Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Flights of Fancy

How do you photograph a fantasy?

What do your daydreams look like?

“Sometimes, in a summer morning, having taken my accustomed bath, I sat in my sunny doorway from sunrise till noon, rapt in reverie.” – Henry David Thoreau

 “Sit in reverie and watch the changing color of the waves that break upon the idle seashore of the mind.” – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

“Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living, it’s a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope.” – Dr. Seuss

“Nothing happens unless first a dream.” – Carl Sandburg

The fabulous thing about this challenge is that you would have no photographs to submit unless your flight of fancy could become reality. We may be more fortunate than we dare to imagine. Thanks to Johnbo for the prompt!

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Favorite Finds

“Our ability to perceive quality in nature begins as in art with the pretty. It expands through successive stages of the beautiful to values as yet uncaptured by language.” – Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac

Our host this week, Ann-Christine, writes, “I am sure you have something hidden in your archives that once surprised you or filled you with awe…” I am delighted to be continually filled with awe by light falling on something living, something vibrant. Most recently, it was the orchid my daughter gave me last week for my birthday catching the morning light streaming through my kitchen window.

Getting a beautifully lit close-up at marine life at the Oregon Coast aquarium was a special treat. So was that perfect moment of morning fog being pierced by the rising sun at Spencer’s Butte.

Looking deep into the undergrowth to find those diamond dewdrops, you might be rewarded by a wealth of jewels, arranged in magical symmetry.

My favorite finds are these simple and exquisite examples of Nature’s inexhaustible variety and beauty. Thanks for asking, Ann-Christine!

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Picking Favorites

“This exercise will really test your ability to be self-critical, as it has mine. Look into your archives and apply your most critical eye; play ‘judge’ and try to look dispassionately at your images. Pick out three (just three!) that stand out as particular favourites. Choose three from different genres please, but those genres are up to you: macro, wildlife, street, landscape, architecture. Anything goes, but each must be an image you are proud of.” — Toonsarah, Guest Host

You must understand, first of all, how difficult it is for me, the mother of four wonderful humans, to pick favorites. ‘Dispassionately’? You’re killing me! So, I will pick three favorites…AND three runners-up.

LANDSCAPE

Badlands National Park, South Dakota. After driving long hours over seemingly monotonous grassland, we reach this ancient valley and step out of the car onto Sage Creek Road. This is our first look at this fascinating park, and we are utterly gobsmacked! I like how this shot shows the scale and color of the landscape.

Seal Rock Beach, Oregon. My adult kids moved to Oregon, and I went out to visit. This moment of my daughter’s joyful exuberance captured my heart, and I moved out a year later. I love the light and reflection in this shot and the contrast in moods between the ocean and my daughter.

PORTRAIT

I am proud of this for several reasons. First, my son asked me to do his wedding photo shoot. I’d never done one before; I was terrified I’d fail him, but I didn’t. Second, it was a challenge to photograph outdoors and get good light that would balance their very different skin tones. I used fill-in flash, and that really helped. I love how my son is adoring his bride in this shot, and she just glows! I was really happy with my work that day, and so were they.

I just love this shot of my daughters hugging. I love the soft monochrome light and their bright smiles. It’s so cozy and sweet!

CLOSE-UP

Monarch butterfly caterpillars are very hard to find. They feed exclusively on milkweed plants. I searched the prairie at the George W. Mead Wildlife Area in Wisconsin and found one on the underside of a leaf. I rotated the frame to make the caterpillar right side up and more recognizable.

Gray treefrog, Fox Hill Nature Preserve, West Bend, Wisconsin. I took this photo while I was leading an event for the Cedar Lakes Conservation Foundation, a land trust I worked at for five years. I am proud of my work there and very fond of the kettle moraine habitats protected in that area.

Thanks for letting me show of some of my favorite images. I’m eager to see yours!

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Local Vistas

“I have taken a moment here to rest, to steal a view of the glorious vista that surrounds me, to look back on the distance I have come. But I can only rest for a moment, for with freedom come responsibilities, and I dare not linger, for my long walk is not ended.”
― Nelson Mandela

This week our Challenge host writes, “I bet you love your area too. What are your local vistas? Where do you photograph when you don’t have a lot of time or are not on vacation? What about your hometown excites you? Is it the countryside, city, gardens, amusement venues? This week, tell us about and show us your local vistas.”

I am deeply in love with my local Place – Oregon. I have only lived here (almost) two years, and I have much yet to explore. But the fact that the Pacific Ocean is only an hour’s drive from my front door is a huge selling point. The impact of the Ocean is not to be taken lightly. It helps create the Temporal Rainforest conditions that make the Western portion of this state wet, green, fecund and utterly amazing. I pinch myself regularly when I realize that I am not on vacation – I live here!

My response to the spectacular scenery in this place is to feel a deep and anxious desire to protect it from degradation and educate others about its wonders. I spent this morning in volunteer training at a National Wildlife Refuge an hour away from my front door in a different direction, in the Willamette River valley. I have yet to bring my camera to that Refuge to capture the upland meadow flowers, including show-stopping lupines, that have been lovingly stewarded, but below is a gorgeous marsh in the valley refuge chain that is only a 15-minute drive from my home.

“For most of history, man has had to fight nature to survive; in this century he is beginning to realize that, in order to survive, he must protect it.”
― Jacques-Yves Cousteau

My greatest hope in thinking about this week’s Challenge is that each participant will see with new and affectionate eyes the beauty of their local vistas and be inspired to protect the vulnerable natural features and conditions that create that environment. Thank you, Anne Sandler, for focusing our attention close to home, where our hearts live.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Odds and Ends

“A Miscellany is a collection without a natural ordering relation.” ― John Edensor Littlewood

This morning, Tina of Travels and Trifles invites us to post images that may never fit into any Challenge category, so I went looking for recent captures that I just…like. For no particular reason. Turns out, however, that I could say truthfully that they do have something in common. They were all taken within an hour’s drive from my home in Oregon.

“The world is so full of a number of things, I’m sure we should all be as happy as kings.”
― Robert Louis Stevenson

I hope you find a huge collection of various things to delight you this week, close by your home. Living local has many environmental and social benefits and can help heal the planet and our selves.

Lens-Artist Photo Challenge: Water

“Life in us is like the water in a river.”
― Henry David Thoreau

“You are water
I’m water
we’re all water in different containers
that’s why it’s so easy to meet
someday we’ll evaporate together.”
― Yoko Ono

“Empty your mind, be formless, shapeless, like water. Be water, my friend.”
― Bruce Lee

“Be like water,

Flow like a river,

Crash like the rain,

Fly like the cloud again!”
― Md. Ziaul Haque

I am like water; I have many moods and forms, from tiny droplets of doubt or hope clinging to the cobweb threads of reason, to the crashing surge of love and purpose that washes over me when I am inspired. We are water; our lives depend on it. We cannot create it ourselves, but we can be ever grateful that it is all around us. We must protect it in its many courses: creeks, rivers, bays, oceans. We must be mindful of using only our share and making sure there is enough for every living being. We must protect the water cycle in every way possible.

Thanks to Anne Sandler for hosting our challenge this week and reminding me just how important this subject is – for everyone.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Low-Light

“If I can put one touch of rosy sunset into the life of any man or woman, I shall feel that I have worked with God.”
― G.K. Chesterton

This week’s challenge comes from a new member of the Lens-Artist team, Sofia Alves. She invites us to play with low-light settings and share tips. Here’s my tip: watch the sun set and take lots of pictures. The light will get lower and lower over time. If you start early enough, you’ll get lots of practice. You might see a light show with a million gradations of color, reflected on surfaces like waves and awestruck eyeballs. And meanwhile, you might notice the space between you and the horizon – and the 93 million miles between you and the Sun. That might give you a new perspective on Life in the bargain. If you’re very lucky, there might be others of your species around taking in the changing light, the coming night, and you’ll have someone to share that with. If you stand very still while taking those shots, you might realize you are on a revolving planet that is always changing. And you might feel better about Change in general while you’re in the presence of such beauty. In fact, the whole experience of low-light might become the highlight of your day…or your week…or your month. And just think, you could photograph a sunset every single day for the rest of your life!

Amazing possibilities abound, even in these difficult times.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Travel Has Taught Me…

…that you don’t have to go far to get a completely different perspective. Last week, temperatures were in the 30s (F) and the fog in the Willamette Valley was so thick you couldn’t see three feet in front of you. But just over the mountains, just an hour’s drive away, the sun was shining on the coast and temperatures were pushing 60 degrees Fahrenheit!

…that sustaining life on our planet is a matter of delicate balance. I hadn’t been to the coast in a week. The day after our last visit, a tsunami generated by the volcanic eruption near Tonga hit the Pacific Coast of Oregon, carving cliffs on the shore and depositing piles of driftwood.

…that the Earth’s beauty is vast and easily accessible. Look up, look down, look deeply, look broadly. Colors and patterns and exquisite details are everywhere.

…that finding treasure is within reach, the moment you set out from your habitual routine. Moving during a pandemic makes building community difficult, but by stepping out of my little apartment and making intentional connections with local groups, I have found some precious new friends.

Thank you to Amy for hosting this week’s challenge and sharing some fabulous photos from her world travels. Click HERE to see her post and learn how to participate.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Ordinary Oregon

“Oregon welcomed me like a beloved child, enfolded me in her cool arms, shushed my turbulent thoughts, and promised peace through her whispering pines. ”
― Colleen Houck

“Oregonians don’t tan. They rust.” ― Unknown

I have now lived in Oregon for a year. The most ordinary things at hand here are extraordinarily beautiful: raindrops, rock, wood, plants, the ocean.

On any given day, what is at hand is something exquisite, alive, and breath-takingly complex in its interaction with its environment. Just like each one of us humans. I haven’t been around a lot of humans during this entire strange year, so I’m glad to have the company of these common things. Thanks to I J Khanewala, this week’s guest host for Lens-Artists, for inviting us to take another look at Ordinary things.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: It’s All About the Light!

Photography is the art, application, and practice of creating durable images by recording light, either electronically by means of an image sensor, or chemically by means of a light-sensitive material such as photographic film.” – Wikipedia 

“Light! More light!” – Goethe’s last words

My sister Dharam lives in San Francisco. Summers there are dark, cold and foggy on the beach. Here in Oregon, the coast is often brighter and warmer. My sister LOVES the sun, and absolutely loved the light on the beach last Wednesday during her vacation here. We took plenty of photos together!

The amount of vapor in the air greatly affects the way that light is diffused in landscape shots. For comparison, here is the same beach on a hotter day with less fog.

And on a much cloudier, colder day in the winter…

Here is Newport Bridge in various lighting…

I hope you all are enjoying the last days of summer, noticing the splendor of August light. Thank you to Tina for hosting this week’s challenge and showing us such beautiful examples of the light on the “Other Coast” of the U.S.A.