Tag Archives: geisel library

Rubbing Elbows with Nature

The Wabi Sabi photo-a-day challenge has me looking at my surroundings differently.  I find myself looking for beauty that presents itself in unusual ways.

Today I had the opportunity to head out around the UCSD campus for a short learning walk in conjunction with a demo presented by a kindergarten teacher in our SDAWP Summer Institute. She explained how nature inspires her own writing and some of the ways she inspires writing with her students.  As I headed out with the charge to spend some time in nature, tuning in the sights, sounds, smells, and feels, I also had my phone/camera in hand ready to capture evidence of my experience.

Down the metal stairs, past the row of ATM machines, across the cement walkways, sandwiched between the architectural wonder of the Geisel Library and the tall buildings that are Warren College, lies a secret garden.  Garden often conjures lush foliage and brilliant blooms, but the space lives under a canopy of Eucalyptus trees.  And to my surprise, growing from a fallen trunk were three new tall, thin trees.

eucalyptus growing from a stump

Heading off to the Snake Path, an art installation leading to the library inspired by Milton’s Paradise Lost, I found the natural beauty and familiar smells of the native plants that thrive in our arid, coastal climate.  With phone/camera in hand, I noticed the contrast of the angular, metal and glass library poking up behind the fragrant, wild-ranging brush.

library ucsd

As I continued my walk, I came around the front of the library and found myself drawn to to the barrier poles laying on their side…with flowers growing nearby.

flower and pole

flower and pole 2

As I headed back to our meeting room, I noticed another of our participants lounging on some large boulders and working on her writing.  I admit, I snuck up on her–wanting to capture the image that tells a story in one frame.  (She does know about the photo…and has approved of it!)

writing on the rocks

I find myself looking for the Wabi Sabi of nature rubbing shoulders with the not always so beautiful man-made.  And some of that Wabi Sabi I noticed was not only visual…I heard the buzzes of insects and the chirps of birds joining with the melody of car engines, back-up beeps, and snippets of conversation in the songs that are uniquely UCSD.

Where do you find nature rubbing shoulders with man made structures?  Have you noticed any Wabi Sabi?

Reflections on Photography and Rain

“You don’t make a photograph just with a camera. You bring to the act of photography all the pictures you have seen, the books you have read, the music you have heard, the people you have loved.”
― Ansel Adams

I saw this Ansel Adams quote on Instagram (thanks @lyndango) today and had an immediate and visceral connection to it.  I wasn’t always a photographer, in fact, I am only now beginning to identify myself with that description after taking and posting daily photos for more than a year and a half.  It is that daily practice that has transformed my photographs.  Before I took photos of people I loved and things I wanted to remember, but I didn’t put a lot of thought into the composition and I didn’t pore over my photos the way I do now, thinking about the messages they carry and convey to others.

I am coming to understand this Ansel Adams quote as I reflect on what I choose to photograph and how I choose to compose my photographs.  Even the editing process draws on my experiences and interests.

On a rainy Saturday morning, in the midst of the San Diego Area Writing Project Spring Conference, I was drawn to the windows to try to capture the rain and its energy through my lens. It’s hard to see rain through my camera lens…but the rain splattered window helped me out.


And I love the juxtaposition of the name of this building, The Sun God Lounge, with the rainy morning.

And across the room I noticed the interesting lines of the window panes.  As I walked closer,  I could see the distinctive architecture of the Geisel Library through the lines of the panes. Even though I have been in this building many times before, I had never noticed this view of the library.

library through the window

I like the iconic eucalyptus trees between the window and the library building…trees that are prevalent on the UCSD campus.

And yesterday we experienced the rare stormy day at school.  My students were fascinated by the bending of the palms… “Look,” they said as they pointed!  “The trees are bending.”  I like the way this photo not only captures the wind and windiness, but also the school-ness of the context with the four square courts in the foreground.

windy palms

I definitely bring the pictures I have seen, the books I have read, the music I have heard, and the people I love to my photography…and my photography brings them back to me, helping me to better understand who I am in the world.

How does photography impact your understanding of the world?  Or do you have another form of art/creativity that serves a similar purpose?

slice of life