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!

Earth Day 2022

“Earth teach me stillness, as the grasses are stilled with light…

Earth teach me suffering, as old stones suffer with memory…

Earth teach me caring, as parents who secure their young…

Earth teach me courage, as the tree which stands all alone…

Earth teach me limitation, as the ant which crawls on the ground..

Earth teach me freedom, as the eagle which soars in the sky…

Earth teach me resignation, as the leaves which die in the fall…

Earth teach me regeneration, as the seed which rises in the spring.

Earth teach me to forget myself, as melted snow forgets its life…

Earth teach me to remember kindness, as dry fields weep with rain.”

from the Ute people of North America, in “Singing the Living Tradition”

The international observance of Earth Day is for me the most important holiday on the calendar. I can’t imagine anything more important, or anything that makes as much a difference to everything that lives, as planet Earth. I am still working on how to make this day Holy. I want to marvel at, record, and lovingly share as many memories as I can. I want to be physically active outdoors. I want to help mitigate some of the damage that humans have done. And I want to invite, encourage, and implore everyone to join in the celebration and protection of our lives’ Host. We are all interconnected, living expressions of Earth-ness, alongside everything else on the home crust. What an amazing community to belong to!
This year, I’ve added a new page to my blog celebrating Oregon as my home Place. Please take a look! https://scillagrace.com/oregon-outdoors/

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: Earth Story

Once, a very, very long time ago, before there was a “United States of America”…

Dinosaur National Monument, Utah
Badlands National Park, South Dakota
Canyonlands National Park, Utah

…the Earth went through some dramatic changes. Gradually, new life emerged. Large animals, different from the dinosaurs, roamed the vast grasslands of the continent.

Badlands National Park, Sage Creek Wilderness
Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Not only did Earth sustain these large herds of ungulates, she also supported enormous trees in extensive networks of forest.

Big Basin Redwoods State Park, California

Eventually, however, a new species evolved, and in the blink of an eye by Earth’s time, this one dominated the canyons, the grasslands, and the forests and used up or destroyed much of the Earth’s abundance.

Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Somehow, it finally dawned on this species that they were causing great harm to the Earth. Many of them dedicated their large brains to the resolution of this grave problem.

Adopt-A-Tree planting, Cedar Lakes Conservation Foundation, Wisconsin

It’s difficult to know what will happen in the next chapter of Earth’s story, but every member of every species on Earth is playing a part. Consider your part. Act wisely and with compassion for Her.

Thank you to Amy for issuing this photo challenge and for sharing her beautiful illustrations of Earth’s story. Click HERE to see her post.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Curves

“Beauty: it curves, curves are beauty.”
― James Joyce

“Curves are so emotional.” ― Piet Mondrian

“My live is one long curve, full of turning points.”
― Pierre Trudeau

The shape of a curve – elegant, delicate, graceful – is so very pleasing to my eye. In calligraphy, cursive is the romantic way to write. All those curvy embellishments just beg you to dawdle lovingly over every letter. Curves are about pleasure, I think. In Nature or in man-made objects, curves lend a sense of the exotic. No wonder I find so many examples in my photos! Here’s a gallery of images, strung together like a love letter in script. I hope you enjoy it!

Thanks to Ann-Christine for delighting us with this challenge theme. Click HERE to view her post and participate.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Close and Closer

“Let each dawn find us courageous, brought closer, heeding the lights before the fight is over.” ― Amanda Gorman

This photo challenge is about moving closer to the subject and letting it fill the frame. There is something in this exercise that resembles the challenge of intimacy. The fear is – what if I find something up close that I didn’t expect? That I can’t control? That I don’t like? And what if I do find something I get very fond of…and then have to move away? Or it moves away…and dies?

My first subject is my sister-in-law’s Pomeranian dog, Kimahri. This little guy is an absolute charmer. He looks like a Teddy Bear and lives his life in the adoring arms of a human. But his health is not robust, for many reasons. He’s as small as a little baby, but he’s actually rather aged.

“Since you cannot do good to all, you are to pay special attention to those who, by the accidents of time, or place, or circumstances, are brought into closer connection with you.” ― Saint Augustine

Two weekends ago, my housemate noticed a cat by the side of our dead-end country road, drenched by the rain and terribly skinny. We guess that she was dumped by her previous owner as she was obviously an indoor cat and very affectionate. Yesterday, they had to put her to sleep due to congestive heart failure. I feel like my housemate braved the pain of getting closer and did the right thing. She works as a social worker in hospice care, and this pandemic has been exhaustingly difficult for her, but she still choses to move in closer and be a caring person. I very much admire that.

“With consistency, we become one step closer to our dreams, while witnessing small victories on the way!”
― Purvi Raniga

My next subject is some mushrooms growing on the side of a tree. Getting closer up to the face of death and decay is a scary prospect. And yet, you might be amazed at the beauty there. I am reminded of caring for my mother during her hospice journey alongside my two sisters. The intimacy of that precious time brought us all closer together and seemed like an eternal and mystical experience.

Thanks to Patti for hosting this week’s challenge and daring us to get close and closer.