Tag Archives: play

Finding Faces: Day 28

Some days I make games out of my photography.  To avoid taking the same photos over and over again, I challenge myself to look for letters of the alphabet, a particular color or item…and faces.  Today a face grabbed my attention…and got me thinking about today’s poem.

Finding Faces

 

Take a look around

and find

a smile

grinning up from a patch of grass

Look at the sliding door

and find a face staring back

The cliff suddenly comes to life

watching you walk along the shore

unblinking eyes

look over the pier, the surfers, the seagulls

They’re all around

reflecting our expressions

mirroring our emotions

evoking

surprise

disgust

elation

look closely

and

you’ll find

faces

 

Douillard 2018

Today’s student poem is by Siena…a poem of apology inspired by William Carlos Williams.

Runaway Dog

 

Dear Jake,

I’m sorry for leaving the gate open and letting you escape to our neighbor’s house

I was so excited to go

But l just got carried away

Forgive me, l thought l lost you

But then

We found you

 

By Siena

What kind of poem will you play around with today?

Weekly Photo Challenge: Play

When things get busy…like during this time of the year…I forget to do really important things, like play!  But playing is the very thing I need when I am feeling over-the-top with all the demands of work and responsibility and the holidays (I always forget how much cleaning and organizing comes with decorating).

Maybe that’s why we scheduled a field trip in the first week of December (what were we thinking?) to the Children’s Museum.  We planned our trip around the idea that play and experience would inspire writing for our students.  I brought my camera with me…and I both played with my camera and with my students.  I loved the way that play was physical…like climbing these ropes suspended like a web.

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On hands and knees I crawled around dark corners in tight spaces until it opened up into a room with hundreds and hundreds of spoons suspended from the ceiling, creating a visual and aural experience.  The low light meant the photo images were about play too, as reflected light bounced off the gently swaying metal as my camera attempted to freeze time.

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Writing became part of the play as well.  “Taking 5” meant time to be inspired and play with words.  Our students also found interesting places to perch themselves for this writing, playing with the physical act of writing too.  (I played around with Prisma to disguise my student, but still let you see the writing perch he found!)

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And when the walls are filled with quotes and images, my mind wants to play with those too.  I found myself fascinated with the ways the light was coming in the windows, illuminating bits and pieces.  I love that Ask Great Questions is highlighted here…knowing that curiosity is the key to learning.

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I was still playing later in the week when I noticed the heavy fluff of the dew-laden dandelions in the front yard.  I can only imagine what the neighbors were thinking when they saw me kneeling in the wet grass as I headed out for work trying to capture that heaviness.  I decided to pull this iPhone image in close and make it black and white to emphasize the beauty of the simplicity.

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I feel like the moon has been playing chase and tag with me all week.  I’ve been noticing the waxing moon in the late afternoon all week.  After I got my phone repaired this week (I had one of those defective 6s batteries!), I noticed the moon working hard to be a decoration on the local mall Christmas tree and I played with angles using my newly repaired phone to capture the moment.

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And in spite of that heaviness of exhaustion, after school yesterday I made a spur of the moment decision to find the street entrance of a beach I have only previously seen from the sand level.  I was not disappointed–in fact, I felt energized.  The tide was getting high and as I walked over mounds of rocks I looked back at the cliffs and noticed the moon following me in a playful game of follow the leader–with me leading this time!

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So, let’s focus on play this week.  How will you capture play in your photos…or play with your images?  How will you push pass the demands of each day and discover moments for playfulness in your busy routine?

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

Get out and play around!  Be sure to share your play with the rest of us!

 

Some of My Favorite Things: October’s Photo-a-Day Challenge

More than three years into participating in photo-a-day challenges, the taking and posting of daily photos has become a firmly ingrained habit (my husband often calls it an obsession!).  I create a new challenge each month to keep myself challenged and to invite others to play along with me.  Some months I notice that I mostly ignore the prompts (that I created) and post whatever strikes my fancy.

So I thought we’d try something a bit different this month.  Let’s just focus on our favorite things…images that reach out and grab your attention.  But…let’s challenge ourselves to use a variety of different approaches/techniques each week.

During each week, work through the following seven approaches…in any order.

  1. Black and white
  2. Use a filter
  3. Use the rule of thirds (or simply avoid the middle)–what happens when you frame your subject off center?
  4. Use a natural frame
  5. Experiment with light
  6. Use leading lines—frame your shot by letting the natural lines (fences, roads, walls…) direct the viewer’s eye
  7. Get close

So…to get you thinking, here are few of my most recent favorite things!

Here’s the super moon eclipse, using the rule of thirds and no filter.  It became nearly impossible to photograph as it got darker…but it was pretty right before the light faded away.

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I got up close to this little crab.  I love the brilliant colors…and playing with my new iPhone camera!

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The archway at the Griffith Observatory made a natural frame for the Hollywood sign in the distance.

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The soft light and shadow caught my eye as I spied this unusual flower growing along a fence on a walk to the beach.

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The reflection of the sun on the water creates a leading line that also highlights the lines of the waves and the clouds.  Straight lines and curves playing together.

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And because I love to break my own rules, here’s one that shows action.  It’s not on the list…but I love the play of the splash on the rocks–it doesn’t need a filter in my opinion!

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As always, our challenge will allow us to learn from each other as we shoot our own photos and study the photos others shoot. Remember, each week try a different technique each day…you can follow the seven above in order, mix them up, and/or invent your own like I did. 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.

I can’t wait to see some of your favorite things…and share lots more of my own!

Zooming In: Reflecting on One Little Word

Early in 2014 I decided that the word “play” would be my One Little Word (OLW) for the year…my muse, reminding me to make time to play and to plan for fun in my life and in my work. And I have loved my word.

And play I have.  I have spent an extraordinary amount of time at the beach this year and learned to see it in ways I wouldn’t have considered possible.  Photography has helped me play this year, encouraging my exploration, taking me outdoors, making me more observant, stoking my curiosity.

I mentioned the new camera in my life in this post, a Sony a6000, and with a new zoom lens, we set out for the beach yesterday.  Don’t get me wrong, I still love my iPhone and have gotten quite comfortable with its photographic capabilities over the last couple of years.  So heading out with our new camera is a challenge.  So each trip feels like a playground filled with unfamiliar equipment.  I’m still mostly in the automatic mode, and with the zoom lens, trying to figure out the boundaries of focus…what is too close, what is too far, how to get a crisp image…

So zooming in, here’s a seagull in the light.

gull in light

I like the way the background is blurred while the one bird is crisp in the foreground.  And you can almost feel the warmth of the sun in this shot.

This guy, in contrast, is silhouetted against the water.  I like that you can see that he is wading in the surf, you can even see where his foot is displacing the water.

seagull silhouette

I was also playing around with action.  This particular camera is known for its quick focus, allowing me to focus and capture motion that I might otherwise miss.  I caught this gull gliding right into the edge of my frame as I looked out toward the horizon.

gull gliding

And this surfer almost surfed his way into my line of sight.  I love the energy of the shot even though he didn’t quite make it all the way into the frame.

surfing action

The last few days when I have been at the beach I have noticed seagulls flocking, gathering and swooping through the air.  Through my lens yesterday I was able to capture some of that energy and the numbers of gulls.

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And in contrast to all of this energy, I also captured this moment of solitude as I zoomed in on this hiker with a full pack pausing to notice something in the rocks.  I’m not sure where he came from or where he was going, it is not usual to see backpackers on the beach.

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There’s so much that I see when I am out taking photos that I am not able to capture in my digital images.  As the sun was setting last night, I was able to watch gray whales frolicking offshore as they migrated south.  We could see the spray from the blowholes in the distance as they surfaced and then the dark of their bodies as they breached, leaping up out of the water. It was like they also were inspired by my one little word!

And the sunset was beautiful in oranges and reds as the bird flew through.  (All of the photos in this post are unedited.)

colorful sunset

I’m still contemplating my word for 2015, searching for one that will inspire me all year.  I’m looking for a word that is active, encouraging exploration and possibility and that will work in both my personal and work life.  I’m open to suggestions if something occurs to you!

Beach Humanity

There is something magical about the beach.  Ears filled with the roar of waves, the backbeat of rocks rattling as they tumble against each other in the surf, the distinctive whistles of the sandpipers, and the urgent calls of the seagulls as they oversee the beach.  Blues, greens, turquoise, and greys fill my eyes as they mix with the bright white of the foamy waves crashing. And there is the pervasive energy of play…beachside games of catch, pickup jumprope with kelp as the rope, surfers and boogie boarders, swimmers and waders, sand castle builders, mud throwers, walkers, runners, bike riders–I could go on forever!

Summer on the southern California coast teems with humanity.  Every square inch of sand seems to be claimed by an umbrella, beach chair, towel or shovel.  But I’m reminded that as September arrived, the mornings and nights belong to the locals.

Last night we made an impromptu trip to the beach, arriving in the afterglow of the sunset. The tide was low, bonfires already glowing, exercisers still working up a sweat in the cooler (but not yet chilly) evening temperatures.  A light mist had rolled in along the shore, a relief to the record-setting highs we have been experiencing.

I was playing with angles with my camera last night.  And noticed this child dragging kelp…I love the way that the beach provides its own toy chest.

kid with kelp

You can see the emptiness…and the beauty of the evening beach in this shot of my hubby walking on the slant and reflected in the wet sand.

night walk on the slant

As we walked back up toward the parking lot, this little girl was attracting a crowd as she lifted bubbles from her bucket.  In spite of the darkness, you can still see the colors in the bubble…and the littler children mesmerized as they watched the giant bubble float.

night bubble

This morning, with forecasted hot weather–even on the coast–and a busy schedule for the day, we headed back to the beach early…arriving shortly after 7am.  While the crowds hadn’t arrived yet, there were plenty of people enjoying the beach.

I noticed this man playing with his dog in the surf.  The dog joyfully chased the disk and returned it to the man each time he threw it, asking for one more time.

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I was even able to catch the dog in action as he ran in my direction, seeming to show me the great catch he had just made!

running dog

I noticed this mom playing with her baby in the surf.  The baby would kick his feet each time the mom lifted him up and then tipped his toes into the water.

mom with baby

As I walked on I noticed this little boy with two surfboards.  As I looked out into the waves I noticed a man (his dad) heading in to collect his board so they could head back out into the waves.  The beach is definitely a place for families.

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Towards the end of my walk I saw this guy fishing.  The water was warm this morning (more than 70 degrees) so the fisherman was comfortable in trunks as he cast his line.

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There were others I wasn’t able to document with my lens, but noticed as I walked.  Couples walking with their coffee, the cute older couple with matching sun hats, exercise walkers with earbuds, runners staying above the waterline to keep their shoes dry, a father and daughter stretching before heading out with their boards, the older woman in her bikini, tennis shoes, and sun hat out for a walk, someone meditating with crossed legs and fingers touching…

One of my favorites things about the beach and the humanity that inhabits it, is that each person finds his or her own way of interacting with it.  You can wear a bathing suit, a wetsuit, shorts, jeans…or even a wedding dress.  Shoes are optional and are often seen in pockets, hanging over shoulders, or held in the hand.  You can sit, stand, lay, run, walk, jump, dance, catch, throw, search, dig, build, chase…the options are endless.

I have quite a collection of images of #beachpeople this summer as I’ve noticed and studied the humanity I find on the beach.  And what I know for sure is that most of them seem to come to the beach for fun, for pleasure, to escape the heat, the stresses of work…it is a place filled with play and playfulness.  Adults playing with children, adults playing with other adults…enjoying the water and sand with the joy many often leave behind with childhood.

The beach is a magical place.

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Play

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!

Unofficially summer is over for me tomorrow…I head back to work to prepare for the new school year.  I’m not dreading going back–I’m lucky, I love my work.  But I do want to be reminded to continue to include play in my life, even when I am working.

Sometimes play is as simple as taking a photo of my cat and then messing with it in a photo app…like this one of Phil.  The intensity of his look in this photo just cracks me up…looks like he is saying, “How dare you…”

Phil

It’s also fun to play around with the framing of shots like this one using the prickly pear as a way to frame Lake Hodges in the background.

framed by prickly pear

There’s other kinds of framing that is fun to play around with too.  And sometimes it’s designers that create playful features like this one at the Huntington gardens where you can walk behind the waterfall…what a perfect opportunity to take a photo of the backside of water!

backside of water

Other features like this decorative opening in a wall became a playful way of looking at the gardens beyond.

through the open window

And then there is play beyond the camera too.  Visiting my son and daughter-in-law meant the opportunity to spend some time playing with their little dog Elli.  She’s a cute long-haired chihuahua and she loves to play!  She likes to sneak some licks, bring her toys, race around the room…  And of course, she is adorable!

Elli

And sometimes I like to play with my little magnetic lenses.  Today I had the fisheye lens out…one I don’t use too often.  I wanted to capture the flowering of the tree in my driveway. Here’s the fisheye version.

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So this week’s challenge is to do some playing…with your photography or without photography…and then document it with a photo.

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

Be sure to squeeze some play time into these last few weeks of summer!  Can’t wait to see what you are playing around with!

More than a Game

Today we played Monopoly.  We played in our Summer Institute…a leadership development program for teachers of writing.  And as you might imagine, this play had more than one purpose!

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There is something wonderful about giving a group of dedicated educators a Monopoly box and asking them to play a game during an intensive professional development experience.  In our 4th day of a four week institute, we have already begun to bond, building trust and opening up, willing to be vulnerable even when faced with difficult topics and challenging situations.

The group seemed almost giddy about the thought of playing…even though based on the previous three and a half days, they knew this was not simply a board game break.  They started by forming groups of five or six and then selecting a writing utensil from a plate on their table.  A colored pencil, a smelly marker, a highlighter, an SDAWP pencil, and either one or two Crayola markers were mystery icons of the game to come.  After spending time as a group reviewing the written rules of the game and setting up to begin, the significance of the choice of the writing utensil became apparent.

Figuring out how to play

Those holding the Crayola markers were asked to begin playing…the others at the table were only allowed to watch.  In my role as observer I got watch as some started to play with trepidation while others raced forward with delight…”Hurry, let’s get what we can while we can!”  After the first player or players had played for five or ten minutes, the second group of players were invited in.  At indeterminate intervals and not knowing which category would be called next, the players who waited and watched seemed to withdraw and lose interest in the game.

playing monopoly

This version of Monopoly, which immerses players in an experience where everyone plays by the same rules…but the game is still not fair, is adapted from an article by Jost and Jost.  Our goal is to get our participants to think about equity beyond what is experienced by individuals and consider the systemic influences of poverty and racism.

As the game continued we saw our participants behave in some interesting ways.  Those that entered the game early seemed to play either with zeal…or with the weight of guilt on their shoulders.  They frequently assumed the role of helper…often moving the pieces for their late starting peers or even acting with seeming generosity, offering “get out of jail free” cards or waiving some small rents due to them.  The late starters either become apathetic about the game or downright devious…sneaking money from the bank or even wishing to land in jail so they wouldn’t have to pay fees that they saw coming as their money dwindled with each turn.

We saw early players become rule sticklers…at one point carefully explaining the rules to a late starter.

checking the rules

When time was called on the game, players were asked to take note of the results and then sent off to reflect on their experience.  What did they notice about themselves, their peers, the experience?  What implications does this experience have for them as educators, parents, human beings?

Our discussion was rich and layered…and sometimes downright contentious.  This experience opened up space for talking about systems: economic, social, educational…and the differences in access and equity that are often dismissed or not considered with our more typical focus on individuals.  And we’re not finished with these discussions…because although there are some who might ask, “What does equity have to do with the teaching of writing?”, we know that equity plays a crucial role in who has access to high quality teaching and learning…and who can see themselves as successful learners.  This game “hack” is just a beginning for us…we have much more in store in our next three weeks!