Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Nature

“Measured against the agenda of human survival, how might we rethink education? Let me suggest six principles.

First, all education is environmental education.” — David Orr, What Is Education For?

 

I actually met and spoke to David Orr at a conference near the Aldo Leopold Foundation Center in Baraboo, Wisconsin a few years ago. He is a fascinating speaker, a person who has clearly thought a great deal about how humans fit into the natural world.

Yesterday, I spent the morning volunteering in a homeschool class at a Nature Center. The children, aged 6-8, shared their journal entries during snack time. They each had spent time in a “Secret Place”, observing the natural world around them, drawing pictures, writing sentences using vocabulary words, and playing. I was so pleased to see this, and told them that they were following in the footsteps of Aldo Leopold, Henry David Thoreau, Beatrix Potter and many, many others — very important thinkers and learners.

What do we need to learn from Nature? So much. I have a page on this blog called “Spiritual Lessons from Nature”. Click on the link just under the header if you’re curious about them.

Some things I’ve learned about Nature: it’s powerful and deserving of respect. 

It’s complex and autonomous.

It’s vast and largely incomprehensible.

It’s older than anyone can imagine. 

It’s more detailed than anyone can see. 

Humans are just one small leaf on the great Tree of Life.  That’s always good to remember. 

Thanks to Patti for hosting this challenge and for sharing stunning photos of Fiji.

Lens-Artists Challenge: Shadows

Tina at Travels & Trifles illustrated her challenge with a beautiful opening photo of shadow that evokes spaciousness, loneliness, and the passage of time. As the Earth turns and the Sun’s light falls at different angles, shadows lengthen, shade increases, and cool darkness creeps over stationary objects.

There’s something mournful in that, although it needn’t be. Change is not all good or all bad.  Monochrome isn’t really black & white.  It’s gray.

  
In the end, shadows cast depth and perspective on our view of our selves and our little lives. They keep us humble. 

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Landscapes

Amy at “The World Is A Book” has invited the Lens-Artists to share Landscapes this week, and has given us absolutely stunning examples from her own albums.
This is my favorite photographic subject.

When I was just 10 years old, I got my first camera – a Kodak Brownie Starmite – so that I could take pictures on our family vacation to Hawaii.  I had seen mountains for the first time just two years prior on a family vacation to visit cousins in Colorado, and felt engulfed by a deep awe. I wanted to take the scenery home with me to Illinois, but had no camera then. I soaked in every vista, eyes and arms wide open. I was so excited to be able to take my own photos when I got to Hawaii.

I remember feeling a crushing disappointment when I discovered that the little printed picture didn’t quite take in all that I wanted to fill it. I still feel that way, but it hasn’t stopped me from trying.

What do I love about landscapes? Long views give me a sense of freedom, a sense of the vast beauty of the world. 

When I was a kid, my parents took me to the Field Museum in Chicago to watch travelogue presentations. I would emerge from the hall bounding like a gazelle. I loved the open spaces filled with natural wonders, like an alpine meadow of wildflowers begging me to run through them.There is nothing as exhilarating to me as a panoramic view of Earth.

It’s so difficult to get all that BIGNESS into a two dimensional frame. 

I wish I had a lens that could do it justice. 

There’s that “pinch me, I can’t believe I’m here” excitement of actually feeling the space around you in a beautifully large setting that’s impossible to get into a photo. 

But I keep trying because I don’t want to let go of that feeling…ever. 

I think I want my soul to be a huge landscape. 

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Unexpected

This was a tough challenge: unexpected!
Especially for a “nature photographer”.

Finding something more unnatural in my photo albums took some digging. Eventually, I began to see that the “unexpected” shots I had could be divided into objects and behaviors. The appeal of these photos is that they can tell a story all by themselves, even without an explanation. What kind of story would you write about these scenes?

 My thanks to Ann-Christine for this refreshing invitation to reveal the unexpected. 

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Cityscapes

Cities. Hm.

For a Nature Girl like me, this photo theme is a challenge. I often see cities as centers of human oppression on the landscape. While I agree that it makes sense to concentrate habitation and share resources, being in those places is a bit overwhelming for me. I often feel anxious in cities, on the alert, distracted by a trillion attention-grabbing bits of light, sound, and movement. I do feel it’s totally worth mustering my energy to visit a museum, hear an opera, dine at a fine restaurant, absorb some of a unique culture, meet a favorite person, or participate in a social event. I’ve been to some world-class cities — New York, London, Paris, and Rome — and enjoyed each trip. However, I’ve never lived in a city and really come to see one with the affection needed to photograph it really well.

I lived in Los Angeles County for about ten years, and I lived in the Chicago suburbs for 29 years of my life, but I haven’t a lot of photos to show of those cities. 

I guess I’m just not the city slicker type. 

Ancient New World cities fascinate me. The strategic use of resources and geographic advantages seems necessarily brilliant, the way of life deeply connected with the land. Hovenweep…

Mesa Verde…

… Cahokia, Aztalan, Chichen Itza, Tulum. 

The artistic and scientific innovations borne in the crucible of those civilizations are admirable…

And the abandonment of those places is humbling. 

Thinking of cities makes me consider issues of civilization and sustainability, our relationship with the land and our ways of living — what we use, what we use up, and what we leave behind.   All worthy things for continual contemplation.
Thank you, Patti, for hosting this Cityscape challenge. 

Lens-Artists Challenge: Curves

Curves are everywhere in Nature. I can’t think of any example of truly straight lines in Nature, with the exception of crystals. Even pine needles are gently curved.

I love the graceful elegance of curves. I’ve always envied people with naturally curly hair and marveled at the possibilities that medium allowed. I would arrange my youngest daughter’s hair for hours…if she’d let me. 

In appreciation of Nature’s curly hair, I will play with botanical images. Like yucca…

…and fern……and redwood bark, believe it or not,…

…and the beautiful, slender curves of grass. 

I have no deep desire to make the curvy straight, the rough places plain, nor to inflict geometrical precision on the surprising and unpredictable. I want Life to be unfettered, loose and free-flowing — at least in my head. In daily behavior, though, I’m still a straight-haired practical person. And I still envy my daughter’s hair.

 

Thank you, Tina, for hosting this week’s Challenge. May you find graceful, natural curves all around!