Tag Archives: joy

Looking Closely to Look Back: December’s Photo-a-Day Challenge

We’ve reached the twelfth month, the last of the calendar year.  Traditionally, it’s a time for reflection, of taking stock of the year in order to make progress in the new year.

So…what if we look to the world around us, paying careful attention to what is currently in front of us–and use those images and related thinking to look back, to reflect on the year?

Just last week I had the opportunity to watch some college students dance (many thanks to my niece, a dance major).  Their energy and passion were obvious–and contagious!  Looking at this image reminds me that we are not attached to the the ground…we are also in flight, ready to follow our imagination.

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We tell ourselves so many stories–including stories that fuel our frustration and impatience.  Sometimes we need to reframe a story, view it from a new perspective to change our feelings and perceptions. Traffic can be a pain…or an opportunity depending on how your look at it.

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And sometimes doors don’t look like doors.  They might just be spaces you haven’t noticed before.  I’m determined to ride the train to Los Angeles one day soon…and this image will remind me to include this on my to-do list.

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Those quiet moments of waiting and watching sometimes pay off in a beautiful photo, but always fill my heart with wonder and joy…even when the photo doesn’t happen.  I get just enough rewards like this one to remind me to stop, listen, watch, enjoy what is right in front of me.

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I see dozens and dozens and dozens of seagulls–at the beach, when I drive down the freeway, at school–and yet I never tire of them.  There is a certain elegance about taking flight, gliding on the currents, and over the currents (and waves) below.  Does anyone remember reading Jonathan Livingston Seagull back in the day?

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Going to different places means seeing things that are familiar…and well, ordinary.  I like to notice the new…the magnificent architecture, the iconic art…but sometimes find myself snapping a photo of the familiar, like this walk sign.  (Now I find myself wondering if walk signs are really the same all over, maybe I need to take some more photos of them!  This one is from Minneapolis.)

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And then there is light.  Sometimes it is sunlight, sometimes moonlight…and sometimes a wonderful art piece that is all about light.  Add dark to the light and the camera creates effects that are even more interesting, reminding me that we can’t always capture images as we see them…sometimes they create themselves right in our own hands in front of our eyes.

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To get you started, here are some prompts for the month:

  1. Spaces
  2. Places
  3. Movement
  4. Relationships
  5. Home
  6. Outdoors
  7. Family
  8. Story
  9. Favorite
  10. Gift
  11. Memory
  12. Dozen
  13. Night
  14. Nature
  15. Quiet
  16. Rhythm
  17. Sharp
  18. Warmth
  19. Flame
  20. Moment
  21. Light
  22. Sky
  23. Doors
  24. Ground
  25. Celebration
  26. Water
  27. Delicious
  28. Hands
  29. Reflect
  30. Dance
  31. New

As always, our challenge will allow us to learn from each other as we shoot our own photos and study the photos others shoot. The prompts are there to help you pay attention to your world and reflect on the year and your experiences. You can use them in order or pick and choose as you like–you are welcome to add a new prompt into the mix if you are so moved. You can post every day, once a week, or even sporadically throughout the month…whatever works in your life.

Be sure to share and tag your photos with #sdawpphotovoices so we can find them! You can share on Twitter (follow me @kd0602), on Instagram (@kd0602), in the CLMOOC community on G+, on Flickr, or even link back to my blog here.

Let’s look closely to look back and move forward as we bring 2015 to a close.  Enjoy the winter holidays, whatever version you celebrate, and let your camera help you find the joy and wonder of the season.

The Joy of the Unexpected

As a photographer I am attracted to things I find beautiful…interesting shapes, saturated colors, cute furry animals, sweet children.  But today was different.

Using my macro lens, I was taking photos of a paperwhite bulb that is beginning to emerge, capturing the brilliant green shoots emerging from the jar.

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But I wasn’t done exploring with my lens.  I noticed the orchid in the kitchen window still hanging onto the dried blossoms.  I should probably pull off these dead remnants, but instead I aimed my macro lens and captured a beautiful image of the dried and withered petals.

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I headed outside into the unusually warm December morning, still looking for opportunities to get close.  I noticed this dried blossom on the hedge and leaned in.

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Then I noticed the old wires on the part of the sprinkler system that has been disabled.  There’s a certain elegant beauty to the turquoise plastic revealing the coppery wire within.

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I headed around the corner toward the hibiscus plant.  It has tiny shoots of green emerging along with dried remains of previous flowers.

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And I have a love/hate relationship with spider webs.  They can be elegantly beautiful like delicate lace, especially when they capture drops of dew or rain.  And they can be a messy nuisance.  But when you look closely, you can see past the mess and notice the intricacies of design and the way the sunlight plays with the thin strands.

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I found myself looking for things I would otherwise think of as ugly as I photographed with my macro lens this morning…and I found unexpected beauty and experienced the joy of discovery in my re-seeing.

All of these unedited photos are yet another reminder that there is plenty of beauty to find in our world if we take the time to look past the obvious and consider perspectives beyond what is conventionally accepted.

Where do you find beauty?  Do you find joy in the unexpected?