Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Feet and Shoes

“All walking is discovery. On foot we take the time to see things whole.”
~ Hal Borland

“Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads.”
~ Henry David Thoreau

“And forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair”
~ Khalil Gibran

“Because the human history is the history of shoes.
The history of places where we ever tread and stand.”
~ Stebby Julionatan

First shoes barely get any wear. I love them for their innocence, their precious smallness, and all the potential of a journey in miniature, striving for growth.

Worn shoes have history. I love them for the stories they could tell, for the job well done, for the weariness and wisdom of travel.

I love this theme for its direct simplicity. Photos of feet and shoes are individual and unique. They tell a personal story, but they are usually whimsical and shy while doing it. Isn’t it the somewhat awkward person who looks at their feet while talking? So now you’ve seen my feet and my shoe photo collection. Now I put my feet up and take a load off.

Thank you to Ann-Christine for this delightful challenge! Please visit her post to see some really elegant and unusual shoes from Sweden plus some adorable pudgy toes.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Inspiration

Inspiration…that moment when you draw in breath, a gasp, an awe-filled audible inhalation, the desire to take in the spirit of something beautiful, breath-taking.

I moved to Oregon exactly one year and one week ago. I have been inspired by something about it every single day I’ve been here, I think. The natural communities are incredibly diverse and resilient and interesting and beautiful. Today, for example, I joined a work party collecting camas seeds. These little seeds are nestled in the dried flower petals like beans in maracas. They shake and rattle as you walk through the meadow grass. Indigenous people roasted the bulbs of these plants as a food staple, high in natural sugars, similar to sweet potato. When I returned from this adventure, I walked down my driveway and began collecting blackberries from the invasive Himalayan canes that grow as a huge, prickly nuisance to most landowners, a deliciously irritating problem. They are everywhere. Free food!

This has not been an easy year for me by any means. It hasn’t been an easy year for most people. On top of the universal griefs and fears, I am new in town, isolated, unemployed, and missing my mother who died in October. There are always mornings when I find it hard to get up and get on with my life. But when I look out my window at OREGON, I find motivation to join the young hawks and the gentle deer, step outside and breathe in the rich scent of Douglas fir.

In such a setting, I feel like I belong to the Earth, like a tree taking root and creating a tall, strong life. I’m grateful to have this new inspiration in my life. If you’re curious about previous explanations of my blogging inspiration, visit THIS POST. Thanks to Patti for creating this challenge and sharing her beautiful photos.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Postcards

“See the pyramids along the Nile
Watch the sunrise on a tropic isle
Just remember darling all the while
You belong to me
See the market place in Old Algiers
Send me photographs and souvenirs
Just remember when a dream appears
You belong to me”
recorded by Patsy Cline

Ana evokes wonderful sentiments in her guest post for Lens-Artists this week on the theme of Postcards. My favorite postcards from home were from my father when I was at summer camp as a young girl. They were clever and funny. He sent one of the Chicago skyscrapers along Lake Michigan and instructed that buildings grow naturally along the shores of lakes, and if I looked carefully at the banks of the small lake on the Girl Scout Camp property in Wisconsin, I might see some tiny structures hidden in the plants.
When my fiancé was touring Europe with his University choir, he sent postcards showing the most iconic scenes of cathedrals and palaces along with his sweetest statements of love and longing. Those cards were exotic and precious and carried the potency of romance as well.

I moved to Oregon exactly a year ago. It seems that every time I explore this beautiful state, I send my fiancé, my late husband, a mental postcard of the places I go. I’m sure he would love it. I wish he were here…

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Along Back Country Roads

Roads go ever ever on
Under cloud and under star
Yet feet that wandering have gone
Turn at last to home afar.

― J.R.R. Tolkien

Far off the major highways, in deep woods and high mountain forests, lie some of my favorite back country roads.

Paved roads in remote places in the American West lead to canyons and deserts where the human population is minimal and natural landscapes stand out.

Sometimes a back country road is a little more than your vehicle can handle. Use caution!

My very favorite back country road is the gravel lane where my mailbox stands. I’m grateful to have a home far from the heavy thoroughfares where noise and stress oppress the environment.

Thank you to the Lens-Artists guest hosts this week, Wandering Dawgs, for inviting us to share our back road adventures. Happy travelling, all, and safe home again!

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Getting Away

When this old world starts getting me down
And people are just too much for me to face
…”

Not being a city girl, I have never escaped the hustling crowd by climbing the stairs to find solitude “Up on the Roof”, like the Carole King/Gerry Goffin song describes. I prefer to travel to and explore places of natural quiet where there is (ideally) no human presence. Wilderness is my favorite Get Away. I am heading out tomorrow to Strawberry Mountain Wilderness in the Mahleur National Forest on my very first backpacking trip. I will not be tethered to a powered vehicle or a “civilized” infrastructure for three whole days. I will be relying on my own two feet and the company of a few experienced hikers. This is something I’ve been wanting to do for more than 40 years!

I have done day hikes in designated Wilderness before, but never an overnight. It is extremely important that our group Leave No Trace of our visit. Keeping wild spaces as pristine as possible ensures that conservation and spiritual values are not compromised.

If we lose the ability to get away from the impact of human domination, we may lose sight of humility and perspective altogether.

Thank you to this week’s hosts, Rusha and Bert of Oh the Places We See.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Black and White

It’s really been a joy to participate in the Lens-Artists Photo Challenges over time. I have “met” so many interesting bloggers and “traveled” to so many fascinating places. And I’ve learned something about technique and artistry along the way. This week, the guest host is Anne Sandler. Her header image took my breath away, and then she totally schooled me on processing black and white photographs! Visit her post HERE.

I am less than a novice when it comes to processing. I use the very rudimentary tools that came with my camera. I’ve never even used Photoshop. The texture and tone and clarity that Anne achieves is truly stunning. What I know about Black and White is that I like it for portraits and for “art”. It’s not much, but it’s a start.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: On The Water

“The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one
in its net of wonder forever.”
– Jacques Yves Cousteau

“Perhaps the truth depends on a walk around the lake.”

– Wallace Stevens

When despair for the world grows in me…
I come into the presence of still water. And I feel above me
the day-blind stars waiting with their light.
For a time I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.”
– Wendell Berry

“A lake carries you into recesses of feeling
otherwise impenetrable.”
– William Wordsworth

Being “On The Water” is a perfect vantage point for reflections on vastness, on stillness, on currents and exhilarating sparkles of light. There is perhaps no better environment to illustrate the simultaneous refreshment and danger of being alive on this planet. Our impact on our waterways, our uses and abuses of water, will affect future generations of all species in great ripples and waves. Take care, but enjoy the beauty around you whenever you find yourself on the water.

Congratulations to our guest host this week – John – for an excellent Challenge post!

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: One Photo, Many Moods

“Don’t shoot what it looks like. Shoot what it feels like.”
– David Alan Harvey

Soft color, diffused light, water falling as gracefully as a diaphanous gown over the form of a posed dancer – the picture above puts me in a mood of dreamy peace.

In black and white, water and rock are opposing elements. There is work being done, erosion and the exposure of contrasting light.

In this cropped version, the multiple paths of falling water suggest possibilities, nuance, ambiguity, secret diversions. In monochrome, it suggests a kind of sexiness that distorts reality. Our Lens-Artists host, Tina, says, “This week, we’d like you to think about the various ways you create your images. Show us the same subject captured using multiple, different approaches.” Her post shows fabulous examples of her photographic skill. Click HERE to see!

In working with the photo above, I made a couple of discoveries. First, I converted it to black and white, which felt more nostalgic to me. If I had a sepia option, it might make me think of an historic war zone.

Then, I zoomed in for a cropped version and noticed a spider web with intersecting lines that mirrored the angles of the fence material, creating an abstract I hadn’t foreseen.

This abstract evokes philosophical thoughts about boundaries and materials. How resistant are the fences that keep me from crossing into new territory?

“Photography is about finding out what can happen in the frame. When you put four edges around some facts,
you change those facts.”
– Garry Winogrand

This photo exercise yielded some interesting results. I find it worthwhile to experiment with my vision and allow for unexpected rewards. Thank you, Tina, for the challenge!

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Wonder-filled World

I love that Amy chose Louis Armstrong’s “What A Wonderful World” for this week’s challenge theme! That was the key quote I chose as my response to the “Happiness Is…” challenge that Lens-Artists posted back in December of 2018. Here’s the link to that post: https://scillagrace.com/2018/12/01/lens-artists-photo-challenge-happiness-is/

Of course, there are always new opportunities to wonder at this wide, beautiful world!

Yesterday, I hiked for the first time in the Cascades of central Oregon. Snow-capped mountain peaks and colorful wildflowers graced every scenic view. It was truly spectacular!

Iron Mountain has a volcanic plug or lava neck at its top – that’s the rocky protrusion just to the left of the peak. It was formed when lava in a vent hardened. As we climbed up to the top of that formation, we could see the porous features of the lava itself and the rust-colored iron in it. It made me wonder at how this was once an active volcano, as were the other peaks in the Cascade chain on this Pacific ring of fire.

Fire, snow, sunshine, trees…this is a world filled with wonders that shape the future and tell the past. We have so much to enjoy and so much to learn!

Photo credit: Wendy Fekkers

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Shade and Shadow

Saturdays, holidays, easy afternoons
Lazy days, sunny days, nothing much to do.
Rainy days are better days for hangin’ out in-side
Grainy days and city ways make me want to hide
Someplace cool an’ green an’ shady.

Find yourself a piece of grassy ground,
Lay down close your eyes.
Find yourself and maybe lose yourself
While your free spirit flies.
— John Denver

It’s early June, and already there have been days of record high temperatures here in Oregon as well as other parts of the U.S. My adults kids live in apartments without air conditioning…who would have thought you’d need it in the northern part of the country? The fear of another summer of wildfires is palpable. We seek out shade and water while we live in the shadow of hubris-driven climate instability.

Light and shadow are opposite sides of the same coin.
We can illuminate our paths or darken our way.
It is a matter of choice.
— Maya Angelou

Thanks to Ann-Christine for hosting this week’s Lens Artists challenge. Stay cool and kind and be safe!