Get Creative! September’s Photo-a-Day Challenge

September is one of those limbo months.  Summer is ending, schools are beginning, we are beginning to get hints of fall.  And where I live the weather is warm, often warmer than we have experienced during the “official” summer months, confusing our bodies and senses.

It’s that time of the year when you might find yourself in the creative doldrums as you move from summer vacation mode back into work and family routines.  So that means that September is the perfect month for a creativity focused photo-a-day challenge!

This month’s list is meant to encourage experimentation and challenge you to break out of some of those routines that have become uninspiring and maybe a bit monotonous.  Each prompt this month asks you to try a specific technique, a particular subject, or to break a rule of photography or try a rule of photography.  For example, it’s common as photographers to shoot with the sun over your shoulder to light your subject and ensure that the color is good. But sometimes, it is perfect to shoot into the sun–especially if you want to capture a silhouette like this photo of the lifeguard tower.  (And I was lucky enough to snap just as the lifeguard walked into my shot!)

lifeguard silhouette

It’s not unusual to take photos of your food, but perhaps it is less usual to try to create a shot that showcases the food as though it is an advertisement.  I’m not sure this photo is that quality, but I do love the color of this unedited shot–especially of the mango salsa.

fish tacos

Sometimes it is the difference in positioning yourself or your lens that creates a new way of seeing your subject.  You might try shooting from above like in this shot of the subway train in Pasadena.  (And you might try going from color to black and white for added effect!)

from above the subway

Or in this case, climbing up a ladder and shooting up in a tight space to capture a glimpse of the light in this lighthouse.

unusual angle

Sometimes I get stuck taking shots of things that stand still.  So sometimes the creativity comes from trying to capture action as it happens.  Here’s a sandpiper (and his shadow) just as he lifts off!

taking flight

I’m still experimenting with taking photos of weather…and there isn’t a whole lot of weather to experiment with in my parts.  I was excited about seeing this family in their yellow slickers walking toward me on a rainy day in Yellowstone.

family in yellow slickers

And who doesn’t love a photo of flowers?  I particularly like this shot where the large poppy in the foreground is crisp and the others are slightly out of focus.

poppies

And water is always a source of inspiration for me.  I have to work at creating something new and different from my photos of the ocean, but this shot of the top of the waterfall was a novelty for me.

top of waterfall

So September’s challenge is to inspire your creativity by pushing yourself to try different subjects, different techniques, different angles and more.  And to help you stretch creatively, here are some prompts—one per day—to push you out of your ordinary routines.

1. get low

2. shoot into the sun or create a silhouette (or both!)

3. create a photo that is stunning in black and white

4. shoot something ordinary in a new and interesting way

5. make something ugly look beautiful

6. create a self portrait

7. take a photo of traffic

8. make people your centerpiece (strangers if you dare!)

9. shoot from above

10. use the rule of thirds

11. find a natural frame (a branch, a bridge, or ???)

12. shoot on a angle, what happens if you make it extreme?

13. photograph your pet (or someone else’s)

14. photograph water in a new way

15. capture movement

16. photograph an abstract pattern

17. shoot from an unusual angle

18. what’s interesting about windows?

19. where do you find reflection?

20. make your subject off center

21. capture emotion

22. where do you find texture?

23. take a shot of the weather

24. what’s interest about clouds today?

25. something old

26. something new

27. focus on light

28. flowers

29. take a shot of food–would it work in an advertisement?

30. feet

Once you stretch your creativity and take that shot (or many shots), 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!

So stretch yourself this month and feed those creative urges!  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!  So go out and get creative!  I can’t wait for you to share what you are seeing through your lens!

In Flight and On the Ground: A Photo Dialogue

I’ve been thinking a lot about reading images and the stories held and told…both with and without words.  This week at the Daily Post, the weekly photo challenge is titled Dialogue–with an invitation to post two pictures that open up new meaning when they are in dialogue with each other.

I love this idea of photographs in dialogue and thinking about how the images might speak to each other and the viewer in ways that create new understandings and opportunities for meaning making.  I spent time yesterday evening on the beach…the perfect way to cool off and relax after a wonderful and exhausting first week with my students.

I often walk on the beach either in the morning or afternoon when the sun is higher and often more harsh.  The evening sun was soft, bringing out reflections and colors that I don’t often photograph.  As the day cooled and tide receded, the birds were active–running after tidbits of food, poking long beaks deep into the soft sand.  I snapped many shots of sandpipers in action, playing with the light and shadows.

sandpiper reflected clouds

I love the way this sandpiper seems to be walking between the clouds as they reflect on the shoreline, an echo of the sky overhead.

And then as I thought about what other image to pair with the one above I was drawn to this image that I took of a hang glider in the setting sun.

sunset hang glider

Taken within minutes of each other, each photo tells its own story.  Together, what do they say to you?  I’d love to know what you hear in the dialogue between the photos.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Action

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!

School started this week for me…and now my world is full of action.  Five, six, seven and eight year olds bring energy and action to everything…even sitting still!  (If you can call it still.)  And with just three school days under our belts, we are busy making, thinking, talking, reading, computing, planning, performing, and writing.  Here’s a tiny glimpse of a student actively writing and drawing.

action_writing and drawing

And while this picture is not at my school or one of my students, I am fascinated by watching children seriously engaged in learning and play.  (And those terms are mostly synonymous when it comes to kids!)  I love the earnestness of this child at play building.

action_building

Over the weekend I spent some time on the beach.  It’s been hot here (for the coast, anyway), and there is lots of action on the beach as people try to stay cool.  Here’s a shot of a sandpiper in flight.  I was lucky enough to snap just as he took to the air.

action_sandpiper

I also came across this family at play…using a piece of kelp as a jump rope.  It was fun to watch them take turns turning and jumping and encouraging each child to try jumping in.  Kelp is pretty amazing stuff!

action_jumprope

The end of summer is also the perfect time for grilling food outdoors, especially since we don’t have air conditioning.  I’m lucky…my husband is both a great cook and great at grilling!

action_grilling

And I love that action doesn’t have to involve people or animals.  There is lots of action in nature.  I was excited when I noticed that I captured this wave in action as it crashed against the rocks.

action_wave

So this is the week to look for the action in your life…whether you find it in shots of people, animals, machines, nature…or something else.

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

Where will you find action?  I can’t wait to find out!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Sky

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 a photographer I find myself obsessed with certain things at different times.  Sometimes I am looking closely at ground level, my attention on the details of plants and walkways.  And lately, I find that my eyes are on the sky.  I’m noticing clouds (when there are clouds) and even the differences in color from deep saturated blues to the barely visible sky on those gray, marine layer mornings.

My time in Yellowstone offered a variety of sky views.  This one captures the darkness of the afternoon storm along with the steam rising from the geyser.

Geyser sky

And in this one with the waterfall, I find myself interested in the echo I feel between the waterfall and the clouds above.

Waterfall sky

On another day in Yellowstone, filtering a horizon on an overcast day brought out colors that the camera lens had a hard time capturing, revealing more details of the sun breaking through.

Colorful sky

Coming home from Montana meant the opportunity for a fairly low flight in a small jet.  In my combination window/aisle seat I snapped picture after picture.  This one captured clouds from above rather than my usual vantage below.

Above the clouds

A trip to Los Angeles meant more opportunities for photos…and again, my eyes were on the sky.  I loved the way the blues and whites of this conservatory suggest the blues and whites of the sky and clouds.

conservatory

As I drove home that night the big, bright super moon watched my progress.  As I pulled into my driveway after the long drive I couldn’t resist taking time to snap a shot of the moon peeking through the palm.

dark sky

In our effort to stay cool and still hike, we headed off to Cabrillo National Park last weekend. The proximity to the air station on Coronado meant the opportunity to watch airplanes take off and land.  If you look closely, you will see the plane in this photo with the San Diego skyline shrouded in a bit of marine layer below.

in the sky

I couldn’t believe the deep, dark indigo of the sky in this picture of the lighthouse.  This is the image with no filtering or editing.

indigo sky

Yesterday morning I awoke to flashes of light in my bedroom window and booming rolls of thunder.  My cats cowered and the neighborhood dogs barked.  As I was getting ready for work, my husband called for me to come out and bring my camera (phone).  I walked out to a sky full of rainbow!  Here’s my best attempt at capturing it!

rainbow sky

So this week’s challenge is to look up.  What will you capture when you look to the sky?

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

So look up and notice what the sky has to offer.  I can’t wait to see surprises your sky holds!