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!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Play

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!

Unofficially summer is over for me tomorrow…I head back to work to prepare for the new school year.  I’m not dreading going back–I’m lucky, I love my work.  But I do want to be reminded to continue to include play in my life, even when I am working.

Sometimes play is as simple as taking a photo of my cat and then messing with it in a photo app…like this one of Phil.  The intensity of his look in this photo just cracks me up…looks like he is saying, “How dare you…”

Phil

It’s also fun to play around with the framing of shots like this one using the prickly pear as a way to frame Lake Hodges in the background.

framed by prickly pear

There’s other kinds of framing that is fun to play around with too.  And sometimes it’s designers that create playful features like this one at the Huntington gardens where you can walk behind the waterfall…what a perfect opportunity to take a photo of the backside of water!

backside of water

Other features like this decorative opening in a wall became a playful way of looking at the gardens beyond.

through the open window

And then there is play beyond the camera too.  Visiting my son and daughter-in-law meant the opportunity to spend some time playing with their little dog Elli.  She’s a cute long-haired chihuahua and she loves to play!  She likes to sneak some licks, bring her toys, race around the room…  And of course, she is adorable!

Elli

And sometimes I like to play with my little magnetic lenses.  Today I had the fisheye lens out…one I don’t use too often.  I wanted to capture the flowering of the tree in my driveway. Here’s the fisheye version.

tree blossoms_fisheye

So this week’s challenge is to do some playing…with your photography or without photography…and then document it with a photo.

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

Be sure to squeeze some play time into these last few weeks of summer!  Can’t wait to see what you are playing around with!

Things Not Photographed

I’ve written frequently about the ways that photography helps me see what I would not ordinarily notice.  Today’s post is about all those things that I notice when I am taking photos that I simply cannot capture or do justice to in a photo.

It was just a few days ago that I came across this quote from Dorothea Lange:

A camera is a tool for learning how to see without a camera.

And that has been true for me.  Yesterday I was out taking photos with my youngest son.  We explored the Huntington gardens and museums and old Pasadena…and I took some nice photos.  But there were so many things I saw that I simply was unable to photograph.  The Japanese gardens were extensive and gorgeous!  The harshness of the midday sun was a challenge for photography.

japanese bridge

And while I love this shot of the bridge, I wasn’t able to do justice to the vibrance of the koi swimming below the bridge or capture the beautiful blossoms of the lily pads floating in the water.

As we moved from the Japanese gardens to the Australian outback and into the desert, I was captivated by the hummingbirds.  There were the usual Anna’s hummingbirds…the larger variety common to my area.  But there were also these tiny hummingbirds, flitting and swooping from blossom to blossom…moving almost before you could see them, much less frame a photo.  I did capture these beautiful cactus blossoms though.

cactus flower

To cool off, we headed inside to the art gallery and the library.  Even though this space feels unfamiliar, I am sure I visited this place as a teenager on a field trip.  The only thing I can remember about the visit is seeing the paintings of Blue Boy and Pinkie.  But walking into the gallery reminded me immediately of the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland!

I found myself thinking about curation and exhibition as I walked through the library…noticing the stories told and the ways the displays invited visitors to experience historical events.  I also watched my son–as an adult–drawn to interactive displays, things that can be manipulated, looked though, turned, opened…  I found myself drawn to this display of lightbulbs, showing how they have changed over time.

lightbulbs

And while this photo looks flat…like a poster, this is actually a display of the original lightbulbs. You can see the markers where someone has removed a couple of bulbs for study of some sort.  I didn’t notice those until after I had taken the photo.  I wonder what kind of study you do with old light bulbs.

The conservatory is a big greenhouse filled with plants.  And as we headed towards it, I was fascinated by the light blue and white of the building and light blue and white of the sky.

conservatory

And what I didn’t capture was the interesting ways that plants are adapted to their surroundings.  The tiny fibers of the carnivorous plants, the special adaptations of seeds, and even the special slime of the slug we found slithering down the wall.

With his fancy camera, Nick was able to capture this grasshopper I noticed as we walked through the children’s garden.  (Photo credit to Nick)

grasshopper Nick

Old town Pasadena also offered an interesting view of the world.  Pasadena conjures images of the Rose Bowl parade…streets lined with people.  Streets with iconic names, like Colorado Boulevard.  We decided on lunch at Russell’s…an establishment that advertises existence since 1930.  (They definitely make a great California BLT!)

Russell's Pasadena

And what I didn’t capture was the stiff and proper waiter and the bright red interior…including the velvet curtain that separates the hallway where the bathrooms are located from the rest of the diner.

I noticed a clock tower as we drove to find parking.  So once parked, we spent a bit of time exploring on foot…and found the tower.  What isn’t captured is the way that downtown areas are an interesting intersection of poverty and affluence, those with no permanent place intermingling with those exploring that same place.

clock tower pasadena

After dark, as I drove home, the large orangish harvest moon lit the way.  As I drove I thought about the beauty of the moon…and how hard it is to capture it in a photograph (at least with my equipment).  When I pulled into my driveway after a long and wonderful day, I did take out my phone a take a couple of shots anyway.

Moon through palms

And all day today I’ve been thinking about how much I see when I set out to take photos–more than I ever capture through my camera lens.  For me, my camera has truly become a tool that helps me see far beyond the lens.  I pay more attention to the world around me, even those things that I haven’t been able to capture in a photographic image.  I’m still hoping to catch that insect in flight, the landing of a raindrop, the surprised expression of a loved one, light that caresses an image perfectly…  But even more importantly, I am seeing those things even when I don’t get the photographic image…and that is priceless!

 

A Macro View: Texture

I love using the macro lens.  It magnifies subjects so that what is ordinarily unnoticed suddenly takes shape and comes to the forefront.  So when I saw the Daily Post weekly photo challenge topic of texture…I knew exactly what I wanted to post.

The macro lens on my iPhone is not particularly convenient, I have to take the cover off my phone and then attach the magnetic lens, so I don’t use it as frequently as I would like.  Earlier this week I was in a beautiful garden…meant to be a replica of a homestead garden…in Bozeman, MT at the Museum of the Rockies.  A bounty of flowers and vegetables flourished…calling my attention.  There were poppies, sunflowers, and myriad flowers whose names I don’t know.  And the onions were magnificent!

texture_red and white onion

And while we needed to head out to the airport for our flight home, I just had to steal away a few minutes for some macro shots.  Here is one of the onion above.

texture_onion macro

And here is one of the blossoms of a different variety of onion.

texture_onion

The brilliant red poppies also caught my eye.  They are gorgeous without looking closely, but magnification brings out the delicate tendrils and the distinctive centers.

texture_red poppy

And I also saw these same centers standing alone without the crimson petals.

texture_poppy bud

As I wandered through the garden I continued to move close and zoom in on blossoms.  This one with the spiky center looks almost like a bouquet of colored pencils

texture_red bloom

This fluffy tan ball revealed small individual flowers through my macro lens.

texture_tan

I’m not sure what this tiny purple ball wrapped in green spines will look like when the bloom opens.

texture_spiny

When looking closely through the macro lens, centers pop, revealing intricacies of design.

texture_white

texture_indigo

Looking closely creates opportunities to pay attention.  Seeing the contrast between hard and soft edges and elaborate design with repeated patterns also seems to draw attention to the vibrance of color…like in this purple blossom.

texture_purple

Textures often go unnoticed when we look at flowers and vegetables.  Instead we tend to notice the overall shape and general color, and sometimes the fragrance as well.  I love the ways the centers of flowers uncover distinctive details about how the flower reproduces and unfolds.  What originally appears smooth and soft is more complex and nuanced with a closer look.

And that is true of life too.  Looking closely and paying attention can change our observations and our perspective.  Sometimes you just have to lean in and take the time to smell…and photograph the flowers!

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Explore

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 summer winds down and the new school year looms and beckons, this is a perfect time for some exploration.  Exploration can happen anywhere and anytime…you just have to take the time to pay attention to your environment.  Last week when I flew into the Missoula International Airport I immediately noticed the taximdermy heads of animals decorating the walls of the airport.

missoula airport taxidermy

Crossing the Clark Fork River, I stopped to explore these locks connected to the bridge.  I’d heard about locks like these on bridges in Europe, but this was my first encounter with locks carved with initials and names locked to a bridge here in the US.

locks

Also, in my Montana and Wyoming explorations I was amazed at the giant dandelions.  The fluff balls were easily as large as my fist!

giant dandelion

I’ve also been interested in buildings.  In Bozeman when we stopped for dinner, I was immediately taken by this old building and couldn’t wait to capture it in a photograph.

Bozeman building

I also got to explore the history of homesteading through the Tinsley House, a living history exhibit at the Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman.  They had spectacular gardens, a working blacksmith shop…aiming for authenticity from the 1890’s.

Bozeman homestead

And of course, exploring Yellowstone was an amazing experience.  I have posted extensively about my experience in the park…and there is more.  Living in San Diego, I seldom have the opportunity to explore the majesty of rivers–but Yellowstone was filled with them.  Here’s one example.

Running river

Even the construction in the park caught my eye.

construction

On the last leg of my trip home I had the opportunity to fly on a small propeller plane…and to have a window and an aisle seat all rolled into one.  At a relatively low altitude of 9000 ft, I had a wonderful view to explore the southern California coastline from the air.

explore from the air

But there is lots to explore even at home.  Today I took a four mile walk near my house to a bridge near a golf course where I took a shot of the surrounding area from the top looking out. With a little help of the application Painteresque, what some might see as ordinary becomes extraordinary.

view from golfcourse bridge

So this week’s challenge is to explore, and then to capture some aspect of that exploration in a photograph.  It can be from your travels, your work, or even the ordinariness of your everyday life.  Let your photographic eye explore the world around you…wherever you are!

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

Have some fun exploring as summer begins to wind down.  I can’t wait to see the photographs your exploring leads you to!