Tag Archives: creativity

Weekly Photo Challenge: Spaces

I’ve been thinking about creativity and making and the spaces we need to thrive and grow. Watching my baby grandsons as they wake up and stretch from the tips of their toes to the tops of their nearly bald heads reminds me that we need spaces, both physically and mentally to grow and develop.

My cats seek out spaces, even now that they are old.  They are particularly partial to spaces with sun where they stretch and curl.  Phil even posed, turning his face to me and the sun when I called his name.

img_1851

I watched a little girl as I walked down the beach today, she came running from behind me at full speed in the shallow surf along the shore.  She was small, probably not more than 5 years old.  I wondered where the adult in charge was.  When I turned back I could see mom in the distance–and the girl kept running.

img_1879

She seemed so at ease, running with abandon and delight, occasionally looking back to see where mom was.  The distance between them was too far for my comfort, so I watched, especially as she got closer to the crowd near the lifeguard tower.  Mom did catch up before I left the beach–and she was mad!  I guess we have to find the balance in the spaces too.

I do find myself looking up…at the spaces between the earth and space where the birds and the clouds float by.  Birds are hard to capture with my camera, especially pelicans that tend to fly higher than my lens can see.  I was delighted today when I looked up and snapped these three pelicans in the spaces between the heavens and the palm trees. (Sometimes timing is everything!)

img_1883

Sometimes you have to make spaces in your life for micro vacations, time for a break from the everydayness and responsibilities of life.  Last night we headed to the beach to watch the sun set and put our toes in the sand.

img_1868

We watched a family with a bunch of balloons as a prop for a photo shoot for their daughter.  I have mixed feelings about balloons.  They are colorful and festive, floating and bobbing in the breeze.  And they are dangerous to the ocean and its inhabitants.  I both gasped and clicked when I saw the balloons float free into the expansive spaces of the sky.

img_1873

As the sun began to set, we walked back up the hill toward the parking lot and sat on some benches to watch the sun in the spaces between the palm tree and the sea.

img_1856

So where are the spaces in your life? Where do you find inspiration, relaxation, reminders to run free and appreciate the little things?

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

Take a look around for those spaces that allow you to grow, to create or even to breathe and snap that shutter!  I can’t wait to see the spaces in your life.

 

Exploring Technique: May’s Photo-a-Day Challenge

It’s been a while since I’ve focused intentionally on photographic technique…lately I’ve been much more focused on exploring places than working on the more technical aspects of creating interesting photos.  So it seem to be time to create a challenge that encourages me (and you) to explore (my one little word) how the tools of the trade might impact the images created.

So for May’s #sdawpphotovoices photo-a-day challenge, we’ll focus on a different aspect of photography each week.

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!

Week 1: Playing with Composition

1. Simplify the scene—move in closer to remove distracting details

IMG_5317

2. Rule of thirds (or simply avoid the middle)–what happens when you frame your subject off center?

3. Use leading lines—frame your shot by letting the natural lines (fences, roads, walls…) direct the viewer’s eye

IMG_5330

4. Use diagonals—shift the angle, tilt your camera…

5. Check your background—what’s behind your subject? Experiment with finding a background that works with your subject

6. Fill the frame—zoom in or step closer to fill the frame with your subject

IMG_5192

7. Break the rules—experiment with your own compositional style

Week 2: Playing with Light

8. Shoot into the light to create a silhouette

9. Capture a shadow

10. Find the light in a dark setting

IMG_5321

11. Make light the centerpiece of the photo

12. Experiment with light and dark in one photo

13. Include a reflection (water is useful here!)

14. Try something new with light (either natural light or some other light source)

Week 3: Playing with Perspective

15. Get low

IMG_5329

16. Shoot from above

17. Create an optical illusion

18. Play with negative space

19. Get close

20. Try a wide angle effect

21. What other perspective have you tried?

Week 4: Playing with Genre

22. Architecture

23. Black and White

24. Children

IMG_5332

25. Landscape

IMG_5331

26. Macro

27. Nature

28. Street photography

Week 5: Play with filters and effects

29. Abstract

30. Adjust the color

31. Your choice!

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. Each week includes seven suggestions for exploring the technique, and the final days offer opportunities to play around with filters and effects. You are welcome to follow them in order, mix them up, or exchange them for a technique you want to try on. 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!

Playing with Constraints: Twitter Memoir

There is something about constraints that create conditions for creativity…especially when I’m just getting started with something.  Jeremy, a colleague over at the NWP iAnthology last week offered as a writing prompt an invitation to write a memoir in 140 characters…a tweet!  Here’s his directions:

One of the activities that I have my students do is something called a Twitter Memoir. It is a way for me to scaffold with my students on writing memoirs. We slowly build from 140 characters to 25 word memoirs, then 50 word memoirs. Finally they write their full blown memoir about a personal experience in their life. Many of my students are not on Twitter, but as I am introducing this exercise, I get a few to sign-up. I don’t require my students to be on Twitter because I have a Tweet board in my classroom where they can post their Twitter Memoirs.

So, I challenge you this week to write a short 140 character memoir. It does not have to be on Twitter. For the sake of simplicity let’s just write them here at the iAnthology. Also, if you want to know more about this process you can check out the book Troy Hicks and I co-authored titled Create, Compose, Connect. Have a blast doing this, my students do!

I was intrigued by the idea of a memoir in 140 characters and spent some time composing.  I was able to whittle down to 140 characters…but realized that I wouldn’t have room for hashtags if I used all the allowed characters.  So I trimmed some more hoping to get down to a point where I could include a hashtag like #ce14 (for connected educator month) or #digiwrimo (for digital writing month).  I finally posted this Twitter memoir in the iAnthology prompt space, I wasn’t able to get the characters quite small enough for the hashtags I wanted to include.

Here it is.  It includes 138 characters (spaces, punctuation, and letters)…and it happens to be exactly 25 words, so it fits two of the criteria Jeremy set out.

With phone in hand I explore my world, snapping photos, collecting thoughts & ideas, searching for new vantages. Through images I connect.

And of course, it wouldn’t be complete without a photo!  (This one is from an urban hike on Sunday…just beyond my neighborhood.)

Bare Tree

What will your Twitter memoir say about you?  Can you craft it to include a mere 140 characters?  I’d love to see yours…on your blog or on Twitter!  (You can find me @kd0602)  I’m going to tweet this post that includes my Twitter memoir…and include some of my hashtags along with the link.  I hope you’ll share yours with me too!

Once Upon a Time…Photos That Tell Stories: November’s Photo-a-Day Challenge

Stories are a way of understanding the world, making sense of our experience, and connecting with the experiences of others.

“We tell ourselves stories in order to live.” – Joan Didion

And even when we experience an event in common, our story of it varies.  (I notice that my sister and I have very different stories of our childhood, even though we grew up in the same house, in the same neighborhood, with the same parents!)

“It takes a thousand voices to tell a single story.”  – Native American saying

We often think of stories as made of words…but images tell stories too.  There are the fairy stories of life among the mushrooms and delicate petals of flowers.

mushroom macro

Stories are elaborated by the teller, based on their own experiences and background knowledge.  A single image can result in innumerable stories…this image could be an innocent flower bud, a ravenous man-eating plant, or even a robot designed to grab intruders as they enter the grounds.bud fist

In some photos we recognize the heroine and anticipate the plot twists.  At other times the story shifts and the unexpected happens.

in the mirror

Does this image depict the narrative of professional development, teachers working together to solve problems and provide support to students?

grade 2

Sometimes a setting alone can create mood and tone for the story about to unfold like this sunshine through the fall foliage.

fall tree

Action can be shown in subtle ways…in hands to the face, tools strewn around, even the position of the feet.

boys

And light and reflection can also add to the action, foreshadowing events yet to come…

kayaking

Sometimes the image suggests the music you can hear in the background, in this case a happy, upbeat song of youthful energy.

photo

Others bring tension, that sense that something is coming.  Will the doctor diagnose a terminal illness or is this a skeleton that will reach out and grab someone?

skeleton

What photos have you taken that tell stories?  Here’s a list of prompts to help you think about stories and consider as you take photos this month.

1. Character

2. Plot

3. Setting

4. Foreshadowing

5. Suspense

6. Words

7. Narrative

8. Point of view

9. Fantasy

10. Fairy tale 

11. Mystery

12. Science Fiction

13. Music

14. Symbolism

15. Narrator

16. Action

17. Humor

18. Hyperbole

19. Happy Ending

20. Heroine or Hero

21. Fable

22. Drama

23. Mood

24. Memoir

25. Fiction

26. Nonfiction

27. Journalism

28. Moral

29. Tension

30. Villain

So go out and take photos that tell a story and then 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, 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!

Be on the lookout for stories this month…in a single photo or in a series.  (You might even try a 5-image story.)  You can post every day, once a week, or even sporadically throughout the month…whatever works in your life. You can play this game by posting your pictures in the order of the prompts or post the one you find on the day you find it.  You get to make your own rules!  Be sure to share and tag your photos with #sdawpphotovoices so we can find them!  So go out and use you lens as a story telling tool.  I can’t wait for you to share the stories you find through your lens!

Get Creative! September’s Photo-a-Day Challenge

September is one of those limbo months.  Summer is ending, schools are beginning, we are beginning to get hints of fall.  And where I live the weather is warm, often warmer than we have experienced during the “official” summer months, confusing our bodies and senses.

It’s that time of the year when you might find yourself in the creative doldrums as you move from summer vacation mode back into work and family routines.  So that means that September is the perfect month for a creativity focused photo-a-day challenge!

This month’s list is meant to encourage experimentation and challenge you to break out of some of those routines that have become uninspiring and maybe a bit monotonous.  Each prompt this month asks you to try a specific technique, a particular subject, or to break a rule of photography or try a rule of photography.  For example, it’s common as photographers to shoot with the sun over your shoulder to light your subject and ensure that the color is good. But sometimes, it is perfect to shoot into the sun–especially if you want to capture a silhouette like this photo of the lifeguard tower.  (And I was lucky enough to snap just as the lifeguard walked into my shot!)

lifeguard silhouette

It’s not unusual to take photos of your food, but perhaps it is less usual to try to create a shot that showcases the food as though it is an advertisement.  I’m not sure this photo is that quality, but I do love the color of this unedited shot–especially of the mango salsa.

fish tacos

Sometimes it is the difference in positioning yourself or your lens that creates a new way of seeing your subject.  You might try shooting from above like in this shot of the subway train in Pasadena.  (And you might try going from color to black and white for added effect!)

from above the subway

Or in this case, climbing up a ladder and shooting up in a tight space to capture a glimpse of the light in this lighthouse.

unusual angle

Sometimes I get stuck taking shots of things that stand still.  So sometimes the creativity comes from trying to capture action as it happens.  Here’s a sandpiper (and his shadow) just as he lifts off!

taking flight

I’m still experimenting with taking photos of weather…and there isn’t a whole lot of weather to experiment with in my parts.  I was excited about seeing this family in their yellow slickers walking toward me on a rainy day in Yellowstone.

family in yellow slickers

And who doesn’t love a photo of flowers?  I particularly like this shot where the large poppy in the foreground is crisp and the others are slightly out of focus.

poppies

And water is always a source of inspiration for me.  I have to work at creating something new and different from my photos of the ocean, but this shot of the top of the waterfall was a novelty for me.

top of waterfall

So September’s challenge is to inspire your creativity by pushing yourself to try different subjects, different techniques, different angles and more.  And to help you stretch creatively, here are some prompts—one per day—to push you out of your ordinary routines.

1. get low

2. shoot into the sun or create a silhouette (or both!)

3. create a photo that is stunning in black and white

4. shoot something ordinary in a new and interesting way

5. make something ugly look beautiful

6. create a self portrait

7. take a photo of traffic

8. make people your centerpiece (strangers if you dare!)

9. shoot from above

10. use the rule of thirds

11. find a natural frame (a branch, a bridge, or ???)

12. shoot on a angle, what happens if you make it extreme?

13. photograph your pet (or someone else’s)

14. photograph water in a new way

15. capture movement

16. photograph an abstract pattern

17. shoot from an unusual angle

18. what’s interesting about windows?

19. where do you find reflection?

20. make your subject off center

21. capture emotion

22. where do you find texture?

23. take a shot of the weather

24. what’s interest about clouds today?

25. something old

26. something new

27. focus on light

28. flowers

29. take a shot of food–would it work in an advertisement?

30. feet

Once you stretch your creativity and take that shot (or many shots), 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! 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!

So stretch yourself this month and feed those creative urges!  You can post every day, once a week, or even sporadically throughout the month…whatever works in your life. You can play this game by posting your pictures in the order of the prompts or post the one you find on the day you find it.  You get to make your own rules!  Be sure to share and tag your photos with #sdawpphotovoices so we can find them!  So go out and get creative!  I can’t wait for you to share what you are seeing through your lens!

The Moods of May: An SDAWPphotovoices Photo-A-Day Challenge

In spite of being known for our mild, temperate climate and outdoor lifestyle, May is one of those months that can become monochromatic. Terms like “May Gray” and “June Gloom” describe those days when we are wishing for summer and sunshine, but plagued by a persistent gray, chilling marine layer along our coast here in San Diego. And with all that gray in mind, I’m thinking May be the perfect month to play with changing our moods. And thinking about weather and our attitudes toward it, I am reminded of a quote describing the teacher’s role in the classroom related to the climate.

I’ve come to a frightening conclusion that I am the decisive element in the classroom. It’s my personal approach that creates the climate. It’s my daily mood that makes the weather… Haim G. Ginott

As a photographer, I also make choices about the mood in my images. The ways I frame the subjects, how the light touches them, the composition within, all impact the mood portrayed. And with mood in mind, can we find interesting photos to capture that reflect a particular feeling? So for May, our challenge is to capture a mood through a daily photograph.  I’ve listed suggestions for each day by letter of the alphabet, with a few extras thrown in to add up to 31, the number of days in the month.  You get to decide how to portray the mood.  You can experiment with lighting, use apps to change the appearance, try different ways of cropping, shoot from different angles…the interpretation is totally up to you!  You can be literal or take liberties with the definition, let your inner artist play! After you shoot, post a photo each day with the hashtag #sdawpphotovoices to Twiiter, Instagram, Flicker, Google+ and/or Facebook (the more the better!), so that we can all enjoy the posts. If you are game for some extra action, compose a blog post about a photo, a week’s worth of photos, write a photo essay, try a learning walk, or write some poetry or even a song! 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 a couple of my experiments with mood. Vibrant: vibrant ranunculus Tense: pirate's lair-tense Optimistic (maybe only Jack…Phil seems indifferent or defeated): begging cats Hopeful: hopeful- tidepools Tranquil: tranquil So now it’s your turn, here’s our list for May: 1. Anxious 2. Buoyant 3. Calm 4. Drained 5. Effervescent 6. Frustrated 7. Grumpy 8. Hopeful 9. Indifferent 10. Incredulous 11. Jubilant 12. Kind 13. Listless 14. Mellow 15. Narcissistic 16. Optimistic 17. Pensive 18. Playful 19. Quiet 20. Reflective 21. Solemn 22. Sad 23. Tense 24. Tranquil 25. Uneasy 26. Vibrant 27. Wistful 28. Whimsical 29. E(x)cited 30. Yearning 31. Zealous Let moods get your creative juices flowing as you explore through your lens during May.  Have fun, experiment, play with the limits of your photography…May is the perfect time for testing just how far you can go in controlling the climate through your images. 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!

Exploring Green: March Photo-a-Day Challenge

As we enter March, thoughts of spring fill our minds along with images of all things green.  And even though I live in southern California, a place that winter skipped entirely this year, spring invites lighter and brighter colors, the suggestion of new life, and a sense of renewal.  And then there is that all-things-green March holiday, St. Patrick’s Day, a day where everyone is a little bit Irish and a whole lot of green.

And besides color, green is a word with many different meanings and connotations.  It conveys environmentalism and jealousy, youthful inexperience and prosperity.  So for our March #sdawpphotovoices Photo-a-Day Challenge, let’s explore all of the possibilities of green.  The photos do not have to feature the color green, although some might, but instead the goal is to capture the multiplicity of meanings that green might convey.  Here’s some ideas to play around with…and each section ends with an invitation to explore and include something not specifically named.

Week 1: Nature, Vivacity and Life

photo-98

1  conservation

2  environment

3  living

4  nature

5  vivacity

6  preserve

7  what else?

Week 2: Springtime, Freshness, and Hope

8  fresh

9  spring

10  emerging

11  blooming

12  hope

13  wonder

14  what else?

Week 3: Fairies, Dragons, and Monsters

photo-97

(This picture has me thinking of mermaids!)

15  fairies

16  dragons

17 Leprechauns

18  monsters

19  imagination

20  creatures

21  what else?

Week 4: Jealousy and Envy

22  jealousy

23  envy

24  greed

25  permission

26  safety

27  covet

28  what else?

Bonus Days: Youth and Inexperience

29  youth

30  inexperience

31  what else?

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!

Our goal is to play, share with each other, and learn from each other as we shoot our own photos and study the photos others shoot.  Each week includes six suggestions to explore…and one free choice.  You are welcome to follow them in order, mix them up, or exchange them for something that emerges for you as you explore green this month.  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!