Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: The Eyes Have It

“An animal’s eyes have the power to speak a great language.”
― Martin Buber

“The face is a picture of the mind with the eyes as its interpreter.”
― Marcus Tullius Cicero

Tina, our Challenge host for this week, reminds us that in photography, the most successful portraits focus on the eyes. She shares stunning examples HERE and invites us to post our favorite eye-catching photos. There is an intimacy in photographing the eyes of a living being that tells a story – a story not only of the subject’s mindset, but also of the relationship between subject and photographer. That is why it is so satisfying to have recorded images of these special beings who have captivated me with their expressions and allowed me to gaze at their souls. I am grateful to have known them all!

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: They Say It’s Your Birthday…

…It’s my birthday, too!

In my family, we have clusters of birthdays in August and in late March/early April. It provides the opportunity to get several households together at one time for a joint party. I love it when we’re all crowded into the kitchen, cooking together, sipping something, laughing, and singing. We tend to break into song for no particular reason. We also love to dance, and we happen to have a music producer/DJ in the family, so dance parties with a house bass beat add to the celebration. I’ve been taking photos of birthdays for more than 30 years now. The difference is that my kids don’t want to have their faces in these photos anymore. Still, I have enough material to offer a gallery of birthday ambience and celebration. I hope you enjoy it!

Here’s a birthday photo I didn’t take. It’s my third birthday, and I’m at my grandmother’s beach cottage on Lake Michigan. At that age, the most important part of the day was that I got to eat chocolate cake! (Some things haven’t changed much…)

Our host for this photo challenge party is Johnbo. Visit his site HERE.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Choice

“The ability to have a choice in what you do is a privilege.”
Anton Yelchin 

This week the Lens-Artists photo challenge theme is “You Choose”. What a marvelous thing, to be able to make choices, little choices and big choices. Around this season, I am mindful of the choices I have: not just “paper or plastic?” when I choose to shop, but also how and what I choose to celebrate. Expanding that mindfulness, I am grateful that my family and I have been able to exercise our choices in who to love, whether to marry and whether to stay married.

“We are our choices.”
― Jean-Paul Sartre

I am also grateful that I’ve had a choice in where to live and where to raise my children. My husband and I made a choice to leave Southern California and raise our four kids in the Midwest.

And then I was able to make the choice to leave the Midwest and follow my grown-up children to Oregon…in my chosen hybrid vehicle.

Choices always have consequences, so they can be very difficult to make. They can often be very tricky to undo. Do you really want that tattoo? (My daughters definitely did want matching SisterCats tattoos.)

Sometimes being able to make a choice to do something can feel very empowering, especially when it feels like your cause is hopeless. Choosing to fund research on a currently incurable disease or plant a tree, for example, is a step in a good direction.

Choosing to help others, or to help animals, live happy, healthy lives is a choice that can bring joy and spread love.

I have much to be grateful for in the freedom to make my own choices. I am grateful that my children have been able to make their own, different choices as well. That is certainly something to celebrate!

Thanks to Tina, our challenge host this week. Visit her blog to see her photo choices and learn how to participate with the Lens-Artists.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Celebrating – Family!

“Rejoice with your family in the beautiful
land of life.” – Albert Einstein

“What can you do to promote world peace?
Go home and love your family.” – Mother Teresa

As we enter a season of celebration, I wish you all the joy of family love, through blood or affiliation, and the time and place to be with each other safely and happily. Thanks to Amy for hosting our challenge this week and posting an international selection of celebrations. Click HERE to see her fun post and instructions for participation.

Lens-Artist Photo Challenge: A Day of My Week

A day of my week: Sunday. A day in the Wheel of the Year: October 31. Halloween. All Saints’ Eve. Samhain (saa-wn). Halfway between the autumn equinox and the winter solstice. The beginning of a darker, wetter time in Oregon. The last day the marsh trails are open at the William Finley Wildlife Refuge before the over-wintering birds are given the privacy they deserve. It was a gloriously sunny afternoon, and my family joined me for a walk along the marsh and past the historic buildings. Here’s a gallery of shots from today.

“Go, sit upon the lofty hill, And turn your eyes around,
Where waving woods and waters wild Do hymn an autumn sound.
The summer sun is faint on them— The summer flowers depart—
Sit still— as all transform’d to stone, Except your musing heart.”
— Elizabeth Barrett Browning

My days are often spent just musing on Nature, the seasons, and the activities of flora and fauna. I have a lot of time to sit still, since I’m unemployed/retired. Most days, I don’t bother to bring a camera with me wherever I am, but that doesn’t mean I don’t see beauty all around me. I hope that you can say the same about the ordinary days in your week. Thank you to Amy for hosting this week’s prompt. Please visit her site and join in. Click HERE to find out how.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Weird and Wonderful

This week’s challenge is hosted by Ann-Christine and invites us to find captures of the weird and wonderful. My thoughts center around defining what is sufficiently odd to be ‘weird’ and what arouses wonder. The subject of most of my photos is something in Nature, so then I become conscious that there’s a difference between ‘natural’ and ‘weird’.
In my mind, human beings push the boundaries of ‘weird’ more than any other species. And it becomes something of a wonderment how we celebrate the weird! In Portland, OR, there is a museum/novelty store called the “Freakybuttrue Peculiarium”. My 30-something kids find that kind of thing very entertaining, so we took a detour home from the airport to check it out.

“We’re all a little weird. And life is a little weird. And when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall into mutually satisfying weirdness — and call it love — true love.”
― Robert Fulghum

I do love my kids, and I love their weirdness! And I am often in awe and wonder over things in Nature that I find unfamiliar and unique, and I find them beautiful.

Lake Superior sandy bottom
Badlands National Park
Boxwork formations at Wind Cave National Park

Fly your freak flags with joy, people, and gaze in wonder at the world around! Happy Weird and Wonderful Weekend!

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Black and White

It’s really been a joy to participate in the Lens-Artists Photo Challenges over time. I have “met” so many interesting bloggers and “traveled” to so many fascinating places. And I’ve learned something about technique and artistry along the way. This week, the guest host is Anne Sandler. Her header image took my breath away, and then she totally schooled me on processing black and white photographs! Visit her post HERE.

I am less than a novice when it comes to processing. I use the very rudimentary tools that came with my camera. I’ve never even used Photoshop. The texture and tone and clarity that Anne achieves is truly stunning. What I know about Black and White is that I like it for portraits and for “art”. It’s not much, but it’s a start.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Starts with ‘S’

This is Susan.She has such a sweet smile. And she sure is silly!

She has some seriously silly siblings as well, and simultaneously, their silliness is something super special. ‘Specially the sisters!

Silliness by the seashore is a specialty as well.

This post has been brought to you by the letter ‘S’ and by Patti of Lens-Artists. I hope you found it scintillating!

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: A Glimpse into Your World

A Glimpse into your world’. Show us the things you love that make your world spin or things about your world that make you delirious with joy. – Sheetal Bravon, host for Lens-Artists

“You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is like an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.”
― Mahatma Gandhi

“We know only too well that what we are doing is nothing more than a drop in the ocean. But if the drop were not there, the ocean would be missing something.”
― Mother Teresa

“I can wade Grief—
Whole Pools of it—
I’m used to that—
But the least push of Joy
Breaks up my feet—
And I tip—drunken—
Let no Pebble—smile—
‘Twas the New Liquor—
That was all!”
― Emily Dickinson

“You are not a drop in the ocean; you are the entire ocean in a drop.
― Rumi

My joy at being reunited with the ocean and with my adult children approaches delirium. These loves are far bigger than myself and help me to expand in appreciation and generosity beyond myself. They are a world of life and the life in the world.

Anticipation…

I choose the table cloth, polish the silver and wipe the crystal glasses until they shine. I light the candles and arrange the appetizers in a tempting display. I listen for a knock on the door.

Some day, soon, visitors with parcels of food, wine, games, and gifts will arrive cloaked in the enchantment of their laughter and love. Soon…but alas, not today. Not this year.

Patience…gratitude…peace…contentment…joy. All is well, even now.