Tag Archives: look closely

Seasons: SOL22 Day 18

All week, spring has been on my mind. For those of you who live where weather is variable, that might seem unsurprising. But given the consistency of weather where I live–there are people who say we only have two seasons: spring and summer–thinking about seasonal change might seem strange.

Walking the beach this afternoon I was noticing how the slant of the sun feels different–and of course, we did just “spring forward” into daylight saving time. It’s becoming more intense, is it higher in the sky these days? And then of course, there are the spring breakers: lots of young, supple bodies laid out like fish fry, soaking up the sun.

When I got home I took a look at my email and was drawn into a New York Times California Today newsletter entitled “Love Letters to the Golden State.” As I skimmed through I noticed one about my place–and I stopped to read. Yes…this particular love letter captures some of what I love about this place where I live.

Here’s what I read:

“I LOVE the seasons in San Diego. Yes, the seasons. Being a native, I grew up hearing the transplant residents commiserating, ‘There are no seasons here!’ as they stood in their driveways, happily donning sunglasses and short sleeves.

They’re missing it, I’d think. The changing shadows, the subtle and beautiful shifts in the Chinese oak trees, the brilliant and changing hues in the morning and evening skies, the homey smell of wet neighborhood streets, the ebb and flow of the scents of desert herbs … and so much more.” — Sylvia Padilla Sullivan, San Diego

Those seasonal changes fill the air–if you stop to pay attention to subtle changes. It’s about color and air…and the ocean too. And of course, the weather gets warmer, our chances for rain decrease…and it won’t be long before the foggy part of spring comes to put a nice damp gray blanket on our days.

But for now, I am enjoying the emerging spring with longer brighter days. I’m watching for the cactus flowers to appear, for the succulents to bloom, and the beach parking lots to fill. What are your markers of seasonal change? Are they obvious or do you have to pay close attention using all your sense?

Tiny Surprises

Not too long ago I got a cool little photo gift–a small detachable macro lens for my iPhone.  It has a little clip (kind of like a clothespin) that fits the macro lens right over my phone’s native camera lens.  The fun thing about a macro lens is that it lets you get close up and magnify tiny things so you can really see them.

During Tuesday’s lunch break I decided to attach the macro lens to my phone and head out into the backyard in search of a photo subject.  The milkweed is looking quite sickly.  There are a few flowers, but the leaves have been stripped clean.  Upon close examination, I did find a caterpillar–the monarch variety–cruising the stripped branches.  I leaned in, took a deep breath, and held as steady as possible to snap a few photos of the yellow, white, and black crawling creature.  It was a pretty big one, so I ended up with a head shot rather than a full body portrait.

Then I turned my attention to the lavender.  I love the way that lavender has tiny blossoms that make up the bloom.  I aimed the macro lens at the individual blossom–and then I saw them!  The tiniest ants were crawling in and out of the blossom.  I moved the lens away and looked closely.  I could make out the tiny ants, just barely, without the lens.  I snapped a few different shots of the tiny ants exploring the blossom and then my questions started emerging.  Are these ants pollinators?  Do they help or hurt the lavender?  What about these tiny ants–are they a different species than the regular ants I’m used to seeing, just smaller?

I love the way taking photos also creates opportunities for research and learning, piquing my curiosity as I notice something new or unexpected.  Photography keeps reminding me to look at the world through fresh eyes, changing my angles…or just the camera lens!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Look Closely

Sometimes the most amazing sights are right under your nose…and you walk right past them regularly without even noticing.  Lucky for me, having a camera at my fingertips helps me pay more attention to my surroundings.

It also helps to have a classroom full of kids pointing out interesting things, like this insect sitting on the yellow cucumber in the garden.


I love the way the composition takes advantage of color and texture…and still draws the eye to the winged insect in the center of the image.

And there’s that planter box right outside my classroom door, which has become a science lab for learning about monarch butterflies.  The milkweed attracts butterflies, who lay eggs on the leaves that hatch into interesting black and green and yellow caterpillars…and this week we have found three resulting chrysalises.  (Unfortunately one disappeared–likely nabbed by an over interested child, probably from another class.)  Two were still there when I left school this afternoon.  Here’s the one I snapped yesterday.


I love the intricate gold detail on the brilliant green casing.  I hope a butterfly emerges!

This student performance by second graders at our school this morning had me looking closely at the light and the clouds in the distance (you can see that wall of marine layer just beginning to burn off in the distance).  As they sang about the constitution (School House Rock version), they waved tiny American flags in honor of Constitution Day and Patriot Day celebrated in September.


Friday morning breakfast with colleagues has become a long-standing tradition at a local restaurant.  Parking is always at a premium, and today I ended up around the corner near this electrical box that I have seen before but never photographed.  So today was the day I looked closely and snapped a shot of this whimsical piece of found art.


You already know that the beach is a source of inspiration for me, but sometimes I miss the ordinary beauty of something as simple as a sand castle.  This one caught my eye the other day.


And sometimes we venture beyond the closest beach and explore other nearby places.  Out on the pier in Oceanside (to the north), I looked closely and noticed so much action out in the ocean including these sailboats seemingly racing on a beautiful holiday Saturday afternoon.


Walking through coastal Oceanside also offered us the opportunity to see some street art up close.  Many walls were painted with murals…there were eyes, retro western scenes, and my favorite, this triptych of birds in flight in an alleyway.


So, look closely.  What do you see?  You might have to look down from up high, get low and look under, or have a child point out something you might otherwise overlook.

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

Open your eyes and your mind as you look closely, you might be surprised at what you’ll see!  Take some shots and share them…we’d love to see what you find!