Water on the Brain

Water: beautiful, powerful, moving, treacherous, life-giving, flowing through our veins, through earth’s veins, taken for granted, precious, tenuous, unpredictable, limited, overflowing…

I feel like I have water on the brain.  I woke this morning to images of water flowing–a water main break in Los Angeles had me gasping at the waste of a precious resource.  Our drought in Southern California–in CA as a whole (and other western states)–is so severe that I feel the constant of thirst, in my throat, in my heart, for our plants and animals, for our people. Reservoirs and lakes have shrunken to show thick exposed shorelines, creeks are but a distant memory of a trickle.  And the flooding in Colorado has me wishing we could share in this bounty rather than experience the extremes of water.

Floods, like their cousins wildfires, remind us that there is much we do not and cannot control.

I spent time today on the banks of the Clark Fork River in Missoula, MT learning and thinking about the indigenous stories of this place.  The beauty of the river masks its troubled history and ancient lineage.  Indigenous and scientific knowledge swim in these waters that tourists may see as a playground, a place for floating on inner tubes and cooling off in the 90 degree temperatures.

clarkforkriver

Inspired by the water, I wrote with others as part of a mini writing marathon at our Intersections meeting today.  The writing was rich and layered with stories of experiences with water…or no water.  And changing the lens…through the indigenous stories and science…prompted our memories and connections, letting the stories pour like the water itself.

Like water, there is power in writing.  Power to connect, to heal, to think and reflect.  We sometimes forget that writing in unexpected places, creates new urgency and agency for our writing.  So go outside, find a place by a river, on the curb, under a tree, or even sit on the car bumper and see what writing comes when you change your lens.

In Search of the Unexpected: August’s Photo-a-Day Challenge

August means deep summer; those warm, sun-drenched days when energy wanes and you look forward to a light summer read and cool drink, preferably in front of a water source.  It’s easy to stop noticing and see each day as a replica of the one before, sameness after sameness lulling your senses into summer-time hibernation.

There’s nothing like a camera lens to wake up the senses…especially if you are on the lookout for the unexpected.  Sometimes it is the sound that first captures your attention…this military helicopter came unusually low to the ground as I walked on the beach, swooping in close to the cliffs along the shoreline.  Military helicopters are usual—but so close we could wave at the pilot and he waved back is unexpected!

unexpected-copter

At the zoo, it was the unexpected color—or lack of color—that attracted my attention.  Baby flamingos are fluffy and gray, in great contrast to their vibrant elders.  These guys almost look like they were photoshopped to black and white.

unexpected-flamingo

Hiking can bring it’s share of the unexpected as well.  Climbing to the top of Mt. Woodson we found some natural beauty, along with a forest of communication towers!

unexpected-mountaintop

And on another hike, this phone booth sat along the trail…I guess you never know when you might need to make a call!  (I didn’t check to see if it was in working condition.)

unexpected-phone booth

Where I live, we seldom find the unexpected in the weather.  Night and morning low clouds with afternoon sunshine is almost a mantra for forecasters.  So the unexpected rain the other morning created quite a stir at the restaurant while we breakfasted.  Lightening flashed and thunder boomed…and the raindrops poured from the sky.  Walking across the street to the car had me walking in ankle deep runoff!

unexpected-rain

At UCSD, I had walked by this metal tree many times…there are a few as part of an art collection there.  But until a few weeks ago, I had not noticed the contrast between the organic shape of the metal tree and the angular lines of the distinctive architecture of the library behind it.  The unexpected similarities and differences made me pause when I saw it from this new angle.

unexpected-metal tree

It was a gathering crowd that drew my attention as I walked down the beach yesterday.  A surf class? A party?  No…a dead shark with a not-so-dead octopus slithering out of its mouth.  The crowd moved in, fascinated by the close up view of this creature.  I found myself equally interested in the people in the crowd, the ways their bodies leaned in.  And notice the mom holding onto her boys…

unexpected-shark

And my macro lens can always be depended on to help me see unexpected beauty.  I’ve been watching the dandelions in my yard (there are only two or three) and photographing the different stages of their growth.  Between the yellow flower and the iconic fluff ball stage, there is a stage where the dandelion looks dead.  But through my macro lens, I was able to capture the hint of what was yet to come.

unexpected-dandelion

So August’s challenge is to look for the unexpected as you enjoy the last of the long light and warm days (at least in the northern hemisphere).  And to help you look, here are some prompts—one per day—to focus your attention and spur your thinking.

1. People

2. Place

3. Nature

4. Plants

5. Animals

6. Horizon

7. Food

8. Transportation

9. Light

10. Home

11. Smell

12. Sound

13. Garden

14. Inside

15. Thing

16. Drink

17. Sky

18. Outside

19. Neighborhood

20. Weather

21. Early

22. Texture

23. Words

24. Interaction

25. Walk

26. Arrangement

27. Trash (#Litterati)

28. Architecture

29. Close up (Macro)

30. Landscape

31. Pleasure

Once you find the unexpected and capture a photo of it, post a photo each day with the hashtag #sdawpphotovoices to Twitter, Instagram, Flicker, Google+ and/or Facebook (the more the better!), so that we can all enjoy the posts.  If you are game for some more playfulness, compose a blog post about a photo, a week’s worth of photos, write a photo essay, make a video or slideshow or try a learning walk! You are invited to create a pingback by linking to this url or post your blog address in the comment section. It’s fun for me to see what others are doing with the same prompts I am using!

With summer in full swing, it’s the perfect time for some playfulness and experimentation…look for the unexpected in your world–let it surprise you, delight you, maybe even horrify you!  You can post every day, once a week, or even sporadically throughout the month…whatever works in your life. You can play this game by posting your pictures in the order of the prompts or post the one you find on the day you find it.  You get to make your own rules!  Be sure to share and tag your photos with #sdawpphotovoices so we can find them!

Beach Study: People

You may have noticed, I love the beach.  There is nothing like a long walk on the beach to clear my mind, relax my body, and stimulate my thinking.  And I take lots of photographs…many of nature’s beautiful handiwork.

On Sunday, instead of a focus on wildlife or other natural features, I found myself focused on the people at the beach and the diversity of activities they were engaged in.  In spite of the unexpected rain early in the day, the beach was full of people.  It was warm and humid…and by mid afternoon the sun shone brightly.

I noticed these two girls sitting near the cliffs…checking their phones.  I couldn’t resist a shot!

beach people-checking devices

As we headed further down the beach, I noticed these spear fisherman putting on their gear to head out into the surf.

beach people-spear fishers

And not far from them divers had their equipment spread out on the rocks as they chatted about their upcoming dive.

beach people-divers

There was lots of activity out in the water too, surfers and paddle boarders, body boarders, and swimmers.  And some people sitting out on the rocks watching the activity or just gazing out into the sea.

beach people-watching

beach people-gazing

And not everyone was into water sports.  This pair cruised by on their bicycles, taking advantage of the packed sand of the low tide.

beach people-bikes

And this couple was simply enjoying a walk on the beach, walking hand in hand, and then stopping for this selfie with the ocean as backdrop.

beach people-selfie

Still others settled themselves near the water’s edge for a shore-side picnic.

beach people-sand chairs

People come and go at the beach.  This couple finished surfing, hefted their boards and headed back down the beach toward the parking lot.

beach people-surfers

And of course, there were lots of kids on the beach playing in the waves, digging in the sand, and creating elaborate sandcastles.

beach people-building castles

And some of the kids haven’t been born yet…there are always pregnant women on the beach.

beach people-pregnant

As we finished several miles of walking on the beach, we headed back toward the parking lot…stopping off at the showers to rinse the sand from our feet.  The showers are another popular place as moms wash babies and people stand under the fresh water showers before heading for their cars and homes.

beach people-showers

As I paid attention to people on the beach, I became more aware of the variety of activities they engaged in…and there were so many more people not represented by this small selection of photos.  Taking pictures of people was a very different experience than taking pictures of nature.  I found myself creating stories about them, paying attention to their movements, their interactions, their equipment…  I watched teenaged boys tossing a football, a fisherman chatting with a friend, two little boys with flotation devices braving the waves, a little girl with a container picking up shells as her parents trailed behind…

Sunday’s beachwalk was a different kind of learning walk for me, with people as my focus.  The beach is definitely a playground with many things for people to do.

Summer Lovin': Hiking

Sweat, dust, steep trails, panoramic vistas, photo ops, heart pounding, more sweat, more dust…

Hiking has become my new favorite activity this summer, summer lovin’ for the Daily Post weekly photo challenge.  And in spite of feeling like I am going to die at some points, I’m enjoying the exertion, exploring the county with my hubby, and the amazing opportunities for photography.

Today was a tough one.  We headed off bright and early to avoid the heat…but not early enough.  An 8am start meant we ended our nearly 8 mile hike at noon, and it was hot!  The early morning light was beautiful as we headed out and we noticed a group of children fishing from the pier.

fishing dock

The trail definitely got more trying as we climbed and climbed.  We could see views of hikes we had done in previous weeks–and could also see that this one was longer and more strenuous. At one point, I thought I might have to stop and turn back.  But a rest at this tree almost two miles from the summit convinced me that I could muster the strength to go on.

Tree Mt WoodsonMaybe it was the shade, maybe it was the views…whatever it was, I continued to climb.  Dust clung to my sweat covered arms and legs, my hat provided some much needed shade, and regular stops for sips of water kept me going.  The trail was rocky, switchbacks zigzagging toward the summit.  We went through this boulder path as we neared the top.

Boulder path

I was surprised as we crested the summit to find a line of people waiting for a photo opportunity on “the chip,” an interesting rock formation near the top of Mt Woodson.  When the person got their “turn,” they would head out toward the end of the chip and pose while a hiking companion took their picture.  We didn’t wait in line, but I did get a few shots of the comedy of watching others.

Waiting for photo op Mt Woodson

But the chip isn’t quite the top of the mountain.  We continued up a fairly steep asphalt path to the pinnacle where all the communication towers jutted high above the peak.

Selfie Mt Woodson

There were also beautiful pine trees and amazing views of the valleys below.  And it was the perfect place to stop and rest a bit before heading back.  Here is picture of my husband with the breathtaking views behind him.

Geoff Mt Woodson

I thought it would easier heading down…and I was right for a good portion of the trip.  The rest at the top was energizing, and there were cool breezes up at the heights.  But it got a lot hotter and a lot harder as the lake came into view.

Lake Poway

At nearly 7 miles into the hike, our reserves of energy had run low and the noon-time heat was brutal.  The one more uphill near the end of the hike was excruciating!

And in spite of the challenges, I’m loving hiking this summer.  I love the time my husband and I spend out in the countryside exploring and testing our physical limits (he’s a much more experienced hiker than I am!).  I love testing the limits of my body…even when I am hating it! There is a wonderful camaraderie on the trail…and unexpected diversity of age, ethnicity, language, physical ability…with people cheering each other on.  And there are amazing numbers of people out hiking on weekends, at times these trails resemble our local freeways (without the road rage!).  I love the hours on the trail looking for interesting photos, noticing the wildlife (we watched a bird of prey float on the wind currents at the summit today…it seemed almost within arm’s reach) and the resilience of the drought resistant plant life.  We observed areas previously ravaged by fire returning to their natural beauty and places where nature is reclaiming what men tried to tame.  My next hike will be in Montana…I can’t wait!

What are you lovin’ this summer?

 

 

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Through

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!

As I walked near the Tower Bridge in Sacramento today, I was noticing all the things I could see through the bridge: the water, boats, restaurants along the banks, the state capitol building, and the cars driving through the middle.

through the bridge

And that got me thinking about photos that represent through–like this one I took of my niece ice skating through the plexiglass window (which definitely did not keep the cold away!).

Jill through the glass

We have a really interesting library at UCSD…and I was taking pictures through the buttresses the other day looking out into the distance.  It makes it look much more closed in than it is in person.

through the library

And high above the San Diego Zoo on the skyfari ride, I looked through my gondola to capture this shot of the gondola coming from the other direction.

through the gondola

To give a bit of perspective…here is one from the ground, shot through the trees.

through the treesWe came upon this water tower while hiking a week or so ago.  I like to experiment with perspective, so stood close to the tank shooting upward.  I was interested in this ladder…here is shot through the ladder looking up.

Through the ladder on the watertower

And of course, I have to include a beach photo!  This one is looking through the umbrellas out to the water.  I’m always surprised with how much stuff people bring to the beach!

through the umbrellas

So this week’s challenge is to represent through with your lens.  Is it something you are through with?  Will you look through some things like I did?  Or do you have another interpretation of through to explore?

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

What’s going through your mind…and how will you represent it through your lens?

 

 

 

 

Contained by Containers?

I’m thinking about containers…at least in part because of the weekly photo challenge over at the Daily Post.  But I don’t want to limit myself to boxes and jars, those typical containers that we find around our homes and in our workplaces.  Instead I want to think about other uses for containers.  What capacities do they have?

Maybe like this skyride traveling high over the San Diego Zoo, containers can propel.  In this shot, my mom–with a tremendous fear of heights–decided to board the ride to quickly descend from one side of the zoo to the other.  She didn’t end up seeing any sights, her eyes were tightly closed throughout the whole scenic ride, but she did get to her destination!

skyride

And then there is my coffee cup from a trip to Starbucks the other day.  I took this photo because this is the first time anyone has ever managed to spell my first name wrong!  (Kim is not easily misspelled!)  But then again…it is also a reminder that there is always a first time to be surprised, to be misread, to be redefined.  And in defense of the barista, he has a family member who spells her name with the “y.”

Kym

In this photo, my container is the rear view mirror.  Stopped at a stop sign, in a line of traffic, I couldn’t help noticing the beauty of the ocean reflected in the mirror.  Instead of containing the reflection, it magnified and refracted the blues of the sky and the sea reaching into my heart and mind allowing me to relax in spite of the traffic, taking me away from the hustle and bustle of commuting into the wonder and majesty of the natural beauty around me.

rearview mirror

And so I find myself reminded about a conversation going on at the CLMOOC today about the containments/limitations/shallowness about many of the containers we use on the web.  How likes and plusses and hearts and favorites push us like a tide, more flow than ebb if we aren’t paying attention.  Stopping to consider our containers and the forces that move (or don’t move) them can change the quality of our experiences.  Maybe it is in our attention and in our interactions that we can reconsider and reinvent the containers.

What do you think?