Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Colorful April

“April this year, not otherwise
Than April of a year ago
Is full of whispers, full of sighs,
Dazzling mud and dingy snow;
Hepaticas that pleased you so
Are here again, and butterflies.”
― Edna St. Vincent Millay

This morning in April, here in Oregon, there is frost on the ground, but the sun is shining brightly. I’ve spotted daffodils and tulips and crocuses and forsythia and trillium and trout lily and Western blue flag iris in bloom already this month. The predominant color around here, though, is Spring Green. Fescue fields cover vast expanses of farmland nearby, where Icelandic sheep, domestic sheep, horses, goats, and donkeys graze.

On the first day of April, the trails around the marsh at Finley Wildlife Refuge open for the season. They are closed during the winter to protect the migrating birds who are resting and nesting. The skies are full of long skeins of flocks from November through March. When I ventured over there a few days ago, I noticed a small population of ducks and geese, and one heron. I had only my Samsung Galaxy phone with me, but I took a few photos nevertheless.

“Spring is made of solid, fourteen-karat gratitude, the reward for the long wait. Every religious tradition from the northern hemisphere honors some form of April hallelujah, for this is the season of exquisite redemption, a slam-bang return to joy after a season of cold second thoughts.” ― Barbara Kingsolver

I have to add my gratitude for the gifts of flowers that I have received this month as well, displayed on my dining room table. (again, taken with my phone) They certainly illustrate a return to joy in my life!

Thank you to Amy at The World Is A Book for inviting us to share the theme of her beautifully colorful post. May we all experience that April “hallelujah” and new joy in our lives!

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Pick a Park

“National parks are the best idea we ever had. Absolutely American, absolutely democratic, they reflect us at our best rather than our worst.” Wallace Stegner, 1983

For this week’s photo challenge, Ann-Christine invites us to pick our own theme. I am pleased to show my enthusiasm for the National Park system here in the United States and choose “Pick a Park” as my theme. I have visited many of them across the nation, from Acadia National Park in Maine when I was a preschooler to Pinnacles National Park in California, which was designated a National Park rather than a National Monument in January 2013, the year before I visited. I have also visited a number of other nationally preserved sites – monuments, shores, riverways, caves…but not battlefields. I have participated in citizen science finding fossils at Badlands National Park; gone spelunking at Mammoth Cave, Carlsbad Caverns, and Wind Cave; witnessed geothermal activity at Yellowstone and Hawaii Volcanoes; rode a horse through Bryce Canyon; sailed around the Apostle Islands; camped in the Canyon of the Ancients; picnicked at Capital Reefs; hiked around the Grand Canyon and the Rocky Mountains; and taken pictures at all those sites. And that’s just a small sampling of ways to interact with these astonishing Earth displays. Perhaps you may be planning a visit to one of our Parks yourself to do an activity I’ve never even tried!

“The American way of life consists of something that goes greatly beyond the mere obtaining of the necessities of existence. If it means anything, it means that America presents to its citizens an opportunity to grow mentally and spiritually, as well as physically. The National Park System and the work of the National Park Service constitute one of the Federal Government’s important contributions to that opportunity. Together they make it possible for all Americans–millions of them at first-hand–to enjoy unspoiled the great scenic places of the Nation…. The National Park System also provides, through areas that are significant in history and prehistory, a physical as well as spiritual linking of present-day Americans with the past of their country.”
Newton B. Drury, NPS Director, 1940-1951

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Geometry

“There is geometry in the humming of the strings, there is music in the spacing of the spheres.” Pythagoras

What is the shortest distance between two points? What is the shortest distance between two people? What is the angle of intersection when you are happy? And when you are lonely?

“He deals the cards to find the answer
The sacred geometry of chance
The hidden law of a probable outcome
The numbers lead a dance”

― Dominic Miller, “The Shape of My Heart”

How do you build something structurally sound to house kindness, joy, courage, love, resilience? In a Universe of fact and feeling, of truth and spirit, how do you dwell in the spaces outlined by a complexity of ideas?

Aldo Leopold Shack

Geometry was my favorite subject my freshman year of High School. I liked my teacher; I liked that this kind of math was narrative. I was brand new to the school and to the state. In my 14-year-old brain, I was trying to figure out so much about how the world worked and how I fit in it. I was confused by many things, but I could follow geometry step-by-step and prove something. By the end of Freshman year, I had gained confidence and made some friends. ‘Geometry’, to me, will always symbolize a description of complexity in the cosmos that seems ordered and friendly, mysterious and vast, but approachable.

Thank you to Patti for this Challenge theme!

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Special Moments

“It only takes a moment
To be loved
A whole life long”
― Jerry Herman (from Hello, Dolly!)

Since moving to Oregon from Wisconsin last summer, I have had numerous “Pinch me!” moments when I can’t believe the everyday beauty of this place. I live in a studio apartment over the garage of a big house in a forest in the foothills of the Coastal Range. Travelling into town, I pass orchards and wineries and tree farms. My mailbox is .6 miles away. The creek is a few hundred feet downhill. It is quiet, secluded, wild in places, ever-changing, and constantly stunning. 

“The moments of happiness –
We had the experience but missed the meaning,
And approach to the meaning
Restores the experience in a different form
Beyond any meaning
We can assign to happiness.
The past experience revived in the meaning
Is not the experience of one life only
But of many generations.”
― T. S. Eliot (from Cats)

I often find myself in a moment of profound awareness of the beauty of my surroundings here. I have dreamed of living near mountains ever since I was 10 years old and traveled from the flatlands of Chicago to Colorado to visit my cousins. I was so envious of the views from their home and their proximity to Rocky Mountain National Park. I lived in California for 15 years, but always in a heavily populated area. Here, the mountains are forested and human dwellings are few and far between. It’s peaceful. It’s slow. It’s quiet.

“Let the moment go
Don’t forget it for a moment though

Just remembering you’ve had an ‘and’
When you’re back to ‘or’
Makes the ‘or’ mean more
Than it did before
Now I understand
And it’s time to leave the woods”
― Stephen Sondheim (from Into the Woods)

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Natural Light

“Wake! For the Sun, who scatter’d into flight
The Stars before him from the Field of Night,
Drives Night along with them from Heav’n,
and strikes The Sultan’s Turret with a Shaft of Light”
― Omar Khayyám

Our eternal message of hope is that dawn will come.― Martin Luther King, Jr.

“And when the dawn comes creeping in,
Cautiously I shall raise
Myself to watch the daylight win.”
― D.H. Lawrence

“Every morning was a cheerful invitation to make my life of equal simplicity, and I may say innocence, with Nature herself.”― Henry David Thoreau

“Spend the afternoon. You can’t take it with you.”
― Annie Dillard

“There is nothing more musical than a sunset. He who feels what he sees will find no more beautiful example of development in all that book which, alas, musicians read but too little – the book of Nature.”
― Claude Debussy

Natural Light, the Sun, traces an arc in the sky each day, reminding us of how perspective changes with the passage of time. In every 24 hours, we witness hope, newness, growth, diminishment, and rest. That pattern is extended in a widening scope throughout history. It was my intention to choose words from writers who have observed and experienced the place of human beings in that cycle. Their voices mark the awareness of our longing to take our rightful place under the Sun, to know the wonder and beauty of living in dignity and in harmony with all things in Nature.

Thank you, Amy (The World Is A Book), for inviting us to reflect Natural Light in this Challenge.

 

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Soft

“But soft! What light through yonder window breaks?” ― Romeo

“Whatever is fluid, soft, and yielding will overcome whatever is rigid and hard. What is soft is strong.”
― Lao Tzu

“Our love of what is beautiful does not lead to extravagance; our love of the things of the mind does not make us soft.” ― Pericles

“When you are old and gray and full of sleep, and nodding by the fire, take down this book and slowly read, and dream of the soft look your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep.” ― William Butler Yeats

Thank you, Ann-Christine, for inviting us to interpret the word ‘soft’ for this week’s challenge. In the midst of a really hard time, globally, it’s nice to remember the softness that inspires and relaxes us. 

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Starts with ‘S’

This is Susan.She has such a sweet smile. And she sure is silly!

She has some seriously silly siblings as well, and simultaneously, their silliness is something super special. ‘Specially the sisters!

Silliness by the seashore is a specialty as well.

This post has been brought to you by the letter ‘S’ and by Patti of Lens-Artists. I hope you found it scintillating!

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: A Glimpse into Your World

A Glimpse into your world’. Show us the things you love that make your world spin or things about your world that make you delirious with joy. – Sheetal Bravon, host for Lens-Artists

“You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is like an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.”
― Mahatma Gandhi

“We know only too well that what we are doing is nothing more than a drop in the ocean. But if the drop were not there, the ocean would be missing something.”
― Mother Teresa

“I can wade Grief—
Whole Pools of it—
I’m used to that—
But the least push of Joy
Breaks up my feet—
And I tip—drunken—
Let no Pebble—smile—
‘Twas the New Liquor—
That was all!”
― Emily Dickinson

“You are not a drop in the ocean; you are the entire ocean in a drop.
― Rumi

My joy at being reunited with the ocean and with my adult children approaches delirium. These loves are far bigger than myself and help me to expand in appreciation and generosity beyond myself. They are a world of life and the life in the world.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: From Forgettable to Favorite

This week’s challenge host, Tina, has crafted some amazing images using editing technique. Click on that link and see how she has turned some indistinct snapshots into stunning art.

I have to admit that my editing craft is quite rudimentary. The only software I have used post-production is the one that came with the Canon Rebel T3i. I can crop and adjust contrast, saturation, brightness, and hue. That’s about it. I don’t remove pixels, extend background, or add textural effects.  Still, I have created favorites from humble beginnings.

Cropping allowed me to get closer to my sister without actually crawling onto the ledge she chose to sit on. A little more color saturation and contrast took out some of the glare of the California sun, while adding some brightness brought details out of the shadows.

This one is definitely a favorite!

And here’s the original shot…I might also have used the Angle Adjustment tool to straighten the horizon a tad.

Here’s the original of a photo that I’ve treated in several ways:

Digital photos allow for a host of artistic possibilities when you use editing software. I have only scratched the surface. I look forward to seeing other responses to this challenge!

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: My Photography Journey

In the beginning, there was the Kodak Brownie Starmite, the camera that I took to Hawaii when I was 10 years old. It hung around my neck on a piece of kitchen string. I got blurry pictures developed at the drugstore with a smaller “bonus photo” next to each one. I have a few of these snapshots in an old album.

Then came the Kodak Instamatic camera with the little film cartridge. I took this one on family trips and my Girl Scout National Opportunity. A few more of these snapshots exist in my photo albums.

When I was a senior in High School, my boyfriend (who later became my husband) bought me a Canon AE1 35mm camera. I attached it to a guitar strap, and it became my ‘art’ for the next 30 years. I photographed my family, m children, my travels, nature, abstract objects, anything that I thought would make a good composition. Here’s a gallery of shots I took with that camera.

Not long after my husband died, the advance mechanism on my Canon jammed, and I stopped using it.

My first digital camera was one I borrowed. I think it was a Pentax? Here are some shots from that camera:

Finally, for my 50th birthday, I bought myself the camera I have now and have been using for the last eight years: a Canon Rebel T3i. I have not yet purchased any additional lenses, but that may be my next milestone birthday treat!

Thanks, Amy, for inviting me to share my Photography Journey and for sharing yours!