Tag Archives: photography

Weekly Photo Challenge: Extreme

Just when it seems that one day is pretty much like the other, an outlier comes along.  In the case of my week, it started with the superbloom in the desert–an opportunity to hike in Borrego Springs–just a couple of hours from where I live.  Our wet winter has resulted in extreme beauty (and extreme crowds) in the desert right now.

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On our drive to the desert, we have to go over the mountains and past a lake.  It was unusual to spot a huge patch of fog, isolated to a particular place, far from the coast as we neared Lake Henshaw.  Something about the temperature differences resulted in this extreme condition…and we had to pull to the side of the road to capture its beauty.

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Once in the desert, in addition to the plethora of flowers we also found ourselves with extreme access to big horned sheep.  We watched them frolic over the rocky hillsides with their small and cute babies, blending into the environment.  I felt lucky to spot these three in the distance, framed by the ocotillo and the clear blue sky.

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A trip to Philadelphia midweek had me dealing with a different kind of extreme…once I finally secured a flight since mine was canceled!  I left the warming temperatures on the west coast to head into the chill of the east.  Although the snow had stopped, it was piled high making walking a bit like an obstacle course.  I spied these tulips…triggered by warm temps the previous week…trying to make their way in the snowy ground.

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The Rodin sculpture garden was beautiful, framed in white with the sun shining bright in the thirty degree day.

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I noticed the ice on The Thinker, with the sun shining through its crystalline structure.  I kept thinking about the juxtaposition of fire and ice (and Robert Frost)–and my own experience with hiking in the 90 degree desert on Sunday and walking in the thirty degree snow on Thursday!

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But this guy really captures extreme for me as he disrobed on the lawn near the Franklin Institute for a little cold weather sunbathing.  (I was in a thick, bulky jacket, a woolen scarf, and layers of clothes complete with boots–feeling the chill as I walked.)  Extreme sunbathing, for sure!

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So what extreme have you experienced this week?  Extreme beauty? Extreme weather? Extreme outrage, happiness, or sadness?

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

Grab your camera and find whatever kind of extreme is lurking in your life this week!  Take it in whatever direction the extreme leads you…and be sure to share.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Color

As the sun has come out, so have the colors.  The combination of a wet winter and some spring-like temps have plants growing and flowers blooming.  I noticed these native beauties near the beach the other day peeking around the railings near the parking lot.  With their vivid yellow color, they are almost like tiny suns on a stem!

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Later in the week, from my walk along the shore, I noticed this house on the hill.  Now I walk this stretch regularly, so the house is not a new sight, but I was drawn both by the seagull sitting on the rooftop and by the tones of green displayed on the cliff.  If you look in the foreground you can see prickly pear cactus in abundance.  Just wait til they begin to bloom!

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Sometimes the color I find on the beach is less desirable.  I came across this beautiful blue bottle in the surf, washed up or left on the beach.  As part the efforts of the #litterati (a group of people who post photos of trash they pick up and dispose of), I snapped this shot before picking up the bottle.

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Blue is not an unusual color on the beach.  I notice lots of blues there in both the sky and the water, like this shot with the sun coming through the cloudy skies.

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And this one of the waves curling and crashing in the hazy afternoon sun.

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And then there are the colors of a sunset, this one with some pelicans flying through.  In this case enhanced by a filter that took ordinary beauty and intensified the colors into these brilliant yellows and oranges.  I’m always surprised by how certain images are transformed by a filter (like this one) while others are not.

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So, take a look around.  What colors are you seeing this week?  Are they bright and vibrant, or subdued and muted?  You might consider capturing hues of a single color or maybe you’ll try to capture all the colors of the rainbow.

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

Turn your camera on the color around you, and share what you find with us!  What color is most prevalent in your place, or is it the absence of color that you are noticing?  I’m looking forward to your color this week!

Over My Shoulder

It’s there, a constant, even when I can’t see it, hanging out over my shoulder.  It follows me around as it changes form, exerts its influences on the tides, and even becomes invisible.

As our students learn more about the solar system and space, I realize how little I really know about these things myself.  Of course I know the names of the planets and some basic information about them.  I know that the sun is our star and that our solar system is heliocentric.  I know that scientists continually update their own understandings about space and its celestial inhabitants…that Pluto has been demoted and a new solar system was recently discovered.

But honestly, it’s the moon that fascinated me.  I love that it appears large and low, orange like a pumpkin at some times of the year.  I’m fascinated by that Cheshire cat smile that greets me on a dark, clear night. And I can’t resist those slender crescents that seem to wink into view in the warm, short nights of summer.  I constantly wonder at its presence during the day…and today was one such day.

I looked up during my walk this afternoon, the sky was particularly blue as the sun shone brightly.  This is really the first warm day we’ve had in a while.  Tucked under the large palm, there it sat…not as bright as in the dark of night, but noticeable all the same.

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I’ve struggled to photograph the moon effectively at night, but during the day, I’ve had a bit more luck.  But that doesn’t mean I will stop trying to take a portrait of this friend of mine.  I like knowing the moon is right over my shoulder, a constant companion I can depend on, even when I can’t see it and even when I can’t photograph it.  It’s there, and that’s enough.

 

 

Tiny Celebrations

It’s easy to get involved in all the chores and duties of life and leave the actual living behind.  Loads of laundry, stacks of dishes, the carpet that needs vacuuming, stopping by the gas station after work, the quick trip to Trader Joe’s for cat food and yogurt…  In that blur of activity, a focus on what matters most can easily slip.

For me, that’s where my camera comes in.  When I head out with my camera, even if it is only out into the backyard, I start to pay attention to the beauty and life around me.  I find an appreciation that might otherwise be overlooked.

Today, instead of a walk after work, I headed home.  But even though time was short, I knew I needed time outdoors, so to the backyard I went. The ground was pretty muddy from all the rain, weeds sprouting where grass used to grow.  Plants in pots have gone crazy, with succulents growing large and lavender beginning to blossom.  I leaned in, zooming close with my macro lens.  I love the way that this close up shot brings the lavender into focus, blurring the background into a beautiful abstract painting.  And I was delighted by the bokeh effect, scattering the light behind the lavender without using any special effects.

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As I walked along the fence line, I noticed some blossoms on the pear tree that we thought had died.  The drought has taken a toll on our yard, killing most of the lawn and any other plants that were not well established.  This young tree is showing some signs of life…but is certainly neither robust or likely to bear fruit any time soon.  But the blossoms are delicate and dainty–reminders that spring is on the way.  Time outside helps me find focus and reminds me that there is more to life than daily chores.  Tiny celebrations make all the difference!

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I read an article I found on Twitter the other day about the power of five post-it notes to make you happy, confident and successful.  I feel like I can achieve the same effects with my camera.  Look closely and find something beautiful, something unusual, something funny (like this photo of the little girl hula hooping in her tiara and long pageant gloves)

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…all reminders of what life has to offer when you make time everyday to appreciate the world around you.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Water

I know I often take it for granted–that precious liquid that fills our bodies, covers most of our planet, and that has been rare here where I live for the past six years.  Drought reminds you how much you depend on water and all the dead lawns in the neighborhood are visual reminders of the impact of ongoing water restrictions.  But it’s been raining a lot around here lately.  Normal rainfall is about ten inches a year…and this year we’re already over eleven and a half inches with March still to come.  We returned to school on Monday after a week off with the rain steadily falling–and it rained and rained and rained.  We had rain for nearly 24 hours straight–something our area doesn’t handle very well.  When it rains like that, a waterfall appears in front of my classroom door.  I noticed this overflowing drainpipe Monday.

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And needless to say, our students were not enjoying their usual lunch area–instead they were ensconced in our classroom all day long.

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You might notice that there are few ways to get around without getting wet when it rains like this.  Kids get soaked going to the bathroom, we all got soaked on our way to the school library.  Water was everywhere on Monday!

On the day before, it was pretty clear that a storm was coming.  A walk on the beach was an exercise in dodging raindrops (success on that point!) and reveling in the many shades of gray as the clouds gathered overhead.  The wind attracted an intrepid windsurfer with a bright green sail…and my camera followed him around as I walked along the shore.

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And after a rainy Monday, it was surprising how beautiful the rest of the week has been.  By Wednesday, I walked in the afternoon sunshine after work.  You can see that this seagull and the surfer in the background where also enjoying the water…and the sun!

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After work today, I knew I would head for the water.  But I also wanted a change of pace–a new view, something to spark my imagination and my photography.  I headed to a nearby beach–but not the one I walk routinely.  The tide wasn’t very low this afternoon so I had mountains of rocks to climb.  I also found flights and flights of stairs.  I climbed for  a view above the water–and was rewarded with a treat for the eyes!  (No editing was needed or used as I captured this view of endless water.)

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But I did play around with this shot of a paddle boarder enjoying the cool waters on a Friday afternoon.  I wanted to intensify the colors and highlight the way the sun was shimmering on the water’s surface.

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As I scrolled through my photos this week, water was ever-present in one form or another.  What role does water play in your life and photography?  Does it fall from the sky or flow from the hose in your garden?  Do bodies of water call your name or do you find water in less obvious places?

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

Take a look around for water–in any of its forms.  What will you discover when you look at that amazing substance through the lens of your camera?  I know I can’t wait to find out!

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Day in the Life

Sometimes it’s the ordinariness of our lives that make them extraordinary. Or at least that’s been my experience this week. With a week off from work, my week could have been spent on an amazing vacation (theoretically).  Instead, I spent this week hanging out with my sons, daughters-in-law, and my precious grandsons. And I have loved time spent with the ordinary tasks of a day in the life.

I have read endless board books (I highly recommend The Pout Pout Fish), sung silly songs (in my off-key singing voice), played peek-a-boo, changed poopy diapers, spooned mouthfuls of strained fruits and vegetables into tiny mouths, and torn food into tiny bite-sized pieces…and loved every minute! I’ve followed little crawlers all around the house, much of the time on my own hands and knees.

I loved pushing little guys on these animal toys–I definitely logged some miles!


I also spent time traveling. I rode BART on a rainy afternoon, and enjoyed the cloudy skies, cool breezes, and quiet time for reflection.

I noticed the flags flying over the airport, with the clouds as a backdrop. The American and California flags were expected…the third flag is more of a mystery.

Arriving home to our local airport, seeing palm trees is a regular sight in a day in my life–but the lights on these palms caught my eye.

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Home for a day, I couldn’t resist squeezing in a walk on the beach.  After last week’s storms, the beach is rocky and mostly empty–perfect conditions for walking and taking photos!  I do love that a walk on the beach is a part of a day in my life!

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Then I repacked and headed out again…to repeat the same activities from earlier in the week.  Lots of board book reading, lots of playing and hugging and squeezing…singing and diaper changing.  And some celebrating too…turning one is a big deal!

But again, it is the ordinary that I cherish…like the tiny shoes lined up next to my son’s much bigger ones.

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What does a day in your life look like?  What pieces of your ordinary routine do you cherish?  What images tell us the story of your life?

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

As you go about your life this week, pull out your camera and document the ordinariness of a day in the life from your perspective.  What images will tell the stories of your days?

Weekly Photo Challenge: Up and Down

It’s been a crazy week.  We had bright, sunny warm skies on Monday, the sugar high of Valentine’s Day on Tuesday, and as we head into a week off from school (our district calls it Family Week), a storm brewed all day with high winds and expectations of lots of rainfall.

Like the kids, I was excited this morning–after school I was heading off to the airport to catch a flight to see my twin grandsons.  But those hopes were dashed when the text came through saying my flight had been canceled.  Ugh!  I’m feeling the roller coaster of the ups and downs of the week.  One look up at the palm trees bordering the school playground made clear why the planes were grounded.  The winds are scary today! (But I’m still disappointed that I’m at home for an extra day instead of playing with my sweet babies!)

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That view (today right after lunch) makes it hard to believe that this was my view on a walk after school on Wednesday.  Blue skies with a pelican in flight…and the greens that we have because of all the rainfall we’ve had this winter.  I didn’t even need a jacket as I walked along the shore.

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Looking down as I walk is a requirement when the tides toss the rocks onto shore.  There have been huge piles to navigate lately.  I couldn’t resist a shot of this seagull “on the rocks” who was clearly unconcerned about me and my camera.  He let me get quite close!

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And the sun made our work with cyanotypes possible this week.  The kids were excited to experiment with photo-sensitve paper, creating a “sun print” by laying objects on the treated paper and then wearing plastic gloves (a highlight!) to rinse the chemicals away after exposing it to the sun.  They learned a lot from their first iteration using natural objects that improved their outcomes with iteration number two.  I love the intersections of science and art!

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Looking down on my way into my office at UCSD meant this found still life caught my eye. I love the juxtaposition of the pine cone and the dandelion laying on the grass.

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I chuckled as I looked up as I headed out of Starbucks with my coffee to notice this dog in the driver’s seat of the car.  You never know who you will find driving theses days!

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So, this is the week to consider your ups and downs.  Look up–what do you see?  Look down, what’s there?  Or maybe consider mood as your filter for ups and downs rather than a literal glance in the up or down direction.

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

Look up, look down–snap, click, post!  Can’t wait to see what you find.