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!

Lens-Artist Challenge: My Travels

I met Steve eight months after I was widowed. In the tumult of grief and transition, he offered me something that was transformational – a chance to go camping. My husband and four kids and I did not camp together. I hadn’t been camping for years, but I consider myself a lifetime Girl Scout. Getting back into the outdoors, practicing self-reliance and adaptability, and surrounding myself with the beauty and non-judgmental, non-moral embrace of Nature was just what I needed to consider Life worthwhile again. Steve’s style of camping has a distinct difference from mine: his motto is not “Be Prepared”. His motto is “Be Open”. My instinct to make lists and consult maps was challenged at the very outset. We spent the first hour of one of our early trips parked at the curb outside my house in a deep philosophical discussion of what it means to be on an adventure. 

Steve also introduced me to the wonder of the National Forests of the U.S.A. There is no fee for camping in the National Forests, but there are Leave No Trace rules. A world of freedom opened up for us when I discovered we could easily make camp, cook, clean up, sleep and deal with personal waste (!) outside of crowded developed campsites.

We have, however, depended on either his former Toyota or my late husband’s Honda to transport all our gear.I would love to be able to experience the freedom of going into even more remote wilderness areas, either with a 4-wheel drive vehicle with higher clearance or a backpack. (The latter would be more realistic if I were ten years younger and in better shape…)

We have enjoyed the diversity, the grandeur, and the autonomy of places not dominated by human impact. I find those sacred spaces truly inspiring… and extremely photogenic.

(I had to include that last photo just to prove I’m not kidding about the Girl Scout bit…)
I thank Amy for sharing her inspirational Travel stories and for inviting us into this Travel Challenge. 

Lens-Artist Challenge: 2018 in Review

Best of the month: January

February

March

April

May

June

July

August

September

October

November

December

This has been an eventful year in my life. My son’s wedding, my daughter’s graduation, trips to Badlands, California, and Oregon — I have so much beauty to remember, so much to be grateful for. My personal calendar of photos reflects my little world of favorite things to look at: my loved ones and the view of Nature around me.

I also think of all that these photos do not show that has occurred this year. The world is a mixture of joy and suffering, always. The lens of compassion is the one that I hope is always in my mind’s eye. 

Thank you, Ann-Christine, for inviting us to reflect on the year that is past and to look forward to improving in the next. 

Lens-Artists Challenge: Reflection

Reflection

To see — and see again, with a new perspective… 

To find in transparency a expression of reality you can’t see otherwise…

To throw back light from a secondary source. 

Without reflection, photography literally wouldn’t be possible. Without spiritual reflection, photography wouldn’t be meaningful. 
May the art you create bring you greater awareness, greater light! My best to all you Lens Artists out there. Thanks especially to Patti for this inviting challenge!