Tag Archives: macro

Weekly Photo Challenge: Wonder

Do you speak in images? Enjoy taking photos to document your experiences or just to express what you notice in the world? Love to share them with others? Welcome to the weekly photo challenge! I post a new challenge each week…check in regularly and join the fun!

As I headed out my front door this morning a dew covered dandelion puff caught my eye.  I was filled with wonder as I noticed the heaviness of the strands of fluff and I couldn’t wait to put my work things in my car so I could head back over to take a photo. Seeing the dew all over my car and windows, I decided to start my car, squeegee the windows and then set up my macro lens to capture that image.  At that moment, as I sat in the driver’s seat and pushed the button to start my ignition, my car let out a short groan and then nothing. I tried to pull the key out to try again…but it wouldn’t release and when I tried the ignition button again…nothing.

Lucky for me, my husband was working from home this morning so I was able to head back in to see if he could help.  And while he was checking out my car, I got the opportunity to attach my macro lens and snap a few shots.  I love the way you can see the dandelion fluff encased in a dew drop in this shot.

dandelion in dew drop

(As I write this, my car is in the shop.  My husband was able to take me to work and hopefully we’ll be picking my car up later today.)

Yesterday, I reveled in the wonder of my students as they took a close look at some fall leaves my teaching partner brought back from her trip to Colorado.  My students had the opportunity to observe, sketch and photograph the leaves…and these will also serve as information and inspiration for some poetry and art.  I found myself taking photos of students taking photos of leaves (and you can see some sketches in progress in the background).

photo of leaf photoOn Monday, we celebrated the National Day on Writing (for details you can see this post) by writing collaborative poetry with the older multiage class at our other school.  My students continually amaze and delight me as they embrace the wonder of words…and of collaboration. It was such fun to watch kids, from six to eleven years old, figure out how to bring their ideas together in a collaborative poem.

poetry collaboration

I spent the weekend in Raleigh, North Carolina at the Association for Science and Technology Centers conference.  Unlike a usual educational conference, this conference is mostly attended by museum professionals.  My colleague from the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center and I presented as part of our participation in a partnership between writing projects and science centers.  Since we have been exploring ways to transform field trip experiences for students, we included a mini field trip “exhibit” as part of our presentation.  It was such fun to catch the wonder and delight on the face of adults as they explored with a science “toy.”

mini field trip joy

I also had the opportunity to explore the North Caroline Museum of Natural Sciences (I wrote more about it here).  This museum is quite unusual and includes many unique features.  I got to watch these veterinarians work with this snake, including using a “trach” tube.  We got to listen to the snake’s respirations and ask the vets questions about the procedure.  You’ll notice that they are also projected onto the screen on the right hand side of the photo.  I can only imagine the wonder children will experience as they watch these animal doctors at work!

vets with a snakeAnd in the more traditional part of the museum I happened to look up with a bit of surprise and wonder as I noticed these pterodactyls above my head.  You can also see the lights of the city through this windowed dome where the pterodactyls flew.

pteradactyls

And sometimes it is the simple things that fill me with wonder.  Raleigh is known for its oak trees.  While they were not experiencing full blown colorful fall leaves, there were leaves and acorns falling here and there.  I love the simplicity of this leaf on the brick walkway.

oak leaf

What fills you with wonder?  Is it the simplicity and beauty of nature or watching students at work?  Did you catch a scientific wonder (like today’s partial solar eclipse) or revel in the intricacies of man-made structures?

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

Open your eyes and heart and pay attention to what fills you with wonder.  Breathe in and take that photo, not so much to make art, but to capture the moment for further reflection.  I can’t wait to see those wonder-full moments through your lens!

 

 

 

A Macro View: Texture

I love using the macro lens.  It magnifies subjects so that what is ordinarily unnoticed suddenly takes shape and comes to the forefront.  So when I saw the Daily Post weekly photo challenge topic of texture…I knew exactly what I wanted to post.

The macro lens on my iPhone is not particularly convenient, I have to take the cover off my phone and then attach the magnetic lens, so I don’t use it as frequently as I would like.  Earlier this week I was in a beautiful garden…meant to be a replica of a homestead garden…in Bozeman, MT at the Museum of the Rockies.  A bounty of flowers and vegetables flourished…calling my attention.  There were poppies, sunflowers, and myriad flowers whose names I don’t know.  And the onions were magnificent!

texture_red and white onion

And while we needed to head out to the airport for our flight home, I just had to steal away a few minutes for some macro shots.  Here is one of the onion above.

texture_onion macro

And here is one of the blossoms of a different variety of onion.

texture_onion

The brilliant red poppies also caught my eye.  They are gorgeous without looking closely, but magnification brings out the delicate tendrils and the distinctive centers.

texture_red poppy

And I also saw these same centers standing alone without the crimson petals.

texture_poppy bud

As I wandered through the garden I continued to move close and zoom in on blossoms.  This one with the spiky center looks almost like a bouquet of colored pencils

texture_red bloom

This fluffy tan ball revealed small individual flowers through my macro lens.

texture_tan

I’m not sure what this tiny purple ball wrapped in green spines will look like when the bloom opens.

texture_spiny

When looking closely through the macro lens, centers pop, revealing intricacies of design.

texture_white

texture_indigo

Looking closely creates opportunities to pay attention.  Seeing the contrast between hard and soft edges and elaborate design with repeated patterns also seems to draw attention to the vibrance of color…like in this purple blossom.

texture_purple

Textures often go unnoticed when we look at flowers and vegetables.  Instead we tend to notice the overall shape and general color, and sometimes the fragrance as well.  I love the ways the centers of flowers uncover distinctive details about how the flower reproduces and unfolds.  What originally appears smooth and soft is more complex and nuanced with a closer look.

And that is true of life too.  Looking closely and paying attention can change our observations and our perspective.  Sometimes you just have to lean in and take the time to smell…and photograph the flowers!

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Light

Do you speak in images? Enjoy taking photos to document your experiences or just to express what you notice in the world? Love to share them with others? Welcome to the weekly photo challenge! I post a new challenge each week…check in regularly and join the fun!

One of the things I love best about the summer is the light.  Days are longer and filled with warmth and flooded with light.  I find myself noticing how light shines from different angles, how different objects catch light, and how some light seems harsh while other light feels soft somehow.

I’ve been messing around with selfies (and subjecting my husband to them too!), trying to capture different angles and places and light too.  I love the sky in this one and the way the light catches my hair and shoulder.

selfie light

During a late afternoon glance around the back yard I noticed the way the light and shadow played with this succulent.

succulent light

And I was drawn to the burr on this weed and the way the light served to highlight the prickly spines.  I had to get my macro lens to capture it’s miniature beauty.

burr light

Yesterday was Hack Your Notebook Day, which meant we were playing around with lights and writing and notebooks…and I captured Henry testing the limits of his parallel circuit, lighting up one, two, three, four…

circuit lights

Today I was craving the outdoors and sunshine and solitude…so I took a lunchtime photo walk out on the UCSD campus..  There are so many interesting art installations (part of the Stuart Collection) on campus…I found myself heading off toward the rock bear and noticing the light bouncing off the boulders that are the bear.

bear in the light

And if you look closely into the light and shadow of this shrub you might just see the little bunny rabbit that froze when it saw me…allowing me to snap a photo (although I couldn’t get close enough for a great shot of the rabbit).

rabbit light

So this week’s challenge is to find the light in your photos.  Indoor light, outdoor light, dim light, bright light, direct light, diffuse light…take advantage of all the light that summer has to offer!

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

Chase the light with your lens…can’t wait to see what lights up your life!

 

A Burr in Your Sock

Today was a prickly kind of day in the SDAWP SI.  There’s something about confronting formulaic writing that sticks in your socks like those little burrs you find on weeds that seem to plant themselves in the most unlikely places.

burr

Over the weekend we read a collection of articles about formulaic writing, thinking about why this approach to writing instruction persists, and the implications for student writing.  Even teachers who are proponents of using a formulaic approach to teaching writing still complain about the deadening experience of reading the resulting student writing.  Who wants to read paper after paper of repetitive phrasing and uninspired thinking?

I contrast that with the playfulness of this week at the CLMOOC.  This week’s make is to hack your writing.  And already on day two interesting writing is filling my feeds.  I woke up this morning to a poem by Kevin “stolen” from yesterday’s blog post:

I live in contrasts
in the space between here
and there
I find the nook to hide in
and observe the world
through many lenses
I seek but never find
the whys of the world
so that every movement is
equally beautiful, equally interesting
and entirely different from each other
but only if we take the time to pause
and notice.

And this creation by Sherri:

Screen Shot 2014-07-08 at 8.41.27 PM

Both Kevin and Sherri played with language and writing, creating their own message and meaning from words I had written.  They wrote for fun, for their own purpose, and gifted their words to me on my blog.  I grant you that they are adults and they are not composing “academic” texts, but I know that the spirit of fun and play supports them as writers.

I worry about who in our schools gets the most formulaic writing.  Why are our English learners, our students of color, our students who live below the poverty line most likely to get writing instruction that is pre-chewed, scaffolded to the point that no thinking is required?  In the name of being helpful, we are robbing students of the opportunity to make sense of their thinking through writing.

And yet, letting go of the formulaic means inviting messiness, losing control, welcoming confusion in order to find clarity and coherence.  What replaces the formula?  That is a question that I am asked over and over again.  The answers aren’t easy, they aren’t neat, and they mean teaching writers rather than writing.

Sometimes that search for answers feels like a burr in your sock.  But if you look closely–maybe using your macro lens–you’ll see the details of the beautiful weed, a natural hacker, springing up where you least expect it.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Two

Do you speak in images? Enjoy taking photos to document your experiences or just to express what you notice in the world? Love to share them with others? Welcome to the weekly photo challenge! I post a new challenge each week…check in regularly and join the fun!

This weekend is the summer equinox, the first day of summer…and it is my wedding anniversary.  I’ve been married a long time, but it seems like just yesterday that I stood in that white dress on a beautiful first day of summer afternoon and vowed to join my life with my husband’s.  So this week I’ve been thinking about the number two and all its connotations.  I’ve often heard marriage described as two lives becoming one, but that doesn’t seem true to me. It seems more like a braiding of lives…or maybe even a weaving or tapestry–becoming inextricably linked, yet still each maintaining their unique features and substance.

So I started to look for photos that represent two…and some were easy and quite literal. There’s my two cats.  They spend lots and lots of time together…but check out their facial expressions here.  They take turns being the one who begs…obviously it’s Jack’s turn here.

cats

And then there are these two up in handstands…showing off their balance and strength. They just happen to be my teaching partner and one of our students when we were at the rock climbing gym a week ago.

handstands

Here’s a less obvious two.  This is actually two separate photos I took and then combined using the app union.  It was interesting to figure out what to put in the background and then what to put in the foreground and what to mask…much more complex than I thought when I began. (It’s a picture of a piece of driftwood and an LED light, both shot with my macro lens)  I did add some filter effects as well to create the unusual coloring.

2 photos

And here are a couple of bikes nuzzled up to each other while parked at the bike racks.

two bikes

And I better add a picture from nature…here’s a double blossom taken with my macro lens during a walk last weekend.

two blossoms

So this week’s challenge is to represent two…two of something, twice as much, double the fun, two of your favorites (like my cats and kids and blossoms)…you get to interpret two in ways you find interesting.

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

It’s time to document the twos in your life…can’t wait to see them through your lens!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Closer Look at the Ordinary

Sometimes we take things for granted.  Especially those ordinary things that we are so accustomed to that we almost don’t even notice their usefulness or necessity.  I’ve been reminded to pay attention to the ordinary in a couple of ways lately.

A blogger I follow (who takes some spectacular photos!) mentioned in a post recently that she was participating in a macro photo challenge…and was reminded that macro is not all about flowers and bugs. That prompted me to put the macro lens on my phone/camera this morning and to snap some macro shots of ordinary things around my house.

The zipper on my sweatshirt immediately attracted my attention, I like seeing how the teeth interconnect.

Zipper

I noticed the banana…and focused my lens on the dark end.  It is definitely more interesting than I originally thought!

banana tip

And then since I wrote about being more playful about ordinary things like brushing my teeth in my Summer Manifesto yesterday, I couldn’t resist a quick shot of the bristles…and the toothpaste tube!

toothbrush bristles

toothpaste

Later today while I was outside on a long walk–of the exercise persuasion–I found myself thinking about the NWP radio show I taped today.  The show focused on formative assessment and a resource, an e-book, that NWP colleagues, Beth Rimer from Ohio and Terri McAvoy from Missouri, have put together to help their writing project colleagues and other educators understand and use formative assessment effectively…in classrooms and in professional development.  (The e-book will be available on the NWP website on June 26th…and you can hear the radio show that same evening!)

I realized in my work with Terri and Beth (I acted as their coach and editor…and cheerleader!) that formative assessment is one of the taken for granted, ordinary practices that becomes nearly invisible–even to those who use it well–and totally unacknowledged and often dismissed by those who aren’t familiar with its powerful outcomes.  What I love most about the new e-book, Formative Assessment as a Compass: Looking at Student Work as an Intentional Part of Ongoing Professional Development, is that it shines a light on all the reasons this is an essential practice for educators–in classrooms and in professional development.  Like my zipper and my toothbrush, it’s easy to overlook formative assessment.  It’s not flashy and doesn’t get much press, but effective educators understand that paying attention to learners–what they “get” and what they don’t–is essential to planning for effective teaching and requires a willingness to abandon the carefully created lesson plans and attend to the learners in the moment.

Since working with Beth and Terri, I have been more aware of the use of formative assessment in my classroom and I can’t wait to use this resource in my work with my SDAWP colleagues. Like a macro lens, this e-book will help people look more closely, examining the details that are often overlooked and considering intentional and systematic practices that support learners (and teachers too!).

What of the ordinary are you overlooking or taking for granted?  How will you take a closer look and consider the consequences of doing without this thing?  I’m glad for reminders to pay attention in different ways…to make the familiar new, allowing me to appreciate what I might otherwise dismiss as ordinary.

Appreciating Difference

I love my macro lens!  What I like best about it is that it makes me slow down, breathe deeply, and pay attention to the smallest of details…things that I didn’t even realize I couldn’t see.

Over the weekend I had the opportunity to spend some time at our local botanic gardens, offering a wide variety of plants in different ecosystems from deserts to rain forests to native plants of our area.  They also had a section of the gardens that was all fruit trees…a variety of citrus, figs, persimmons, guava, and more.

When I saw this delicate guava blossom, I had to stop and take out my macro.  I just knew that it would take a close look to really see and appreciate the beauty of this ethereal bloom.

guava blossom

And once I got started, I couldn’t stop myself.  Each variety offered its own unique beauty. Here’s one variety of fig.

fig blossom green

This is a different variety of fig…and perhaps at a different stage of development.

fig blossom red

I was surprised by the center of this lime blossom.  I knew it was a white flower, but I hadn’t noticed the center before taking this photo.

lime blossom

And this lemonade lemon tree had the prettiest pink blossoms getting ready to open.

lemon blossoms

I’m not sure which fruit tree this blossom came from, but I love its crazy red fringe!

fruit blossom

As I looked closely at these fruit blossoms I found myself thinking about how much diversity there is among them.  Even varieties that are closely related are different from one another. Which got me thinking about my students…and students in general.  As teachers (and parents too), we need to slow down, look and listen closely, and pay attention to the diversity among our students.  Even when students are all the same age, they have vastly different personalities, learning strengths, and interests.  I often have the privilege of teaching siblings…sometimes even twins and triplets…and what I know is, despite having the same parents and living in the same environment, each child in the family is different from the other(s), highlighting the complexities of DNA, personality, behavior, and more.

And in spite of these differences, we all have so much in common:  the need to be loved and valued, to be nurtured and supported, to have others assume the best and help us learn from the inevitable mistakes we will make.

That macro lens offers insight as I look closely at the world of plants, noticing features and details I might have missed without it.  I don’t have a macro lens to use with my students, instead I have to use the lens of mindfulness to keep myself attuned to the individuality of my students and take the time to notice and learn from them and about them.  I don’t just teach a group of children, I teach a classroom full of diverse individuals and to teach them well it’s important for me to know that and take their differences into account.  And for me, that’s the beauty of the classroom, it’s a room full of teaching and learning opportunities as we all bring who we are into the mix.  Our differences are the best part of our learning community as we help each other slow down and see the world in new and different ways.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Get Close

Do you speak in images? Enjoy taking photos to document your experiences or just to express what you notice in the world? Love to share them with others? Welcome to the weekly photo challenge! I post a new challenge each week…check in regularly and join the fun!

Just yesterday I noticed some unusual mushrooms growing in the garden box outside my classroom door.  I snapped a quick picture (you can see it on my instagram feed) and went into the classroom to prepare for the day.  Later in the day when I looked into the box, the mushrooms were no longer there.  Did someone pluck them out?  This morning I looked in the box and noticed just a couple of these same mushrooms growing.  I decided to take the time to attach my macro lens and get close to these mushrooms.  And I’m glad I did…once again, they seemed to vanish as the day began to warm.

mushrooms up close

And sometimes I like to get close even without the aid of the macro lens. The pines I met while I was in Ohio were different from the varieties I am used to.  I got close to this one as I looked through at the green beyond…and green like this is very unusual where I live!

pine tree

Sometimes there is an unexpected invitation to get close.  I couldn’t resist this sign asking museum visitors to lean in and pick up the items in the box…to really examine them closely.  It’s such a different message than the “look only with your eyes” message that is so common.

please touch

I’m not sure about this fence.  I got close to the fence…but is the message of the fence to stay back, don’t get too close?

through a fence

And sometimes I use cropping as a way of getting even closer than I’m able to with my ordinary camera lens.  In this case I took a photo of my oatmeal and coffee in the carry tray…and then cropped to make it fill the frame.  The other photos above all are unedited…but this one has been cropped (but no filters applied).

food_close

So this week’s challenge is to get close. You might pull our your macro lens and try your hand at magnifying something small…or you might lean in and see how close you can get.  You might even think about getting close more metaphorically…how else might a photo “read’ close? You can also consider using an editing tool to create the feeling of getting close from a photo that wasn’t all that close.

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

So snuggle up and get close!  I can’t wait to see what you find when you get close with your lens.

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Small

Enjoy taking photos?  Love to share them with others?  Welcome to this week’s photo challenge! (I post a new challenge every week…check in each week and join the fun!)

Small things are often underestimated in our biggest, strongest, fastest focused world.  Too often, small gets overlooked or trivialized as merely cute.  And yet, when you look closely, small can reveal so much more.

I was out with my macro lens in my backyard yesterday and noticed these tiny weed buds neighboring up to a potted plant.  I love the gentle curve of its stem, like a dancer in motion rising from its leafy brethren below.

tiny weed bud

And then there’s the energy and inquisitiveness that comes through this small hand…the hand of a child who just discovered this bean growing in the school garden.  She was excited to taste this morsel, exploring the bounty students planted and nurtured.

hands with bean

And how often do we dismiss or turn in disgust from these small, slimy creatures?  I came across this slug on my sidewalk as I ventured out to take a peek at the moon the other night.  I nearly missed the small brown creature…or worse, nearly stepped on it!

slug

And sometimes something small is revealed by something larger.  This hearty, healthy dandelion emerged from a small crack between the sidewalk and wall.  Weeds don’t need much space to grow–they grow where they can, making use of small, often unused spaces.

weed in the crack

So this week’s photo challenge is to look for and capture small. Interpret small in ways that work in your context.  Small might mean smaller than your palm, or small in relation to something larger than life.  Use a macro lens, lean in closely, or maybe even pose your small next to something large.  Post either the photo alone or along with writing inspired by the photo. I also invite you to use others’ photos as inspiration for your own writing and photography. I often use another photographer’s image as “mentor text” for my own photography, trying to capture some element in my own way.

I like to share my images and writing on social media…and I invite you to share yours widely too. (You might consider Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Google+) Use the hashtag #small and include @nwpianthology to make it easy for us to find and enjoy. You can find me on Twitter and Instagram @kd0602. I’d love to follow you if you share your handle.

You can also share your photos and writing by linking to this blog post or sharing in the comment section below. I’m looking forward to seeing small through your lens!