Tag Archives: symmetry

Exploring Symmetry…LA Style

I know that symmetry is a mathematical concept…one of precision, perfectly matched halves. But mostly, in the world, symmetry is not so perfect.  But there are echoes of symmetry all around us.  My eyes were hearing the echoes of symmetry the other day as I explored downtown Los Angeles with my son.

There is something so special about spending the day with my son and our cameras.  We walk and talk and take photos, noticing details, trying new shots, seeing the world through each other’s eyes.  And there’s a certain symmetry in that too.

My eyes were drawn to this old building visible from the parking garage.  The symmetry has been spoiled by graffiti, age and disrepair.  But there is still something beautiful about it.

old building

In contrast, this old historic building has been preserved, both inside and out.  Inside, the exquisite marble floors and intricate wrought iron frame the antique mechanical elevators.  And outside, I had to angle my shot to exclude the modern Subway sandwich sign and stoplights to capture the beauty of this elegant old building.

Bradbury Building

We also ended up climbing flight upon flight of stairs as we explore the is old rail system called Angel’s Flight.  Built in 1901 it traveled up and down a block…and after scaling the stairs…I see why they wanted a railway!

angel's flight

Grand Central Market was an explosion of colors and smells…and quite a tasty place for lunch! I was drawn to these cactus pads…there is a certain symmetry in these bins of produce and the jumble of price signs rising out of them.


I’m not sure that any of my photos fit the mathematical definition of symmetry…but for me they communicate the idea of symmetry, the creation of purposeful balance and arrangement. Just like my day with Nick…the perfect balance and arrangement of time, exploration, and connection.  And the cherry on top…dinner with my daughter-in-law!  Symmetry!

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.

Teaching to See: The Value of Iteration

Yesterday began our August photo-a-day challenge at #sdawpphotovoices with a focus on design elements…beginning with symmetry.  Anna over at #clmooc posted this video about Inge Druckrey, a graphic designer and teacher, saying she thought I would appreciate it.  And she’s right.  It is about 40 minutes long (a pretty long video for me to watch!), but interesting on many levels.

<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/45232468″>Inge Druckrey: Teaching to See</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/et”>Edward Tufte</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

The idea of teaching to see seems to be a theme of mine since I began this blog almost a month ago.  Photography has proven to be a tool that has helped me see and look at my world in some more intentional ways.

A focus on symmetry has been challenging for the past two days.  Neither of my pictures



quite captures symmetry to my liking…although I’m not sure I know what that picture will be. The beauty of exploring a concept over a week is that I begin to see it differently as I continue to look for opportunities to capture that idea in my photos.

While Inge didn’t use these precise words, the focus on iteration (which we call revision in the writing world) as a way to improve your craft continues to leave me thinking about my classroom and my own learning.  It also takes me back to Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 hours as the time needed to gain mastery of something.  And whether that number is right or not, I do believe that we get better at things as we practice them.  But don’t get me wrong…I don’t think we need to drudge through rote and boring practice to achieve our learning goals.  For me, passion is key–finding ways to get excited about learning something new, and to make the practice interesting and motivating–iteration for authentic and meaningful reasons.  One of Inge’s students (now a professional artist) described his weekly practice of figural drawing for three hours every Friday.  He talked about it still being hard, but worthwhile–said he didn’t go to church, but he continues to keep up his practice of weekly drawing practice.

Both my photography and blogging are like that.  They are practices that require effort and time…and I enjoy the practice and the effort because I can feel myself learning and growing.  I want this for my students too–for them to develop practices that support their own learning goals.  I’ll be thinking about this as the new school year begins.  What learning practices are you considering for yourself and your students as the new school year begins?