Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Harmony

“There is no true greatness in art or science without a sense of harmony.”

Albert Einstein

Greatness is a pretty tough challenge. Harmony is a tough challenge as well. Technically, emotionally, socially, it is not easy to make music. I have a B.A. in Music/Vocal Performance, and almost two years ago, I took up the violin. Professionals make it look almost easy. I had no idea how difficult it is until I tried to produce some kind of pleasing sound whilst scraping a horsehair bow over a metal wire. The idea is rather ludicrous…as were my first attempts. Why do would-be musicians even bother? 

This evening, my eldest daughter is performing Mahler’s 8th Symphony with the Madison Symphony Chorus…and a host of other musicians. After all, it’s the “Symphony of a Thousand”. Tomorrow, I am performing Mozart’s Solemn Vespers and Lauridsen’s Lux Aeterna in a basilica known as Holy Hill.

It’s impossible to imagine the number of hours that go into producing a concert, from composition to performance. Similarly, from learning to speak to writing poetry, what motivates humans to communicate? Why bother to go further than grunting out urgent pain or danger?

There is something sublime, something divine in experiencing the mystery of being alive in a moment. Music is LIFE in a moment. Photography is LIFE in a moment. It is breath-taking, poignant, exhilarating to be able to show someone that LIFE and feel that they resonate with that experience. That is harmony — experiencing the resonance of LIFE with another being. 

As a Lens-Artist, I hope to show you something that touches a chord. Thank you, Tina, for the invitation to be part of this challenge and share the art I’ve practiced. 

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Less is More

Amy’s challenge this week is a very meaningful one. Imagine how the Earth would benefit if the human species truly embraced the idea that “Less is the new More!”

We’ve all seen news articles showing evidence of huge flotillas of garbage in our oceans, of urban sprawl eating up wilderness, and of first world over-consumption. I remember being visually struck by a National Geographic article by photographer Peter Menzel showing the possessions of an average family from a variety of countries across the world. (Material World: A Global Family Portrait) The American family had enough possessions to fill the end of their cul de sac. 

One of the benefits of my preferred way of travel, camping, is that it gives me the opportunity to live very simply. The clothes I’m wearing, a tent, a box of matches, some bedding, and a few cooking utensils are completely sufficient. The food I eat is recycled: gathered in and returned to the land. The vast landscapes of the outdoors are anything but simple. The world is a complex array of ecosystems. But focusing on one feature reveals the astounding beauty of simple design.

Removing extraneous clutter from my photos and my way of life allows me to focus on the wonder of the essence of Life. That I am alive and that I am surrounded by life that exists on levels more intricate and vast than I can see or imagine is…simply…amazing.  

Earth Day Eve

Tomorrow is Earth Day. The first Earth Day was April 22, 1970, when

“twenty million Americans displayed their commitment to a clean environment. It was called the largest demonstration in human history, and it permanently changed the nation’s political agenda. By Earth Day 2000, participation had exploded to 500 million people in 167 countries.  The seemingly simple idea — a day set aside to focus on protecting our natural environment — was the brainchild of U. S. Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin. It accomplished, far beyond his expectations, his lifelong goal of putting the environment onto the nation’s and the world’s political agenda.”  (from The Man From Clear Lake by Bill Christofferson)

That simple idea – that Earth deserves the attention and respect of all its human inhabitants, and protection from harm – seems to me more fundamental than any other ideology formed around life on this planet.

It boggles my mind that damage done to one magnificent cultural edifice can command more attention than the complete destruction of countless forest cathedrals, that concern over relics of antiquity can eclipse the horror of the extinction of living species…including our own.


“In the last 20 years, over 3.5 million hectares of Indonesian and Malaysian forest have been destroyed to make way for palm oil. Almost 80% of orangutan habitat has disappeared in the last 20 years. We are losing over 6,000 orangutans a year.” (from The Orangutan Project website)

“The Holocene extinction, otherwise referred to as the Sixth extinction or Anthropocene extinction, is a current event, and is one of the most significant extinction events in the history of the Earth.” (Wikipedia)

I want to present to you, on the eve of Earth Day, an invitation to reflect on our hubris, our ignorance, and consider ways to protect, conserve, respect, and champion our planet, perhaps with the affection you might tender towards a venerable ancestor.

She’s been around a long, long time. None of us would be here without her. And we have treated her badly. We have made grave mistakes. Perhaps now we can admit we were wrong and make reparation.

For example, PLASTICS. They’ve only been in existence for 60 years or so. We lived without them before; we can live without them again. No big deal…except if you’re protecting the plastic-producing industry instead of the inhabitants of Earth.

Steve and I found a quiz on Climate Change Solutions that yielded some surprising information. I challenge you to test your assumptions about effective ways to curb climate change by clicking HERE.

How will you honor Earth Day this year?

How are you changing habits that have proven destructive?

How are you encouraging love and respect for the environment in people you know?

Like my hero, Jane Goodall, I have hope in the ability of humans to make moral choices about how to behave towards the planet. In an interview with Mongabay, “Dr. Jane” gives five reasons to have hope for the planet: 

  • The energy, commitment, and hard work of young people once they understand the problems and are empowered to discuss and ACT upon solutions.
  • The human brain.
  • The resilience of Nature. 
  • The indomitable human spirit – the people who tackle seemingly impossible tasks and won’t give up.
  • My most recent reason for hope is the power of social media.

I feel acutely the urgency of making better decisions and practicing to do no harm in whatever way we can. Please leave a comment if you would like to share examples of your practice that may edify me and others.

Thank you for reading this post. May you enjoy the beauty of the planet where we live, Earth, in a deeply personal way tomorrow.

  (all photos in the gallery under copyright by Priscilla Galasso) 

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Creativity

I think Creativity inspires more creativity. Case in point: Ann-Christine has used her creative inventiveness to come up with a photo challenge, and now my creative energy imagines a new response.

And to illustrate my point further, I’d like to introduce you to ART in BLOOM – the Milwaukee Art Museum’s “stunning art-inspired floral installations” that are exhibited each spring. This exhibit is also a contest. The idea is to create a floral interpretation of one of the paintings in the museum’s galleries. This is the Grand Prize winner:

And here is my own gallery of my personal favorites: 

And to take the idea one step further, here is creative inspiration to the fourth degree: a photograph of a photographer inspired by a floral design inspired by a painting.

Creativity is communal and connective this way. We inspire each other, we learn from each other, we appreciate beauty together – differently.

Thank you, my fellow Lens-Artists, for inspiring me each week and inviting me to play along. What a great opportunity to live out Einstein’s words: “Creativity is intelligence having fun!”  

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Delicious!

Just when I was determined to starve myself out of my muffin-topping waistline, Patti challenges us to post something delicious and leaves my mouth watering for Italian delicacies. Well, I guess all I can say is….

MY PLEASURE!
I love food. Of course….sweets. Duh. 

And I yearn for fresh seafood…with BUTTER! (I miss living on the West Coast…Midwest lake fish just ain’t the same.)  

I adore savory morsels like cheese with truffles, brie and olives, salty delectables with herbs, and complex salads.

But DELICIOUS rises to a whole new level when you add a glass of wine and some beloved people.

So now that I’ve polished off my leftover anchovy pizza with sauteed spinach and garlic, I’ll take a look at some of the other DELICIOUS entries in the week’s Lens-Artists Challenge. Buon appetito!

Mid-Week Monochrome #15 – Flowers

I got inspired by Amy‘s response to Ryan Photography‘s mid-week photo challenge and converted some flower photos to monochrome. Bren Ryan’s photo is truly dramatic, which is hard to achieve with most flowers, especially pastels in bright light.  Here are my attempts:

“What have you learned, Dorothy?”
That we’re back in Kansas? And that dramatic lighting contrast, simple structure, and sharp focus are pretty essential for a good-looking monochrome flower. 

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Now for something completely DIFFERENT

Tina at Travels & Trifles lives on the East Coast. For her, the desert in bloom is something very different from her usual vista. Her photo challenge for this week is Something Different

The photos I want to share this week represent a bit of an experiment in composition and lighting. These shots are a bit abstract, though not completely.

This kind of overhead view of towering redwoods was the stuff of colorful posters sold in record stores in California in the 1970s. I just wanted to see if I could make something similar. 

This skylight window in my son’s Oregon apartment caught my eye one morning. I wanted to see if I could approximate surrealistic art with my camera.

This is the pattern of light and sand and water on the floor of Lake Michigan in Green Bay, Wisconsin. This is Oregon: fog, forest, and sunlight. But it could be an approaching UFO. And this could be an alien…

…but it’s really a Jenny Haniver. “A Jenny Haniver is the carcass of a ray or a skate that has been modified by hand then dried, resulting in a mummified specimen intended to resemble a fanciful fictional creature, such as a demon or dragon.” — Wikipedia

And it lives at our house. Once my boyfriend left it in the microwave for my young adult children to find.

Yeah. We’re Something Different, all right.