Tag Archives: shadow

Weekly Photo Challenge: Curves

When your week throws you curves…take photos of them!  It’s been one of those stressful weeks.  Our third graders grappled with the mandated state testing, tensions are running high as decisions are made about staffing for next year, and the oft-promised rain actually came yesterday…the day before our annual (outdoor) ice cream social!

In spite of wanting to go home after work and just sit…I stopped by the beach to walk.  I’m so glad I did.  The rhythm of the waves and the wind in my face seemed to wash the stresses of the week away.  I didn’t walk far or fast, but my walk was deliberate and healing.  I went as far as this “corner,” and looked back on the beach from the curves in the wall.

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There are plenty of beach warnings after the rain–the surf is rough and unpredictable and the run-off from the storm drains introduces bacteria into the ocean water.  I sat for a few minutes watching the water run through the large curved drain pipes that allow water from the watershed into the ocean at the beach where I most often walk.

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Lucky for us, the rainy morning turned into a glorious afternoon and allowed students from our other school to come down for the promised band concert.  It’s fun to watch former students play their instruments…and then stop by afterward to give a hug to their past teachers!  The towering piles of curved clouds suggested there still might be storm to come…

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Our school is a place of much natural beauty.  While I was on playground duty earlier this week the curves of these roses caught my eye.  I love the hint of pink…

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And I continue to love the way the late afternoon sun comes in through my dining room window.  That light even makes the curves of a dying sunflower beautiful!  I love the contrasts of darks and brights, reminds me of paintings of “old masters.”

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When I did finally get home last night and took some time to sit and do nothing, I noticed this shadow and the curved lines of light and shadow. Was it a reflection from the blinds? A recording of my brain waves? Abstract art?

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So, what curves were thrown your way this week?  Grab your phone or camera and start snapping!

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

What curves will you document this week?

Weekly Photo Challenge: Outlines

I was recently reading a newsletter from a blogger I enjoy (joyfullygreen.com) and something she wrote caught my eye…that the word photography comes from Greek roots meaning writing with light. Now that makes sense to me.  Sometimes I feel like I draw with the light…and sometimes I feel like I am drawing the outlines between the light.

The other night I was walking back to my room at the retreat center where I was staying in Austin and started to notice the shadows of trees along the walkways.  As I stopped to take pictures, I also noticed that I entered some of the images as well, outlined in shadow.

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The tree in front of my house has become a favorite of mine, drawing my attention upward. It’s bare branches outline interesting angles creating a perfect frame for viewing the sky and clouds, helping me notice the blues and grays and whites beyond.

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Sometimes I find myself chasing the setting sun, trying to capture the nuances of light and color.  Hiking in Austin meant searching for the sun through the trees along the trails. This shot caught the sun outlined thickly in orange peeking through the trees.  (That’s not snow or water…those are rocks on the ground!)

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Apparently prickly pear is as common in Austin as it is here at home.  I love the way the light outlines this view of the flat, spiky pads and the rounded red fruit.

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Finding the word “Exit” outlined in thick black marker makes me wonder how many people have felt lost or confused trying to complete this loop trail.  I know when I climbed the many log stairs at the end of the loop, I was looking for the exit!  I didn’t need the sign…and actually overlooked it the first time I walked the trail.

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And there is something about sunsets.  They seem to outline the landscape in color: rich reds and oranges and yellows.  And if you look closely, you will find the moon–a thin sliver outlined in light.

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So, where do you find the light creating outlines?  Or shadows and color outlining images you see?  How do you write with light and see those outlines you find in your world?

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

Take a look around for outlines you notice.  Which are created with light? With shadow? With color?  How will you interpret outlines through your lens?

Weekly Photo Challenge: Light and Shadow

I notice light…the way it washes over images, bringing vibrance to colors and highlighting details. And I notice shadow, spaces between light and color that create texture and definition. I love the interplay of the two…and the challenge of capturing what my eyes see through my camera lens.

I came home today to my tulip plant opening in the light of the late afternoon shining through the window. The yellow blossom seems to bring the spirit of spring right into the house.

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Last week when I was back east, I was mesmerized by the shadow of bare tree limbs.  Spring wasn’t much in evidence, but the beauty of nature in all its shadow was.  I love the way that looking up into the tree branches creates images of lace.

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And when I looked up inside the the train station in Baltimore, I noticed light playing with the intricate stained glass ceiling.  My photo doesn’t begin to capture the beauty of the glass and the light!

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Earlier this week at the San Dieguito Heritage Museum my students and i entered this Native American kiicha made of willow branches and wetland reeds.  Looking up I noticed the way the light played with the shadows inside.

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And after school today I treated myself to a short walk on the beach–this is the beginning of my spring break–a much needed week off to gather energy and inspiration for the rest of the school year.  It was warm today…and spring breakers were out in full force.  I noticed the kites flying above the lifeguard tower and the way the sun created silhouettes in the distance.

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So, whether you are on spring break or yours is long over, take some time this week to notice light and shadow.  What time of day does the light catch your eye?  What do the shadows reveal?

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

So go into the light and explore the shadows in your life.  I can’t wait to experience light and shadow through your lens!

One of Two

We have two cats.  Black and white “tuxedo” domestic short-hairs.  Brothers and litter-mates.  They’ve been together since birth…and in our house since they were 16 weeks old–almost 16 years ago.

I take lots of pictures of Phil and Jack.  They are pretty patient photography subjects who let me experiment and intrude on their space…and they are pretty photogenic and look cute most of the time.

I notice that I seem to go through phases of focusing my photos more on one of them than the other.  For a while, Jack was subject…my sons even asked if something had happened to Phil.  But in the last week or so, I notice that it is Phil that is featured in many of my photos.

Phil is definitely the one who loves to explore…and checks out every new situation in the house.  This last week we’ve had a number of workmen here: painting, installing a new floor, hanging blinds.  And when I go to take a photo, there’s Phil.

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Phil has a mind of his own.  Sometimes he will patiently pose for pictures…and at other times I catch something more like this.

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I can always trust Phil to find interesting places to lay.  One of his favorite places to nap is in a decorative basket on a shelf high in the entertainment center that holds our TV.  Today we found him basking in the diffuse sunlight on a low countertop that will eventually feature some piece of art (we think).

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I love the interesting shadow echoing the black and white of Phil’s coloring (I had to sneak up on him for this shot!).

But sometimes Phil will pose…and let me focus my shot.  Later today Phil was sitting on a chair in some warm light.  He looked up just right, allowing the sun to highlight his eyes.  I love the way the light works in this photo.

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And sometimes Phil will let us play.  Last week he let us put this cute Christmas hat on him and take photos.  He seemed to understand that we were having fun and was unusually patient with the whole experience…humoring us as the one cat who manages to look good no matter how silly his people are!

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Phil has ended up being the one of our two cats who was photographed most this week. Not because he’s our favorite or because we singled him out, but because he made himself the natural focus of the pictures.  I notice that my students do that sometimes too.  I’ll find that one of my students will show up in photo after photo…and then another week it will be another student.

So this week, Phil is the one.  Who is the one in your photos this week?

Shadow

There is no doubt that my photography inspires my writing and my writing refines and refocuses my photography.  (There is something about the reflective process of examining the photos and critiquing them for myself that pushes my “eye” in terms of photos I shoot.)

This evening I noticed on A Word in Your Ear that the A Word a Week Photograph Challenge was shadow.  And that single word got me to flip back through some recent photos thinking about shadow and just what that word means to me.

This accidental shadow from the weekend caught my attention.  I struggled in the bright sunlight to capture a photo of these pea fowl that really captured their beauty, their markings…and made them show up.  They tend to blend in with the dirt.

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I think the shadow of me taking the photo is crisper than the photo of the peacock.  As I noticed my shadow I found myself shifting and turning as I figured out how to work the sun and shadow.  I found that my best photos of the pea fowl were a bit later when the sun dipped behind the clouds.

Earlier that week I had been at the beach taking some photos.  I love the way the shadow in this picture of Elli (a long-haired chihuahua) plays with her image of herself as a big dog.  She seems to think she is the protector of her people–and fiercely protects them as though she were five times her size.  (Like the shadow suggests!)

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And I like playing with light sources…and the resulting shadows.  This post was all about light and its impact…and how it often results in shadows or silhouettes.  I love this silhouetted view of my husband looking to the light.

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And one of my favorite photos of shadows comes from my visit to the Giant Redwoods a few weeks ago.  These magnificent giants cast shadows that veil the forest floor, keeping the air cool and the sun at a distance.  The shadows create a magical world where the sun sneaks in to make unexpected appearances…creating an otherworldly glow here and there.

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Shadow…revealing, playful, contemplative, magical…  But what about the shadow of tragedy, sadness, horror, poverty, crime?  Not that I am looking for darkness, but I am sure there are many more shadows to explore.

Let There Be Light: A Light Study

What started as a photo-a-day challenge for a month over a year ago has become a daily practice, a hobby, and maybe even a passion for me.  I’ve noticed how my photographic eye has changed over time and how I am now thinking carefully not only about the subject of my photos, but also playing with framing, considering the rule of thirds, thinking about foreground and background, and studying light and its influence on the photo.

Today…Black Friday in the commercial, frenzied bargain hunting world…had us out early on this rare rainy day-after-Thanksgiving checking out bargains and enjoying time spent together.  And after the errands and lunch, I desperately wanted to go to the beach on this stormy (at least by our standards) day.

As we drove along the coast toward home, I was on the lookout for an interesting place to stop with a clear view of the beach.  We frequently go to the same beach, so today’s goal was to find another place–a new view–to explore.

We stopped at Ponto.  And it was surprisingly crowded.  The waves were big and the surfers plentiful.  People were in bathing suits, full wetsuits, shorts and flip flops, and boots and jackets…it is Southern CA after all.

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I already had my eye on the jetty in the distance.  I knew I wanted to climb up on the rocks to get a great view of the sea.  But on the way I was sidetracked by the collection of lifeguard towers and found myself trying many different angles to capture the light and the ocean in the background.  I was struck by the dramatic differences in light and shadow. All of the photos were taken with my iPhone and are unedited and without any filters.

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I know the rule about having the sun at your back for the best photos, but sometimes I find myself wanting to shoot into the sun.  I love the way that shooting into the light creates silhouettes like in this picture of my husband looking out into the ocean.

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And I also played with angling the light behind me to capture more light…and in this case, the movement of the water and waves as well.

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When I pivoted 180 degrees in the other direction, the light my camera captured changed dramatically.

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Understanding the light and being aware of the source of the light makes a dramatic difference in photography.  By studying my photos I’ve learned some techniques that help me make more intentional choices rather than only happy (or unfortunate) accidents.  It’s fun to play around and see how shifts in lighting change the photos.

Light can change the mood and tone of the photo, make it more pensive, more dramatic, or lighter and more playful.  It changes colors, brightening or softening, creating depth and layers.  Earlier today I was trying to capture raindrops with my iPhone, without much success…because light and reflection were working against me.  I just couldn’t get enough contrast behind the drops to make them show through my lens.  But you can be certain that I will keep trying…whenever the next rainy day comes along.

What have you learned from the light today?

Muir Woods: a Photoessay

Nestled in a valley not far from the knotted web of Bay Area traffic and coursing flow of humanity is a space dedicated to showcasing some of nature’s treasures.

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The majesty of redwoods is best experienced in person. These giants are not only tall, but also express such personality. Each tree is unique from the next one. They seem to grow in families, clustered as if to offer support and companionship to one another.

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I found myself intrigued by the light and shadows. At two in the afternoon, the sun struggled to penetrate these amazing tall trees. Occasionally we would see the soft glow of light where the sun found its way through the canopy.

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I love the way this forest demonstrates how it sustains itself. Trees that have fallen and died, teem with live as decomposers work at recycling…returning the tree trunks to the soil to feed new life. As I paid close attention, I noticed these mushrooms growing from a broken trunk.

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And as I continued walking I spied these beauties growing along the edge of the trail in with the clovers.

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The stream was pretty shallow… After all, summer has just ended and the rainy season has not yet begun. I worked to capture the water’s movement…and to my surprise I captured the reflection of the trees above in the water!

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And as a southern Californian who has to search for fall colors in trees, I noticed the leaves of the deciduous trees in my adventures today. There were no reds and oranges evident, but this yellow caught my eye.

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Walking through the woods today was refreshing. The fresh, fragrant air and the natural beauty of the trees felt like a massage…relaxing and energizing.

What do you do to relax and rejuvenate? What amazing places do you have the opportunity Ito explore?