelion near the rear-view mirror, but I didn’t seem to have enough hands for that. But as I was contemplating that idea, I noticed the reflection of the dandelion in the paint of the car…and I started snapping. I continued my play with some apps…and created this image.

dandelions make art

And by embracing the ordinary, I experienced the exhilaration of exploration and play, which also led me to composing a teacher-artist manifesto using my photographs and my words to express the importance of play in the learning process.  You can see it here.

So what comes first?  The image or the words?  It’s that age-old chicken and egg dilemma…it all depends on how you look at it, and the particulars of any given situation.  And it seems to work that way for my students too.  Sometimes they have a full blown idea that appears in words on a page and other times they see something, maybe even something they have seen many times before, and the image inspires their thinking and words.  Even more fun happens when they start to really look closely at an image and they start to talk with each other and build on ideas presented by their classmates.  

An Activity: Make Writing … Digital

Head out with your camera in hand (the one on your phone or iPad or a “real” camera) and take a look around.  Let your camera lens give you “new eyes” and seek out the extraordinary in the ordinary around you.  Get low, find the light.  Tilt your lens up, try a new perspective.  Watch and wait, take more shots than you think you’ll need.  Then spend some time with your images, let your images release your imagination.  Let yourself soak in them, let them wash over you, splashing you with inspiration and wonder.  Then pick one.  You can let it speak for itself and post it naked.  Or you can let it whisper in your ear, guiding your words and your thoughts–framing an idea that you didn’t know you were ready for.

For inspiration, we encourage you to add a photograph of your “sky” to a collaborative project we are calling “Our Eyes on the Skies” — which uses an open Google Slide format. To add yours, just take a photograph of your sky. Head to “Our Eyes on the Skies.” Grab a slide. Upload your picture and label it. We hope to create a rich visual documentation of the world above our heads. You are invited.  We look forward to a collection of skies from all over the world!

(Go to slideshow for collaboration)

We hope you will share out your work across the various Digital Writing Month spaces that you inhabit. That could be right here at the Digital Writing Month blog; at your own blog or writing space; on Twitter with the #digiwrimo hashtag; in the DiGiWriMo Google Plus Community; at the DiGiWriMo Facebook page; or wherever you find yourself writing digitally.

Mini Bio:

Kim Douillard is a teacher-writer-blogger-photographer who also directs the San Diego Area Writing Project.  You can find her on Twitter and Instagram @kd0602 and on her blog at http://www.thinkingthroughmylens.wordpress.com

ABCs of Summer: June’s Photo-a-Day Challenge

Unofficially summer has begun, and even though school is still in for many in this part of the world…summer is on the brain.  Ironically, the weather is cool and gloomy…it’s definitely not the atmosphere to inspire beach going or outdoor sports, so let’s hope that this month’s photo-a-day challenge will put you in the mood for summer!

Let’s let the alphabet guide us this month…with a word prompt for each letter (a few extra to add up to the 30 we need for June).

After you shoot, post a photo each day with the hashtag #sdawpphotovoices to Twitter, Instagram, Flicker, Google+ and/or Facebook (the more the better!), so that we can all enjoy the posts. If you are game for some more playfulness, compose a blog post about a photo, a week’s worth of photos, write a photo essay, make a video or slideshow or try a learning walk! (More about learning walks here and here) You are invited to create a pingback by linking to this url or post your blog address in the comment section. It’s fun for me to see what others are doing with the same prompts I am using!

Here’s the list:

1.  awkward

2.  beach

I love the beach…in all seasons!  There is something about the interplay of the sky and water and sand that creates interesting images.

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3.  blue

4.  curious

5.  develop

I’m working to develop my photography skills.  Here is an attempt at night photography.  I like some things about this image even though it is blurry.  I need to do a lot more experimenting with shooting at night…you’ll likely see some of my trials this month!

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6.  explore

7.  friends

8.  green

You can go literal–like this green succulent–or perhaps more figurative like green with envy or environmentally aware!

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9.  hot

10.  honor

Love that this parking lot employs the honor system for charging for parking.  You slide your cash in a locked metal tube and depend on your own integrity to follow the intention.  (The Julian catholic church owns the lot and the proceeds supports people in need in the community.)

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11.  idle

12.  jump

13.  keep

14.  lost

15.  mmmmm

16.  nature

17.  observe

18.  pause

We paused to take a look at these electrical towers…and then found ourselves thinking about where towers like this are found.  Are there any in your neighborhood?

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19.  play

20.  quench

21.  relax

I love the aroma of lavender…and the beauty of the plant.  I wish I could get it to grow this beautifully in my yard!

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22.  savor

23.  travel

24.  time

25.  unexpected

26.  vary

27.  water

28.  excite

29.  yell

30.  zen

Our goal is to explore, share with each other, and learn from each other as we shoot our own photos and study the photos others shoot. Every day of the month includes a word prompt to inspire and challenge you to create beautiful photos. You are welcome to follow them in order, mix them up, or throw in a new word prompt for the rest of us to try. You can post every day, once a week, or even sporadically throughout the month…whatever works in your life. Be sure to share and tag your photos with #sdawpphotovoices so we can find them!

So let your photography get you in the summer frame of mind…and share those frames with us!

Connecting to Learn and Grow: March’s Photo-a-Day Challenge

I’ve been studying the concept of Connected Learning for a couple of years now, and have spent lots of time working to understand how the information in this infographic is relevant to me as a learner and how it might also impact my students.

Connected Learning

And through my studies I have become a connected educator…and a connected learner, especially when it comes to photography.  I learn so much from my fellow photographers and following their blogs.  Joy and Margaret and Janis and Cee and Naveen and Connie and Lynn and so many more people inspire me, teach me, encourage me, and support me as I explore what it means to take photos every day, striving to improve my skills and challenge myself.

So for this month I thought it might be fun to highlight connections in our #sdawpphotovoices photo-a-day challenge.  The connections might be environmental like those that Janis makes. Janis is passionate about keeping the beach clean and regularly posts gorgeous photos of trash she collects on the beach using the hashtag #litterati on Instagram.  Here’s an interesting post called Yuck! she wrote about the trash she collects.  Yesterday, maybe because of our stormy weather, the beach where I do most of my walking and photographing was much trashier than usual…and like Janis, my husband always walks with a trash bag to pick up the trash we find along the way.  Here are a couple of pieces of trash we picked up (and disposed of) yesterday.

love lost litterati

found float litterati

Many of the photographers mentioned above highlight the beauty of the natural world in their photos…often capturing the uniqueness of the place where they live.  Connecting with the local environment means paying attention to the details that others might overlook.  I’ve been pretty obsessed with seagulls lately and have tried to capture in photos the variety of seagull behavior I observe. Quirky is often hard to snap…but if you look closely, you can see that this seagull is shouting out directions to the others around.  What you can’t see is that there are lots of other seagulls nearby, seeming to respond to his directions!

seagull sounding the alarm

I’ve also noticed the ways the gulls gather during low tides, milling around together in pretty large groups.  They don’t seem to be eating, but do seem to enjoy hanging out together.  I notice when I walk toward them, they start walking away from me.  If I get too close, they often take to the air!

seagulls with clouds

And there aren’t many lifeguards on duty in the winter, but the few who are there make regular runs in their trucks when the tide is low.  I always love seeing the red lifeguard trucks on the beach!  (No one else drives on our beaches…and during high tides, there isn’t much beach exposed!)

lifeguard truck

Other photographers I connect with highlight the urban experience in interesting and unusual ways.  I find myself having to stretch to take interesting pictures in the suburbs where I live.  (I’m much better when I visit interesting urban, metropolitan places.)  But I did notice the balloons against the cloudy sky over the newly opened Petco.

balloons over the strip mall

And these rows of flags when I looked up.  The flags remind me of swimming lane lines…and I purposely included the palm tree peeking into the frame!

flags and palm

Then there are the photographers that take gorgeous images of flowers.  I love macro shots…but yesterday I only had my phone with me when I came across many native species seeming to thrive after the morning rain as I headed to my car after presenting at a science conference on a local community college campus.  These California golden poppies caught my eye!

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So March’s photo-a-day challenge is to connect…with another photographer, with nature, with the environment, with architecture, with your place, with the unique quirkiness of the subject… and more.  Here is a list to help inspire you as you connect.

1.  weather

2.  plants

3.  work

4.  transportation

5.  environment

6.  animals

7.  people

8.  inspired by a photograph

9.  nature

10.  household

11.  sky

12.  architecture

13.  interaction

14.  explore

15.  color

16.  sound

17.  celebration

18.  green

19.  ugly

20.  ordinary

21.  beauty

22.  connecting to art

23.  taste

24.  local

25.  exotic

26.  pets

27.  tree

28.  signs

29.  children

30.  movement

31.  still

Let’s spend March making connections…to each other, to our place, to ideas and passions.  Let your interests drive your subjects…and your peers support your continued growth. Pick a single photo to post each day or create a gallery of your efforts. Post a photo or gallery each day with the hashtag #sdawpphotovoices to Twitter, Instagram, Flicker, Google+ and/or Facebook (the more the better!), so that we can all enjoy the posts. If you would like to expand your exploration, write the story that the photo tells, compose a blog post about a photo, a week’s worth of photos, write a photo essay, or make a video or slideshow. You are invited to create a pingback by linking to this url or post your blog address in the comment section. It’s fun for me to see what others are doing with the same prompts I am using!

You can post every day, once a week, or even sporadically throughout the month…whatever works in your life. You can post your pictures in the order of the prompts or post the one you find on the day you find it–or make up your own prompt for the day or the week! You get to make your own rules…and find your own connections. Be sure to share and tag your photos with #sdawpphotovoices so we can find them!

Let’s connect through our photos, our passions, our goals, and our interests.  I can’t wait to see what connections you make through your lens!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Thankful

Do you speak in images? Enjoy taking photos to document your experiences or just to express what you notice in the world? Love to share them with others? Welcome to the weekly photo challenge! I post a new challenge each week…check in regularly and join the fun!

It seems a bit cliche, but as I compose this week’s challenge on Thanksgiving evening I do find myself thinking about the richness and bounty in my life and feeling like this might just be the right week to take the time to express some of the things I am thankful for.

I’m so thankful for my family and friends, the people who surround me in my personal and professional life.  While you might find hints of them here on my blog, mostly they aren’t mentioned by name and seldom seen in photos out of respect for their privacy.  But they make everything else in my life possible.

I’m thankful for sunsets and the opportunity to travel and gather with smart professionals from all over the county.  I’ve seen this iconic landmark many times now, but it always captivates me with its stature and simple elegance.  (If you look closely you can see the Lincoln Memorial in the background!)

Washington Monument at Sunset

I’m thankful for long walks on the beach that allow me to decompress and appreciate the place I call home.  It’s different each time I go there… I’m constantly intrigued and amazed as I take in the sights, sounds, and smells of this watery wonderland.

Surfer on the beach

I’m thankful for work that puts me into relationships with interesting people and helps me understand my own work and my own city in new and different ways.  It’s too easy to take my city for granted and miss the rich history and intricacies like these beautiful buildings…

balboa park architecture

or dismiss these mallard ducks as ordinary.

duck in the light

I’m thankful for the freedoms that allow me to walk where I want, without fear of injury or reprisal.  And I wish for the same freedoms for those–even in our country–who don’t enjoy that same privilege.  The sunlight on these poinsettias remind me of the freedoms that are easy to take for granted…leisure to enjoy a day at a theme park, to spend time with my family, to have a few days off work…

poinsettia in sunlight

And I’m thankful for my pets…my cats…who are loving, entertaining, irritating and such available photo subjects.  As I was cleaning this morning, Jack couldn’t resist jumping up on this stool to check out the new view.  And I couldn’t resist a couple of shots of him.

Jack on stool

So what are you thankful for?  What makes your life more full, energizes you, or just simply brings a smile to your lips?

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

Whether you celebrated Thanksgiving or not, I hope you find some time this week to snap a shot or two of something that represents thankful to you.  I can’t wait to see thankful through your lens!