Tag Archives: explore

Exploring Symmetry…LA Style

I know that symmetry is a mathematical concept…one of precision, perfectly matched halves. But mostly, in the world, symmetry is not so perfect.  But there are echoes of symmetry all around us.  My eyes were hearing the echoes of symmetry the other day as I explored downtown Los Angeles with my son.

There is something so special about spending the day with my son and our cameras.  We walk and talk and take photos, noticing details, trying new shots, seeing the world through each other’s eyes.  And there’s a certain symmetry in that too.

My eyes were drawn to this old building visible from the parking garage.  The symmetry has been spoiled by graffiti, age and disrepair.  But there is still something beautiful about it.

old building

In contrast, this old historic building has been preserved, both inside and out.  Inside, the exquisite marble floors and intricate wrought iron frame the antique mechanical elevators.  And outside, I had to angle my shot to exclude the modern Subway sandwich sign and stoplights to capture the beauty of this elegant old building.

Bradbury Building

We also ended up climbing flight upon flight of stairs as we explore the is old rail system called Angel’s Flight.  Built in 1901 it traveled up and down a block…and after scaling the stairs…I see why they wanted a railway!

angel's flight

Grand Central Market was an explosion of colors and smells…and quite a tasty place for lunch! I was drawn to these cactus pads…there is a certain symmetry in these bins of produce and the jumble of price signs rising out of them.


I’m not sure that any of my photos fit the mathematical definition of symmetry…but for me they communicate the idea of symmetry, the creation of purposeful balance and arrangement. Just like my day with Nick…the perfect balance and arrangement of time, exploration, and connection.  And the cherry on top…dinner with my daughter-in-law!  Symmetry!

Taking Time to Explore

I’ve been debating on a word to call on as a muse for 2015.  I’ve been looking for a word that is active…that will push me to move out of my comfort zone, challenge me mentally and physically, and will work for both my professional and personal life.

And today’s adventures pushed me to decide.

We knew we wanted to squeeze one more hike into these precious days off…something a bit out of our ordinary choices.  And when we left the house this morning in our hiking gear, with cold weather layers ready, we thought we were heading up into our local mountains.  But at the gas station, we changed our minds and headed off on a two-hour trek to Palm Springs and the aerial tramway.

tram to the mountaintop

The tram takes you from the bottom of the mountain near Palm Springs to near the top of San Jacinto at over 7000 feet.  What we didn’t anticipate were the crowds…or the snow.  Each tram holds about 80 people and takes about 15 minutes to go from the valley to the mountain station…and there are two.  We were lucky and only waited 90 minutes for our turn to go to the top.  By the time we boarded the tram people were waiting more than three and half hours!

Once we got to the top, we headed off on a five plus mile hike…in the snow!  And ah, it was breathtaking!  As we walked away from the lodge, we moved away from the throngs of people who had come solely to throw some snowballs and slide in the snow.  The sun shone brightly on the clean, white snow.  We could hear birds chirping and our own breath as we climbed the mountain.  We happened by this family of snowpeople as we headed out on our hike.

snowman family

We reached our destination at 9100 feet!  Crisp and white and fresh…Round Valley (the peak is another three miles up, we’re saving that for another day!).

at altitude

The views were gorgeous!  I had that same feeling of peace and relaxation that I get when I walk on the beach–a sense of the power and beauty of nature.

tree on San Jacinto

From the magnificence of the trees, rocky mountainside, and enormous boulders, to the fragile elegance of icicles and the reminders of what is yet to come from the pinecones…the wonders of Mother Nature surrounded us and wrapped us in her arms.

pinecone in the snow

And for the cherry on top, as we got back into the tram for the trip back down the mountain, the sun was setting with the full moon in view.  As the tram floor rotated 360 degrees during our descent, we were treated to amazing and colorful views of the entire valley below.

full moon at sunset in the tram

A friend reminded me that I could actually stick with my word from last year for more than a year…play has plenty more potential.  I could probably stay with it for a lifetime.  (And I think it will remain with me!)

But I’m ready to add to play…and this year my word will be explore.  I want to explore possibilities and places, new ideas and old habits.  I want my explorations to take me in new directions, to push me to try things I haven’t imagined I would ever do, like hike up a mountain in the snow!  I look forward to exploring this year…physically, intellectually, imaginatively, and playfully.  Hope you’ll come along for the ride!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Explore

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!

As summer winds down and the new school year looms and beckons, this is a perfect time for some exploration.  Exploration can happen anywhere and anytime…you just have to take the time to pay attention to your environment.  Last week when I flew into the Missoula International Airport I immediately noticed the taximdermy heads of animals decorating the walls of the airport.

missoula airport taxidermy

Crossing the Clark Fork River, I stopped to explore these locks connected to the bridge.  I’d heard about locks like these on bridges in Europe, but this was my first encounter with locks carved with initials and names locked to a bridge here in the US.


Also, in my Montana and Wyoming explorations I was amazed at the giant dandelions.  The fluff balls were easily as large as my fist!

giant dandelion

I’ve also been interested in buildings.  In Bozeman when we stopped for dinner, I was immediately taken by this old building and couldn’t wait to capture it in a photograph.

Bozeman building

I also got to explore the history of homesteading through the Tinsley House, a living history exhibit at the Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman.  They had spectacular gardens, a working blacksmith shop…aiming for authenticity from the 1890’s.

Bozeman homestead

And of course, exploring Yellowstone was an amazing experience.  I have posted extensively about my experience in the park…and there is more.  Living in San Diego, I seldom have the opportunity to explore the majesty of rivers–but Yellowstone was filled with them.  Here’s one example.

Running river

Even the construction in the park caught my eye.


On the last leg of my trip home I had the opportunity to fly on a small propeller plane…and to have a window and an aisle seat all rolled into one.  At a relatively low altitude of 9000 ft, I had a wonderful view to explore the southern California coastline from the air.

explore from the air

But there is lots to explore even at home.  Today I took a four mile walk near my house to a bridge near a golf course where I took a shot of the surrounding area from the top looking out. With a little help of the application Painteresque, what some might see as ordinary becomes extraordinary.

view from golfcourse bridge

So this week’s challenge is to explore, and then to capture some aspect of that exploration in a photograph.  It can be from your travels, your work, or even the ordinariness of your everyday life.  Let your photographic eye explore the world around you…wherever you are!

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

Have some fun exploring as summer begins to wind down.  I can’t wait to see the photographs your exploring leads you to!