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.  

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!

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. 

Lens-Artists Challenge: Hello, April!

For this week’s challenge, Amy sends a colorful April “Hello” from Texas and quotes Rachel Carson:

“There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature–

the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after the winter.”

Here in Wisconsin, the temperatures are just starting to creep up into true Springtime levels. This morning, there was no frost on the ground, so the maple syrup season will start to taper off, and soon April will show off her new spring colors. Last year, we had a late snow storm that caused a major interruption in spring growth. The first brood of sandhill crane chicks on this property died, the deer ate all the tulip shoots, and my garden planting energy never really recovered. Here’s a contrasting shot of the last two years in the turkey mating season. 

I’m looking forward to seeing the forsythia bloom.

I am looking forward to seeing the first woodland wildflowers take their brief turn on the forest stage.

 

How this Spring will actually unfold, however, is uncertain. Instability in our global climate has resulted in unprecedented changes that manifest locally in more alarming ways each year. I am not sure who April will be when I meet her this year. However, I will surely observe and photograph her, and find her beautiful.

There is something infinitely healing, I believe, in accepting Nature in all her autonomy and taking responsibility for the ways we abuse her.  

 

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Weathered or Worn

Ann-Christine shares a bit of the fascinating history of Swedish temperance and photos of an old distillery in her challenge post.

The passage of time lends a special beauty to objects of human craft. It puts us in our place – we are but a part of the march of evolution and the expansion and collapse of the Universe. What we create and what we are in this form will not last forever. And that’s a powerful reality. 

 

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: History

When I saw that Patti’s challenge to us this week was History, I knew just where to look in my photo files — Old World Wisconsin. I was a historical interpreter for this 480-acre living history museum for three seasons. I interpreted 19th century life in Wisconsin dressed as an Irish immigrant, a German immigrant, and a church organist in a settler’s Village.

When I was allowed to bring my 21st century camera on site, what I wanted to capture was the simplicity of that life and its harmony with nature.

The ideas of “progress” and “technology” were quite different in the day. I used to ask school children if they saw any technology being used, and they always said, “No.” What I quickly pointed out was that there was plenty of technology, just a different kind – mechanical or hand tools instead of electronic ones.

It’s important never to neglect or abandon the simpler items in our tool kit. It’s quite possible that we may depend on them again. In fact, the U.S. military sent a division to the museum to learn how to use 19th century farm equipment so that they could assist in re-development projects in Afghanistan. Watching them walk down the dirt roads of the Village dressed in their desert camouflage uniforms was mind-boggling.

The lesson of history is that wisdom takes a long view.