Lens-Artist Photo Challenge: Every Little Thing

“Find magic in the little things, and the big things you always expected will start to show up.”
― Isa Zapata

“You need to let the little things that would ordinarily bore you suddenly thrill you.”
― Andy Warhol

“It has long been an axiom of mine that the little things are infinitely the most important.”
― Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

“He who does not wish for little things does not deserve big things.”
― Belgian proverb

“Life is just a lot of everyday adventures.”
― Carol Ryrie Brink

Amy’s challenge this morning brought a big smile to my face! She shares the little things that make her smile and invites us to do the same. One thing we have in common is taking joy in “bonus bugs” who photobomb our flower shots. Also, we both have come across lizards in regal repose who seem to be enthralled by the world they inhabit. Their small majesty makes me smile!

Treat yourself to some small wonder and visit Amy’s post HERE. The music video will make you smile as well!

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Mechanical/ Industrial

“Let us hush this cry of ‘Forward’, till ten thousand years have gone.”
― Alfred Tennyson

“The fact that we have been able to perturb the carbon cycle with our industrial revolution is evidence of how vulnerable we are – because when we destroy our environments, we destroy our food and energy supplies. In short, we destroy ourselves.” ― Annalee Newitz

“Even our best endeavors turn against us. A loom that can do the work of eight men should free eight men from servitude. Instead, seven skilled men are put out of work to starve with their families, and one skilled man because of the unskilled minder of the mechanical loom. What is the point of progress if it benefits the few while the many suffer?”
― Jeanette Winterson

“We must always remember that the fossil fuel era began in violent kleptocracy, with those two foundational thefts of stolen people and stolen land that kick-started a new age of seemingly endless expansion. The route to renewal runs through reckoning and repair: reckoning with our past and repairing relationships with the people who paid the steepest price of the first industrial revolution.”
― Naomi Klein

You might wonder why this blogger is answering a Mechanical/Industrial photo subject challenge with such strong sentiment against the Industrial Revolution. Allow me to illustrate my perspective:

I worked for three seasons as a costumed interpreter at a living history museum, Old World Wisconsin. I had the unique opportunity to sample 19th century living from the comfort of a 21st century life. This came at a time in my life when I had an empty nest and no longer owned property. The slower pace allowed me to think quite a lot about the bigger picture of how to live. The tyranny of personal acquisition and advancement had lost its urgency, and I discovered an expansive outlook on the interdependence of living things. The contrasts presented in my work were remarkable. Busloads of urban kids from Milwaukee saw firsthand that food didn’t originate in a metal and glass store. The US Army sent personnel to learn farming technology that wasn’t dependent on electrical and fossil fuel infrastructure so that they could assist war-torn villages in Afghanistan. I learned that personal comfort and convenience could be sacrificed for a more balanced existence with natural resources and processes.

I don’t imagine that turning back time is possible; I don’t pretend that technological discoveries aren’t beneficial. I believe in the inherent worth of all living things and respect the web of existence of which we are but a small part. I fear the consequences of human domination and consumption on our planet. I hope that new information can lead to new wisdom.

I appreciate the challenge our host, John Steiner, initiated. It’s definitely a subject worth reflecting on, in images and life choices.

Earth Day 2022

“Earth teach me stillness, as the grasses are stilled with light…

Earth teach me suffering, as old stones suffer with memory…

Earth teach me caring, as parents who secure their young…

Earth teach me courage, as the tree which stands all alone…

Earth teach me limitation, as the ant which crawls on the ground..

Earth teach me freedom, as the eagle which soars in the sky…

Earth teach me resignation, as the leaves which die in the fall…

Earth teach me regeneration, as the seed which rises in the spring.

Earth teach me to forget myself, as melted snow forgets its life…

Earth teach me to remember kindness, as dry fields weep with rain.”

from the Ute people of North America, in “Singing the Living Tradition”

The international observance of Earth Day is for me the most important holiday on the calendar. I can’t imagine anything more important, or anything that makes as much a difference to everything that lives, as planet Earth. I am still working on how to make this day Holy. I want to marvel at, record, and lovingly share as many memories as I can. I want to be physically active outdoors. I want to help mitigate some of the damage that humans have done. And I want to invite, encourage, and implore everyone to join in the celebration and protection of our lives’ Host. We are all interconnected, living expressions of Earth-ness, alongside everything else on the home crust. What an amazing community to belong to!
This year, I’ve added a new page to my blog celebrating Oregon as my home Place. Please take a look! https://scillagrace.com/oregon-outdoors/

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Colorful Expressions

“Nature always wears the colors of the spirit.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson

“I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don’t notice it.”
― Alice Walker

“Everything is blooming most recklessly; if it were voices instead of colors, there would be an unbelievable shrieking into the heart of the night.” ― Rainer Maria Rilke

“Let me, O let me bathe my soul in colours; let me swallow the sunset and drink the rainbow.”
― Khalil Gibran

“Nature in her green, tranquil woods heals and soothes all afflictions.” ― John Muir

Anne Sandler has chosen “Colorful Expressions” for the theme of this week’s photo challenge. Please visit her post HERE to learn how color enhances photographs and see her wonderful examples. As the global community celebrates Earth Day this week, I hope you’ll feel a gratitude and affection for our planet that compels you to protect and defend her with your best efforts.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Bokeh

Sofia, our host for this challenge, writes: “The term bokeh was first used to distinguish normal motion blur from the blur obtained when things are out of focus. It literally means blur in Japanese. The Nikon website, after a more complex and technical explanation reduces it to simply this: ‘bokeh is the pleasing or aesthetic quality of out-of-focus blur in a photograph’.” The picture above is of a very young fern, its leaves all rolled up. The soft focus background draws attention to the inward curl, like tiny arms hugging its own precious new life.

I like how the background blur in this closeup of a dewdrop on some beard lichen reminds me of neuron pathways in the brain. (I do wish the drop were in sharper focus, though.) The bokeh background feels very Zen-like to me. It’s what happens when you are calmly mindful of the thing right in front of you, while the background fades into a peaceful blur. Here’s a gallery of my nature close-ups with bokeh backgrounds:

Please visit Sofia’s post, HERE, for more on this technique and instructions for participating in the challenge.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Earth Story

Once, a very, very long time ago, before there was a “United States of America”…

Dinosaur National Monument, Utah
Badlands National Park, South Dakota
Canyonlands National Park, Utah

…the Earth went through some dramatic changes. Gradually, new life emerged. Large animals, different from the dinosaurs, roamed the vast grasslands of the continent.

Badlands National Park, Sage Creek Wilderness
Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Not only did Earth sustain these large herds of ungulates, she also supported enormous trees in extensive networks of forest.

Big Basin Redwoods State Park, California

Eventually, however, a new species evolved, and in the blink of an eye by Earth’s time, this one dominated the canyons, the grasslands, and the forests and used up or destroyed much of the Earth’s abundance.

Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Somehow, it finally dawned on this species that they were causing great harm to the Earth. Many of them dedicated their large brains to the resolution of this grave problem.

Adopt-A-Tree planting, Cedar Lakes Conservation Foundation, Wisconsin

It’s difficult to know what will happen in the next chapter of Earth’s story, but every member of every species on Earth is playing a part. Consider your part. Act wisely and with compassion for Her.

Thank you to Amy for issuing this photo challenge and for sharing her beautiful illustrations of Earth’s story. Click HERE to see her post.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Odds and Ends

“A Miscellany is a collection without a natural ordering relation.” ― John Edensor Littlewood

This morning, Tina of Travels and Trifles invites us to post images that may never fit into any Challenge category, so I went looking for recent captures that I just…like. For no particular reason. Turns out, however, that I could say truthfully that they do have something in common. They were all taken within an hour’s drive from my home in Oregon.

“The world is so full of a number of things, I’m sure we should all be as happy as kings.”
― Robert Louis Stevenson

I hope you find a huge collection of various things to delight you this week, close by your home. Living local has many environmental and social benefits and can help heal the planet and our selves.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: A Special Place

My special spot is a parcel of land measuring about 56 acres, including woodland, wetland, and prairie habitats. I rented a house here from my employer, the Cedar Lakes Conservation Foundation. During my stay, it was opened to the public as the Joan M. Pick Nature Preserve. 

I was extremely fortunate to have called this place my home for nearly four years. I have missed its many facets and familiar charms…but not the super cold winters! Here is a gallery of photos that I’ve taken of this property. 

Special thanks to our guest host for this week’s challenge, who shares delightful photos of Ireland (click here for Murtagh’s Meadow), and — full disclosure: this is a repost of a challenge from 2020 because…reasons.

Lens-Artist Photo Challenge: Water

“Life in us is like the water in a river.”
― Henry David Thoreau

“You are water
I’m water
we’re all water in different containers
that’s why it’s so easy to meet
someday we’ll evaporate together.”
― Yoko Ono

“Empty your mind, be formless, shapeless, like water. Be water, my friend.”
― Bruce Lee

“Be like water,

Flow like a river,

Crash like the rain,

Fly like the cloud again!”
― Md. Ziaul Haque

I am like water; I have many moods and forms, from tiny droplets of doubt or hope clinging to the cobweb threads of reason, to the crashing surge of love and purpose that washes over me when I am inspired. We are water; our lives depend on it. We cannot create it ourselves, but we can be ever grateful that it is all around us. We must protect it in its many courses: creeks, rivers, bays, oceans. We must be mindful of using only our share and making sure there is enough for every living being. We must protect the water cycle in every way possible.

Thanks to Anne Sandler for hosting our challenge this week and reminding me just how important this subject is – for everyone.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Low-Light

“If I can put one touch of rosy sunset into the life of any man or woman, I shall feel that I have worked with God.”
― G.K. Chesterton

This week’s challenge comes from a new member of the Lens-Artist team, Sofia Alves. She invites us to play with low-light settings and share tips. Here’s my tip: watch the sun set and take lots of pictures. The light will get lower and lower over time. If you start early enough, you’ll get lots of practice. You might see a light show with a million gradations of color, reflected on surfaces like waves and awestruck eyeballs. And meanwhile, you might notice the space between you and the horizon – and the 93 million miles between you and the Sun. That might give you a new perspective on Life in the bargain. If you’re very lucky, there might be others of your species around taking in the changing light, the coming night, and you’ll have someone to share that with. If you stand very still while taking those shots, you might realize you are on a revolving planet that is always changing. And you might feel better about Change in general while you’re in the presence of such beauty. In fact, the whole experience of low-light might become the highlight of your day…or your week…or your month. And just think, you could photograph a sunset every single day for the rest of your life!

Amazing possibilities abound, even in these difficult times.