Tag Archives: weekly photo challenge

Weekly Photo Challenge: Color

Here’s the week 4 Weekly Photo Challenge prompt for the NWP iAnthology!  (Here are weeks 123, and 4 if you want to look back.)

Every year Pantone, a company that describes itself as the authority on color, selects a color of the year.  This year’s color is radiant orchid (it’s a pinkish purple), last year’s was emerald.  The color they select shows up in fashion, interior design, and other places that color matters.

I notice that I am drawn to certain colors in my photography.  In the warm fall, I couldn’t resist the oranges and yellows of the sunset over the ocean.  I took many, many photos trying to capture the intensity of color as the sun sunk into the sea.

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And I love trying to capture the colors in flower petals.  Using my macro lens, I got a close look at this orchid…and the beauty of the purples and the contrasting oranges.

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So this week’s photo challenge is to explore color. What colors are calling to you?  Do you have a color of the year like the Pantone company?  Share a photo that represents your exploration of color.  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 #intersection 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 see how you express color 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.

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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.

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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!

Gardeners and Art: A Juxtoposition

I love museums!  These spaces highlight opportunities for learning and encourage an appreciation for curiosity and inquiry.  I’ve learned to not just look at the exhibits for what they hold, but to also think about how they are constructed and curated to tell a particular story.

Earlier this week I was in Los Angeles at the La Brea Tar Pits and the Page Museum which sits adjacent to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA).  On a sunny, warm winter day I had the luxury of wandering the grounds of both museums, enjoying the exhibits, the outdoor sculptures and art, the beautiful gardens, and the expansive well-groomed lawns.

As I explored the sculpture gardens I noticed the gardeners hard at work, mowing and raking…making sure the museum grounds were pristine.  They also seemed highly aware of the museum visitors and tried to avoid obstructing camera views or otherwise interfering with the visitors’ experience.

And I found myself wanting to capture the juxtaposition of the celebrity of the art with the unassuming work of the gardeners.

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I noticed that the gardeners were highly aware of the visitors and made every effort to be unobtrusive as they went about the work of maintaining the pristine landscape.  I actually had to work to capture their photos…especially this first photo where I really wanted both the sculpture and the gardener with the lawnmower in the image.

And then I worked with editing apps to create images that featured the gardeners and captured the essential, beautiful nature of their work.

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Why is it that we celebrate the work of artists and scientists, but ignore the work of gardeners, cleaning staff, waiters and waitresses?  These are the people who make our places comfortable and beautiful.  They make sure that things are in working order, that trash gets deposited out of sight, they make our places smell nice and look nice.

So this post acknowledges the juxtaposition…and celebrates the work of those whose work is just under the surface of our attention.  These gardeners are essential to the experience I had on the museum grounds earlier this week.  They contributed to the aesthetics of the art and are essential to the museum experience.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Playing with Light

Here’s the week 3 Weekly Photo Challenge prompt for the NWP iAnthology!  (Here are weeks 1 and 2 if you want to look back.)

As I continue to learn the art and craft of photography, I both wrestle with and delight in light. Lighting is essential to a great photograph and although there are “rules” about working with light, sometimes breaking those rules creates the most interesting effect.

I often hear that photographs are best shot with the sun behind the camera, with the light coming in over your shoulder as the photographer.  But sometimes I just can’t resist shooting into the light like I did this morning in my attempt to capture the sunrise flaming through the fog as I peered through my car window.

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And sometimes I’m able to capture the just-right lighting, almost by accident.  This still life of a narcissus paperwhite plant on my dining room table is delicately lit by the chandelier above.  I love the way the light is refracted by the chandelier glass onto the walls.  This photo, taken with my iPhone, is completely unedited.

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So this week’s photo challenge is to play with light.  Share a photo that features light in some way.  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 your widely too. (You might consider Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Google+) Use the hashtag #light 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 see how you use light in your photos!

So, have fun and play with light!

Exploring: A Family Trait

Yesterday’s holiday offered me the opportunity to do some exploring…with my son.  Now that my children are grown, married, and living in cities away from me, I treasure the time we get to spend together in any configurations of our family.

So yesterday morning, with a day off from work, I got into my car and headed up the freeway to Los Angeles to spend the day exploring with my son.  In many ways, he is my inspiration for taking photographs.  He has fancy cameras and takes amazing photos.  I use my phone and continue to learn.  And he is quite the cheerleader for my growing skills and like me, enjoys looking for interesting photo opportunities.

Los Angeles has its downside: most notably, traffic!  But it is rich in interesting history, eclectic neighborhoods, memorable landmarks, and famous people along with a beautiful natural environment.  So after an amazingly quick commute in light traffic from my home to his, we set off for a day of exploring and picture taking.

We spent the morning at the La Brea Tar Pits (can you believe neither of us had even been…even though we both grew up in Southern CA?), the Page Museum, and the sculpture gardens at LACMA.  Then after lunch, we decided to drive the surface streets of the greater Hollywood area as we ventured off to find the Ennis House, one of Frank Lloyd Wright’s architectural gems.  (More about that later this week!)

And in the process of driving up the narrow, winding streets of the hillside above the greater LA area, we found so much more than Frank Lloyd Wright’s treasure.

We found a place to park on the steep streets of an obviously exclusive neighborhood and set off on foot with lenses in hand.  As we walked, I found myself searching for a space where I could see the view beyond us.  I did sneak this view through the opening in a fence.

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But I wanted more.  A side road beckoned with what looked like ruins of some sort.  A closer look revealed stairs leading to a door…to something that is no longer there.

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But when I turned around…the view I was looking for revealed itself!  I’ve written before at how hard it is to capture distant landscapes with my iPhone (but it never keeps me from trying!).  With a little help from post production, I did manage to create a photo that gives a glimpse of what I was able to see!

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I love that I could see the Los Angeles skyline in the distance.  And you can see what a beautiful sunny day we were experiencing (it was easily 80 degrees at its peak).

And best of all, Nick and I had a wonderful day together exploring his city through our lenses. The fun thing is that we don’t have to do something “special,” just spending time exploring and talking and being together was enough.  I can’t wait to see all the photos he took…and you’ll get to see some of the other photos I took later this week.

What traits do you share in your family?  How do you enjoy spending time together?

Weekly Photo Challenge: Frames

Here’s the week 2 Weekly Photo Challenge prompt for the NWP iAnthology.  You can look back at week one here.

I take and post a picture every day, and have for over a year and half now.  Sometimes I find myself taking the same photo over and over again.  Somehow I stand in the same place and use the same angle…and the photos begin to look the same.

So to keep myself from falling into this familiarity rut, I try different photography techniques. One I have done some experimenting with is using the natural frames I find in the environment when I am shooting pictures.

Here’s a couple of my examples.  One of my favorites is this view of the ocean through the pier.  I took several other shots, but I love the way this one is like a door opening, framing the sea.

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Here is a playful one I took during my morning playground duty using the playground equipment as the frame.

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And here’s one of a window–that includes the window frame as a frame itself.

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Share a photo of a frame you have found…post either the photo alone or do some writing inspired by the photo.  And feel free to be inspired by the photos of others…and either write based on another’s photo or shoot another photograph of a frame based on the inspiration of someone else’s photo.

If you also share on other social media (Twitter, Facebook, google+, Instagram), use the hashtag #frames and include @nwpianthology to make it easy for us to find and enjoy!  You can find me @kd0602.  Be sure to share your media handles too!

And if you are reading this on my blog, feel free to share your photo/response by either linking your photo or your blog to the comment section below.  I am excited to see the frames you have explored through your lens!

Window Views

I’ve heard that saying that eyes are the windows to the soul…a way to look beyond the surface of a person into their thoughts and emotions, which got me thinking about windows.

From the outside, you can look through a window to see what is inside.  But sometimes, when the light is right, what you see when you look through the window from the outside is a reflection of the sky and trees…like this.

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It’s almost more of a mirror than a window.  You don’t see through it, you see the world reflected back at you.

And other times when you look through a window you can see through one window and then back out another window…and catch a glimpse of what is on the other side.

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It’s almost like looking beyond the present…into the future or maybe into the past.

But what about the shape of windows?  How does that impact our view?  These windows are long and thin, reducing the amount of light that enters and restricting the view.  Was that an intentional goal of the windows in this applied physics and math building?  Or is there some physics and math at work that impacts just how these windows work?

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Looking through my photos also makes me realize just how much of my life is seen through the frame of a car window.  How does this window affect my view?  (This one is from the passenger seat…not the driver’s!)  I was fascinated by the VW bus, the rusty roof, the retro license plate…

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And we also look out through windows.  Sometimes the view is pretty open, allowing a wide angle of view.

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And other times there are barriers, restricting our vision and limiting what can be seen.

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So are our eyes really like windows?  Do they sometimes reflect, sometimes allow the viewer to see beyond, sometimes carefully frame or give a view influenced by your seat?  What affects the way we see out?  When are the curtains drawn wide open and when are the blinds restricting the view?

How do your windows influence your view of the world?

Weekly Photo Challenge: My Place

Some colleagues over at the National Writing Project iAnthology asked me if I would be willing to post weekly photo challenge prompts for their site.  Personally, I enjoy weekly photo challenges and find that they also tend to prompt writing for me as well.  I often participate in the weekly photo challenge at the Daily Post…I love that I have an entire week to figure out how to respond to the prompt, visually and/or in writing…and I love seeing the different ways that each prompt is interpreted.

So along with posting this challenge over at the iAnthology, I thought I would also post it here on my blog so others could participate.  Here’s my first weekly photo challenge prompt:

Photography gives me the opportunity to explore the places I see everyday and come to know them in new ways.  Sometimes I zoom in and discover the beauty of something I had walked by hundreds of times before or just pause and appreciate something I had otherwise taken for granted.  Once in while, a change in the weather or other conditions paints my place and when I take the time to look through the lens, I see what on the surface seems to be an annoyance as an opportunity to reflect, learn, and appreciate another layer of my place.

Here’s a photo I recently took on a stormy day (a relatively rare occurrence) in my place.  Rain makes the roads crazy (even just a light drizzle) and people grumpy, but taking photographs has encouraged me to seek out the beauty and wonder that stormy days have to offer.

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Share a photo of your place…either the photo alone or do some writing inspired by the photo.  And feel free to be inspired by the photos of others…and either write based on another’s photo or shoot another photograph of your place based on the inspiration of someone else’s photo.

If you also share on other social media (Twitter, Facebook, google+, Instagram), use the hashtag #myplace and include @nwpianthology to make it easy for us to find and enjoy!  You can find me @kd0602.  Be sure to share your media handles too!

And if you are reading this on my blog, feel free to share your photo/response by either linking your photo or your blog to the comment section below.  I am excited to see “your place” through your lens!

The Joy of the Unexpected

As a photographer I am attracted to things I find beautiful…interesting shapes, saturated colors, cute furry animals, sweet children.  But today was different.

Using my macro lens, I was taking photos of a paperwhite bulb that is beginning to emerge, capturing the brilliant green shoots emerging from the jar.

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But I wasn’t done exploring with my lens.  I noticed the orchid in the kitchen window still hanging onto the dried blossoms.  I should probably pull off these dead remnants, but instead I aimed my macro lens and captured a beautiful image of the dried and withered petals.

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I headed outside into the unusually warm December morning, still looking for opportunities to get close.  I noticed this dried blossom on the hedge and leaned in.

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Then I noticed the old wires on the part of the sprinkler system that has been disabled.  There’s a certain elegant beauty to the turquoise plastic revealing the coppery wire within.

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I headed around the corner toward the hibiscus plant.  It has tiny shoots of green emerging along with dried remains of previous flowers.

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And I have a love/hate relationship with spider webs.  They can be elegantly beautiful like delicate lace, especially when they capture drops of dew or rain.  And they can be a messy nuisance.  But when you look closely, you can see past the mess and notice the intricacies of design and the way the sunlight plays with the thin strands.

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I found myself looking for things I would otherwise think of as ugly as I photographed with my macro lens this morning…and I found unexpected beauty and experienced the joy of discovery in my re-seeing.

All of these unedited photos are yet another reminder that there is plenty of beauty to find in our world if we take the time to look past the obvious and consider perspectives beyond what is conventionally accepted.

Where do you find beauty?  Do you find joy in the unexpected?

An Unexpected Appearance

I’ve been on the lookout for unexpected since I saw the Weekly Photo Challenge over at the Daily Post.  But when you are looking for the unexpected, somehow it just doesn’t show up.

With a day off from work today, I decided it was time to tackle that pile of odds and ends that ended up in an unused room because of some work we had done on the house…and we have some new urgency to get it dealt with since we are doing some more work on the house.  This is the pile that ends up in a cupboard somewhere because you can’t quite part with it, but you really don’t know what to do with it either.

Anyway, I picked up a green bound book that I thought was an old address book (back before we kept our contacts on our phones or computers).  When I flipped it open I discovered it was an old photo album.  Most of the pictures were of my husband when he was a baby with a few other odds and ends tucked into the pages.  And then what I thought was a postcard fell out.

It was that perfect postcard size that is so often used for advertising.  It had that “old school” look that modern apps work so hard to achieve.  But upon closer examination I discovered it was a picture of me!

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This is a picture of the photograph taken with my iPhone, so you lose the actual size and some of the background off to the sides.

This unexpected photo brings back so many memories…most of them good ones.  I worked for McDonalds for more than 12 years before I went into teaching.  I learned so many skills and practices through my management experiences that have helped me as an educator.

It’s kind of scary to read those menu board prices (hamburgers 39 cents!) and realize that I was quite competent at calibrating that soda machine behind the counter (back in the day before serve yourself soda machines).  I inventoried and ordered all the raw product, scheduled employees for their shifts, kept ledgers of all the sales, hired, fired and trained employees (mostly teenagers a few years younger than I was), and so much more…

While it wasn’t rocket science or engineering, I did lots of systems thinking in my work at McDonalds.  There were many interconnecting components to consider each and every day…and sometimes I had to suffer the consequences when the decision I made didn’t have the intended result.

I like the way the unexpected spurs thinking.  This old photo has me thinking about so many things…my McDonald’s experiences, the changes in photography, wondering what happened to my old friend I used to work with and haven’t seen in years, and even the changes in fast food and the restaurant business.

My youngest son and his wife are coming home tomorrow to spend Thanksgiving with us.  I think I’ll leave the photo out for him to see…