Tag Archives: lagoon

Weekly Photo Challenge: Vitamin N

Today is Earth Day, a day to celebrate the beauty of the natural world and remember that it is our duty to take care of this place we inhabit.  This week, for me, has been an odd juxtaposition of long days of meetings interspersed with intense periods out in nature.  Earlier this week I came across a blog post about a new book by Richard Louv.  He’s a local author who is known for writing about the need for kids to have experiences in nature (he wrote Last Child in the Woods).  His new book, Vitamin N: The Essential Guide to a Nature-Rich Life includes 500 ways to connect with nature…and it appeared in our classroom, signed by the author shortly before our field trip to the lagoon on Wednesday.

It is affirming to know that others recognize the powerful learning experiences that occur when kids head outside…and it doesn’t take much in the way of materials to make it happen.  And I am reminded that heading outside wasn’t just good for my students, it was good for me and for the other adults too.

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We watched lizards, found a beehive (a hole in a rock wall), saw an extraordinary display by some great white egrets, spied a fish (at least a foot long), smelled sage, and were treated to a riot of colorful flowers in less than an hour at the lagoon.  Students used binoculars and took field notes…and couldn’t wait to research what they had seen when they got back to the classroom.

To practice, the day before we headed out the garden with the same tools (a notebook and binoculars).  In addition the dead crow (eeewwww!), we saw ladybugs and other insects.

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We uncovered brilliant red strawberries, observed birds perched on fences and wires, and noticed the delicate laces of plants we don’t know the names of.

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And of course tall, stately sunflowers always catch my eye…and in this case directed my attention to the gorgeous clouds in the distance.

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I haven’t spent much time at the beach lately, but today, after school I rushed home so we could head back out for a low-tide beach walk.  Blue skies, gentle breezes, and mid 60’s temperatures created the perfect backdrop for walking and talking and exploring.

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Somehow I managed to forget to bring my camera with me–luckily my phone was in my pocket!  I noticed the wet cliff walls (even though the tide was low) and wanted to capture the abstract art quality of them, with the natural sandstone textures above them..

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In spite of my crazy schedule this week, I managed a substantial dose of Vitamin N!  (And I definitely benefited from the time outdoors and from observing the wonders of the natural world!)  So this week’s challenge is to give yourself a shot of vitamin N, head outside and explore a bit of nature around you.  What captures your attention?

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

 

Sometimes we need an excuse to treat ourselves to something wonderful–even when our schedules are feeling compressed and hectic.  A dose of Vitamin N might be just what you need!  Grab your camera and head outdoors…what wonders will you find? Share your discoveries with us and expand nature’s reach through your lens!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Floral

I’ve noticed flowers everywhere lately!  Even the little rain we’ve had lately (and this photo was taken last weekend on a rainy day) has brought out the wildflowers–especially the natives.  These bush sunflowers crop up whether or not they are invited.  I love the juxtaposition of the warning sign and fence behind the brilliant flowers.

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Most of the native flowers seem to come in yellows, so this purple thistle caught my attention.  The raucous wild fuzzy head atop the grayish-green prickly stem seems too beautiful to be a weed!  (And the more I notice weeds, the more I notice their beauty!)

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A walk at the lagoon this week (in preparation for next week’s field trip) brought more wildflowers into view. The hillside was ablaze with orange nasturtiums, bush sunflowers, and these other white and yellow blooms. If you look in the distance you can see the ocean where the lagoon meets the sea.

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There were also these spiky white-ish flowers laying close to the ground along the salt marsh.  In this shot I managed to catch the bee buried in the blossom.  I pulled this in close to make the pollinator even more evident.

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I had caught a glimpse of some prickly pear cactus in bloom–but was too far away to take a photo.  But as I began to drive away, I noticed prickly pear growing in front of a house along the road.  I just had to stop and snap a few pictures.

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And my sweet hubby brought me home some flowers from the market this week, a treat to brighten the house.  I love arranging them in simple clear vases in the dining room where the afternoon sun creates the perfect lighting.

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And who can resist these crazy blooms?  Orange and wild, in perfect contrast to the prim and proper red roses.

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So what’s floral in your life this week?  Grocery store flowers, blossoms from the garden, wildflowers in untended places…or a painting, upholstery, or a new favorite outfit?  Take a look around and see what you can find.

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

Be on the lookout for all things floral…I can’t wait to see what you find through your lens!

A Conversation With a Duck

Sometimes a conversation with a duck takes a surprising turn.

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This guy had a lot to say about my camera and the intrusion of his privacy.  He stood right up and let me know that my attention was not wanted.  Before I had walked toward him, he had been sitting in this spot, relaxing in the cool and sunny afternoon sun.  A couple of females swam nearby.  This little body of water sits next to a local community college…across the street from the local lagoon.

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As I walked back toward my car, this mallard continued his conversation as he stepped into the water and swam upstream, against the current.

I’ve been working to capture some of the sounds I hear on my photo walks these days.  And it’s hard.  When I am out walking and taking photos and noticing the world around me, I also hear amazing sounds…like the conversation with the duck.  Unfortunately, the microphone on my iPhone is simply not sensitive enough to capture these conversations with nature.

Today I headed out to a portion of the lagoon I had never explored before.  It was strangely desolate…dry, smelly…not the lush environment I experienced closer to the shore.  I could hear so much more than I could see in this setting.  Birds called, dragonflies and bees buzzed, the rushes whispered, and I could hear the white noise of the traffic from the freeway not far in the distance.  I came across this sign…and it made me wonder if the birds take note of information like this!

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As I explored this dry and deserted environment, I noticed these strangely unique plants…I don’t know what they are called and haven’t seen them before…but was immediately drawn to them.  My husband called them alien flowers and immediately began a narrative about visitations from aliens (he is a big sci-fi aficionado).  Personally, I think these thistle-looking flowers are beautiful!

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As I walked along the road away from the lagoon toward my car, I found myself thinking about the distinctions between weeds and native species…and in many cases, I think they may be one in the same!  I doubt that anyone planted these flowers, but I recognize them as native.  I have seen them often in and around the lagoon…and they are lovely…especially as they blow in the sea breezes.  They are like miniature sunflowers or daisies…brilliant yellow…the definition of spring!

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I walked through many patches of these flowers growing wild along the side of the road, attracting bees and other pollinators, and simply making the road more beautiful than ordinary dirt and asphalt ever thought of being.  And then I noticed this tree, large and stately…and likely home to many birds and bugs, and shade to many more.

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I learn so much on my walks with my camera…even when I don’t capture it in images.  Today I was much more aware of sounds than images.  What looked like dried grasses and brush hinted at a richness of life within.  I could hear birds calling, the rustle of animals, and the wind singing in tune with the plant life.  I came across a hidden babbling brook and wondered if the water were fresh or brackish.  At one point a bee came to whisper in my ear and stayed with me longer than I really wanted.

And so I am reminded to not just look…but also to listen to the world around me.  There is so much to be learned from a conversation with a mallard or the whispers of a bee, if you just take the time to listen.

Exploring, Lagoon Style

Sometimes I find myself taking the same photo over and over again.  I definitely have my favorite places to go, and when I’m not intentionally doing something differently, habit leads me to frame that same photo yet again.

To combat that, and to push my photography, I’ve been trying two things: finding someplace new to take photos and framing my photos in intentionally different ways.

I stopped by the San Elijo lagoon yesterday and snapped a few photos near sunset.  Today we headed off to the Batiquitos lagoon–a place we seldom visit–to walk the trails and take photos.

Heading west, we took a trail over a small bridge and found ourselves on a mucky path, slick with mud and wet sand.  We trudged on for a while until we got to a place where we could only pass by climbing rocks.  But along the way I had noticed the pickleweed, a specially adapted plant that thrives in the brackish water of the lagoon.  It’s often green, but today it was gorgeous with vivid pinks and reds.  I got out my macro lens and leaned in close to capture the pickleweed.

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And as long as I had the macro attached, I took photos of other native plants including salt grass and whatever this plant is.

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Heading back to the east, we found the drier part of the trail and walked with many people and their dogs in the sunny mid-60 degree weather.  We spied an osprey high in a eucalyptus tree overseeing the lagoon.  Ducks paddled and dove down into the briny water for a mid-day meal.

I love the way this lagoon plant almost looks like cotton with puffs exploding from it.  I worked to photograph the lagoon with this plant in the foreground and the sun over my shoulder, framing the water with the plant instead of shooting over the top of it.

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Bare trees are uncommon around here, so this one caught my eye.  Instead of focusing my camera on the tree branches, I worked to see the lagoon through the tree, capturing the wispy white clouds and the shine of the water’s surface behind it.  Shooting toward the sun created the silhouette-like sharpness of both the foreground and the background.

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As we were leaving, looking toward the northwest, the sun was a bit off to the side as I tried to frame this image of the space where the freeway passes over the lagoon.  I knelt, pulling the brush into the image as I looked out to the ocean.  You can see the fog beginning to gather along the coast and if you look closely you might even notice the many ducks floating on the current just beyond the brush.

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And as an added bonus, we got in a nearly two mile walk in the fresh, salty air on our quick photo expedition!