Tag Archives: focus

Weekly Photo Challenge: Moments

One of my favorite things about taking photos is that even without my camera in hand, the act of photography helps me pay attention to moments.  I find myself looking for light, looking for expressions, looking for color…and that moment of time that the click of the shutter freezes.

Not every photo comes out as an amazing work of art, but even the “failed” images teach me something.  Sometimes I learn about photography, sometimes about light and shadow, and frequently I learn about patience…and about seizing the moment when I have the chance.

Last weekend my husband ran in the Carlsbad 5000, a race of a bit over three miles through the streets of the village of Carlsbad.  It’s a beautiful setting, not far front the sea.  There were lots of runners, very early in the morning, going through their own pre-race routines.  As the start neared, I walked to the front where the fastest runners were poised for the start, the morning sunshine pouring in behind them.


After watching my husband go by (not near the front…he’s a recreational runner, not a racer), I walked toward the finish line where I could watch runners as they had completed the course.  It was fun to watch the fastest of the runners who seemed to have sprinted from start to finish (this was the over 40 men’s race), finishing in just over 15 minutes.  And I think it’s fun that racers get to take home a medal for their participation, a reminder of the moments of the race.  (My husband had a respectable finish, one that he was pleased with, and that’s a fun moment too!)


Sometimes when my week is busy, I forget to appreciate the little things, blaming no time as my excuse.  But I took time on Tuesday to stop to watch the sun set.  I guess my late meeting was a bit of a blessing, bringing me near home as the sun was dipping into the ocean.  I pulled off the freeway and found a parking spot near Torrey Pines State Beach just in time to watch the sun as it set behind the lifeguard tower.  The colors were pretty, the wind cool on my cheeks, and the white noise of the waves washed worries to the side.  I did enhance the colors with a filter, bringing the vibrance and energy of the sunset to the forefront of the image.


And on the day that going anywhere other than straight home just seemed too much of a chore, I remembered that I needed to turn the sprinklers on in the back yard.  I ducked in for my camera and when I came back out I noticed the bees around the lavender.  I crouched, patiently waiting for the bees to come into my shot.  I love the way the light sits in the background while the flower and bee are more shaded.  I also love the moment of action, the bee frozen midair.


Somedays I’m glad to have a bit of sunshine indoors…like these yellow tulips in a vase on my dining room table.  Trader Joe’s offers such a nice assortment of not-too-pricy cut flowers that I feel like I can splurge and bring into the house pretty regularly.  On this day I was able to catch the moment when the afternoon sun shined on the table, illuminating the sturdy yellow blossoms.


What moments will you catch as you slow down with your camera in hand?  Look carefully, perhaps even staying still for a few minutes to notice all that is happening in your view.

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

Set off in search of some moments…and share them with the rest of us!


Tiny Celebrations

It’s easy to get involved in all the chores and duties of life and leave the actual living behind.  Loads of laundry, stacks of dishes, the carpet that needs vacuuming, stopping by the gas station after work, the quick trip to Trader Joe’s for cat food and yogurt…  In that blur of activity, a focus on what matters most can easily slip.

For me, that’s where my camera comes in.  When I head out with my camera, even if it is only out into the backyard, I start to pay attention to the beauty and life around me.  I find an appreciation that might otherwise be overlooked.

Today, instead of a walk after work, I headed home.  But even though time was short, I knew I needed time outdoors, so to the backyard I went. The ground was pretty muddy from all the rain, weeds sprouting where grass used to grow.  Plants in pots have gone crazy, with succulents growing large and lavender beginning to blossom.  I leaned in, zooming close with my macro lens.  I love the way that this close up shot brings the lavender into focus, blurring the background into a beautiful abstract painting.  And I was delighted by the bokeh effect, scattering the light behind the lavender without using any special effects.


As I walked along the fence line, I noticed some blossoms on the pear tree that we thought had died.  The drought has taken a toll on our yard, killing most of the lawn and any other plants that were not well established.  This young tree is showing some signs of life…but is certainly neither robust or likely to bear fruit any time soon.  But the blossoms are delicate and dainty–reminders that spring is on the way.  Time outside helps me find focus and reminds me that there is more to life than daily chores.  Tiny celebrations make all the difference!


I read an article I found on Twitter the other day about the power of five post-it notes to make you happy, confident and successful.  I feel like I can achieve the same effects with my camera.  Look closely and find something beautiful, something unusual, something funny (like this photo of the little girl hula hooping in her tiara and long pageant gloves)


…all reminders of what life has to offer when you make time everyday to appreciate the world around you.

Finding Focus

Sometimes life is so busy, it seems to go by in a blur.  Images are out of focus and it’s hard to see with any clarity.  But mostly, when things get busy, I forget to take care of what matters most–my relationships with the people I love.

My one little word this year is explore.  And as the year has progressed, I have discovered that explore means more than journeying outside and exploring the world around me.  It also means exploring my interactions with others, the limits of my physical strength, and how I use my time outside of my work responsibilities.

Hiking in the mountains Saturday with my hubby offered me time and space to breathe deeply (even at 8000 feet of elevation!), spend time together away from chores and other work, and to appreciate the beauty of the natural world.

I took many pictures, but the ones I will highlight here are those that include both a sharp image and a blur–thanks to my macro lens.

The drought means that things are dry, even high in the mountains.  And while we saw a few lingering patches of snow, it’s clear that water is scarce.  But the manzanita was in bloom with its beautiful red wood and pinkish-purple blossoms.


I’m not sure what these little pods are that caught my eye hanging from the tree I passed.  Small and green and fuzzy looking.


This plant seemed to have found a water source…with some green buds visible.  If you look closely, you’ll notice a hair caught on the bud while the background is a blur.


These dry little thistly plants look like weeds…and I love that you can see the blur of the forest behind the crispness of the dry looking plant.


And here, the mountains are in evidence behind these dry branches.


It’s easy to get lost in the blur of the hectic pace of everyday life, yet these images remind me that we can decide where to place the focus if we choose.  Life’s too short not to take time to explore…and figure out what is important.  Sometimes the blur is the perfect backdrop, the broad overview, the hustle and the bustle.  And other times we need to focus on what matters most and appreciate what is right in front of us!

Breaking Through #Orange

I love the challenge of taking and posting a photo every day.  I could just take a picture, but the daily/weekly prompts push me to reframe and rethink what I choose to photograph.  This month’s challenge–a different color every week–has posed some new considerations for my photography.  Red and yellow pushed at my choices and had me thinking about and looking for ways to highlight those colors photographically.  I was still finding interesting scenes and objects…at least one each day that “fit” in the color frame for me.  This past week was orange and I began to feel that the task was hard.  I could find orange–but it seemed so ordinary and overdone–caution cones, warning signs, and flowers.  So I photographed a mural, those ever-present cones, some orange furniture, and made a mural collage.


But my photos were feeling boring–I wasn’t inspired.  Apparently, somewhere in the process of spending a week focused on a color I had raised the photography bar for myself.  I wanted interesting, provocative, artistic shots–and they still needed an orange focus.  The orange umbrellas from Friday were a bit better–I like the framing of the shot.


On Saturday serendipity struck and I was given a small orange bead that became the focus for both my photo and a blog post.


And then on Sunday (the last day of orange) I had a breakthrough of sorts.  My learning walk gave me the time, space, and focus to tune into the orange around me in interesting ways.  I ended up posting these three:


berry with orange


And there were a few others that I haven’t posted yet.

So today begins green.  I like taking the opportunity to reflect on the week of photos and think about my growth as a photographer and my thinking about how the constraints of the photo-a-day challenge (self-imposed) support and/or interfere with my creativity.  What am I missing when I focus on a theme or prompt?  What do I gain when I force myself to “see” through a constrained lens?

I’d love to know what you think!