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Weekly Photo Challenge: Odds and Ends

This has been quite a week of ups and downs.  And the weather here seemed to reflect that too.  Last weekend was bright and sunny, enticing us to head to Torrey Pines (a beautiful local state beach and park with incredible views of the ocean) to do some hiking and photography.  This place is known for its iconic Torrey Pine trees, trees not found in many other places.  They are perfectly adapted for life on windy cliffs, have resources for collecting water from the ever-present marine layer (you may know it as fog), and are simply beautiful.  Here’s one I captured on our hike.

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Giant flying beetles have become more prevalent lately.  Brilliant green and LOUD, they’re hard to miss.  As we hiked, I slowed down and took some time to watch this guy go about his pollinating duties, hunkering over some native plants.  I wish I could get a dragonfly to slow down a bit and let me get close enough to photograph it!

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It wasn’t perfectly clear, but the view was still pretty spectacular from my vantage on the cliffs.  If you look closely you’ll notice the high tide as the waves wash close to the foot of the cliffs and off in the distance you can almost see the Scripps Pier near La Jolla Shores and the village of La Jolla jutting out at the end of the curve.

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By Tuesday the marine layer had thickened so that it was essentially rain!  My errands left me soggy as I headed out without a jacket or umbrella.  Luckily it was still warm-ish, although not the summer weather we all imagine when we think of the beach.  But nothing could dampen my spirits–my son and grandson were on their way for a short visit!

I have enjoyed days spent with small boys this summer.  Now 17 months, all three grandsons are mobile and curious about the world.  By Wednesday the sun was back and we headed to the aquarium to take a close look at fish and other marine life.  We were greeted by the life-sized whale sculptures–part of a fountain–in front of the aquarium.  I am always amazed at how much the sky looks like the ocean…are we looking up or down?

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We loved the jellies and the seahorses, weird and wonderful, floating effortlessly in their tanks.  And these enormous sea stars showing off their suction feet in the eerie blue light remind me of all the life I don’t get to see as I walk along the shore of the wondrous ocean.  It was fun watching my grandson delight in the sea creatures…and the glass and the lights and everything else he noticed!

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But the highlight of our week was Thursday’s trip to the beach.  A year ago when my grandson was still a baby, our trip to the beach wasn’t much fun.  It was windy and cool and the ocean water was cold, resulting in a crying baby.  This year, a now mobile toddler on a warm and sunny day, couldn’t wait to run on the beach.  And his first touch of the salty water resulted in giggles and screeches of delight.  He couldn’t get enough of that salty, sandy ocean.  I can’t wait for his cousins to put their toes in the glory of summer’s Pacific!

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Friday was a sad day.  My son and grandson had to head home and our beloved cat of 17 years died.  Jack (and his brother Phil) were adopted at 16 weeks seventeen years ago and have been integral family members since that moment.  Phil passed in March, with Jack hanging on months longer.  Our house is quiet and Geoff’s lap is empty.  Jack would sit on him for hours and hours–we called Geoff “cat couch” since both cats loved to be in his lap.  We’re taking a break from pets for now, taking time to grieve and to explore life without cats.  We are truly empty nesters at this point!  (This is Jack from a couple of years ago)

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With our house echoing, we spent most of the weekend out and about.  Yesterday we ended up in Alpine, a small town midway up our local mountains.  We explored an outlet mall on an Indian reservation, had lunch at a local cafe, and turned down roads to see what we could find.  Geoff loves bears, so I had to get out and take some photos when we found this family of bears carved of wood in front of a home on a hillside.

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My photos this week are a collection of odds and ends, with no real theme tying them together other than telling a story of my week.  What odds and ends might you find through your lens this week?

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

So grab your camera or look through your camera roll and see what odds and ends you can find to tell a story about your week.  Whatever life serves up, I’m always glad to have photography to help me process and understand my experiences.  I look forward to seeing and hearing about yours!

Plus, here’s a link to an article I read this week about how photography can actually help your stay in the moment.  I know it works for me!  https://www.wired.com/story/stay-in-the-moment-take-a-picture/?mbid=social_twitter_onsiteshare

Weekly Photo Challenge: White

Sometimes my photos are filled with color: brilliant blues of skies and water, greens of leaves and grass, and other colors here and there.  But this week, I noticed that a lot of my photos had a lack of color…and plenty of white.

Last weekend’s visit to downtown Carlsbad allowed for a delicious lunch at a favorite restaurant, a refreshing walk on the beach, and an opportunity to visit the Carlsbad Alkaline Water Company…a place that hosts the most healthful water, known for its alkaline (rather than acidic) quality.  I’ve been by the place a few times, its a few blocks from where I get my hair cut, but this time I spent some time focused on the water storage tanks and the top of the self-serve water dispensers.  The white of the clouds make the metallic of tanks and spire even more prominent.

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The death of Geoff’s mom meant an unscheduled visit to Alabama this week to spend time with family and say our goodbyes.  It also meant time in the sky high above the puffy white clouds, time to reflect and remember the woman who gave life to and raised my precious husband.  I was lucky to know and love her for so many years.

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I was surprised at how green Nashville was from above, but couldn’t resist using a black and white filter on the view from above.  I love the way the absence of color changes the view to give it an almost map-like quality…particularly focused on the river (the Cumberland, I believe).  The white seems to highlight the human-made aspects, where the dark seems to be the greens of the lush vegetation.

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You never know when you will find a parade.  The unexpected white police car with sirens screaming pulled up in front of the intersection we were about to cross, stopping traffic in all directions.  And soon we were treated to the Alabama A&M marching band, in their white t-shirts marching to the beat of the drums at the back crossing the intersection to get to another part of the campus to continue their practice.  A fun pause on our way to meet other family members for lunch after the inurnment service.

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And no trip to Huntsville, Alambama would be complete without a glimpse of rockets.  Known for the Space and Rocket center, there is evidence of space travel around the city.  We did get the opportunity to visit the center–a place we hadn’t been since our boys were quite little.  We visited a science of rock and roll exhibit, explored the space shuttle, and learned about other rockets and space related equipment.  I loved this view from the window.

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It’s good be home, easing back into my routine…such as it is deep into the summer.  In spite of warm weather, the beach was not sunny when I went today.  White clouds obscured the sun for most of my walk.  There were a few seagulls hanging out and lots of lots of beach-goers and a bunch of Junior Lifeguards (a popular summer camp program in our area).  The walk was refreshing and offered me a chance to breathe deeply.

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So where is the color missing from your life right now?  Will you find it in white clouds, pale walls, delicate flower blossoms?  Take a look around for white and share what you find with us.

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

Take a look around for that absence of color that we know as white.  What will you find and document through your lens?

Weekly Photo Challenge: Distance

Some weeks are about getting close, putting your nose up against the window, noticing every detail.  But for me, this last week has been about the long view, looking into the distance.

There’s nothing like a road trip to get you looking long.  The seemingly endless freeway laid out in front of you, promising hours and hours in the car until you reach that destination.  It seems a shame to waste all that time, lucky for me, my camera turns that long, endless highway into an opportunity for a study.

California is fascinating.  I live at the bottom of the state, the southern boundary, nestled right up next to Mexico.  We are known for our beautiful beaches and temperate climate. And who doesn’t love the beach?  Here’s sign in the distance meant for dog parents (although who is really reading when the beach is beautiful and the water feels so nice?).

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When the high tide prevents you from going in one direction, you simply turn around and head the other way.  This stretch of beach led us to a bridge where the river mouth allows the lagoon and beach to connect…and creates new playgrounds.  Can you see the floaters in the distance?

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I can never resist a sunset, although the marine layer along the coast has made them a bit unpredictable lately.  We thought we might not see any sunshine as we headed to the beach last weekend, but a bit of sun peeked through the thick clouds.  As we walked, we noticed the bubble man in the distance and I had to stop to snap some bubble photos.

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You can see the sun trying to make its way through the clouds behind the bubbles.  It’s such fun to watch the giant bubbles form and float into the distance just out of reach of all the hands trying to touch and pop them.

Another night I noticed the sun setting through the window at home.  I headed out with my camera to see if I could catch the colors I was seeing in the distance.  A bit of editing made the sky pop with the colors I was seeing.

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Back to the road trip.  We’re making our way up the length of the long narrow state, first crawling through LA traffic (with a quick stop for hugs and kisses from one grandson) and then back on the road, over the grapevine into the central valley to stop for the night.  Of course, again I needed to catch the sunset through my lens, and through the gas station parking lot.

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The next morning had us back on the road heading to see our other two grandson for the next leg of our adventure.  The tomato trucks always catch my attention (you can see that I’ve written about them before), there’s something about the open trucks piled high with red, ripe tomatoes that makes me pull out my camera.  I also learned that California grows the majority of tomatoes for the nation, with most of them farmed in the central valley area because of the hot, dry summers.  I watched and snapped truck after truck after truck as we passed them on the long stretch of highway.

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As we turned from highway 5 toward the 580, instead of trucks it was windmills that caught my eye.  The Altamont Pass wind farm was one of the first in the United States, a response to the 70’s energy crisis (something I just learned after taking photos of the wind turbines).  There are nearly 5000 perched on the distant hillsides as you make your way into the East Bay.

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And when I turned back to look behind, I noticed all these cows on the hillside too, seemingly undisturbed by the windmills in the distance.

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So, take the long view this week.  What do you see in the distance?  Will you look through a window, from the top of a hill, from the end of your driveway?

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

Gaze into the distance…what will you see?  I can’t wait to see what you find!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Sky

Some days and in some places you just have to look up.  I’m always surprised and fascinated by what I see when I look at the sky.  The sky here where I live is often blue (or almost invisible when cloaked in the gray of a thick marine layer), so when puffy white clouds appear, I notice.

Last weekend I couldn’t help but notice that the sky almost seemed like the sea with these colorful octopi floating in the foamy white of the clouds.  Kites mimicking the ocean below.

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Drones have become prevalent in our skies along the coast.  During the surf contest a few weeks ago I counted four at one time hovering over the heads of the surfers.  I couldn’t resist this sign–not in the sky–restricting drones from the sky at our local state beach.  I suspect they are restricted here because this is a path often used by military aircraft flying back and forth from Miramar Air Station.

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I had the opportunity to spend time in the Denver area this week as I worked with National Writing Project colleagues.  Somehow at “mile high” altitude, the clouds seem closer.  I noticed them as I waited to take the light rail from our conference center into the city, billowing above the pedestrian bridge.

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I noticed the clouds and the sky reflected in the towering glass buildings when I explored downtown Denver.

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The sky fell away from my focus as my eyes followed the lines of this structure up, up and up.  I turned this way and that with my camera trying the capture the size and wonder of this…I’m not even sure what it is…going from the ground high into the sky.

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And there is never enough time.  Time to explore new places, to chat with friends and colleagues, to work on interesting project…and much too soon I found myself back at the Denver airport.  From the windows of the car as I arrived my eyes were drawn to the peaks of the white sails against the stacked pillows of clouds and I wished I could just ask the driver to pull over so I could take some photos, but I resisted, capturing that image only in my mind.  But as I walked into the airport, I caught a glimpse of one sail peak and some clouds reflected in the glass of the airport building and I stopped.  The contrast of the angular lines of steel and glass with the curves of the tower and the organic billows of clouds captured my imagination.  I find myself coming back to this image.

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Once near my gate, I kept walking, noticing large windows in the distance.  Would I get another glimpse at the sky?  Could I capture the closeness of the clouds and vastness of the sky through the airport windows?  Not really.  But here is a fragment of the sky as seen through the window of the Denver airport.

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So, this is your week to look at the sky.  What does it have to offer in terms of photographic interest?  Will you be looking at summer blue skies or the threat of storms brewing in the distance?  Maybe you’ll focus on a bird or an airplane or a balloon floating, soaring, diving.  As always, you get to choose.

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

So grab your camera and point it toward the sky.  Be sure to share what you find with the rest of us!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Perspective

With 5 more student days of the school year ahead of me, I’m working to keep myself focused and in the moment.  These are those bittersweet endings that are inextricably intertwined with the anxiety of pending deadlines (report cards, classroom organization, classroom musical…), the excitement of summer, and the uncertainties of the changes ahead. So this week, my photos remind me about perspective.

A meeting earlier this week to do some planning for this year’s Invitational Summer Institute (SI), brought me into contact with a friend’s dog.  I couldn’t resist this photo of Siggy curled up in a favorite chair, complete with a red wrap to both give him that fashion flair and to keep him comfy. Siggy definitely reminds me of the importance of self-care and the value of down time.

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This is the last year of my beloved multiage class.  We have so many traditions…one of which is taking our third graders rock climbing as a way to celebrate the end of their three years with us.  Rock climbing seems like such a perfect metaphor for all that happens over the course of three years with the same students.  We get to witness such growth in confidence and risk-taking as they take on more and more leadership within the safety of the classroom.  And who can resist the perspective of a student in flight, hanging in midair perfectly relaxed, enjoying the view from new heights?

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The fair’s in town!  The state fair is always here in June, running through the 4th of July.  I’ve been going to this fair my whole life, walking through exhibits, sitting through cooking demonstrations, viewing student art, and petting goats.  Living where I do, the arrival of the fair also means an increase in already heavy traffic.  I knew I would be dealing with fair traffic as I headed home from the university the other day.  I started to feel annoyed, knowing the commute would crawl through Del Mar.  Instead, I decided to change my perspective and pull off to take some pictures.  I found a parking place and walked up to the mouth of the lagoon where you can see the fun zone of the fair from the back.  It was fun taking photos and looking at the fair with fresh eyes.

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I crossed the street and found this dramatic entry to the beach.  I ended up walking back to my car by strolling on the shore of the beach, enjoying the sea breeze and watching egrets navigate the surf.   When I got back in my car, the traffic was no longer irritating me!

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Back in the classroom it’s been Ocean Week.  Every year our entire school takes a week to focus attention on the ocean (it is right outside our door, after all!).  Traditionally we have a sing-a-long and ocean parade on the last day, with all our young students wearing ocean-themed “costumes.” In our class, we decided to stretch the definition of costume this year and instead have the kids make signs to carry.  They came up with informative slogans for one side, collected beach plastics and other trash in the week or so before the parade, and created a watercolor sea creature to swim among the trash on the other side of the sign.  Wearing all blue, we became a sea of activists advocating for the sea!  (And hopefully changed some perspectives about this precious resource along the way!)

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A Friday afternoon walk on the beach has become a pretty regular habit for me, and as the weather warms, for others as well.  As I knelt to take a picture of some trash I was picking up, I ended up with this shot of a woman reading as she walked along the beach. You can see that I missed the trash in my shot, but I kinda like the blurred shot of the reader.

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I’ve included quite a few shots of stacks of rocks along the beach lately. And yesterday there were more stacks in some different places along my route.  I was drawn to this tall stack that looks out on one of my favorite parts of the beach.

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So head out in search of a new perspective.  What will you find when you look at the world from a different angle?  You might literally move behind a familiar scene or kneel low to change you view or simply change your outlook and look with fresh eyes.

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

Grab your camera and change your perspective.  What will you see?  Be sure to share your photos with us here!

Weekly Photo Challenge: In a Line

Sometimes things line up.  I’ve been to this airport hundreds of times…and a bunch just in the last few weeks, but this view stopped me in my tracks.  I love the lines of the plexiglass window, the horizon reflected from behind, the palm trees along the right side, and the traffic snaking along below.  I took this photo with my phone…and I just love everything about it!

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I was surprised to find these mailboxes on a walk not far from my son’s suburban home.  I think of mailboxes like this as something I would find on a rural lane.  I love they way they are all in a line, there is something about the differences in color and degrees of rustiness that add to their character.  (Along with that branch on the end!)

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This nearby canal runs alongside a line of hiking/biking/running trails.  We took our grandsons out in the stroller to walk along them and Geoff did some running to keep up his training for the Rock and Roll half marathon tomorrow.  I love following the line of the canal with your eye and seeing the mountains in the distance.

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These drying flowers also seem to hang in a line, remnants from the profusion of spring wildflowers.

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Back at home brought me back to the beach.  Along the cliffs there were stacks and stacks of rocks, all in a line.  I wonder if they are stacked by the same person(s) or if people see them and add to the piles.  I saw them a few weeks ago, and there are even more in the same spot now.  It’s hard to get a photo that shows the number of stacks.

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As I drove to my other son’s house last night, I watched the sunset as I followed the line of freeway that stretches its way from one end of our state to another.  The huge orange ball slowly sunk, making the taillights of the cars ahead even more prominent.

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I spent the day today with my other grandson while his parents prepared to celebrate my daughter-in-law’s completion of her pediatric residency at a dinner with all the other residents.  I’m loving these grandma moments, getting to watch child development from a new perspective.  As I watched him run from one end of the backyard to the other, touching the grass,, crinkling dry leaves in his fingers, poking his finger in the sprinkler heads I was reminded of the power of exploration and curiosity.  How lucky I am to look at the world again through the eyes of my three young grandsons!

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So, what’s lining up in your world this week?  Take a look around and captures those lines in a photo or few.

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

Be on the look out for those things that are in a line…or create some lines of your own.  Be sure to share with the rest of us!

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Ugly

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, or so they say. I would argue that if you look closely and with openness, there is beauty to be found all around us. I enjoy bringing cut flowers into my home, brightening up our living space with a bit of nature’s beauty. But these beauties don’t last long, their petals begin to dry and droop, reminding me of the finiteness of life. But I am also reminded that what some call ugly can also be beautiful. I spent some time trying to capture the beauty in the wilting sunflowers in a vase on my dining room table. With the afternoon sun shining on them, I couldn’t help but pay attention to the deep colors and dry curly edges.  There is something beautiful about this ugly.

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Beach walks are spectacular this time of year.  It’s still cool and the crowds are small.  I noticed this balloon at the water’s edge from a distance, and upon closer look, I could tell it was once a baseball balloon, likely for a child’s party.  There’s nothing beautiful about plastics in our ocean, but there is beauty to be found in this #litterati photo documenting this trash (which I picked up and disposed of properly).

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Recess duty gives me the opportunity to watch students playing on the playground and to observe my surroundings.  Not long ago white roses were in bloom on these bushes that are near the play structure.  But on Thursday, I noticed the blooms were gone, but the empty stems remained.  Ugly at first glance, but interesting when you get a bit closer.

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These strange little spiky balls hang from trees not far from the house.  I think the tree is a type of maple and I assume these balls are seed pods.  I often find them on the ground, so it was fun to look up and see them hanging from the tree.

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Our higher than normal rainfall this winter resulted in a spectacular wildflower bloom.  But now that the rain is gone and the weather is warming, they are starting to dry out and lose that springtime beauty.  A walk near the train tracks had me shooting the dying blooms with the Self Realization Fellowship (we call it and the neighboring beach, Swamis) in the background.

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A long weekend watching our twin grandsons is a pure treat!  (Who can resist the sweet faces and activities of 15 month old boys!?!)  It also offers opportunities for new sights!  This old house is visible from a walking trail not far from modern suburban homes…it seems so out of place here!  I would expect to find it in a much more rural area.

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And they grow their weeds large here!  I started to notice dandelion puffballs about the size of my fist!  I couldn’t get close enough for a great photo of the ball, but I think you can get an idea of the size from the remaining husk.

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So, this is your week to take a look at ugly and figure out what makes it interesting (or beautiful) to you.  You might find your inspiration in nature, in your home, or out and about in your community.  Maybe it will inspire some action (as in the #litterati example), or at the least raise your awareness about what is around you.

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

Head out with your camera…and snap those bits of ugly.  What interesting photos will you find to share with us?