Tag Archives: sdawpphotovoices

Beyond Paint by Number: October’s Photo-a-Day Challenge

Oranges, browns, yellows, reds, greens…the colors of fall are legendary.  Leaves turn, pumpkins grow, candles flicker, and we can see the sunset as we head for home after the work day.  In the midst of all this spectacular and extraordinary display, we live our mostly ordinary lives.  So what do we take photos of?  How do we challenge ourselves to pay attention to the colors and wonders that only October can bring?

Let’s spend October painting what we see through our lens by paying attention to the extraordinariness of the ordinary.  I used the term paint by number to play with that idea of the hum drum ordinary of taking that same uninspiring photo over and over again.  To avoid that burnout of boredom, you’ll need to pay close attention to what your photo might be if you move in a bit closer, frame it a little differently, or look under the rock instead of just at it! I’ve come up with a prompt for each of the numbered days of this month to suggest an idea for you to paint through your lens…by taking a photo.  With the extraordinary of the ordinary in mind, here are a few of my paintings for inspiration…

These red converse hightops highlight the shift to fall…and notice the hat with a splash of orange sitting on the floor under the chair.  (And you might even notice the other kid with the florescent yellow shoes in the distance!)

kid shoes

A walk on some hiking trails last weekend brought the dry and scratchy brush into full view…along with a tiny splash of color provided by the monkey flowers.

monkey flower

I love the warmth and glow of the sun on the cliffs bringing out the oranges and reds that often go unnoticed.

sun bathed cliffs

And what do you think of these whimsical pink stripes on the outstretched arms of the reader holding her book just so as her wispy bangs obscure her eyes and brush the side of her face?

young reader with stripes

Saturday’s amber brew was a perfect match for the locally grown veggies on the pizza…and a great way to view the community outside the window.

amber beer

Don’t you love all the hues of green this painter made using only the primary colors and a dab or two of white?

green dots

And I love the layers of oranges and yellows of this early fall sunset framed by the lifeguard tower.  If you look closely, you can see the people along the edge of the surf enjoying the last days of summer.

sunset tower

So let’s go beyond “paint by number” and explore the extraordinariness of the ordinary.  Here’s a list of prompts to help you look in some new ways…or create your own prompt and share it with the rest of us!

1.  brown

2.  dry

3.  scratchy

4.  wispy

5.  orange

6.  hollow

7.  alive

8.  dark

9.  growing

10.  yellow

11.  thumps

12.  falling

13.  spooky

14.  lit

15.  red

16.  fresh

17.  spicy

18.  morning

19.  crisp

20.  setting

21.  harvest

22.  scary

23.  hue

24.  flicker

25.  outside

26.  under

27.  golden

28.  light

29.  stacked

30.  delicate

31.  glow

Once you go beyond painting by numbers and take that shot, post a photo each day with the hashtag #sdawpphotovoices to Twitter, Instagram, Flicker, Google+ and/or Facebook (the more the better!), so that we can all enjoy the posts.  If you are game for some more playfulness, compose a blog post about a photo, a week’s worth of photos, write a photo essay, make a video or slideshow or try a learning walk! You are invited to create a pingback by linking to this url or post your blog address in the comment section. It’s fun for me to see what others are doing with the same prompts I am using!

So push past the ordinary, beyond paint by numbers and discover the extraordinary in your everyday routines. You can post every day, once a week, or even sporadically throughout the month…whatever works in your life. You can play this game by posting your pictures in the order of the prompts or post the one you find on the day you find it.  You get to make your own rules!  Be sure to share and tag your photos with #sdawpphotovoices so we can find them!  So go out and use you lens to start painting!  I can’t wait for you to share what you are seeing through your lens!

Self Portraits, Photo Style

I experimented with taking self portrait photos today.  The #sdawpphotovoices photo-a-day prompt for September 6th is self portrait, which got me thinking about how to be creative in my approach to creating a photo portrait of myself.  I’ve done some playing around with self portraiture in the past (here and here) and have been practicing the art of the selfie as a way to document some of the outings my husband and I take.  (Otherwise I have discovered that I am absent in my own photography.)

But what does it mean to take a self portrait?  And what does it say about me and my photography?  As I set out today, I knew that I was not going to be taking the typical hold your phone out at arm’s length and shoot a photo sort of self portrait.  Instead, I wanted to focus on ways to capture portraits of myself in less typical ways.

Walking along the waterfront, I noticed a monument to those who have served in the military that had shiny marble sides.  I could see my reflection as walked by, so decided to try taking a self portrait by framing myself in the shot.

Monument selfie

I like the way the grain of the marble creates a texture on the photo, and you can see how the shade also impacted the image.

Continuing our walk, I noticed a mirror used to help cars see around corners as I went to cross a driveway.  I stood and aimed my camera as I framed myself in the mirror.

mirror selfie

It’s interesting to me the way the mirror captures the urban elements of the setting, while the background features the branches and leaves of a tree.

As we walked down the Broadway Pier, I noticed the reflective glass of the building there. Along the side of the building I could see the USS Midway, a retired military aircraft carrier, reflected in the window.  I urged my husband to join me and capture this self portrait.

Midway selfie

Geoff noticed this star on a window of a restaurant as we headed back toward where we had parked our car, so of course I had to stop to snap a photo.  The long skinny window makes an interesting frame for the self portrait.

star window selfie

We had talked earlier in our outing about the possibility of me taking a self portrait by framing myself in my husband’s sunglasses.  So as we passed the park at Seaport Village we stopped to try this technique.  It took a few tries…and we left without knowing for sure if my image would be visible.  With a bit of post production editing, this is the resulting image.

sunglass selfie

Today’s focus on self portrait photography had me paying attention to light, reflection, texture, and composition.  I was working not only to capture an image of myself, but also to document my surroundings in interesting ways.  Sometimes I noticed that I held my phone in a way that obscured my face so then I experimented with holding it lower and tried to look into the reflective surface rather than at my shutter button.

I did some post production editing to crop away extraneous material and place the focus on the portrait.  Filters helped me brighten or tone down colors and create an effect that I found pleasing.

I took many other photos today as I walked the waterfront and explored downtown San Diego, but it was fun to experiment with the self portrait too.  Taking photos of myself in reflective surfaces made me aware of the many ways I can use those surfaces to create other kinds of photos as well–things I don’t always think about as I am shooting.  I know I’ll be doing some experimenting over the next week or so!

What do you learn when you take photographic self portraits?  What techniques are your favorites?  I’d love to hear from you!

Get Creative! September’s Photo-a-Day Challenge

September is one of those limbo months.  Summer is ending, schools are beginning, we are beginning to get hints of fall.  And where I live the weather is warm, often warmer than we have experienced during the “official” summer months, confusing our bodies and senses.

It’s that time of the year when you might find yourself in the creative doldrums as you move from summer vacation mode back into work and family routines.  So that means that September is the perfect month for a creativity focused photo-a-day challenge!

This month’s list is meant to encourage experimentation and challenge you to break out of some of those routines that have become uninspiring and maybe a bit monotonous.  Each prompt this month asks you to try a specific technique, a particular subject, or to break a rule of photography or try a rule of photography.  For example, it’s common as photographers to shoot with the sun over your shoulder to light your subject and ensure that the color is good. But sometimes, it is perfect to shoot into the sun–especially if you want to capture a silhouette like this photo of the lifeguard tower.  (And I was lucky enough to snap just as the lifeguard walked into my shot!)

lifeguard silhouette

It’s not unusual to take photos of your food, but perhaps it is less usual to try to create a shot that showcases the food as though it is an advertisement.  I’m not sure this photo is that quality, but I do love the color of this unedited shot–especially of the mango salsa.

fish tacos

Sometimes it is the difference in positioning yourself or your lens that creates a new way of seeing your subject.  You might try shooting from above like in this shot of the subway train in Pasadena.  (And you might try going from color to black and white for added effect!)

from above the subway

Or in this case, climbing up a ladder and shooting up in a tight space to capture a glimpse of the light in this lighthouse.

unusual angle

Sometimes I get stuck taking shots of things that stand still.  So sometimes the creativity comes from trying to capture action as it happens.  Here’s a sandpiper (and his shadow) just as he lifts off!

taking flight

I’m still experimenting with taking photos of weather…and there isn’t a whole lot of weather to experiment with in my parts.  I was excited about seeing this family in their yellow slickers walking toward me on a rainy day in Yellowstone.

family in yellow slickers

And who doesn’t love a photo of flowers?  I particularly like this shot where the large poppy in the foreground is crisp and the others are slightly out of focus.

poppies

And water is always a source of inspiration for me.  I have to work at creating something new and different from my photos of the ocean, but this shot of the top of the waterfall was a novelty for me.

top of waterfall

So September’s challenge is to inspire your creativity by pushing yourself to try different subjects, different techniques, different angles and more.  And to help you stretch creatively, here are some prompts—one per day—to push you out of your ordinary routines.

1. get low

2. shoot into the sun or create a silhouette (or both!)

3. create a photo that is stunning in black and white

4. shoot something ordinary in a new and interesting way

5. make something ugly look beautiful

6. create a self portrait

7. take a photo of traffic

8. make people your centerpiece (strangers if you dare!)

9. shoot from above

10. use the rule of thirds

11. find a natural frame (a branch, a bridge, or ???)

12. shoot on a angle, what happens if you make it extreme?

13. photograph your pet (or someone else’s)

14. photograph water in a new way

15. capture movement

16. photograph an abstract pattern

17. shoot from an unusual angle

18. what’s interesting about windows?

19. where do you find reflection?

20. make your subject off center

21. capture emotion

22. where do you find texture?

23. take a shot of the weather

24. what’s interest about clouds today?

25. something old

26. something new

27. focus on light

28. flowers

29. take a shot of food–would it work in an advertisement?

30. feet

Once you stretch your creativity and take that shot (or many shots), post a photo each day with the hashtag #sdawpphotovoices to Twitter, Instagram, Flicker, Google+ and/or Facebook (the more the better!), so that we can all enjoy the posts.  If you are game for some more playfulness, compose a blog post about a photo, a week’s worth of photos, write a photo essay, make a video or slideshow or try a learning walk! You are invited to create a pingback by linking to this url or post your blog address in the comment section. It’s fun for me to see what others are doing with the same prompts I am using!

So stretch yourself this month and feed those creative urges!  You can post every day, once a week, or even sporadically throughout the month…whatever works in your life. You can play this game by posting your pictures in the order of the prompts or post the one you find on the day you find it.  You get to make your own rules!  Be sure to share and tag your photos with #sdawpphotovoices so we can find them!  So go out and get creative!  I can’t wait for you to share what you are seeing through your lens!

A Bear and a Bridge

This really is a month for the unexpected!  On our last day at Yellowstone, we set off early knowing we were heading toward the other side of the park and hoping that an early start would bring more opportunities to see wildlife.

As we sipped our coffee and drove down the road, we suddenly saw a bear ambling across the road.  You might remember from yesterday’s post that Geoff had his heart set on seeing a bear during our visit…so imagine our excitement and the jolt of adrenaline when we spied the bear ahead of us on the road!  I grabbed my phone as the bear looked up and headed off to the side of the road.  I started taking pictures as it headed off, stopping and looking back at us then continuing into the trees.

bear in action

I was excited that the photos captured the bear…and with some editing, showed some of what we saw.  After consulting with some folks at an information center, we think this is a grizzly based on the hump on the back and the fact that it is collared.  (They said they believed only the grizzlies are collared in the park…not the black bears.)

bear2

bear

This bear sighting was truly the cherry on the top of this trip to Yellowstone!  Even the rainy day couldn’t dampen our spirits or spoil our adventures.

As a lark, later in the day we decided to take what we thought was a quarter mile hike to a natural bridge in the rain.  Donning our rain jackets with hoods on, we headed down the path through the woods.  That quarter mile turned out to be at least a three-mile round trip in a steady downpour…and totally worth it!  The natural bridge was spectacular!

natural bridge

We ended our day with dinner at the Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel, a delicious and relaxing ending to three days in the park.  The rain stopped and the sky brightened.  As we drove out of the park towards our hotel, the sun and clouds gathered to create a gorgeous skyscape.  We stopped not far from the arch to take this final photo at Yellowstone.

skyscape

Our time in Yellowstone has been amazing, filled with the unexpected.  We’ve enjoyed exploring the natural beauty, spending lots of time outdoors, and piquing our interests to learn more about the natural world.

There is so much more to say…and so many more photos I’ve taken on this trip.  I’m sure you will be hearing more about my adventures in Montana and Wyoming!

Beyond Old Faithful

Today’s Yellowstone adventures took us well beyond Old Faithful and the thermal features that marked our first day in the park.  Today we set out in search of wildlife and waterfalls and found so much more.

Geoff loves bears…and has his heart set on seeing a bear in the park, so we headed toward the northwest entrance and the Lamar Valley where folks at the Yellowstone Association recommended for possible wildlife viewing.  And while we didn’t see bears, we did see some other wildlife.

We followed a road we didn’t travel yesterday, and not far into our drive Geoff saw this amazing bird of prey.  He quickly turned the car around and passed by it again…as it sat and posed while I took its photo through the open car window.  A bit of research has us believing it is a golden eagle.

golden eagle

After such a great beginning we were optimistic as we headed off the beaten path and followed a dirt road for 6 miles in search of other animals.  We saw beautiful meadows and listened to the songs of birds as we drove the bumpy, dusty path at about 10 miles per hour with the windows open…but nothing beyond birds and squirrels showed themselves.  As we headed into the Lamar Valley we were feeling much less optimistic when we noticed cars pulling off the side of the road.  In Yellowstone, that is a signal that someone has spotted something of interest.  And sure enough, there were buffalo…a lot of them in the distance. Over a stretch of about 10 miles we saw several herds and some big bull buffalo right up close to the edge of road.  We watched them wallow in the mud and listened to them grunt.  The calves frolicked as the adults ate and rested.  This guy was pretty uninterested in the traffic, people with cameras, and even noisy motorcycles going by.  And he made a great photo opportunity for me.  If you look closely, you can see the rest of the herd in the distance.

buff and his herdLater in the day, with the help of a photographer with a huge telescopic lens, we located an osprey in a nest with chicks out on a rock formation in the canyon.  If you know what you are looking for, it is barely visible in this shot.  Geoff was able to get a shot where you can see the birds using a camera with a more powerful zoom than my iPhone.

Osprey nestToward the end of our day, we also caught a glimpse of some elk and some mule deer…but not close enough for photos.

In addition to wildlife, we also saw amazing waterfalls and canyons today…and spent some time at over 8800 feet!  There is still evidence of the devastation of wildfires in some areas, but there are also spectacular forests and green meadows.  Here’s a view across the meadow at well over 8800 feet.

high altitude meadow

I was surprised to learn that Yellowstone has its own version of the Grand Canyon.  As we headed out to Artist Point, we saw both the spectacular Canyon Falls and canyon views to take your breath away!  I was lucky and glimpsed a raptor in flight, catching the dark wings and white head.  I think it may have been an osprey in flight.  Catching the just right light to bring the colors to life in a photograph is challenging, but I think this one begins to catch the beauty. This particular spot makes it clear why the park is called Yellowstone.

Yellowstone's grand canyon

And a little unexpected treat…way up high on an overlook above Canyon Falls a couple asked me to take their photo.  And after I did and handed them back their camera, as I was about to walk away without taking a photo of my own…I was feeling uncomfortable way up high and feeling like I had taken photo after photo of these falls, I noticed a rainbow!

Rainbow over canyon fallsThese few pictures are only a scratch on the surface of today’s adventures.  It was another day filled with the unexpected and the wonder, beauty and majesty of our natural world.  We have another adventure planned for tomorrow…what more will we find in this amazing place?

 

In Search of the Unexpected: August’s Photo-a-Day Challenge

August means deep summer; those warm, sun-drenched days when energy wanes and you look forward to a light summer read and cool drink, preferably in front of a water source.  It’s easy to stop noticing and see each day as a replica of the one before, sameness after sameness lulling your senses into summer-time hibernation.

There’s nothing like a camera lens to wake up the senses…especially if you are on the lookout for the unexpected.  Sometimes it is the sound that first captures your attention…this military helicopter came unusually low to the ground as I walked on the beach, swooping in close to the cliffs along the shoreline.  Military helicopters are usual—but so close we could wave at the pilot and he waved back is unexpected!

unexpected-copter

At the zoo, it was the unexpected color—or lack of color—that attracted my attention.  Baby flamingos are fluffy and gray, in great contrast to their vibrant elders.  These guys almost look like they were photoshopped to black and white.

unexpected-flamingo

Hiking can bring it’s share of the unexpected as well.  Climbing to the top of Mt. Woodson we found some natural beauty, along with a forest of communication towers!

unexpected-mountaintop

And on another hike, this phone booth sat along the trail…I guess you never know when you might need to make a call!  (I didn’t check to see if it was in working condition.)

unexpected-phone booth

Where I live, we seldom find the unexpected in the weather.  Night and morning low clouds with afternoon sunshine is almost a mantra for forecasters.  So the unexpected rain the other morning created quite a stir at the restaurant while we breakfasted.  Lightening flashed and thunder boomed…and the raindrops poured from the sky.  Walking across the street to the car had me walking in ankle deep runoff!

unexpected-rain

At UCSD, I had walked by this metal tree many times…there are a few as part of an art collection there.  But until a few weeks ago, I had not noticed the contrast between the organic shape of the metal tree and the angular lines of the distinctive architecture of the library behind it.  The unexpected similarities and differences made me pause when I saw it from this new angle.

unexpected-metal tree

It was a gathering crowd that drew my attention as I walked down the beach yesterday.  A surf class? A party?  No…a dead shark with a not-so-dead octopus slithering out of its mouth.  The crowd moved in, fascinated by the close up view of this creature.  I found myself equally interested in the people in the crowd, the ways their bodies leaned in.  And notice the mom holding onto her boys…

unexpected-shark

And my macro lens can always be depended on to help me see unexpected beauty.  I’ve been watching the dandelions in my yard (there are only two or three) and photographing the different stages of their growth.  Between the yellow flower and the iconic fluff ball stage, there is a stage where the dandelion looks dead.  But through my macro lens, I was able to capture the hint of what was yet to come.

unexpected-dandelion

So August’s challenge is to look for the unexpected as you enjoy the last of the long light and warm days (at least in the northern hemisphere).  And to help you look, here are some prompts—one per day—to focus your attention and spur your thinking.

1. People

2. Place

3. Nature

4. Plants

5. Animals

6. Horizon

7. Food

8. Transportation

9. Light

10. Home

11. Smell

12. Sound

13. Garden

14. Inside

15. Thing

16. Drink

17. Sky

18. Outside

19. Neighborhood

20. Weather

21. Early

22. Texture

23. Words

24. Interaction

25. Walk

26. Arrangement

27. Trash (#Litterati)

28. Architecture

29. Close up (Macro)

30. Landscape

31. Pleasure

Once you find the unexpected and capture a photo of it, post a photo each day with the hashtag #sdawpphotovoices to Twitter, Instagram, Flicker, Google+ and/or Facebook (the more the better!), so that we can all enjoy the posts.  If you are game for some more playfulness, compose a blog post about a photo, a week’s worth of photos, write a photo essay, make a video or slideshow or try a learning walk! You are invited to create a pingback by linking to this url or post your blog address in the comment section. It’s fun for me to see what others are doing with the same prompts I am using!

With summer in full swing, it’s the perfect time for some playfulness and experimentation…look for the unexpected in your world–let it surprise you, delight you, maybe even horrify you!  You can post every day, once a week, or even sporadically throughout the month…whatever works in your life. You can play this game by posting your pictures in the order of the prompts or post the one you find on the day you find it.  You get to make your own rules!  Be sure to share and tag your photos with #sdawpphotovoices so we can find them!

Finding Beauty in the Ordinary: July’s Wabi Sabi Photo-a-Day Challenge

Summer is about the ordinary, it’s often the time we rediscover our playful selfs as we encourage children (and maybe ourselves) to run through the lawn sprinklers, lick popsicles from the ice cream truck, and spit watermelon seeds as we sit on the front porch.  We roll up our sleeves, walk barefoot, and sip glass after glass of iced tea in tall frosted glasses that drip, almost crying with the pleasing coolness on a hot, summer day.

I first heard of Wabi Sabi from my friend Susan a few years ago when she asked her students to focus on the ordinary in research projects they were doing in her middle school English class.  I remember how excited she was that they were discovering the beauty in the “old school”—typewriters, rotary dial phones, handwriting…and so much more than I can’t even begin to remember now.  

Wikipedia offers us this definition:

Wabi-sabi (侘寂?) represents a comprehensive Japanese world view or aesthetic centered on the acceptance of transience and imperfection. The aesthetic is sometimes described as one of beauty that is “imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete”.

My photography has heightened my awareness of the complexities of beauty in the ordinary as I have learned to tune my eye to seek out the familiar in new ways.  So when Margit gifted me with the picture book, Wabi Sabi by Mark Weibstein, I found myself thinking about the Wabi Sabi around me.  Weibstein pairs his story of a cat named Wabi Sabi with Haiku, following the Americanized three-line, 5-7-5 syllable pattern, that helps the definition-seeking cat understand its name…and adds this definition, for us slower to understand folks, as well:

Wabi Sabi: a way of seeing the world. It finds beauty and harmony in what is simple, imperfect, natural, modest, and mysterious. It can be a little dark, but it is also warm and comfortable. It may best be understood as a feeling rather than as an idea. 

The more I have been thinking about this concept of Wabi Sabi, the more I want to explore it more intentionally through my lens.  

Here’s a few of my ideas…along with a Haiku attempt with each.  Each of these represents my interpretation of Wabi Sabi, an appreciation of the imperfect, often fleeting beauty I find through my lens.  Letting 17 syllables speak for me is a challenge, but an interesting one, creating another layer of Wabi Sabi for me.

Lizard_wabi sabi

A flurry and munch!

Time for posing and sunning

Scaly modeling

Mountains from Iron Mountain

Purple mountains stand

Off in the distance watching

Both desert and beach

broken sculpture ucsd

It’s a hard knock life

Reflecting privilege’s promise

Strong enough to thrive

kegs

Kegs and art mingle

Chatting on a street corner

Exchanging cultural news

And to stretch my exploration (and yours too) I have come up with a list of potential prompts or categories to consider.  (I notice that I tend toward nature for my photographic exploration of beauty–these prompts are meant to push my thinking and seeing in new ways.)

1.  On the corner

2.  Nature

3.  People

4.  Celebrate

5.  Inside

6.  Under

7.  Home

8.  Outside

9.  Places

10.  Animals

11.  Food

12.  Personal

13.  Things

14.  Mood

15.  Looking up

16.  Sitting down

17.  Looking down

18.  Early

19.  Growing

20.  Morning

21.  Sound

22.  Growing

23.  Feeling

24.  Places

25.  Night

26.  Light

27.  Hot

28.  Early

28.  Travel

29.  Between

30.  Smell

31.  Icy

So now it’s your turn.  Explore what Wabi Sabi means to you as you examine the ordinary in your life this summer.  After you shoot, post a photo each day with the hashtag #sdawpphotovoices to Twitter, Instagram, Flicker, Google+ and/or Facebook (the more the better!), so that we can all enjoy the posts. Try your hand at an accompanying Haiku and explore how it expands, defines, or changes the meaning of the image you share. You are invited to create a pingback by linking to this url or post your blog address in the comment section. It’s fun for me to see what others are doing with the same prompts I am using!

With summer in full swing, it’s the perfect time for some playfulness and experimentation…look for beauty and the unexpected in the ordinary–let it surprise and delight you!  You can post every day, once a week, or even sporadically throughout the month…whatever works in your life. You can play this game by posting your pictures in the order of the prompts or post the one you find on the day you find it.  You get to make your own rules!  Be sure to share and tag your photos with #sdawpphotovoices so we can find them!

 

 

 

 

 

Play and Games

This first week of CLMOOC has reminded me again of the power of connected learning. Don’t get me wrong…I am a connected learner all year long, but there is something about the intensity and playfulness of the CLMOOC that amplifies the effect.  Earlier this week I had the opportunity to serve as a coach for an upcoming make, and when I learned the topic would be games I wondered just how much help I would be.  In online spaces when someone says games, I immediately think of Minecraft and Halo and other video games.

Instead, our conversation went to stories about games from our childhood…games we made up, unstructured time when we were left to our own devices and “forced” to entertain ourselves.  Terry brought up some research about the lack of games in children lives and I wondered how that could be true–aren’t people complaining that kids are too obsessed with gaming?  That’s when our conversation got really interesting…when we realized that game had different connotations in different contexts.  What we all worry about is how little time children seem to have that is unsupervised and free for imaginative play, exploration, making, and doing…not pre-structured by adults. (Many thanks for a rich, thought-provoking conversation Terry, Joe, Christina, and Michael!)

Here’s a link to the talk Terry had referred to:

My husband took today off from work and after we treated ourselves to breakfast out, we headed to the beach for a leisurely low tide walk.  It was warm and sunny, but not too hot, perfect beach weather.  And as we started walking I realized that my husband and I often make up our own games to keep our beach walks interesting.  Our latest “game” has been to search for beach glass as we walk.  It’s like a scavenger hunt, eyes tuned for the gleam of the glass worn by the tides.  We have very little glass on our beaches–probably in large part because glass has been banned on our beaches for a decade.  But when we started playing this game a few weeks ago, each find has become a treasure.  Here’s today’s haul.

beach glass

And Christina reminded me that my photography is a game.  And it’s become even more so managing both #sdawpphotovoices–a monthly photo a day challenge and a weekly photo challenge that I post on my blog and for the NWP iAnthology.  This week’s Weekly Photo Challenge is #two…and I couldn’t resist snapping this photo of my husband fitting our flip flops in his pockets so we don’t have to carry them on our walk.  He puts one of each of our shoes in the pocket since mine are smaller (two of his shoes won’t fit in one pocket!).

two shoes

I also took some photos that I knew I would use to play around with filters and effects. This “still life” seemed perfect for trying out a new app (thanks Bonnie for pointing to it) called painteresque.  I love the effect!

beach stifflife paintereque

And then today I added yet another game to my photographic repertoire.  I’ve been wanting to take photos of “found alphabet” letters.  My rule (self-imposed) is that I have to photograph it as it is, I don’t get to arrange it.  Here’s a couple I found at the beach today.

Here’s a Y from kelp:

Y seaweed

An M I found in the cliffs:

m beach cliff

An O formed by a sea anenome:

o sea anenome

And who can resist the i made of bird poop!  (And it was washed away by a wave right after I snapped it!)

i bird poop

And part of the fun of these games is playing them with others.  It’s fun to search for beach glass with my husband, celebrating each find.  And taking photos is even more fun when others play along and we can share with each other and learn from each other.

I’m hoping that others will join me in the found alphabet fun.  I’m thinking I have two different “sets” I am searching for: found in nature and found on the beach.

What I love best about the CLMOOC is the spirit of playfulness and the ways we build on each others’ ideas and makes.  We are free to explore, to play, and to hack the structures presented. The connections are essential because they motivate and encourage and urge us on to try one more thing.  And thanks Terry, Joe, Christina, and Michael and the rest of you CLMOOC-ers for reminding me that I do know about games. Now I can’t wait for the game-focused make cycle! I’m already making up new games!

The Moods of May: An SDAWPphotovoices Photo-A-Day Challenge

In spite of being known for our mild, temperate climate and outdoor lifestyle, May is one of those months that can become monochromatic. Terms like “May Gray” and “June Gloom” describe those days when we are wishing for summer and sunshine, but plagued by a persistent gray, chilling marine layer along our coast here in San Diego. And with all that gray in mind, I’m thinking May be the perfect month to play with changing our moods. And thinking about weather and our attitudes toward it, I am reminded of a quote describing the teacher’s role in the classroom related to the climate.

I’ve come to a frightening conclusion that I am the decisive element in the classroom. It’s my personal approach that creates the climate. It’s my daily mood that makes the weather… Haim G. Ginott

As a photographer, I also make choices about the mood in my images. The ways I frame the subjects, how the light touches them, the composition within, all impact the mood portrayed. And with mood in mind, can we find interesting photos to capture that reflect a particular feeling? So for May, our challenge is to capture a mood through a daily photograph.  I’ve listed suggestions for each day by letter of the alphabet, with a few extras thrown in to add up to 31, the number of days in the month.  You get to decide how to portray the mood.  You can experiment with lighting, use apps to change the appearance, try different ways of cropping, shoot from different angles…the interpretation is totally up to you!  You can be literal or take liberties with the definition, let your inner artist play! After you shoot, post a photo each day with the hashtag #sdawpphotovoices to Twiiter, Instagram, Flicker, Google+ and/or Facebook (the more the better!), so that we can all enjoy the posts. If you are game for some extra action, compose a blog post about a photo, a week’s worth of photos, write a photo essay, try a learning walk, or write some poetry or even a song! You are invited to create a pingback by linking to this url or post your blog address in the comment section. It’s fun for me to see what others are doing with the same prompts I am using! Here’s a couple of my experiments with mood. Vibrant: vibrant ranunculus Tense: pirate's lair-tense Optimistic (maybe only Jack…Phil seems indifferent or defeated): begging cats Hopeful: hopeful- tidepools Tranquil: tranquil So now it’s your turn, here’s our list for May: 1. Anxious 2. Buoyant 3. Calm 4. Drained 5. Effervescent 6. Frustrated 7. Grumpy 8. Hopeful 9. Indifferent 10. Incredulous 11. Jubilant 12. Kind 13. Listless 14. Mellow 15. Narcissistic 16. Optimistic 17. Pensive 18. Playful 19. Quiet 20. Reflective 21. Solemn 22. Sad 23. Tense 24. Tranquil 25. Uneasy 26. Vibrant 27. Wistful 28. Whimsical 29. E(x)cited 30. Yearning 31. Zealous Let moods get your creative juices flowing as you explore through your lens during May.  Have fun, experiment, play with the limits of your photography…May is the perfect time for testing just how far you can go in controlling the climate through your images. 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!

Exploring Green: March Photo-a-Day Challenge

As we enter March, thoughts of spring fill our minds along with images of all things green.  And even though I live in southern California, a place that winter skipped entirely this year, spring invites lighter and brighter colors, the suggestion of new life, and a sense of renewal.  And then there is that all-things-green March holiday, St. Patrick’s Day, a day where everyone is a little bit Irish and a whole lot of green.

And besides color, green is a word with many different meanings and connotations.  It conveys environmentalism and jealousy, youthful inexperience and prosperity.  So for our March #sdawpphotovoices Photo-a-Day Challenge, let’s explore all of the possibilities of green.  The photos do not have to feature the color green, although some might, but instead the goal is to capture the multiplicity of meanings that green might convey.  Here’s some ideas to play around with…and each section ends with an invitation to explore and include something not specifically named.

Week 1: Nature, Vivacity and Life

photo-98

1  conservation

2  environment

3  living

4  nature

5  vivacity

6  preserve

7  what else?

Week 2: Springtime, Freshness, and Hope

8  fresh

9  spring

10  emerging

11  blooming

12  hope

13  wonder

14  what else?

Week 3: Fairies, Dragons, and Monsters

photo-97

(This picture has me thinking of mermaids!)

15  fairies

16  dragons

17 Leprechauns

18  monsters

19  imagination

20  creatures

21  what else?

Week 4: Jealousy and Envy

22  jealousy

23  envy

24  greed

25  permission

26  safety

27  covet

28  what else?

Bonus Days: Youth and Inexperience

29  youth

30  inexperience

31  what else?

After you shoot, post a photo each day with the hashtag #sdawpphotovoices to Twitter, Instagram, Flicker, Google+ and/or Facebook (the more the better!), so that we can all enjoy the posts.  If you are game for some more playfulness, compose a blog post about a photo, a week’s worth of photos, write a photo essay, make a video or slideshow or try a learning walk!  (More about learning walks here and here) You are invited to create a pingback by linking to this url or post your blog address in the comment section.  It’s fun for me to see what others are doing with the same prompts I am using!

Our goal is to play, share with each other, and learn from each other as we shoot our own photos and study the photos others shoot.  Each week includes six suggestions to explore…and one free choice.  You are welcome to follow them in order, mix them up, or exchange them for something that emerges for you as you explore green this month.  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!