Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Textures of the Land, Sea, and Sky

“What do I make of all this texture? What does it mean about the kind of world in which I have been set down? The texture of the world, its filigree and scrollwork, means that there is the possibility for beauty here, a beauty inexhaustible in its complexity, which opens to my knock, which answers in me a call I do not remember calling, and which trains me to the wild and extravagant nature of the spirit I seek.” — Annie Dillard

I am happily inspired by this week’s Lens-Artist host, guest blogger Jude of Cornwall in Colours. The colors and textures of the land, sea, and sky are a borderless palette of life in all its fascinating diversity. Where those places come together and complement and contrast are especially beautiful.

“A day, a livelong day, is not one thing but many. It changes not only in growing light toward zenith and decline again, but in texture and mood, in tone and meaning, warped by a thousand factors of season, of heat or cold, of still or multi winds, torqued by odors, tastes, and the fabrics of ice or grass, of bud or leaf or black-drawn naked limbs. And as a day changes so do its subjects, bugs and birds, cates, dogs, butterflies and people.” — John Steinbeck

“Texture is closely related to our sense of touch. It suggests something about the make-up or structure of the object that we are looking at: whether it is fuzzy or soft, rough or smooth or sharp or flat. Since we cannot touch the object we are looking at, we are completely dependent on the visual clues captured by the photographer to glean insight into the qualities of the object photographed.” — Samantha Chrysanthou

Thank you, Jude, for your invitation to look closely at Texture and feel the beauty surrounding us!

Lens-Artist Photo Challenge: Wildlife Close to Home

I have been extremely fortunate to live in places where wildlife habitat was nearby and protected. For four years, I lived on land trust property, 56 acres of preserved land. Now I live on property that is on a forested mountain ridge; a creek runs down the valley. Black bears, mountain lions, wild turkeys, elk, deer, bobcats, skunks, raccoons, opossums, moles, rabbits, owls, bald eagles, and various other rodents and birds as well as a host of others make their homes here. I rarely catch them on camera, though, as the more exotic ones prefer to stay hidden and the common ones don’t compel me to run and get my camera. I admire wildlife photographers who have the patience to set up and wait for an encounter. I also imagine a zoom lens would make it more rewarding to try to photograph wildlife when I venture out.

That said, here’s a gallery of wildlife found living close to my homes in Wisconsin and Oregon:

Thanks to Anne Sandler for hosting this week’s challenge.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Exposure

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.
Leonard Cohen, “Anthem”

“Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.”
Helen Keller

“I have learned throughout my life as a composer chiefly through my mistakes and pursuits of false assumptions, not by my exposure to founts of wisdom and knowledge.” – Igor Stravinsky

I find that photographic terms morph in my mind to concepts. Being exposed and captured in the Raw is a very vulnerable state. But in the kind hands of an Artist, that’s how beauty can be shared.

Thank you, Sofia, for opening up the possibilities, for inviting the dark as well as the bright, for acknowledging that neither is “right”.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Flights of Fancy

How do you photograph a fantasy?

What do your daydreams look like?

“Sometimes, in a summer morning, having taken my accustomed bath, I sat in my sunny doorway from sunrise till noon, rapt in reverie.” – Henry David Thoreau

 “Sit in reverie and watch the changing color of the waves that break upon the idle seashore of the mind.” – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

“Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living, it’s a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope.” – Dr. Seuss

“Nothing happens unless first a dream.” – Carl Sandburg

The fabulous thing about this challenge is that you would have no photographs to submit unless your flight of fancy could become reality. We may be more fortunate than we dare to imagine. Thanks to Johnbo for the prompt!

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Mountains Are Calling

“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees.” – John Muir

“We are now in the mountains and they are in us, kindling enthusiasm, making every nerve quiver, filling every pore and cell of us.” – John Muir

Thank you, Amy, for the challenge to seek higher ground.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Flower Favorites and their stories

Unlike our host this week, Ann-Christine of Leya (sounds like a princess’ name, and indeed she is Lens-Artist royalty!), I do not grow flowers or keep a garden. However, I have loved and cherished them and have stories of how they have made happiness bloom in my life.

Lilacs

My first favorite flower is the Lilac. There was a row of lilac bushes that belonged to our next-door neighbor that sat on the dividing line of our properties. When they bloomed for two short weeks in early summer in Illinois, their fragrance intoxicated me. I wanted to cut the bunches and bring them to my room so that I could smell them as I went to sleep. I was soon instructed by my mother that first, they weren’t mine, and second, they would quickly drop their blossoms and become a mess to clean up inside. I vowed that when I grew up, I would have my own lilac bushes and surround myself with their lovely perfume. I missed lilacs while living in California, but my husband planted dwarf lilacs for Mother’s Day at our house when we moved back to Illinois. Then he took me to the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island in Michigan, where they have a Lilac Festival each year, and he bought me a small bottle of lilac essence, which I dabbed on my skin with sheer delight until it was all gone.

Fringed Gentian
Fringed Gentian, open

Fringed Gentian was a legend on the restored prairies of land protected by the Cedar Lakes Conservation Foundation of Wisconsin, where I worked for five years. I had never heard of this early Fall flower before or seen it until I was in my 50s. One September day, my friend Jerry (on the Board of the Foundation and their main trail steward) called me up and told me to grab my camera – the Gentians were up! I was absolutely enthralled by their tightly twisted blooms that opened to four fringed petals of blue perfection.

Rose

The Rose speaks of love silently
In a language known only to the heart

My late husband, Jim, loved roses. He gave me lots of them. He gave me the crystal plaque with the above inscription when I was in High School. It sits in the curio cabinet I inherited from his mother. Next to it is an acrylic-coated and gold-tipped rose, a souvenir from the weekend we spent together at a couples’ resort, a mini-vacation from our four kids. I love roses with the deep scent of raspberries; the soft, furry sweetness of their aroma is a heaven of blissful indulgence. They speak of romance and exclusive preference, to me. They will always remind me of Jim. I have moved into houses where rose bushes were left behind in the garden. The blooms were always a gift, not something I felt I had earned. I suppose that’s totally appropriate for a love flower, and why it is so very special.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Treasure Hunt

Charlie is a treasure. He is very much a beloved pet in our family.
This treasured pet was named “Moon”, so I get double credit for his photo!
Sunset makes the clouds into a golden treasure. Another double credit!
These parents are making treasured moments with their child in the reflection of the sun sparkling on the Pacific Ocean.
A small “truck” full of autumn pumpkins, a treasure for the kids ready to carve them, and foliage in the background.
I treasure autumn days when I find foliage on my walk: a golden carpet underfoot!

Thank you, Tina, for inviting us to join you on a Treasure Hunt! Here’s the list for all you additional treasure-hunters out there:

  • A pet or pets (yours or someone else’s)
  • The moon or the sun (extra credit for both in one image)
  • Clouds (extra credit if you also include rain or snow)
  • A reflection
  • A child (extra credit if with other family members)
  • An umbrella (extra credit if you include a person using it)
  • A truck (extra credit if you include the driver or what the truck is hauling)
  • Autumn foliage (extra credit if it’s something that only blooms in the fall)
  • Something fun you found on a walk

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Over the Hill

“The years between fifty and seventy are the hardest. You are always being asked to do things, and yet you are not decrepit enough to turn them down. ” – George Eliot

Donna of Wind Kisses is our host for this week’s challenge. She mentions that she will be turning 60 years old this week and invites us to explore the idea of “over the hill”. Coincidentally, I turned 60 last month, so the topic turns my thoughts to the long view of life’s journey.

“After climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb.” – Nelson Mandela

“The secret of life is enjoying the passage of time
Any fool can do it
There ain’t nothing to it
Nobody knows how we got to the top of the hill
But since we’re on our way down
We might as well enjoy the ride.” – James Taylor

The journey of my life has definitely been a range of summits and valleys, each with their difficulties and exquisite beauties. I’m not looking to quit any time soon, although my pace has slowed a bit. I strive for the wisdom and grace that will teach me to walk observantly, respectfully, and kindly toward unknown horizons.

Happy Birthday, Donna, and many happy returns of the day!

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Opposites

“What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness.”
― John Steinbeck

“You couldn’t have strength without weakness, you couldn’t have light without dark, you couldn’t have love without loss”
― Jodi Picoult

“Any life expands and flowers only through division and contradiction.” ― Hermann Hesse

Opposition, it seems to me, is a relationship where there are many similarities and a few striking differences. You wouldn’t say that the opposite of a lemon is an airplane. You might say its opposite is an orange – they are similar except that a lemon is more sour and an orange can be sweet. A mirror image is almost exactly the same, except that everything is reversed. So maybe, if you are distressed by getting the opposite of what you want in life, you can narrow your focus down to one or two factors that are making the outcome contrary. Then, you can see that your life, by and large, is quite satisfactory – a reason for joy, in fact!

Thanks to our Challenger this week, Tina of Travels and Trifles, for an excellent theme and inspiring photos!

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Favorite Finds

“Our ability to perceive quality in nature begins as in art with the pretty. It expands through successive stages of the beautiful to values as yet uncaptured by language.” – Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac

Our host this week, Ann-Christine, writes, “I am sure you have something hidden in your archives that once surprised you or filled you with awe…” I am delighted to be continually filled with awe by light falling on something living, something vibrant. Most recently, it was the orchid my daughter gave me last week for my birthday catching the morning light streaming through my kitchen window.

Getting a beautifully lit close-up at marine life at the Oregon Coast aquarium was a special treat. So was that perfect moment of morning fog being pierced by the rising sun at Spencer’s Butte.

Looking deep into the undergrowth to find those diamond dewdrops, you might be rewarded by a wealth of jewels, arranged in magical symmetry.

My favorite finds are these simple and exquisite examples of Nature’s inexhaustible variety and beauty. Thanks for asking, Ann-Christine!