Tag Archives: Weather

Establishing Scale

It was a rare rainy morning, the kids had been in the auditorium before school since it was too wet to play on the playground.  As they crushed through the outdoor hallways to the classroom, I heard one of my students call out, “Look at the millipede!”  Sure enough, on the wall outside the classroom hung a pretty good-sized millipede.  As we looked, our principal approached, always interested in creatures and eager to help move the millipede from the wall to a protected natural place.  But before she moved it, I had to take a photo.  On her suggestion, another of my students laid her finger alongside it to establish scale.


This idea of scale is one I have been thinking about all day.  Relative size, importance, and impact can all be aspects of scale.  And scales are variable.  I often joke about the way our local weather newscasters talk so seriously about “storm watch” when referring to a chance of rain.  A colleague seemed to be amused by all the concern as she referred to the storm warnings as “SD-style storms” in an email…perhaps because of her upbringing far from the mild weather associated with San Diego.  (To be fair, the storm was a big one for us, bringing more than an inch and a half of rain at the airport and more in other places around the county. And since storms are rare, they definitely cause havoc!)

Scale comes into play when reporting student progress too.  A conversation on Monday in a district meeting had us debating the relative merits of rubrics and role of the report card in teaching and learning.  Do students need to be “above average” or at the top of the reporting scale to be successful learners?  Is the scale relative to other children in the same grade or to the student herself?  What is the difference between consistently meeting standards and steadily progressing toward those same standards?  How does the reporting help or hinder the learning process?

I don’t have the answers to these meaty questions, yet understand the worries of parents, of the public, and of educators striving to do their best for students.

Back to the millipede, I’m glad to have a record of it being as long as my student’s finger.  I’ve seen bigger millipedes, but not in the wild crawling up my classroom wall.  But I also wish I had a photo without the finger to allow the focus to be on the creature itself, to appreciate its unique beauty, and consider what it has to offer in this world where we live.

15 Seconds of Fame

While the midwest and east have been blasted with arctic storms and crazy wind chills, here in San Diego weather has been mild and warm with Christmas temperatures in the 70s on the beach.  We had that moment in the spring where it seemed like the years-long drought was over only to have months without rain capped by devastating wildfires throughout California in late November and December.

After two weeks off for winter break, we returned to school today.  Fresh faced kids greeted me with tales of their holiday exploits, eager to be back with friends and ready to get back to the business of school.  I am grateful to teach a room full of kids who love to learn.  And all day we could feel the weather change in the air.  Clouds gathered and loosed a few droplets here and there throughout the day, but the real rain held off.

stormy ocean

An after school meeting encroached on my afternoon walk, but I felt the urge to head to the beach, even for a few minutes, to see if I could snap a few photos of the approaching storm.  It was gray but not yet dark as I pulled up to park at my favorite beach.  I grabbed my camera and stepped out of the car only to have the wind slap me with a face full of sand.  I made my way to the edge of the cliff to see what images would appear in my viewfinder and snapped a couple of shots when I was approached by a young woman with a microphone.

windy seaIt turns out the woman was a reporter from a local news station in need of someone to interview about the weather.  She told me I’d be doing them a favor if I would come over and answer a few question (on camera!).  So, as the wind whipped and the raindrops started to fall, I talked about the weather on camera.  When I got home, I turned on the news…and with perfect timing, my husband walked in the door from work in time to see my 15 second interview!  And I managed to videotape it on my phone from our TV…thus my 15 seconds of fame!  (Here’s a screenshot, you can see the video footage on my Instagram post if you are interested.)on TV



Weekly Photo Challenge: Weather or Not..

We returned to school, deep in winter.  Flurries of white (paper) mounded as students began their study of snow and inquiry into how to cut hexagonal snowflakes from a square piece of paper.  Outside was cold by San Diego standards with students mostly in long pants and surfers in their full wetsuits.


Weather is rare in these parts.  We hear stories of snow and ice across the country and across the state, but here weather changes are subtle. Clouds change the looks of our mostly blue skies, creating opportunities for dramatic photo images.


More common for us is the grayness of fog.  Sometimes it’s just the grayness of cloudy skies that obscure the sun.  Monochromatic landscapes emerge from the grayness, like these birds in flight near the shore.  I am struck by how much this one looks like a painting with the hints of sunset in the background.


Our oft-promised rain actually materialized this week, giving us a full day cooped up inside the classroom.  At UCSD, the fog rolled in with the rain, painting the world white as the sky crouched low to the ground.  (And what is better than a polka-dot umbrella to brighten a gray landscape?)


Arriving home later that evening after a late meeting, the half moon beckoned, daring me to try to photograph it.  The result, better than I had hoped (no editing or filter here)…with the palms across the street appearing in the dark photo.


And after the rain, yesterday dawned bright.  To cap off the workweek, I headed to the beach for a walk on the beach to clear my head and breathe deeply.  I was treated with creamy sun-kissed waves washing up on the shore as the tide crept to its peak.  I was reminded of a poem we had studied in class with our students about “bubble and froth.”

“Life is mostly froth and bubble,
Two things stand like stone.
Kindness in another’s trouble,
Courage in your own.”
― Adam Lindsay Gordon


When I looked up, I noticed the moon again, this time in full daylight. This is the blue sky I am used to, punctuated by the palms on the cliffs above the beach.  Sometimes it’s about the weather…and sometimes not.


So, what will you find when you consider the weather…or not?  How does weather impact your choices in photography?  Do you choose subjects differently?  With weather (or a lack of weather) as your muse, what will you find?

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

How will the weather impact your photography this week?  And weather or not it does, be sure to share some of your images!

Weekly Photo Challenge: My Week

As much as I love my job, it still takes some effort to come off the two week winter break and get back into the groove of work.  And to make it even more challenging this year, we began our week back with rain! (Remember, this is San Diego and rain is a major weather event.)

It was damp, but not wet enough to keep kids indoors as I headed out for Monday morning playground duty.  I love our view…with the ocean visible in the distance.  We could see that we had some stormy weather in store…

wet playground

Rainy days at school tend to be a rare occurance, and the kids love them! Teachers, however, start to feel the energy building as kids who are used to lots of outdoor play spend too much time confined in small spaces. When we finally got outside late in the afternoon, there was a wonderful light illuminating the playground.  I love the brightness of the light, the ominous dark clouds in the back, and the colorful kids in this view.


On my way home I couldn’t resist stopping by the beach to see how the storminess was affecting the shoreline.  I was greeted by tractors pushing sand, building up the protective mounds to create a defense against the high surf and powerful waves.


Between the tractors and the power of the water, the beach is always changing.  The sand comes and goes, shaping the shoreline and creating pools of water in unexpected places. As I looked up at the clouds I also noticed the pelicans in formation.  img_8655

The rains continued through the week  (dropping more rain in a few days than we get in a month or more in other years) and the news has been filled with reports of flooding and road closures…and even a tornado warning on Wednesday! The alert system on my cell phone has indicated flash flood warnings several times over the last few days. I even dug out an umbrella on Tuesday to try to keep my bags dry as I headed from the parking lot to the writing project office on Tuesday.  By Thursday, I knew that working from home (instead of heading to the writing project) was a good idea.  As I took a break from grant writing, I noticed the sun glimpsing through a break in the clouds.  I take many photos of this tree…and here it is still hanging onto one lone leaf against the brilliant blue sky.


Less than an hour later, the skies darkened and the wind picked up.  The rain was coming soon.  The tops of these palm trees leaned into the breezes and you can catch a peek at the sun setting as the storm rolled back in.


Today we got a reprieve, and the rains have left…for now anyway. (They’re expected back tomorrow night.)  I couldn’t resist pulling off the road on my way to work this morning to capture the sunrise reflected in the clouds.

good morning

And our students carry on with their learning.  Piles of kelp collected from the storm-strewn beaches were the basis of today’s science lab.  Students observed, labeled parts…and eventually photographed and sketched our local giant kelp.  And they love big words, like the scientific name for giant kelp.  You’ll notice this first grader has labeled his sketch macrocystis pyrifera, commonly known as kelp.

macrocystis pyrifera

So, what has been going on in your week?  Are you back to work after a break or out enjoying your local winter weather?  Have you experimented with some aspect of your photography or documented something you are noticing in new or different ways?

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

So what has happened during your week?  How might you document it through a photo or two?  I’m looking forward to seeing your week through your lens!

Clouds and Rain: Objects of Fascination

It seems that we always yearn for what we don’t have.  Around Christmas time I was fascinated by snow…I longed to try my hand at capturing a macro photo of a single snowflake.  But I live in a place where it never snows…I didn’t see snow fall from the sky until I was well into adulthood and I have never had a white Christmas.

This last week some of my fellow photographers at the iAnthology have been posting pictures of snow and ice in response to the prompt, Playing with Light.  One particular photo of an icicle lingers in my mind and I find myself wishing for an opportunity to photograph ice…and the play of light…for myself.  And then my teaching partner emailed me a link to some photos created by a man on snowshoes…intricate, gorgeous designs…made by his intentional walk on snow.  Oh…I know a trip to somewhere cold is in my future!

But I live in Southern CA…in a place where we are having a drought and unseasonably warm winter temperatures.  More people are wearing shorts and flip flops than sweatshirts and Uggs…and umbrellas have been stashed or lost or are coated in the dust and grime caused by lack of use.

The last couple of days have teased us with hopes of rain.  The air is moist and fog has been rolling in along the coast in the mornings and evenings.  And yesterday we had some hints of rain…that misty mess that muddies the windshield but doesn’t produce any measurable precipitation.

I awoke this morning wondering if it had rained overnight.  The app on my phone said no…and gave no suggestion of rain for the day.  But as I was dressing for no rain, planning to wear the kind of shoes you wouldn’t choose on a rainy day, my husband came upstairs to announce that it was, in fact, raining!

I rethought my wardrobe for the day, choosing my boots instead of my Toms, and headed out the door.  For those of you who live where rain is common, you would probably laugh that we were considering this rain at all.  But the first objects that caught my eye as I walked out the door were the poinsettias near the front door.  They were glistening with drops of rain.  I immediately pulled out my phone and began to photograph the droplets glistening on the bracts.


I love the way the black and white photo draws attention to the precious drops–something we see so rarely these days.

Honestly, this “rainy day” turned out to be not so rainy after all.  I would be surprised if we even measure a quarter inch of rainfall in the county.  But as I left work today, I found myself drawn to the clouds.  In some directions the clouds were white and wispy, sitting in a backdrop of blue.  In others, they gathered in tall white towers…and in others, gray and black framed the edges.


I was compelled to drive towards the clouds on my way home…and pulled off to the side of the road to attempt to capture the complexity of the clouds with my phone’s camera.  The clouds became the object of my fascination and I took shot after shot, trying different angles to take advantage of the varieties of light available.

I don’t think I am done with clouds yet.  And I hope the clouds are not done with us yet either.  We desperately need some rain, although the forecast doesn’t look promising.

What is the object of fascination for you right now?  Is it something within reach…or are you yearning for something you don’t have?  I’d love to know more about your object!

Wishing on the Moon

We are having an unusually warm winter here in southern California.  It was 75, sunny and dry on the coast today and the forecast is suggesting 81 for tomorrow!  My students have gone back to their shorts and tank tops…and many are not even wearing sweatshirts when they arrive at school in the morning.

Our school garden is growing like crazy and trees and other plants think that spring has already arrived.  Even though we see pictures of snow in other places, it’s hard to imagine that it is still winter.

It’s still getting dark early and the moon was making its presence known as the sun was setting around 5.  Even knowing that my moon pictures never turn out very good, I headed out across the street to try a photo or two of the moon near the palm tree in my neighbor’s yard. With a bit of editing, I was able to produce this interesting moon photo.


And although warm weather is beautiful, I’m ready for some rain.  We’re well below our already pitiful yearly ten inch rainfall total…and no water now will mean a real threat of devastating wildfires in the summer and fall, the scariest of our weather conditions!

So while I looked up at the moon tonight, I was wishing for rain.  Is it true if you make a wish on the rising moon it will come true?  Or is it just wishful thinking?


Over at A Word in Your Ear, the word a week challenge this week is wind.  So how do I show wind in a photo?  Remember, I live in a place with little in the way of weather.  Our usual is a bit of fog and some gentle sea breezes…and this week (remember, it’s the week before Christmas) we had HOT weather.  The kids were back in shorts and their sweatshirts are littering the playground!

Earlier this week one of my students came to school is a sweater dress, tights, and fur-lined boots.  By recess it was already about 75 degrees.  I noticed a mom at the door…and she had a bag of clothes for her daughter.  After a few minutes in the restroom, my student returned in a skirt, t-shirt, and tennies!  (And boy, did she feel better!)

But this morning change was in the air.  I knew that the day would be cooler.  I parked at school, and laden with too much to carry, I felt the wind and heard the pulleys knocking against the flagpole.  I looked up and noticed the flapping flags against the beautiful cloudy sky.

Carefully balancing my phone in one hand (my other was full), I managed to snap this photo of the flags and the sky.


I love that I managed to capture the movement of the wind in the photo…and the interesting dimensions of the sky in the background.

The day turned out to be nice and sunny…and we’re expecting rain tomorrow.  If it arrives as expected, it will be an exciting school day…a rainy day schedule the day before school lets out for winter break!