Tag Archives: weekly photo challenge

Weekly Photo Challenge: Vitamin N

Today is Earth Day, a day to celebrate the beauty of the natural world and remember that it is our duty to take care of this place we inhabit.  This week, for me, has been an odd juxtaposition of long days of meetings interspersed with intense periods out in nature.  Earlier this week I came across a blog post about a new book by Richard Louv.  He’s a local author who is known for writing about the need for kids to have experiences in nature (he wrote Last Child in the Woods).  His new book, Vitamin N: The Essential Guide to a Nature-Rich Life includes 500 ways to connect with nature…and it appeared in our classroom, signed by the author shortly before our field trip to the lagoon on Wednesday.

It is affirming to know that others recognize the powerful learning experiences that occur when kids head outside…and it doesn’t take much in the way of materials to make it happen.  And I am reminded that heading outside wasn’t just good for my students, it was good for me and for the other adults too.


We watched lizards, found a beehive (a hole in a rock wall), saw an extraordinary display by some great white egrets, spied a fish (at least a foot long), smelled sage, and were treated to a riot of colorful flowers in less than an hour at the lagoon.  Students used binoculars and took field notes…and couldn’t wait to research what they had seen when they got back to the classroom.

To practice, the day before we headed out the garden with the same tools (a notebook and binoculars).  In addition the dead crow (eeewwww!), we saw ladybugs and other insects.


We uncovered brilliant red strawberries, observed birds perched on fences and wires, and noticed the delicate laces of plants we don’t know the names of.


And of course tall, stately sunflowers always catch my eye…and in this case directed my attention to the gorgeous clouds in the distance.


I haven’t spent much time at the beach lately, but today, after school I rushed home so we could head back out for a low-tide beach walk.  Blue skies, gentle breezes, and mid 60’s temperatures created the perfect backdrop for walking and talking and exploring.


Somehow I managed to forget to bring my camera with me–luckily my phone was in my pocket!  I noticed the wet cliff walls (even though the tide was low) and wanted to capture the abstract art quality of them, with the natural sandstone textures above them..


In spite of my crazy schedule this week, I managed a substantial dose of Vitamin N!  (And I definitely benefited from the time outdoors and from observing the wonders of the natural world!)  So this week’s challenge is to give yourself a shot of vitamin N, head outside and explore a bit of nature around you.  What captures your attention?

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


Sometimes we need an excuse to treat ourselves to something wonderful–even when our schedules are feeling compressed and hectic.  A dose of Vitamin N might be just what you need!  Grab your camera and head outdoors…what wonders will you find? Share your discoveries with us and expand nature’s reach through your lens!

Morning Light

When you live in a place with moderate temperatures all year long, the end of winter and the beginning of spring often pass unnoticed.  Plants grow and flowers bloom all year long…outdoors!  So this week’s Weekly Photo Challenge at the Daily Post was a hard one.  I feel like I have already posted photos of beautiful blooms and outdoor fun…so what does spring really mean to me?

We had a few days of unseasonably hot weather last week…it felt more like September than the end of April/beginning of May.  But this week we’re back to more usual, cooler temps (in the 60’s).

I came across this quote from photographer Henri Cartier Bresson last night and realized that I, too, use my camera as a sketchbook, capturing moments and feelings as I come across them.

“For me, the camera is a sketch book, an instrument of intuition and spontaneity.” ― Henri Cartier-Bresson

I’ve been paying attention to changes in light and color, especially when it comes to my photography, trying to capture those instances of soft glow and light that seem to kiss the subject. And I have instances in my camera roll that capture these noticings.

This morning my eye was drawn to the clouds on my way to work…and I had to pull over to snap a few shots of the ocean and the clouds above.

ocean from the road

And while the original was nice, I love the way the filter adds even more dimension to the clouds.

Even before I left the house this morning I had my camera (phone) out as I noticed Phil laying on our new rug (no furniture in that space yet) in the morning light. This is unedited and unfiltered.

Phil on carpet

On Saturday morning my husband was up early baking.  I could smell his handiwork as I woke up, knowing that he enjoys the early morning quiet for his cooking creativity.  When I made my way down to the kitchen, I saw the blueberry pie cooling in the morning light and couldn’t resist taking a photo.

morning pie

Later that morning, when I was walking on the beach I noticed the reflection of this fishing pole on the sand.  And I managed to not only capture the reflection of the pole in the wet sand and also the soft light on the beach on a sunny Saturday morning in May.

fishing pole

Now that spring is here, the days are longer and I’m noticing differences in the quality of light, especially in the morning and early evening.  So maybe spring is about light for me. At least right now it is.

Monumental: Old and New

I love the complexity and juxtapositions of urban spaces.  They are crowded, often teeming with tourists, business people, and very often, the down and out.  Downtowns are an amalgam of old and new, history and current events, a place where wealth and poverty rub shoulders.

I’ve noticed this in my hometown, in big cities like San Francisco, New York City, Chicago…and I saw it again today in downtown Nashville, TN.  Music City.  Downtowns have their own personality.  Some are all about food, some all about architecture, and some, like Nashville, are all about music.  Live music poured from bars and restaurants…even before noon.  Guitars and banjos were prevalent, and street performers were also in evidence.  There were the requisite bars on every corner and tucked into alleys and happy hour seemed to start early on this warm Friday afternoon.

And today I was especially tuned in to the contrast between the old and new.  New (ish) restaurant chains occupied historic buildings…and springing up in the background were shiny, reflective, skyscrapers.

old and new nashville

And in some instances, the new buildings seemed to emerge from the top of the shorter, older ones.  Almost like they were grafted on, breathing new life into an older, more classic and established host.  (Isn’t that how it works with fruit trees?)

springing up nashville

And while taking a photo of the Ryman Auditorium, I noticed that the more interesting shot was the reflection of the auditorium in the facade of the glass of the building across the street.  A reflection of the past in the shine of the present?  A mirror of the interconnections of history and current events?

Ryman reflection

There is something monumental about this juxtaposition of the past and the present, the intermingling of history with life today.  The present keeps the past alive and relevant…the past keeps the present grounded and forward thinking as it reminds us all to learn from history.

And then there is the river…the powerful force that gives us energy and life, and if we are not careful, takes both away.  Downtowns always seem to be close to water too.  Maybe water is the true monument.

river in Nashville

The Threshold of Possibility

Long skinny boats, a sunny and cool spring morning, and enthusiastic college athletes…and so began my spring break.


I’ve never been to a crew event before, even though the Crew Classic happens in my hometown every year.  I’ve watched rowing on TV and seen it during the Olympics.  But recently, my nephew, a college sophomore became the coxswain of his college crew team…and their team was participating in our local event.  So I had to go…and who wouldn’t enjoy a morning on the beach in beautiful San Diego?


The long skinny boats lined the beach, propped up upside down until each team carefully lifted the shell up over their heads and carried them down to the water.


There are interesting traditions within the sport.  Coxswain are smaller and lighter than the rowers–and charged with keeping the rowers on cadence.  They wear high-tech equipment, magnifying their voices above the wind and water for the rowers to hear.  Apparently coxswain don’t wade out to the boat (or carry it either), and are lifted into the boat by a rower on the team.  I caught this picture of the coxswain being lifted to his perch at the front of the boat…or is it the back?


I find myself thinking about all these young people on the threshold  of adulthood.  I know they are technically adults, after all, all of them are 18 or older.  But I also know they are still in the process of figuring out how they will live their lives as grown-ups, separate from their parents.  And it seems that the camaraderie and teamwork from sports and other team-oriented activities in college support these young adults as they find their way to independence.  And it was fun to see the families cheering their young people on…and delighting in their efforts, even if the result of the race was 4th out of 4 or the boat came trailing in much later than the others in the race.  It isn’t about winning or losing…it’s about playing, being together, learning together, figuring how to be a team.

My spring break is bookended with two threshold events: cheering on my younger nephew as part of his rowing team and then celebrating the wedding of my other nephew at the end of my break.  They are both embarking on new chapters of their lives, figuring out their places in the world.

And there is something about standing at the edge of water on a gorgeous spring morning, the threshold of my spring break, that suggests possibility, play, and learning for me too. Sometimes just taking the time to try something new or explore a new aspect of my hometown is enough to break up the routines of the ordinary.  I can’t wait to see what these days ahead will hold for me.


What thresholds are on your horizon?  What inspires new beginnings in your life?  How do you breathe possibility into your everyday life?

Weekly Photo Challenge 12: Skyline

Here’s the week 12 Weekly Photo Challenge prompt for the NWP iAnthology!  (Here are weeks 123456789, 10, and 11 if you want to look back or go back and participate.)

Skylines, those often recognizable cityscapes of famous places–some we’ve never visited–that hold prominent places in movie vistas and famous photos…but wait! We see skylines all the time!  This week I happen to be in our nation’s capitol…Washington DC…with many beautiful skyline views, like this one of the Capitol building.

capitol skyline

But you don’t have to be in Washington DC or a big city to see a skyline.  Here’s one I see almost daily… Palm trees swaying with the Pacific in the background.



Or you might recognize this one if you follow me on Instagram… This funny tree is often featured in pictures I take of the clouds, sun, or moon…right in front of my house.

tree in yard skyline

Not long ago I spent the day in Los Angeles with my son and happened upon this view of downtown LA from afar.

la skyline

So this week’s photo challenge is to share photos of skylines that you know intimately or have experienced in your travels. They might be famous and recognizable to the world…or they might only be familiar to those in your neck of the world.  Post either the photo alone or along with writing inspired by the photo.  I also invite you to use others’ photos as inspiration for your own writing and photography.  I often use another photographer’s image as “mentor text” for my own photography, trying to capture some element in my own way.

I like to share my images and writing on social media…and I invite you to share yours widely too. (You might consider Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Google+) Use the hashtag #skyline and include @nwpianthology to make it easy for us to find and enjoy.  You can find me on Twitter and Instagram @kd0602.  I’d love to follow you if you share your handle.

You can also share your photos and writing by linking to this blog post or sharing in the comment section below.  I can’t wait to see the skylines that define important places in your life!


Weekly Photo Challenge: Furry Friends

Here’s the week 11 Weekly Photo Challenge prompt for the NWP iAnthology!  (Here are weeks 123456789, and 10 if you want to look back or go back and participate.)

Children and animals always make great photography subjects.  They are somewhat compliant…and they almost always look great in a photo!  I’ve noticed, though, that as I’ve taken more photos and learned more techniques to improve my photography craft that my pictures of animals (particularly my cats Phil and Jack) have improved and I’ve captured more interesting pictures.

Lately I’ve shot a few photos of my furry friends as they seek the light.  Here’s one of Phil.  I love the expression in his eyes and the way the light crosses his face.

Phil in light

And just a few days ago I caught both Phil and jack cuddled into the small square of sun on the floor.

boys in light

This one of Jack is a distance shot…something I don’t do much of in my photography.  I have a tendency to move in close when I take a photograph.

jack in the light

And sometimes I like to play with editing apps to create something different than the usual realistic shot.  I worked hard to get a shot of Jack meowing (he yells loudly for his food).  I didn’t get the great open mouth, but I like the fun colors here.  This filter is in the tadaa app and is called lucy.

Jack in colot

So this week’s photo challenge is to share photos of your furry friends. Those furry friends might be those family members who live at your house, wildlife from the yard or the zoo or the farm, or some random animal you see when you are out and about.  You get to decide what constitutes furry and friend!  Post either the photo alone or along with writing inspired by the photo.  I also invite you to use others’ photos as inspiration for your own writing and photography.  I often use another photographer’s image as “mentor text” for my own photography, trying to capture some element in my own way.

I like to share my images and writing on social media…and I invite you to share yours widely too. (You might consider Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Google+) Use the hashtag #furryfriend and include @nwpianthology to make it easy for us to find and enjoy.  You can find me on Twitter and Instagram @kd0602.  I’d love to follow you if you share your handle.

You can also share your photos and writing by linking to this blog post or sharing in the comment section below.  I am excited to meet your furry friends through your lens!

Going Beyond Either/Or (Threes)

Black or white, the fork in the road, Republican or Democrat, male or female, smart or dumb, phonics or whole language, cats or dogs, tea or coffee, win or lose, right or wrong…  the list goes on, always focused on choosing one of two choices.

Why are we so drawn to these dichotomies?  And do they actually serve us in any positive way?

I often feel that these forced either/or choices close down conversations and limit the options and possibilities that would exist if we broadened the conversation to include more gray area, pathways between the two opposites typically posed.

What would happen to our country if our political system worked to solve pressing issues without regard to political party?  And what would happen in our schools if instead of classifying students as high or low achieving, we paid more attention to students’ strengths and interests and piqued their natural curiosity?  What if there were more options for success?

So when I saw the weekly photo challenge at the Daily Post today, I looked for a photo that not only met the challenge of threes, but also worked as a metaphor for me about moving away from these all-too-common dichotomies.  (In a footnote to this, after reading the threes prompt more closely, I see that I re-interpreted it before noticing the invitation to tell a three picture story.  I may be trying that in the next couple of days!)

I took this photo today from a bridge over a freeway leading to downtown San Diego.  I like the way you can see three distinct paths curving toward the city in the distance.  It’s interesting to me because I know that the freeway has southbound and northbound lanes…but at this juncture, there is a third route.  I love the idea of including additional options, of getting a more complete picture, of considering a bigger understanding of the story.


I’m not suggesting that three is the answer…we do enough with the ideas of high, medium, and low…but three does suggest getting beyond either/or thinking, making it at least a starting place for expanding the conversation.

What image would you chose to represent going beyond standard dichotomies?  How do you get yourself to go beyond the binary?