Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Angles

Ann-Christine challenges us to illustrate the difference angles can make on our perception of the world. I am reminded of the ancient Indian story of the blind men and the elephant, retold in the poem by John Godfrey Saxe that begins like this: 

It was six men of Indostan 
To learning much inclined,
Who went to see the Elephant 
(Though all of them were blind),
That each by observation 
Might satisfy his mind.

From my photo archives, I found an album of pictures taken five years ago next week on my “birthday cruise”. I had been working at Discovery World, a museum in Milwaukee that owns a replica of a 19th century cargo ship they named The Denis Sullivan. For my birthday, I was gifted a short trip out of the harbor and back to dock. There was absolutely no wind that day, so though we unfurled the sails, we didn’t go very far or very fast. In the calm, I found that taking photos from all different angles became the excitement of the day. 

 

My perspective on sailing Lake Michigan, therefore, was all about tranquility and discipline. The crew had everything “shipshape” and moved like clockwork. However, I’ve read accounts of shipwrecks on the lake that must have been the picture of chaos and terror.

Perspective makes a huge difference. In this complex world, we must remember the danger of a single story and humbly leave room in our imaginations for something outside of our own experience. 

So, oft in theologic wars 
The disputants, I ween,
Rail on in utter ignorance 
Of what each other mean,
And prate about an Elephant
Not one of them has seen!

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Something Old, New, Borrowed, and Blue

I remember my grandmother telling me that it is lucky for brides to have “something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue, and a silver sixpence in her shoe”. Patti has cleverly used this as her photo challenge for this week. Having just returned from a hiking event this morning, I’m too tuckered out to do a scavenger hike with my camera this afternoon. So, I’m putting my feet up and “visiting” my archives. I may even include an actual bride on this one! 

Something old…at my daughter Susan’s wedding, that would be her grandmother. No offense, just pride in that. And she’s wearing blue!

Something new…obviously, brides are new wives. Here are a couple: my daughter and my daughter-in-law.

Something borrowed…

I borrowed the mannequins at David’s Bridal for a close up. My daughter’s wedding party borrowed the dance from Rocky Horror Picture Show. My brother borrowed his bride’s bouquet.  

Something blue…decorations that my daughter-in-law made…

… and my son’s eyes.

And since silver sixpences are hard to come by, we’ll just go with some sparkly silver stuff that I’ve photographed around wedding time. 

 Now, if I could just get invited to bring my camera to two more wedding celebrations…(hint, hint).

 

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Taking a Break

I just came home from a walk along the Ice Age National Scenic Trail to check on the photo challenge theme for this week. Our host, Tina, encourages us to slow down and focus on rest and relaxation. Taking a Break” for me is also “Restoring My Sanity” by being out in nature.

Nothing restores me to a grounded pace as well as hiking in a natural area where the presence of people is the exception to the rule.

Look around. Breathe. Listen. Feel. Birdsong and running water do wonders for the soul. 

An outdoor walk helps me take a break from sitting down at a computer screen…something I spend far too many hours at every day.  And if my feet start to swell and feel hot, dipping them in a cool stream is the perfect antidote. 

And if walking tires you out, you know what to do…

Taking a break is quite natural, of course. (If you can’t tell, that’s a bat sleeping in a tree).

Thanks, Tina, for reminding us to take it easy. It’s a long road, and it’s not a race. 

 

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Seascapes and Lakeshores

Amy chose a topic for this week’s challenge that is sure to make a splash! She coaches us:

In Jim Hamel’s “Top 10 Features to Bring Your Seascape Photos to Life”, his list includes piers/docks, lighthouses, sunrise and sunset, rock formations, patterns in the water, animals, powerful waves, people, reflections, and clouds.

I am lucky to have lived near some of the greatest coastlines of the U.S.A. I was born in Massachusetts and lived for 15 years in California. However, for the bulk of my earthly years I have lived in the Midwest near Lake Michigan, one of the 5 Great Lakes that together hold 21% of the earth’s surface fresh water.  Here’s the western shore of that great lake. 

Lake Michigan

My father’s family built a beach cottage on the eastern shores of Lake Michigan, and so far, four generations have enjoyed its recreational opportunities and sunsets.

Just before I entered High School, my family moved to the Bay Area in California. I got to explore the West Coast while I lived there and as a visitor returning to see my family. The drama and diversity of the shores of the Pacific Ocean is something that I never fully captured in photography. I was more often just looking around, overwhelmed. 

I have to say that some of my best shoreline photos were taken along the smaller waterways of the Midwest. 

I like to remember that my first shoreline experiences were on the Marblehead Neck, jutting into the Atlantic. I moved away from Massachusetts when I was four years old and probably never took a picture. But I did get a chance to go back for a visit. My daughter snapped this shot in Plymouth.  

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Dreamy

Ann-Christine’s dreamy landscapes focus the challenge subject this week.

Is Dreamy a place somehow more perfect, more fantastic, more extremely beautiful, more blissfully hospitable? I often picture myself relaxing into beautiful places as I drift off to sleep. 

Is Dreamy a relationship that makes you feel comfortable, safe, and buoyant? Is it one super-special person (McDreamy)?

Is Dreamy a state of mind – free, floating, and peaceful?

In my life, all these things seem Dreamy…and yet, each one is illustrated here by a photograph I took of something right in front of me in the real world, while I was awake. Does that mean that I’m living my dream?

Must be. I am so incredibly lucky! 

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Detail

Patti poses an interesting challenge this week: when the scope of a scene is visually overwhelming, choose to focus on a detail that hints at the grandeur of the whole.
For me, that sense of overwhelming wonder is always present when I am outside in Nature. I love the Earth. I work for a Conservation Foundation, and I am often dazzled by the beauty of the land while I am also stunned by the complexity of biological interactions and the enormity of the task of preserving ecosystems that are under constant threats of degradation. I believe that showing people the accessible beauty of the world around them can engender the kind of affection for Place that will motivate them to protect it, to safeguard it for the future.
Have you ever looked at a common plant up close? Or gazed into the intelligent eyes of an animal?  There are details all around you capable of blowing your mind with the immense and intricate magnificence of Life. I invite you to become a Lover of Life — a Biophile, if you will.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: I Choose Steve

I am the joy in change and movement. — Steve

The Lens-Artists photography group is celebrating their first anniversary. Hosts Tina, Amy, Patti, and Ann-Christine have invited us to choose our favorite photo subject. They chose Friendship, Connection, Imagination, and Discovery as the themes for their respective posts. I have chosen Steve, an undeniable person in my life who has taught me much about friendship, connection, imagination and discovery during the ten years we’ve known each other.

I really do grapple with the balance between these two elements of my consciousness, the thinker and the feeler, the heart and the head. The dance between the two is where good work is done. –Steve (forthelastwolverine.com)

Steve is the owner of Scholar and Poet Books, an online bookstore with listings on Amazon, eBay, A Libris, and ABE Books.

He is an English major, a philosopher, an anthropologist, an environmentalist, a musician, a conversationalist, a film fan, a student and teacher of spiritual psychology, a practitioner of Buddhism, a brother, a son, my housemate, and my friend.

He comes from Polish-German stock and thinks of himself as Slavic and moody.

There are three ideas that I make sure to spend time with every day. If pressed to reduce these ideas to a single word each, I might pick WILD, BEAUTY and ENOUGH. — Steve (forthelastwolverine.com)

I have photographed Steve over the last ten years from many different perspectives. In the span of that time, we’ve related as co-workers, trail buddies, string quartet members, lovers, exes, best friends, classmates, tent mates, housemates, and temporary step-parents to a fur baby named Pinkle.

We share so many memories. (Well, maybe not. My memory is much better than his.) And I have SO many photos. Several albums worth…that aren’t in albums yet. There could be a Steve’s Trail Shot Album, full of photos taken while we were out exploring somewhere. This would be the biggest album.

There could be an album’s worth of photos that might be called Black & White Author Headshots.

There could be a small album of Sleeping Steve…

And Couple Selfies…

And goofy Leftovers.

Here’s what I’ve learned: once you choose to let someone into your life, into your camera, there is so much to know about that person. That choice can have a lasting impact on you and your photo files. 

Choose wisely, friends. And choose friends wisely. I think Steve’s been an excellent choice as a photo subject…and a friend.