Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Creepy!

This week, Ann Christine suggests that we share some CREEPY photos that will show something “causing an unpleasant feeling of fear or unease”. Some of her examples include spiders. I personally find arachnids fascinating and not unpleasant. I frequently share a shower with some of them. And they make great photo subjects:

Do any of you remember that Jim Stafford song, “I Don’t Like Spiders and Snakes”? Well, having picked on spiders as creepy, here’s a shot of a snake:

How about UFOs? That idea is pretty creepy. 

Here’s something that I personally find incredibly creepy, and it lives in my house. It’s a Jenny Haniver. Wikipedia will tell you: 

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.

So, what this tells me is that human beings fabricate “Creepy” to far more fearful extents than anything that exists in nature. 

I took the first four of these photos while walking around in the natural world. I find them perfectly peaceful and interesting. I am a bit creeped out by the Jenny Haniver, as were my children when they found it hidden in our microwave as a practical joke!

Fear is a very natural human response. It can be useful and kind of fun. But manipulating fear is a human activity that can cause great damage, confusion, and disaster. We must be very careful when we create creepiness.  

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Filling the Frame

Patti is our host this week for the Lens-Artist photo challenge, and she posts a good tutorial on framing your shots so that the subject is treated with the importance it deserves. How does framing make a difference? Consider:

If this is a shot of two people engaged in conversation about the land, getting a lot of land in the picture might be important. But this also has a truck bumper, distant telephone poles, and other distractions. How about this? You still get the feeling that they’re working on the land, but now it’s about their interaction.

Photographing a monarch in its habitat can be scaled down to photographing a monarch at its food source. 

The petals of a fringed gentian make it distinct from other gentian varieties. Why not make that the focus of the photo?

And finally, even if giving a small portion of the subject a full frame might make the object unrecognizable, creating an abstract might make a better shot.

Experimenting with framing opens up new possibilities for making photos more dramatic. Thanks for the tip, Patti!

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Magical

Ann-Christine finds Magic in her garden and invites us to share the magic in our lives.

This is something I have to ponder. I tend not to believe in magic. I am in awe and wonder of the natural and suspicious of what others call “supernatural”. However, the dictionary gives me a second definition that I certainly can embrace: 

“beautiful or delightful in such a way as to seem removed from everyday life”

So here’s a gallery of some of the most beautiful and delightful moments of my life. Enjoy!

 

 

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Taking a Break

I just came home from a walk along the Ice Age National Scenic Trail to check on the photo challenge theme for this week. Our host, Tina, encourages us to slow down and focus on rest and relaxation. Taking a Break” for me is also “Restoring My Sanity” by being out in nature.

Nothing restores me to a grounded pace as well as hiking in a natural area where the presence of people is the exception to the rule.

Look around. Breathe. Listen. Feel. Birdsong and running water do wonders for the soul. 

An outdoor walk helps me take a break from sitting down at a computer screen…something I spend far too many hours at every day.  And if my feet start to swell and feel hot, dipping them in a cool stream is the perfect antidote. 

And if walking tires you out, you know what to do…

Taking a break is quite natural, of course. (If you can’t tell, that’s a bat sleeping in a tree).

Thanks, Tina, for reminding us to take it easy. It’s a long road, and it’s not a race. 

 

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Seascapes and Lakeshores

Amy chose a topic for this week’s challenge that is sure to make a splash! She coaches us:

In Jim Hamel’s “Top 10 Features to Bring Your Seascape Photos to Life”, his list includes piers/docks, lighthouses, sunrise and sunset, rock formations, patterns in the water, animals, powerful waves, people, reflections, and clouds.

I am lucky to have lived near some of the greatest coastlines of the U.S.A. I was born in Massachusetts and lived for 15 years in California. However, for the bulk of my earthly years I have lived in the Midwest near Lake Michigan, one of the 5 Great Lakes that together hold 21% of the earth’s surface fresh water.  Here’s the western shore of that great lake. 

Lake Michigan

My father’s family built a beach cottage on the eastern shores of Lake Michigan, and so far, four generations have enjoyed its recreational opportunities and sunsets.

Just before I entered High School, my family moved to the Bay Area in California. I got to explore the West Coast while I lived there and as a visitor returning to see my family. The drama and diversity of the shores of the Pacific Ocean is something that I never fully captured in photography. I was more often just looking around, overwhelmed. 

I have to say that some of my best shoreline photos were taken along the smaller waterways of the Midwest. 

I like to remember that my first shoreline experiences were on the Marblehead Neck, jutting into the Atlantic. I moved away from Massachusetts when I was four years old and probably never took a picture. But I did get a chance to go back for a visit. My daughter snapped this shot in Plymouth.  

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Dreamy

Ann-Christine’s dreamy landscapes focus the challenge subject this week.

Is Dreamy a place somehow more perfect, more fantastic, more extremely beautiful, more blissfully hospitable? I often picture myself relaxing into beautiful places as I drift off to sleep. 

Is Dreamy a relationship that makes you feel comfortable, safe, and buoyant? Is it one super-special person (McDreamy)?

Is Dreamy a state of mind – free, floating, and peaceful?

In my life, all these things seem Dreamy…and yet, each one is illustrated here by a photograph I took of something right in front of me in the real world, while I was awake. Does that mean that I’m living my dream?

Must be. I am so incredibly lucky! 

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Detail

Patti poses an interesting challenge this week: when the scope of a scene is visually overwhelming, choose to focus on a detail that hints at the grandeur of the whole.
For me, that sense of overwhelming wonder is always present when I am outside in Nature. I love the Earth. I work for a Conservation Foundation, and I am often dazzled by the beauty of the land while I am also stunned by the complexity of biological interactions and the enormity of the task of preserving ecosystems that are under constant threats of degradation. I believe that showing people the accessible beauty of the world around them can engender the kind of affection for Place that will motivate them to protect it, to safeguard it for the future.
Have you ever looked at a common plant up close? Or gazed into the intelligent eyes of an animal?  There are details all around you capable of blowing your mind with the immense and intricate magnificence of Life. I invite you to become a Lover of Life — a Biophile, if you will.