Tag Archives: perspective

Find it! January’s Photo-a-Day Challenge

Keeping myself motivated to take photos and to write are dual challenges. Some days it seems that I’ve already taken photos of all the things around me, that everything feels the same–ordinary, boring, done–without inspiration.  But then I zoom in, turn my camera, snap from another angle, find a different frame, crouch down or climb a hill…and everything changes.

I’m lucky to live near the beach, just a short drive takes me to the beauty of the ocean, the waves, the birds, and endless sunsets.  But sometimes it seems that I have hundreds of images of those very same things. Yesterday I decided to use my zoom lens at the beach, hoping for some pelican and other sea bird sightings.  The birds were scarce, but as I looked up I noticed this wind flag against the brilliant blue of the December sky.


The monotony of long car rides makes me prefer planes and other modes of transportation.  Some motion sickness keeps me from reading or using my computer in the car…and face it, there’s only so much to talk about on an eight hour drive!  So I started playing around with taking photos out the car window.  It’s not the best of photographic environments.  You have to dodge the bug splats, the reflection through the window, the rear view mirrors…you get the idea!  But sometimes, you can catch a moment that turns that monotony into something beautiful like the glow of the coming sunrise as we headed away from Walnut Creek toward the I5 to head home from a visit to my son and daughter-in-law.


Or the sun peeking above the horizon, illuminating the power lines that stretch out along the long, straight freeway that connects northern California to southern California.img_8505

Sometimes I find that I have to open myself up to the serendipity of noticing something usual in a new way.  Finding kelp on the beach is usual…noticing the curve that reminds me of a smile is something quite different.  I got down low, kept my camera field large, and found this!

beach smile

And anyone who follows this blog knows that I take tons of photos of seagulls.  Seagulls in flight, seagulls in silhouette, seagulls alone, seagulls in groups…  And sometimes you find a pair of seagulls sitting on a railing that you simply can’t resist.  I love these seagull butts!

seagull butts

So for the month of January, take our your camera and find it!  Find that new angle, the light that casts the magical glow you hadn’t noticed before. Find the treasure among the things you see everyday and take for granted. Find inspiration.  Find perspective.  Find ways to make the ordinary extraordinary, find the interesting in the mundane.

Here’s some prompts to get your creative juices flowing:

1. look up


2. crouch down

3. inside


4. through the window

5. beneath

6. find the light

7. on top

8. move closer

9. reflects

10. on the go

11. find a natural frame

12. movement

13. climb

14. something you can smell

15. a new angle

16. zoom in

17. seek color

18. play

19. get close (macro if you can)

20. texture

21. monochromatic

22. above

23. weather

24. people

25. a worm’s eye view

26. ordinary

27. under

28. try a filter

29. black and white

30. everyday

31. right in front of you

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 find new ways to look at your world, to find the unexpected in the ordinary and the beauty in the mundane. 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 find it as we focus our camera lenses in January…whatever “it” might be that inspires, motivates, and keeps us all learning and growing–one photo a day!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Perspective

I love when I can see the world in a new way, from a new perspective.  Sometimes those opportunities pop up when I least expect them…like sitting in the window seat on my flight home from Seattle a couple of weeks ago.  I’m an aisle sitter…but when I fly with my husband, I tend to sit in the middle seat to sit next to him (and it’s easy to get him to move if I need to get up and wander around!). But on this day, I decided to take the risk and sit by the window, hoping the middle seat would remain empty.  And what an opportunity that happened to be…as we took off and gained altitude, I could see the top of a mountain rising above the clouds.  And even when I heard the ding signaling that we had reached 10,000 feet, that mountain was clearly higher.  As we continued to climb and came closer to the mountain…Mount Rainier…I was able to take this shot.

Mount Rainier in clouds

Earlier during my trip to the rainforest, I came across the world’s biggest spruce.  While I’m not sure how those determinations are made, it was a very large tree.  And looking up definitely gave me the perspective of big!

big trees

A trip I took early in January enabled me to take a surprise snow hike.  And on that hike I came across this sled, clearly broken and lodged between these trees.  I hope there were no injuries involved with the abandoned sled, but I can imagine the perspective of landing head first, upside down among the branches!


Over the weekend, after an inspiring leadership group meeting with our local writing project, my husband and I headed off to make a final decision on granite for our kitchen countertops (we’re deep in a kitchen remodel!) and choose flooring.  Once those stressful decisions were made, we headed downtown for an early dinner…and a lovely gelato just as the sun was beginning to dip low in the sky.  I like this urban perspective, watching the sun set beyond the street and traffic.

Gelato near sunset

And each day when I get home from work, the cats and I explore the changes to the kitchen.  At first the perspective was dramatic, tearing out cabinets and counters, appliances and more. Lately it has been more subtle as new drywall appears…and you can see Jack going in and between for a closer look!

Jack exploring

At the beach on Sunday I played with my telephoto lens.  It was fun to zoom in on birds and surfers and waves and planes and more.  I could capture images of seagulls and other birds that they don’t stand for when I have to come close.  I like this perspective of the seagull…looking out to sea.  And I love his little knock knees!

gull looking out

Yesterday took me out of my classroom to the university to work with a group of teachers exploring what “Smart Tech Use for Equity” means in their classrooms.  As part of our work we created paper bag “bricks” that included our hopes for our students, our strengths as educators, our fears, potential barriers, and ways we might create a bridge to climb over those barriers. We worked together to create a bridge to scale those barriers.  It was fun to hear folks describe this structure as a bridge…to possibilities for our students!  (It’s all a matter of perspective!)

Barrier or bridge?

So this week’s challenge is all about perspectives.  How are you viewing the world this week?  Any new perspectives?  From above, below?  Through the eyes of a bird, a cat, another animal?  What other images of perspective can you 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 #perspective for this week and include @nwpianthology in your post.

What’s your perspective on perspective?  I’m looking forward to seeing perspective through your lens!

On Top…Perspective Matters

There are so many ways to see the world and each has its own advantages…and drawbacks. All too often, we see the world by looking at eye level.  We often don’t consider that things will look different if we crouch down, climb up, or change our angle.

This week’s photo challenge from the Daily Post is On Top.  And that had me thinking about how my photos reflect that theme.

This first photo shows the scaffolding on the top of the bridge over the Cumberland River in Nashville.  But what I think is even more interesting than the bridge structure is the clouds on top of that.  I love the layers in this photo and the dimension and depth visible in the clouds.

clouds on top of bridge

And in another picture from Nashville, I looked up to see this fire escape on top of me.  I have found that I like to take pictures looking up into the sun through structures (both man made and living).  I notice so many interesting things about the sky, clouds, buildings…when I shoot from this perspective.

fire escape

This third Nashville photo captures the tourists on the different balcony levels of the honky tonk…as the country music blasted into the streets.  Even before noon, these folks seemed to be having a great time on top of the different levels of this establishment.

honky tonk in nashville

This final photo is from on top of the Ocean Beach pier looking towards the beachside community.  The funny thing about this photo is that it looks like the large kite is well off into the distance, over the beach goers on the shore. In fact, this was a tiny kite flown by a girl standing on the pier…probably not ten feet away from me when I shot the photo.

kite above ocean beach

When I look through my lens, I find myself intentionally looking in new and different ways.  I try to see places and things and people anew…through a fresh perspective.  And when I do that, I see what I had often overlooked or seen differently before.  On top, from below, up close, from a distance…perspective matters.

Considering Perspective

“If you look the right way, you can see that the whole world is a garden.”
― Frances Hodgson BurnettThe Secret Garden

With play as my word this year, I’m trying to approach my life and work by playing more and looking through a more playful lens.  But sometimes it’s hard and those feelings of being overwhelmed and overworked creep up.

I’m lucky though.  I work with kids in the classroom every day.  And they remind me that when we are having fun, even while going about our work of learning, time flies by without us even noticing.  This week has been like that.

And it’s not that we have done anything so very different than usual…but I think it’s just about the way we’ve been looking at our work.  One example is playing with our math.  Today a small group of third graders were challenged by a tricky math problem.  They knew they needed to multiply 62 and 27, but they didn’t know how to multiply those numbers.  Some tried adding 62 twenty seven times…but it’s so easy to make mistakes doing that.  They consulted each other to see if someone had a workable strategy.  And there was some good thinking going on.  Another student tried breaking the numbers down to multiply easier combinations–more good thinking–but didn’t quite have all the pieces in place.  Yeah–I had to work at it too…and think through where they were going wrong.

The point is that even though we were trying to figure out the correct answer, we were learning through our efforts and through our errors.  As we talked through our strategies we could see where things weren’t working and wondered why a promising approach wasn’t quite right. But it was fun and we weren’t ready to give up…even when we ran out of time.

Perspective is everything.  When I remember to be playful, my students play more too.  When I look for the light, the darkness doesn’t seem so daunting. I love this image of Jack, my cat, finding the light.  Cats are like that…they seek out the sliver of sun and squeeze themselves into that space to soak up the warmth.


I’m working to keep my perspective positive and playful this week.  In spite of too many meetings, writing report cards, trying to adjust to Daylight Savings Time, and so many people being sick (what is the deal with the horrid cough that everyone seems to have?), I’m looking for the metaphorical garden.  And better yet…I’m finding it.  It’s all about perspective.

Reach for the Sky

I spend many Saturday mornings immersed in professional learning.  This morning was our first meeting of this year’s SDAWP Study Groups (a hybrid of book study and teacher research).  Sixty teachers met this morning to participate in one of five groups…and the energy in the room was palpable!

In three hours we wrote, discussed our writing and the connections of our processes and preferences to the students we teach…and then broke into smaller groups to get to know one another, explore our new book, and make plans for reading and exploring ideas in our classrooms.  All this on our own time, because we want to grow professionally with others who are also passionate about teaching and learning.

As I was leaving, I noticed hang gliders and paragliders soaring in the sky near the university.  I remembered that the Torrey Pines Gliderport turn off was nearby, so I turned and followed the road down to a dirt parking lot.  And there, along the cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean, was a spectacular view of the gliders and the ocean!


In spite of the cooler weather (after our 80 degree temps earlier in the week), the conditions were perfect for gliding…and for watching and photographing the gliders in action.


While I have no real desire to glide over the beautiful beaches of San Diego, I understand the urge to fly…to experience the freedom and excitement of soaring with the wind currents and looking at the world from a new perspective.

In some ways my experience in study groups this morning was a lot like hang gliding.  There is energy and excitement in gathering with other interested educators to continue learning together.  Interactions with teachers of all levels (K-college) and a variety of schools, districts, and teaching demographics offers new perspectives and views of teaching.  Rich conversations stimulate thinking and encourage actions…we can’t wait to come back next month to share our beginnings and continue our conversations and learning.


What conditions for learning allow you to soar?  How do you set up those conditions for your students?

Playing with Perspective in the Garden

We’re lucky enough to have a school garden thanks to support from our school district, our local community, and a non-profit developed by a couple of teachers at my site called Scrumptious Schoolyards.  My students had time with the gardening teacher today observing how the garden has changed over the summer…before it is harvested and cleaned up for fall planting. While watching them and listening to their comments and looking at what they noticed, I also had time to snap a few iphone photos.

I’ve been playing around with perspective and point of view, trying a variety of angles–looking up, looking down, getting down low.  Here’s one looking up into the “face” of a sunflower.


I purposely got close, wanting to capture the texture of the sunflower’s surface.  I love the bright yellow-orange of the petals around the top…and you can see just a hint of the chain link fence around the bottom.  This photo is unedited and not cropped…it’s just as I took it.

Another unedited and uncropped photo I took today is this one of squash blossoms.  I love the slight shadow on the blossom and the peek at the squash growing in the background.


I also played around a bit with cropping and filters on this photo of the pile of watering cans. Only in a school garden would so many watering cans be sitting together just waiting to be used!


We also have a small corn crop growing tall!  With this photo I cropped to focus the photo on the corn and not on the background…and wanted to move the viewer’s eye upward to emphasize the height (while including beautiful blue sky!).


There is so much more that I noticed in the garden today–and saw through my students’ eyes that I wasn’t able to capture in photos.  I love their wonder and fascination with bugs and plants.  They uncovered caterpillars, carefully held ladybugs (both with and without spots–how I wish I had my macro lens handy!), avoided those big green beetle bugs, and noticed the dragonflies darting overhead.  They were astounded by the size of the tomatoes (heirlooms as one student pointed out) and the pumpkins.  And they can’t wait to literally dig in and get to the real work on gardening!

What did you see today through someone else’s eyes?  How does that change your perspective?

Learning From Blue

As I have worked through photographing with a focus on a color each week during July, I have noticed that the weeklong focus pushed me to think about not only color but also composition differently.


Blue…only a short three days as July came to an end…expressed itself differently than I expected.  When I originally crafted the color challenge I thought blue would focus on water…beachy things that are so prevalent in summer.  But my end of July didn’t take me to the beach or near the water as expected.  Instead, with the color in my head, blue appeared in unexpected places.  When I photographed this butterfly I didn’t even know it had blue dots on its wings. I don’t think I even noticed it was sitting on a blue chair.  What I saw was an opportunity to capture this beautiful creature through my lens.  I took a shot, then crept closer took another shot, crept closer…  I was amazed that the butterfly let me get so close.  Maybe it could sense my appreciation.

I find myself looking at the world around me as an opportunity for composition.  And I’m also thinking about the ways my eyes see things differently than my lens does.  Sometimes it’s the light…and my camera captures a silhouette where I see color.  Other times I can clearly see that bird in the sky…and my camera records a spot.  It’s a reminder to me that our lens shifts our view and understanding of the world.  We can look at the same thing and understand it differently.  It’s important for me to remember that what I see and understand doesn’t necessarily represent what someone else sees and understands through their lens.  And looking at those differences creates an opportunity to learn from one another.  As Margaret Wheatley reminds us in her text Willing to be Disturbed:

We live in a dense and tangled global system.  Because we live in different parts of this complexity, and because no two people are physically identical, we each experience life differently.  It’s impossible for any two people to ever see things exactly the same.  You can test this out for yourself.  Take any event you’ve shared with others (a speech, a movie, a current event, a major problem) and ask your colleagues and friends to describe their interpretation of that event.  I think you’ll be amazed at how many different explanations you’ll hear.  Once you get a sense of diversity, try asking even more colleagues.  You’ll end up with a rich tapestry of interpretations that are much more interesting than any single one.

This is what I love best about the photo-a-day challenge…I get to explore my own lenses and see what my friends and colleagues see through their lenses.  And I know this openness and exploration helps me beyond photography…into my classroom, with my fellow educators, and out in the world.