Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Summer Vibes

“Summer afternoon—summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.”
― Henry James

What will you be doing with your summer days, my Northern Hemisphere friends? This is the question and the challenge from our guest blogger of the week, Andre of Solaner in Germany. Beginning tomorrow, I will be backpacking along the Coast in Olympic National Park for four days. I am excited – on many levels! It will be a physical challenge, an emotional high, a journey in soulful wilderness, and eventually an unforgettable memory. I’m hoping to have some great pictures to share!

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Seeing Double

“There is one art of which man should be master, the art of reflection.”
Samuel Taylor Coleridge

“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!” I wrote that on my blog of December 22, 2018 in response to Patti’s Lens-Artist challenge that week.

In my March 7, 2020 blog post, I reflected on the changes I had been through during my cross-country pandemic move. I wrote, “Writing in this blog, storing photographs and memories, was a way to plant the seeds of realization. In my words and pictures, I remind myself who I truly am and see who I am becoming.”

This morning, it is Jez who invites the hunt for reflections with an amazing collection of great photo examples. Visit his post HERE.

The opportunity to see double – to revisit, to reflect, to look again from a new perspective – is a great gift. It often reveals treasures overlooked, depth unfathomed. It’s a practice worth repeating, regularly or periodically. New light can emerge from shadows, reflected from sources once obscured.

“Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.”
― Søren Kierkegaard

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Treasures

“It is by going down into the abyss that we recover
the treasures of life. Where you stumble, there lies your treasure.” ― Joseph Campbell

This week’s challenge is hosted by Aletta of nowathome. She lives in South Africa and finds on the sands of the beach a fascinating treasure of endless variety. This week, I found my treasure in the Cascade mountain range of Oregon.

It has not been an easy week. Three of my family members have Covid. My national government is regressing into dangerously harmful territory. I called a couple of friends and took off into the hills, from whence cometh my treasure – being alive in wilderness.

“Bad things do happen; how I respond to them defines my character and the quality of my life. I can choose to sit in perpetual sadness, immobilized by the gravity of my loss, or I can choose to rise from the pain and treasure the most precious gift I have – life itself.” ― Walter Anderson

I am enormously grateful for the ability to breathe the mountain air deep into my lungs, to smell the delicate perfume of wildflowers, to walk for miles and hours far away from flawed human systems. I treasure the perspective of the peaks above me and the plants at my feet. I treasure the freedom of flying butterflies, vulnerable yet exquisitely alive for their brief spans.

Thank you, Lens-Artists, for sharing your treasures. As we share, we build a caring community. Your generosity matters.

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: Doors

I’m mostly out of doors. Literally. I wondered if I even had any in my photo files? Windows I remember photographing. But doors? Hm. The earliest example I have is below, taken with a borrowed camera more than a decade ago. This door tells a story. But it’s not my story. Interestingly, when I first posted this picture taken in a small town in Wisconsin, a reader commented that this was her home town. Her school bus stop was the chairs beside these doors.

I mostly choose to photograph nature and landscapes. I feel I belong in those stories. But of course, there is interconnection between the natural world and human-crafted doorways. What is my perspective on these passageways?

What is my relationship to this door? Does it beckon me to enter or shut me out? What is the story in a doorway you choose to pass by completely but that others engage with regularly? Below is a gallery of random doors I found deep in my files. Each one reminds me of a particular story, a particular place. I don’t think any of these photographs are especially artful or interesting. But their variety is fascinating. Mirrors, wood, function, decoration, and states of repair create a world of comment on human passage.

This challenge is hosted by guest Lens-Artist Sylvia Bacon. Do visit HER POST to see her colorful expressions of this theme. Thank you, Sylvia, for your inspiration!

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Local Vistas

“I have taken a moment here to rest, to steal a view of the glorious vista that surrounds me, to look back on the distance I have come. But I can only rest for a moment, for with freedom come responsibilities, and I dare not linger, for my long walk is not ended.”
― Nelson Mandela

This week our Challenge host writes, “I bet you love your area too. What are your local vistas? Where do you photograph when you don’t have a lot of time or are not on vacation? What about your hometown excites you? Is it the countryside, city, gardens, amusement venues? This week, tell us about and show us your local vistas.”

I am deeply in love with my local Place – Oregon. I have only lived here (almost) two years, and I have much yet to explore. But the fact that the Pacific Ocean is only an hour’s drive from my front door is a huge selling point. The impact of the Ocean is not to be taken lightly. It helps create the Temporal Rainforest conditions that make the Western portion of this state wet, green, fecund and utterly amazing. I pinch myself regularly when I realize that I am not on vacation – I live here!

My response to the spectacular scenery in this place is to feel a deep and anxious desire to protect it from degradation and educate others about its wonders. I spent this morning in volunteer training at a National Wildlife Refuge an hour away from my front door in a different direction, in the Willamette River valley. I have yet to bring my camera to that Refuge to capture the upland meadow flowers, including show-stopping lupines, that have been lovingly stewarded, but below is a gorgeous marsh in the valley refuge chain that is only a 15-minute drive from my home.

“For most of history, man has had to fight nature to survive; in this century he is beginning to realize that, in order to survive, he must protect it.”
― Jacques-Yves Cousteau

My greatest hope in thinking about this week’s Challenge is that each participant will see with new and affectionate eyes the beauty of their local vistas and be inspired to protect the vulnerable natural features and conditions that create that environment. Thank you, Anne Sandler, for focusing our attention close to home, where our hearts live.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Simple/Complex

“Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.”
― Confucius

“I never knew anybody . . . who found life simple. I think a life or a time looks simple when you leave out the details.”
― Ursula K. Le Guin

“Abandon the urge to simplify everything, to look for formulas and easy answers, and to begin to think multidimensionally, to glory in the mystery and paradoxes of life, not to be dismayed by the multitude of causes and consequences that are inherent in each experience — to appreciate the fact that life is complex.”
― M. Scott Peck

 “You’ve got to keep asserting the complexity and the originality of life, and the multiplicity of it, and the facets of it. This is about being a complex human being in the world, not about finding a villain. This is no time for anything else than the best that you’ve got.” ― Toni Morrison

Congratulations to Sofia, our host this week, for choosing a challenge that is truly inspiring and rich. The challenge is about Minimalism and Maximalism, and in Art, this spectrum can reflect a tension not only in mood and atmosphere, but in history and philosophy as well. Sofia notes, “The Baroque period is probably one of the best examples of excessive decoration and a sense of awe. Money and power were demonstrated by increasingly outrageous works of art…”

Where are your tastes and sympathies right now? Does your brain and body long for the peaceful simplicity of minimal overload and distraction? Or are you celebrating the elaborate interconnectedness and biodiversity of all that we call Life?

I have to admit that I swing back and forth constantly. And maybe that is what evolved human brains do best. Using our abilities to change perspective, focusing in and zooming out with ease, allows us to gather information and make decisions like no other animal on Earth. We inhabit a variety of experiences and notice the differences, and then we get the opportunity to choose how to approach our next interaction. I don’t think there is a “correct” choice, but there is much to be learned about the benefits or tragedies resulting from how we’ve chosen to look at the world. I definitely rely on the opportunity to change my vision when I feel that it is not serving me or others.

I look forward to seeing how other Lens-Artists have interpreted this excellent challenge!

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Triptych

Our Challenge host this week, Ann-Christine, has given us a really fun idea to play around with. Here’s how she puts it:

 “With Three of a Kind, I want you to think about things related to your main photo – maybe a book, a flower, a room, a piece of art… Almost anything will fit in here – you could make your three images tell a story too! Simply put: Your post should have three separate images that are somehow related. (Another option is splitting one photo into three parts.)

There is a special word for this art of three – triptych. The shape may be seen in Christian Iconography and became a common conventional style for altar artworks in the Middle Ages, from the Gothic era forward, both in Europe and overseas.

Here are a few groupings I created:

“A man’s work is nothing but this slow trek to rediscover, through the detours of art, those two or three great and
simple images in whose presence
his heart first opened.” ― Albert Camus

“Three things in human life are important. The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind.
And the third is to be kind.” ― Henry James

“To live in this world, you must be able to do three things: to love what is mortal; to hold it against your bones
knowing your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go.” ― Mary Oliver

Please visit Ann-Christine’s post HERE to see some excellent examples of displaying photos in threes and play along with us Lens-Artists!

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.