Tag Archives: routine

Weekly Photo Challenge: Outside

I don’t always think about the rhythms of my life…until they are disrupted. I’m now into my second week back to work after two weeks off, and my schedule is off. I usually write this weekly challenge on Thursdays in the afternoon after I get home from work. But last Thursday I woke in the early hours of morning, and was on the road to the airport before the sun began to stir. A long day of travel with a meeting sandwiched between pushed the challenge to the back burner…

After that refreshing winter break and lots of time exploring, I have felt cooped up, confined by my calendar and my schedule, not creating spaces to get myself outdoors to feel the sun on my shoulders and the breeze on my face. I love my work and my students, but I do need to remember to make time and space for inspiration and fresh air for myself too.

I’m reminded of the animals I saw at the zoo not long ago. Confined, but somehow seeming to find space to stretch out. This polar bear seemed to find rolling in the dirt comforting…like creating a disguise—a mask of sorts—to wear as people peered in through the viewing windows.

polar bear

This young panda seemed to make an exercise course of his enclosure as he lumbered in around the trees, in nonstop motion. It was hard to get a sharp photo because of the motion…but then this guy was not there for my photographic pleasure, this is the life he lives and because he lives and breathes and lumbers, we still have pandas among us.


Looking back at my time in our local backcountry, with the lake framed by snowcapped mountains, fills me with energy and wonder and reminds me that I have to make more opportunities to get outside the ordinary of my life. This winter wonderland is far from my everyday experiences!

snowy lake

A trek to the nearby beach to capture images of these common folks—the seagulls—has the potential to change my day, improve my mood, and inspire my thinking. I see seagulls every day, and often think of them as pests (especially when they are stealing my students’ snacks!), but when I take the time to watch them in their environment, they fill me with wonder at their adaptations and quirky posturing.

gulls on the beach

Even a simple stop along the side of road to appreciate the colors of the sky can be a treat. I still need to remind myself to pull over and take the few minutes to look and snap a few shots on a regular basis!

colorful sky

I’ve yet to master nighttime photography, but was mesmerized by the long train going by on our way home from the airport the other night…and by the colorful warning lights. You can’t really see the train, but the red lights sure stand out!

waiting for the train

So this week I looked back at the inspiration I get from being outside…either physically or maybe just outside my ordinary routine.  So head outside…physically or mentally and catch some images that inspire you, or offer you a break from your usual routines.

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

What does outside mean in your life?  You can venture near or far…take the prompt literally or use it as a metaphor.  I can’t wait to take a peek outside through your lens!

Spontaneous: a Photo Essay

There are so many routines…and they help me get things done.  They get me to work on time , allow me to accomplish the mundane and the inspirational work in my life, and remind me to make time for work and play, relaxation and exercise, books and art and more. But sometimes my routines get in my way.

I almost let that happen today.  I had a meeting at a school site near a picturesque part of our city.  As I pulled up to park I thought about taking some time after the meeting to drive the couple of miles to the cove and see if there was anything to photograph.

After my meeting I wanted to go home.  I knew the traffic would be bad… and it gets dark so early these days…I had lots of excuses.  But then I decided to take that short drive anyway, even if it meant some miserable traffic on my way home.

And I’m so glad I did!  La Jolla Cove is truly a treasure.  This little protected piece of ocean is a refuge for wildlife…and for people.  When I pulled up and immediately found a parking place, I knew this would be worth the spontaneous decision.  I first noticed this little structure with sea gulls roosting on top.  Through it I could see a small fishing boat in the surf.


As I continued up the walkway, I heard barking.  But it wasn’t dogs…it was sea lions!  Some sunbathed in the cool December air while others seemed to play hide and seek in the waves.


I looked up and noticed pelicans cruising the coast…almost close enough to touch!  (Of course I missed photographing the ones that were close!)


I noticed this big seagull cruising the park area.  He had been perched up on the tree, but had moved on by the time I close enough to use my camera!


I was right about the traffic, by the way.  It took me more than an hour to get home after this excursion.  But it was so worth it.  My photos don’t begin to do justice to my experience. The sights and sounds and smells along with the crisp, cool air and low afternoon sun made for a perfect respite on a work day.

When I got home it was dark…and I noticed the sliver of moon rising.  Geoff and I headed out after dinner to get gas for my car…and decided to stop by Starbucks for a cup of coffee. And spontaneously, as we turned the corner and spied the moon we headed off to the beach where we knew the view would be spectacular.

And we weren’t disappointed.  That shy smile of the moon reflected on the surf below.  The colors were incredible…whites and golds.  The moon made the water glow…and the froth of the surf curled in frosty waves.  I tried my camera…with little success.


But standing side by side in the dark appreciating the beauty of the moon and water in the cool of December with a hot coffee in our hands was priceless.  A reminder to be spontaneous now and then.  Routines can return tomorrow.