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.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Light and Shadow

“Every moment of light and dark is a miracle.” – Walt Whitman

“Both light and shadow are the dance of Love.” – Rumi

“All the variety, all the charm, all the beauty of life is made up of light and shadow.” – Leo Tolstoy

If, in photography, we record light, it stands to reason that we must also be aware of the shadows. The contrast, the interplay, the dance between the two is what makes dynamic art. Of course this juxtaposition exists all around us all the time, a visual yin and yang. Such is the nature of our world. Sometimes it feels chaotic; sometimes it feels balanced and peaceful. Our challenge for this week is to embrace light and shadow. Patti gives us excellent examples in her post. Click HERE to view it.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: The Rule of Thirds

I am always fascinated by the beauty of nature in its most exquisite detail. I’m sure some people would look at my files and think, “Jeez, what a bunch of boring shots of plants!” I like to think that if I focus on presentation, I can redeem the endless green. The “Rule of Thirds” is a helpful tool for adding interest and eye-appeal to the composition of a shot. Tina outlines this concept and poses this week’s Challenge in informative detail. Visit her post HERE to see how it’s done.

I picked up a few additional pointers from Tina’s post that I will keep in mind.  
“It’s important to compose birds with an area of open space in front, visually implying they could fly away at a given moment.

Another approach to composing is a “Z” configuration – structuring your image so that the viewer’s eye is moving from left to right – as most of our viewers typically read.

“Good composition is like a suspension bridge – each line adds strength and takes none away…Making lines run into each other is not composition. There must be motive for the connection. Get the art of controlling the observer – that is composition.”
Robert Henri

These are interesting concepts to ponder. What makes something pleasing or interesting to your eye? Leading lines, balance and symmetry, color, subject matter…there’s so much to consider in photography. And so much to see that’s pleasing and interesting in this wide world. Happy snapping, photographers!

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Humor

hu·mor
/ˈ(h)yo͞omər/
noun 1. the quality of being amusing or comic.

What makes something humorous or funny? And how would you represent that in a photograph? Is it the unexpectedness of it, the surprise? I think that’s what makes the juxtaposition of objects in an image comical. There’s also the imagining of behavior between subjects in an image.

“Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I’m not sure about the universe.”
― Albert Einstein

“As soon as you have made a thought, laugh at it.”
― Lao Tzu

“Lord, what fools these mortals be!”
― William Shakespeare

“You will do foolish things, but do them with enthusiasm.”
― Colette

Our guest host for this week’s challenge is John RH. Please visit HIS POST to help yourself to some humor and to join in the fun.

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: They Say It’s Your Birthday…

…It’s my birthday, too!

In my family, we have clusters of birthdays in August and in late March/early April. It provides the opportunity to get several households together at one time for a joint party. I love it when we’re all crowded into the kitchen, cooking together, sipping something, laughing, and singing. We tend to break into song for no particular reason. We also love to dance, and we happen to have a music producer/DJ in the family, so dance parties with a house bass beat add to the celebration. I’ve been taking photos of birthdays for more than 30 years now. The difference is that my kids don’t want to have their faces in these photos anymore. Still, I have enough material to offer a gallery of birthday ambience and celebration. I hope you enjoy it!

Here’s a birthday photo I didn’t take. It’s my third birthday, and I’m at my grandmother’s beach cottage on Lake Michigan. At that age, the most important part of the day was that I got to eat chocolate cake! (Some things haven’t changed much…)

Our host for this photo challenge party is Johnbo. Visit his site HERE.