Tag Archives: summer

Weekly Photo Challenge: Doing

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!

Tomorrow is my last day of school with my students, so they’ve been thinking a lot about summer and what they will be doing.  And we’ve been doing a lot in the classroom this last week, taking advantage of our mild sunny weather and the incredible independence the students have developed over the course of the school year.  Monday was a field trip to the NAT–the San Diego Natural History Museum–where students were busy doing a lot of inquiring and thinking about all the science learning they have done this year.

creating energy at the NAT

Here’s one of my students using his hands to pedal to create the energy to cause water to run in a sink.  And then I couldn’t resist snapping this picture of a group of students busily writing in the pirate ship at the NAT.

pirate ship writing

Yesterday we had our second annual rock climbing event with third graders.  It’s bittersweet to get to June when you’ve taught students for three years and know that they will be leaving and moving on to 4th grade and a new school too.  So we spent yesterday afternoon rock climbing at a climbing gym.  I got many shots of kids doing climbing.  I love watching them gain confidence as they try again and again.  This little girl had no fear…she climbed to the very top again and again!

rock climbing

This one isn’t my student, but I love when students take the initiative to make a difference in the world.  I found these informational signs around our school, attached to fences with pipe cleaners.  I did manage to track down the authors so I could congratulate them for their earnest efforts to improve the world.

bug psa

And I’ve been doing some doing too.  Just recently we put on an Advanced Institute at our writing project (SDAWP) focused on paper circuitry.  It’s such fun to play around with writing and science and all the connections between the two.  Here’s a fairly rudimentary parallel circuit I made playing with conductive thread instead of the copper tape I’ve used before.

notebook lights

And over the weekend I was exploring our local botanical gardens when I came face to face with this little guy.  A lot of my doing is related to photography…and it takes me to interesting places and seeing (and photographing( interesting things.


And all this thinking about doing has me thinking about the CLMOOC (which begins tomorrow) and the making and doing I will be involved in there.  I hope all of you will join in the fun as well!

So this week’s challenge is to focus on doing…your own or the doing you see around you. You can be watching doing in action, capture things you are doing, or any combination that works for you. As always, you are the one who gets to decide what counts as doing…so have fun, and start doing, especially if you are having fun!

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

So get going and get doing!  Can’t wait to see what you are doing this week.


Summer Enters, With a Twist

What is it about twisting and spinning that brings out the kid in all of us? spinner The Blossom Time Festival in Chagrin Falls, Ohio seems to be a celebration of the beginning of summer.  Memorial Day weekend, sunshine and mild temperatures, the smell of caramel corn, funnel cakes, and cotton candy…and the sound of the carnies enticing children and young men to win prizes filled the town. funnel cakes   carny This is iconic Americana, scenes from old movies and stories of days gone by.  Familiar yet unfamiliar as I watched people on a ferris wheel in the middle of town.  This county fair-like experience is different where I live.  Our fair has a specially designated space…more like an amusement park, where you pay admission and stay all day, separate from the daily goings on of the town. Processed with VSCOcam with g3 preset I love this small town feel, walking in and out of local shops, peering over the railing at the natural waterfall in the center of town, licking an ice cream cone from the gourmet ice cream shop on the corner, and all the while noticing that the rides we like best all have something in common…they twist and turn, go up and down, slow and fast: scaring us, delighting us, and creating indelible images of childhood and summer. carousel And in this case, there was the added twist…a hot air balloon rally!  I’ve seen hot air balloons before–they take off not far from my house–but it has always seemed more like an industry, a sight-seeing opportunity rather than sport.  But here, as part of the festival, people gathered to watch the hot air balloons fill and rise, racing off in the still-light evening…it stays light here quite late…filling the sky with color and energy and excitement.  Welcome summer! up in a balloon

Making Sandcastles

Yesterday’s post focused on my sandcastle collection, digital documentation of sandcastles I have found during my walks on the beach over the last week or so.  As I wrote the post I realized that I was collecting other people’s sandcastles–but hadn’t taken the time to build one of my own in a very long time.

Today was the perfect day for a beach walk.  The marine layer cleared early, the sun made an appearance, the water temperature was reported to be at 70 degrees (that’s warm for ocean water here!) and…low tide was perfectly timed at midday.  As Geoff and I headed out for a walk, we grabbed some tools and decided we would make a sandcastle and enjoy a bit of playing in the sand.


We walked up the beach and picked a place near the edge of the water and away from the crowds of people to get started with our castle.


Once we had a base to work from, the fun really began!  We pushed and patted the sand into shape, used the bucket as a mold to create the castle spires, and our castle began to take shape.


Gathering water in the bucket and mixing in sand allowed us to drizzle sand to create more texture and detail.  We scoured the nearby area for small rocks, shell bits and pieces of kelp for detail.  A small sand crab moved in (although his camouflage abilities made him impossible to catch in a photo).


We had such fun building this castle today!  It was a bit tricky keeping my phone handy and away from the sand.  My shorts became my towel for wiping ocean-cleaned hands.  Here I am with the final product!


After finishing our sandcastle, we continued our walk leaving our castle for others to enjoy. The tide was still going down so we knew the surf would leave the castle for a while…and we visited it again on our way back from the walk.  And I added some other sandcastles to my collection too!  (There were some master castle builders out today!)

I’m reminded that taking the time to make and play are essential.  Geoff and I had so much fun and the process of making for myself gives me new understandings and appreciation for the sandcastles I will continue to collect.  When was the last time you made a sandcastle?

Collecting Sandcastles

I started a sandcastle collection.  On my beach walks this summer, I have stopped to take photos of sandcastles abandoned by their builders, left for passers-by to admire and the surf to eventually reclaim.  Here’s a few of my treasures.





Yesterday I also caught a few sand mounds that seem to be a variation on the castle theme.  They weren’t fancy or decorated, but each included a canal from the top down to the bottom extending some distance away from the mound toward the water’s edge.



I’ve seen people of all ages building sandcastles.  Kids build them in groups, teenagers build them with their friends, and adults build them–with or without their kids helping out.  Some people use elaborate equipment: shovels and pails and molds.  Some decorate their castles with shells and rocks and driftwood pieces.  Some use the dribble effect, others are smooth leaving the imprint of the buckets packed with sand.

The picture I didn’t capture was the one of the three or four year old, outfitted in his tiny life vest and swim trunks, picking up handfuls of squishy sand and dribbling it onto a castle already substantially built.  He was the image of #carefree…totally immersed in his world of sandcastle building.

This has been a summer of digital making for me–photographs and blogging and all the art and craft that goes into building, editing, and posting them.  But I haven’t taken the time to build a sandcastle of my own.  Maybe I will on my next trip to the beach…and I’ll take a few pictures to collect that one too!

Beach Curves: A Photo Essay

Summers are always busy for me…but this summer has been busy in extreme!  Between Geoff’s schedule and mine, we haven’t found time for a traditional, go someplace, kind of vacation.  Instead, we have had to grab vacation time wherever we could find it.  Today was one of those kinds of days…and we squeezed in a fun and relaxing one-hour vacation at the beach.

It was sunny and warm today…and the ocean water was on the warm side too…perfect conditions for a summer beach walk.  The marine layer stayed off the coast and we got there early enough that parking was easy!  We had just had a lovely breakfast at one of our favorite local haunts and were ready to walk and talk (or not)…and as always is true of me these days, take a few photos along the way.  This week’s #sdawpphotovoices theme has been curves, so I was on the lookout for curves on the beach.

When we parked, the very first thing I noticed was this giant pipe on the street and immediately headed over to take a picture.  I got Geoff to stand at the other end so its size would be noticeable–and I love the way the curve also becomes a frame for the portrait.


As we headed down to the shoreline, the tide was approaching high.  This can be a limiting factor for how far we can go, so today we headed north.  The waves were small, but the surfers and boogie boarders seemed to be having great success catching the curves and enjoying their rides.


Curves seemed to be everywhere.  Erosion is a major issue along our local shoreline.  The northern walk takes us below expensive homes that seem precariously perched above the beach.  One section was still barricaded with yellow caution tape…and the crack we had seen a month ago seemed more pronounced today as it curves along the layers of sediment that make up the sea cliffs.


Giant kelp, which my students know by it’s scientific name Macrocystis Pyrifera, is a constant on our local beaches.  Piles are evident as it washes up along the shore.  Holdfasts, the rootlike structure that hold onto rocks in the water, are home to many fascinating sea creatures and we often see locals rummaging in these wet piles and finding brittle stars and tiny sea urchins hiding within and enjoying a close look before returning them to their wet and salty homes. The long stipes frequently form tangled webs although this one reached out in a gentle curve away from the rest of the pile on the sand.


Sand castle makers have been hard at work this summer.  I passed this creation and just had to stop and get close for a photo.


I love this turtle version of a sand castle with its curved head, shell and limbs…and the extra touch of bucket-molded sand on the top.  Ocean washed rocks became eyes and the proximity of the kelp seems like a perfect touch!

I was surprised to find this coconut laying in the surf.  It had clearly spent some time being washed and worn by the sea, not quite round but definitely curved.  Had me thinking of Tom Hanks in Cast Away.


There were quite a few holes dug with curved banks that began to hold pools of seawater as the tide continued to rise.  I took a few pictures of the water in the holes and then stopped to wait to see if I could capture the waves coming over the bank to fill the hole.  I love the sense of movement this still photo captured.


And then before finishing my walk, I came across another yet another sand castle.  This one in more classic style with a moat, some bridges and curved turrets, and stones and shells for decoration.


I love the way #sdawpphotovoices themes focuses my attention and helps me see familiar places in new ways.  My one-hour vacation was relaxing and exotic!  The photos represent only a fraction of the curves I saw at the beach…and yet give a glimpse at the variety of curves along the shore.  Tomorrow begins angles…I can only imagine what I will find as I look at the world through that lens.

A Walk on the Beach

Today I spent time doing one of my favorite things in the world.  I took an extended walk on the beach at low tide.  I’m lucky that I live close enough to the beach that I can go without making it an all day outing, but I do live far enough away to have to deal with the lack of parking that is the hallmark of summer in a beach community.  And I love my beach walks…today was one of those beautiful summer days just perfect for a walk.

I love these walks!  At the beginning of my walk I do a lot of people watching as I navigate the families and tourists enjoying the sand and the ocean.  There are pails and shovels, boogie boards and water wings, sunscreen and snacks.  Frisbees sail overhead, paddle balls bounce and roll, footballs splash into the water, and there’s always someone trying to fly a kite above it all.  Babies squeal, teenagers preen, and surfers tend to ignore it all as they paddle out beyond all the ruckus of summer beach.

As I continue down the beach, the crowd thins and the constant and soothing sound of the surf washes over me.  The sun warms my face and shoulders, the briny breeze tickles my hair, and the cool surf plays hide and seek with my toes.  I came across this abandoned sand castle today.  Carefully crafted, yet temporary.


As I pass the fishermen (or in today’s case a fisherboy) I start to see more shells and stop to photograph a couple that are particularly beautiful…and have me thinking mathematically as I consider symmetry (my focus for #sdawpphotovoices this week) and Fibonacci spirals.


As the beach turns a corner I notice a seagull holding a plastic bag in his mouth.  This makes me think about how clean the beach has been on my walks this summer, and I approach the seagull with my camera both to take a photo and to get it to drop the bag so I can throw it away.  As I come closer, the seagull hops away, staying well beyond where I seem to be a threat.  I never could get it to drop the bag…


On my way back up the beach I noticed the paddle boarders off the point we call Swamis. They each stand on a big longboard with a paddle for navigation.  Today there was a group of four out there.  From the shore it almost looks like they are just standing on top of the water!  The best of them are able to catch an occasional wave, although mostly they seem to just paddle around beyond the break where the waves start to form.  I also caught a different seagull resting on a rock, posing perfectly for me to capture with my camera lens.


There is nothing like a relaxing walk on the beach on a sunny Saturday afternoon.  This has been a busy summer for me without much time for vacation.  I’m lucky to live where a two-hour staycation is the perfect way to refresh, relax, and reflect.