Tag Archives: dandelion

Weekly Photo Challenge: Familiar

My feet retrace the steps I take day after day, so familiar that I notice the smallest of changes.  The reef that is uncovered by the autumn tides that pull the sand from the shore, the rounded and smoothed beach rocks tossed in piles by the powerful force of storm-driven waves, the thinning crowds replaced by locals who claim this place as their own. Familiar creates opportunity to see my world in fresh, new ways–even though I’ve seen it before.

The beach never gets old for me.  Some days the birds capture my attention as I revel in their playful dance with the sea.  Others, it is the texture and colors of the cliffs that frame this ocean community. Lately, I’ve been fascinated with the sky and the interplay of light, clouds, water, and color.

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And this focus on the familiar makes me more attentive in other aspects of the my life–away from the beach. As I walked from my house to my car the other morning, this dandelion grabbed me by the eyeballs.  I had to stop, offload the things from arms, and focus my camera on the single seed hanging on the empty husk.  I spent the day thinking about the idea of a single wish and the dream I might choose…

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Right in front of my classroom door, the garden box that is home to milkweed sits.  I wonder about the monarch caterpillars and what percentage actually make it from caterpillar to butterfly.  I noticed the new chrysalis earlier this week, worrying about its exposed location. And it caught my eye again a couple of days ago with dew drops like diamonds sparkling on the already jewel-encrusted casing.  Will this one survive and give birth to the beautiful monarch butterfly?

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Fall whispers in this place.  So when I came across these vivid leaves when up north visiting my twin grandsons, I just had to pick up a couple and take them back home with me.  A blogger I follow, Joyfully Green, did a series of “leaf portraits,” inspirational photos of individual fall leaves, so I decided to use these souvenirs to try my hand at a leaf portrait or two.

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So when I noticed leaves clinging to edge of the fountain at UCSD, I saw them as those subtle whispers of fall in San Diego.  You’ll note that the colors are not as vivid as in the leaf portrait above, but they do suggest a change in seasons.

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The library at the university is iconic, with a design reminiscent of an alien planet or maybe even a spaceship.  I take its photo pretty regularly, usually trying my best to capture the entire building in the shot. You’ll notice in this view I inadvertently included the top of the Cat in the Hat’s hat from the Dr. Seuss sculpture nearby.

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Nikki de St. Phalle’s Sun God sculpture is a familiar one on campus.  This week I noticed the way the sun reflects off the top of it in the late afternoon sun.  By playing around with the image in Prisma I was able to highlight the brilliance of the colors and show off the shine I saw as I walked by.

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So, how do you respond to the familiar in your life?  What helps you see it in new ways or notice the subtle changes in your familiar routines?  Head out with your camera and re-see those spaces you frequent.

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

Retrace your steps and walk those familiar paths…and while you do, be on the lookout for the nuances in the everyday.  Help us see the magic in your familiar–and help yourself rediscover that magic too!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Finding Fall

Today is the first day of fall…according to the calendar.  Seasons aren’t prima donnas in these parts.  They don’t demand a lot of attention.  In fact, seasons are subtle, making their entry is small, sometimes overlooked ways.

A predicted heatwave over the weekend never materialized on the coast. When we headed to the beach for walk late Sunday afternoon, instead of heat we were greeted with damp, gray mist.  It was warm, but not your picture perfect beach weather.  That didn’t bother the seabirds though. They were out enjoying the low tide and the emptiness of the beach now that the tourists have mostly left town (for now).  I couldn’t resist this little fellow with its foot in action and  its crisp reflection visible on the sand.

Processed with Snapseed.

I like the mood the fogginess brings to the beach.  It brings the world in a bit closer and adds that fall-like mystery.  I wasn’t feeling like I do in the summer, escaping from the heat and relishing the sun on my shoulders. Instead, I was noticing the cool and reveling in the emptiness of the wide open space in front of me.

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Surprisingly, Tuesday brought rain!  (Remember, average rainfall for us is about 10 inches annually…and we’ve been in a severe drought for several years now.)  The sky was beautiful in the morning, with the dark blue skies and thick layers of clouds.  It was definitely a sign that we would have a rare weather episode!

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It did end up raining a good part of Tuesday and into Wednesday morning.  We were loving sandals and skirts and sleeveless tops in the warm, balmy rain.  Our students showed up in rain boots and jackets–I guess you deal with being too warm when you have so few opportunities to sport your rain wear!

A trip into the backyard yesterday afternoon had me thinking about fall!  I noticed the unusual pools of water filled with the seed pods that fall from the tree.

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And the brilliant red of the Japanese maple shouting at me to pay attention to the impending change of season.

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I’ve never noticed these seed pods before but I love the gold, tan, and black–neutrals that remind me of fall.

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And I’m noticing the light changing as the days get shorter.  The lowering sun was making this dandelion glow.  I decided to mess around with it in prisma to see what effects I might get.  I like the way this one captures the glow and the textures of the plant.

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So, what will you notice when you set out to find fall?  Maybe you’ll find the traditional colorful leaves dressing the trees in brilliant colors or maybe like those of us in these parts, you’ll have to pay closer attention and look for more subtle seasonal changes.  Or maybe you’ll find fall indoors, or through the food you eat, or in some other way!

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

Grab your camera and head out in search of fall.  Don’t feel confined to iconic images of fall foliage–embrace what you find!  What does fall look like when you look for subtle, often overlooked evidence?  I’m looking forward to seeing what you capture when finding fall through your lens!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Overlooked

Some weeks I feel inspired and find lots to take photos of…I spend time outdoors, exploring the beauty of the natural world.  And some weeks, like this one, I feel a bit overwhelmed with the responsibilities in my life and it seems like a stretch to find anything at all interesting to photograph.

But this week, in spite of only feeling like I have had mere minutes to devote to photography, I have been trying to take photos of things I might have otherwise overlooked.  I’m sure my neighbors think I’m crazy as they watch me crawling around my front yard taking photos of dandelions!

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I also noticed the way the light was playing with this crazy thorny tree near my driveway.  The leaves have recently sprouted, bringing a bit of spring green with it.

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With our kitchen remodel done and my hubby back to cooking, we are getting more interesting (and yummy) meals again.  This week he experimented with a “South of the Border” pizza.

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That’s enchilada sauce, red bell peppers, cilantro and avocado.  Delicious!  And today he was baking these vegan raspberry thumbprint cookies in his shiny new oven.

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We had a much-needed rainy weekend that continued into Monday morning…and my morning playground duty (conveniently timed between rainy squalls) had me looking skyward, hoping students would have a little time for outdoor play before being cooped up inside most of the day.  It was hard to overlook the rare dark clouds framing the playground.

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Today I was at the university, thinking about how much time I spend driving around and around the parking lot looking for that elusive parking spot.  I decided I should capture that struggle in a photo…which also had me noticing the light and shadows…and the many white cars!

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I’ve been noticing the jacarandas in bloom this week as I turn from the major thoroughfare into my neighborhood.  The pinkish purplish blossoms are stunning against the lengthening daylight as I head toward home from work.  Today I took my big camera with me to work and reminded myself to stop, park my car, and take some photos on my way home.  Here’s what I saw.

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So, for this week, take a look around at what you may ordinarily overlook as you go about your busy life.  What’s right under your nose?  Out in your yard?  Along the road on your way home from work?

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

So take a look around, what can you photograph that you may have overlooked in other circumstances?  I can’t wait to see overlooked through your lens!

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: On a Whim

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!

I am loving that photography has given me permission to follow my whims…to make spur of the moment decisions that lead me to interesting pictures.  As I left the university this afternoon I noticed hang gliders over the cliffs.  Even though I had an appointment, I decided to take a few minutes for a detour to the nearby glider port.  The sun was descending and the gliders were soaring above the cliffs…posing in the setting sun.  This particular shot is unedited and unfiltered.

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I also noticed this other kind of glider…almost like wings.  This guy soared bird-like into the light.

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Sometimes letting the lawn get a bit overgrown in a good thing…at least for the weed-loving photographer in me.  My eye was drawn to this particular dandelion puff…and on a whim I started snapping shots of it, trying to capture its perfect spherical shape.

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A new grocery store opened near my house.  It’s huge…and apparently creating vibrant vegetable displays is part of their grand opening business plan.  I found myself snapping photos of the veggies, drawn by the colorful colors and shapes.  Will they continue to create these colorful pepper arrangements?

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And last weekend was perfect for low-tide walking.  On Saturday it was so low that I was seeing parts of the reef that are not usually not visible.  On a whim I was taking pictures of the exposed reefs.  Later I noticed the ways the ripples in the water played with the contours of the reef, creating interesting textures.

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And who can resist a sunset shot with a lifeguard tower in the foreground?

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As much as I love the beach at low tide, sometimes I find myself there at high tide…and what a difference it makes!  The wide beach of Saturday afternoon was replaced by a very narrow beach on Sunday morning.  But that doesn’t keep people from enjoying the water, sun and sand…and it doesn’t keep me from taking a shot on a whim!

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What do you take pictures of on a whim?  Do you go out of your way to photograph something that seems interesting?  Do you stop on your way to work, on your way home to take a photo or two or three?  Maybe this is your week to follow some of those whims…and see what you find!

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

Where will your whims take you?  What will you find when you give yourself permission to veer from your usual paths or timetables?  I can’t wait to see what you find on a whim through your lens!

 

Sunshine on a Stem

I spied it from afar as I was heading to my car this morning.  And I had to stop.  Right in the middle of our gasping-for-water, drought stricken lawn a dandelion stood tall and yellow, sunshine on a stem.

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I’ve definitely become obsessed with dandelions…in all their forms.  They represent the tenacity, resourcefulness, and strength I want to help cultivate in learners and teachers. Learners as hot house flowers that have to be carefully controlled and cultivated seem too fragile to become the innovators and explorers we need in the world.  Teachers are often portrayed as gardeners, nurturing their crop of learners…but I’m wanting to reject that image too, it seems to take all the energy and agency away from students in that scenario.

Like dandelions, I want learners to thrive where they live.  I want them to land in places where they can dig in and grow tall.  And I want teachers to be like dandelions too, not dependent on specialized tools but instead drawing on the processes that honor writers and tinkerers and explorers.  And when they happen to be plucked by the curious child who takes a big breath and blows on the puff, I hope the wishes fly far and wide and land on fertile ground so that these tenacious and resourceful survivors populate our classrooms and our world.

 

 

Playing with Cyanotype

Early this year I decided on play for my one little word.  And I have been making time for play on a pretty regular basis.  A lot of my play is related to photography and making time to take photos has me seeking out opportunities to explore that I might not have done otherwise.  I’ve explored places in my community that I have never been before…and I am definitely spending lots of time outdoors, especially on the weekend, rather than doing housework or even reading!

For Mother’s Day this year a manilla envelope arrived in the mail from my son and daughter-in-law.  As I opened it I found a typewritten note and a smaller manilla envelope.  I love the note, knowing that it was typed on a typewriter that my son found left next to the dumpster near his home…and that he typed it.  The note explained that I would find specially treated cyanotype paper that he had prepared for me.  It gave me step by step instructions for using the paper…and included a few “negatives” that I could try if I wanted.

I played around a bit…and then got busy so it has stayed in the envelope until last weekend.  I started thinking about that cyanotype paper and what I wanted to play around with.  As I headed out for my beach walk on Saturday, I purposely looked for shell pieces that would work with this positive/negative kind of exposure (a rudimentary kind of photography).  As we walked I noticed so many different kinds of shells and rocks…and sea glass!  I seldom find sea glass on our beaches, but for some reason pieces of sea glass kept presenting themselves.  We also found quite a few shell structures with holes and openings.

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When I got home, I pulled out the paper treated with the cyanotype chemicals and laid the shells out.  I took them out for about five minutes of sun exposure, brought the paper back in to rinse to stop the exposure…and here is the resulting cyanotype shell study.

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I love the dimension of this print.  The way the shadows create an almost three dimensional effect.

This attempt excited me, so I gathered some plant pieces and created an arrangement on another piece of treated paper.

This created an interesting result, but I found that the lightweight plants blow when I put them outside…there were pieces of lavender on the lower left…and they left a faint impression when they blew away.

Then I grabbed a leaf branch from a tree in my backyard and created an arrangement with the beach glass as the grounding.

I like the way the beach glass produced an interesting effect when placed in the sun.  I tried another one today…and won’t subject you to the results.  Playing around with this printing technique is tricky.  Objects that are too dense or too thick create big light splotches that are less interesting and pleasing than those that have opacity or cast interesting shadows that create dimension.

I have only a few pieces of treated paper left…but my son tells me it is easy and relatively cheap to create my own.  I’ve had fun playing with this technique and created some interesting pieces. I think the shell study is my current favorite…although I do like this early piece I did with some dandelions and other weeds from the yard.

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I like that I have been playing enough that others are giving me encouragement and opportunity to play more.  And I know that taking time to play is good for me, good for my family, and good for my students.  I’ve noticed that lots of my play is about making…making photos, circuits, art, movies.  And I’m looking forward to some more play and making when the CLMOOC begins again on Friday.  So maybe this post is a preview of another summer of making…and playing with others through social media and connected learning.  Will you join us and do some of your own connecting, making and playing?