Tag Archives: familiar

Like the Back of my Hand: NPM #25

I know the path

like the back of my hand

worn, familiar

yet infinite

Gray traces objects

in pencil

shaded in silver

smudged with dampness

Sunset brings out

the silhouettes matted

against every hue of orange

details darkened

by end-of-day light

Sunshine draws in marker

bright, brilliant, bold


spinning on the color wheel

One foot in front of the othe

tracing the veins

the wrinkles

each knuckle and nail

as I walk

this familiar

and new-each-day



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.


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.


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.


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.


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).


And here is my Ansel Adams inspired black and white version.


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!


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: 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.


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…


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?


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.


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.


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.


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.


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!

Overcoming the Familiar: January 2015 Photo-a-Day Challenge

The New Year arrives soon…and with it, often a list of things we plan to do to improve our health, appearance, productivity, attitude, and more.  And, if you’re like me, you are still striving to improve your photography, paying attention the details that take ordinary photographs and make them something special.  Sometimes I lament that I don’t travel to exotic places where I could try my hand at perfect snowflake photos or capture the colorful beauty of an outdoor market in Asia.  And while travel remains on my to-do list, this month’s challenge is about seeing the familiar as though you were a stranger—seeing everything as new or at least with new eyes.

Anyone who follows my blog knows that I spend lots of time at the beach.  And sometimes it starts to look so familiar that I can’t even imagine finding something new to focus my lens on.  But just last week as I walked near the shore at high tide, I tried framing a shot of the empty lifeguard tower in some new ways.  And as I was shooting, I noticed that I could see surfers in the shot.  I tried some different ways of shooting and came up with this one with the surfer visible to the left of the tower.

surfer and tower

I found this locked box on another day.  And it took a few shots to figure out how to see the detail (notice the raised letters), but in my opinion, it is the seagull that I caught in the background that makes this shot interesting.

locked box and seagull

That same evening, we had stayed out for the sunset.  And I took a number of shots with the silhouette of the lifeguard tower in the background, or a palm tree, or another tree.  But this construction crane caught my attention and I loved the juxtaposition of it with the tree with the sunset in the background—the sunset not as exclusively nature’s beauty, but also a backdrop for construction equipment.

crane and tree

Sometimes my own front lawn turns from the ordinary grass into a fairy land.  These little mushrooms almost look like a couple in love as they snuggle in the grass. 

mushrooms in the grass

And if you keep your eyes open (or in this case, start searching for your missing cat), you might overcome the familiar.  This shot was actually taken by my husband with his iPhone…and I love the image of our cat, Phil, nestled among the Christmas presents.

Phil under the tree

Sometimes a walk is just the inspiration I need to look with fresh eyes.  I’m always trying to catch interesting photos of the train that runs through town…and I nearly always miss it.  This time, as I was out walking, I caught not only the train, but also this runner going in the opposite direction.

chasing the train

As i walked through our local botanical garden, I noticed this fig tree…with no leaves, but with figs in abundance.  I couldn’t resist this shot looking up into the blue sky.

figs on a bare tree

And even the succulents that are so prevalent around here can look interesting depending on the photograph.  For this one, I leaned in closely and played around with the rule of thirds.  I love the color in this unedited shot.


So your #sdawpphotovoices challenge for January 2015 is to overcome the familiar in your life to find great photos wherever you happen to be.  Here’s some prompt possibilities to help you vary your view:

1. inside

2. outside

3. home

4. neighborhood

5. work

6. pets

7. signs

8. transportation

9. light

10. people

11. plants

12. animals

13. place

14. buildings

15. kitchen

16. weather

17. night

18. day

19. hands

20. eyes

21. apparel

22. reflection

23. surprise

24. feet

25. fences

26. machine

27. technology

28. everyday

29. unexpected

30. interior

31. exterior

So start the new year by overcoming the familiar and challenge yourself to see your everyday life in new ways.  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 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!

The new year doesn’t have to be about lofty goals, you can start the year out right by simply vowing to see the world around you anew!  You can capture your view in a single photo or in a series. 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. You get to make your own rules…after all, this is your opportunity to overcome the familiar!  Be sure to share and tag your photos with #sdawpphotovoices so we can find them!

So go out and start looking!  How will you overcome the familiar in your photographs? I’m looking forward to seeing the world in new ways through your lens!