Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Unexpected

This was a tough challenge: unexpected!
Especially for a “nature photographer”.

Finding something more unnatural in my photo albums took some digging. Eventually, I began to see that the “unexpected” shots I had could be divided into objects and behaviors. The appeal of these photos is that they can tell a story all by themselves, even without an explanation. What kind of story would you write about these scenes?

 My thanks to Ann-Christine for this refreshing invitation to reveal the unexpected. 

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Cityscapes

Cities. Hm.

For a Nature Girl like me, this photo theme is a challenge. I often see cities as centers of human oppression on the landscape. While I agree that it makes sense to concentrate habitation and share resources, being in those places is a bit overwhelming for me. I often feel anxious in cities, on the alert, distracted by a trillion attention-grabbing bits of light, sound, and movement. I do feel it’s totally worth mustering my energy to visit a museum, hear an opera, dine at a fine restaurant, absorb some of a unique culture, meet a favorite person, or participate in a social event. I’ve been to some world-class cities — New York, London, Paris, and Rome — and enjoyed each trip. However, I’ve never lived in a city and really come to see one with the affection needed to photograph it really well.

I lived in Los Angeles County for about ten years, and I lived in the Chicago suburbs for 29 years of my life, but I haven’t a lot of photos to show of those cities. 

I guess I’m just not the city slicker type. 

Ancient New World cities fascinate me. The strategic use of resources and geographic advantages seems necessarily brilliant, the way of life deeply connected with the land. Hovenweep…

Mesa Verde…

… Cahokia, Aztalan, Chichen Itza, Tulum. 

The artistic and scientific innovations borne in the crucible of those civilizations are admirable…

And the abandonment of those places is humbling. 

Thinking of cities makes me consider issues of civilization and sustainability, our relationship with the land and our ways of living — what we use, what we use up, and what we leave behind.   All worthy things for continual contemplation.
Thank you, Patti, for hosting this Cityscape challenge. 

Lens-Artist Challenge: My Travels

I met Steve eight months after I was widowed. In the tumult of grief and transition, he offered me something that was transformational – a chance to go camping. My husband and four kids and I did not camp together. I hadn’t been camping for years, but I consider myself a lifetime Girl Scout. Getting back into the outdoors, practicing self-reliance and adaptability, and surrounding myself with the beauty and non-judgmental, non-moral embrace of Nature was just what I needed to consider Life worthwhile again. Steve’s style of camping has a distinct difference from mine: his motto is not “Be Prepared”. His motto is “Be Open”. My instinct to make lists and consult maps was challenged at the very outset. We spent the first hour of one of our early trips parked at the curb outside my house in a deep philosophical discussion of what it means to be on an adventure. 

Steve also introduced me to the wonder of the National Forests of the U.S.A. There is no fee for camping in the National Forests, but there are Leave No Trace rules. A world of freedom opened up for us when I discovered we could easily make camp, cook, clean up, sleep and deal with personal waste (!) outside of crowded developed campsites.

We have, however, depended on either his former Toyota or my late husband’s Honda to transport all our gear.I would love to be able to experience the freedom of going into even more remote wilderness areas, either with a 4-wheel drive vehicle with higher clearance or a backpack. (The latter would be more realistic if I were ten years younger and in better shape…)

We have enjoyed the diversity, the grandeur, and the autonomy of places not dominated by human impact. I find those sacred spaces truly inspiring… and extremely photogenic.

(I had to include that last photo just to prove I’m not kidding about the Girl Scout bit…)
I thank Amy for sharing her inspirational Travel stories and for inviting us into this Travel Challenge. 

Lens-Artist Challenge: 2018 in Review

Best of the month: January

February

March

April

May

June

July

August

September

October

November

December

This has been an eventful year in my life. My son’s wedding, my daughter’s graduation, trips to Badlands, California, and Oregon — I have so much beauty to remember, so much to be grateful for. My personal calendar of photos reflects my little world of favorite things to look at: my loved ones and the view of Nature around me.

I also think of all that these photos do not show that has occurred this year. The world is a mixture of joy and suffering, always. The lens of compassion is the one that I hope is always in my mind’s eye. 

Thank you, Ann-Christine, for inviting us to reflect on the year that is past and to look forward to improving in the next. 

Lens-Artists Challenge: Reflection

Reflection

To see — and see again, with a new perspective… 

To find in transparency a expression of reality you can’t see otherwise…

To throw back light from a secondary source. 

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! My best to all you Lens Artists out there. Thanks especially to Patti for this inviting challenge!

Lens-Artists Challenge: Seasonal

Winter in Wisconsin can be very monochromatic. I do tend to feel SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), and remind myself to take Vitamin D and get outside on any day when the sun shines. The challenge is to embrace this fact and celebrate it. So then why not embrace all the seasons in monochrome? It seems counter-intuitive, for the colors of the rest of the seasons are, I think, their most spectacular features. But a challenge should be challenging. Can I find visual interest in photos of all the seasons without color? Let’s find out.
Here we go…WINTER.

SPRING…

SUMMER…

and FALL. 

You know what? That was pretty fun. I do mourn the loss of color, but without it, I appreciate form, texture, and contrast all the more.
Thank you, Tina, for hosting this seasonal challenge!

Lens-Artist Photo Challenge: Celebrations

I celebrate the gathering of family, the reunion of loved ones. I choose the table cloth, polish the silver and wipe the crystal glasses until they shine. I light the candles and arrange the appetizers in a tempting display. I listen for the doorbell. 

I remember an Advent anthem I sang in church choir, years ago. It was called Anticipation, and I cannot find the author or the composer, but the words remind me of the joyous preparation and promise of celebration.

“The sky is black; the dawn is but a promise, and here I wait, impatient for the light. My dearest friend is coming back tomorrow. Anticipation fills the endless night, and soon the sky will fill with golden sunlight. The day will break with joy beyond compare, and I will fly — I will fly — to meet him in the air.”

 

I look forward to celebrating the return of the sun’s light, to the reunion of parents, children, sisters, brothers and friends. May we all warm the dark nights with laughter and love, good will and good food, and remember our connection and belonging.

Thank you, Amy, for sharing a glimpse of celebration in Peru and sparking our imaginations.