Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Chaos

Perhaps presciently, Ann-Christine chose the theme of CHAOS for this week’s Photo Challenge even before the pandemic was declared.  

What an interesting word – indeed, an interesting concept. I suspect that only human beings, with their big brains and their social biology, even experience chaos. I imagine chaos to be attributed to a situation that evokes a kind of fear, but on a more complex level than a fear for one’s basic survival. 

Social chaos, for example.

Probably most of us have experienced the confusing disorder of emotions and associations that might be described as social chaos. Where do I fit in? How do I connect? Do my feelings mesh with anyone else’s? These thoughts can be quite unsettling to me, but I don’t imagine spiders or starfish or blue jays dealing with that kind of survival anxiety.

Some humans believe that we have a superior gift for bringing order out of chaos. I look at homeowners blowing those untidy leaves off of their driveway in the fall, and I wonder if they imagine they are making the world more orderly while forgetting that our suburban consumption creates chaotic waste in much greater proportions.  

 

If chaos provokes a kind of fear or discomfort, then each of us probably has a different threshold of tolerance for it. And each of us can probably reset that threshold with a bit of work. How comfortable can you become with disorder, ambiguity, or uncertainty? I have to admit that I found parenting to be a great exercise in adaptation to chaos. There were plenty of times that I wasn’t in control of the situation, but I survived, and I certainly learned a lot…and I actually enjoyed it. 

There is plenty to learn in the present climate of global chaos in the human family. There are certainly many questions with unknown answers. There is confusion and ambiguity and anxiety about how we fit together, how we feel, and how we ought to act. And this is going on at a very high level of cognitive function. It is a situation that is created in our big brains. 

At the same time, in the world outside our big brains, Nature is functioning as usual. Organisms emerge, populations respond, life and death dance together in fascinating rhythm. I find this incredibly peaceful, a perfect antidote to chaos. Breathing in the assurance of Nature’s presence, I am strengthened for the work of being a human. It’s not easy work. We have a lot of responsibility. But the first responsibility is being aware of who we are as a species. May we be humble. May we be kind to every being on the Tree of Life. 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Symbols of My Father

Reposting from July 10, 2015; my dad died 10 years ago on March 19:

Today is my father’s birthday.  He’s been dead for 5 years, but his influence on my life has been incredibly profound.  I look through my photos and recognize him in symbolic images that point to something he represented in my life.  Representation is a well-developed part of human culture.  We use it in language, art, religion, philosophy, identity and so many other ways.  The real challenge we ‘civilized’ folk have is to strip away representations and come face-to-face with actual entities.  My father was highly educated and an educator himself.  His facility with symbol was quite advanced: he was a mathematician and a writer and combined those skills in his career as a Technical Writer.  I am grateful for the symbols I still see that remind me of his life, his personality, his love. 

My photos are valuable symbols to me.  Especially when I can’t access the actual things they represent.  GWHII RIP 2I miss you, Dad.  Rest in peace.

Symbol

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Reflections

“Use reflective surfaces to create an artistic echo of a scene…” 

Mirror, mirror on the wall…why is it I blog at all?
I started this blog when I began my 50th year of life. That was in August of 2011. I had just moved to Wisconsin to live with Steve. I was widowed three and a half years. I had a lot to process and a lot to learn.

I am now facing another transition: leaving Wisconsin and Steve to live in Oregon, closer to three of my four adult children, my  mother, and my three siblings. I have a lot to process and a lot to learn.

I learn by reflecting on what I’ve seen.

“Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.”
― Søren Kierkegaard

I am making this cross-country move because I have learned again what I always knew to be my Truth: that I belong most importantly in my Family – my family of origin and the family that my late husband and I loved into being. 

 

“Art is not a reflection of reality, it is the reality of a reflection.”
Jean-Luc Godard

Writing in this blog, storing photographs and memories, was a way to plant the seeds of realization. In my words and pictures, I remind myself who I truly am and see who I am becoming.

“There is one art of which man should be master, the art of reflection.”
― Samuel Taylor Coleridge

All my artistic echoes have origins in my mother and repercussions in my children. Being so distant from their heartbeats just doesn’t make sense. I need to hear the rhythm of our art, our lives, in order to keep dancing. 

“What we do now echoes in eternity.”
― Marcus Aurelius


May the love we create in our family be reflected in the world. I believe we all have the responsibility and the capability to make this a more loving, peaceful, beautiful place.

Thank you, Miriam, for hosting this week’s Lens-Artists Photo Challenge.  

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Change Your Perspective

“I believe everyone should have a broad picture of how the universe operates and our place in it. It is a basic human desire. And it also puts our worries in perspective.” ― Stephen Hawking

“Everywhere is walking distance if you have the time.” ― Steven Wright

“Distance lends enchantment to the view.” ― Mark Twain

“If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear to man as it is — infinite.” ― William Blake

“Look at everything as though you are seeing it either for the first or last time, then your time on earth will be filled with glory.” ― Betty Smith, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

Thank you, Patti, for challenging us this week to change our perspective as we photograph our subjects and for reminding us that Ansel Adams said,

“A good photograph is knowing where to stand.”

 

 

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Treasure Hunt

Today’s photo challenge from Tina is sort of a laundry list of prompts which includes:

  • Challenge Items: Sunrise and/or sunset, Something cold and/or hot, a bird, a dog, a funny sign, a bicycle, a seascape and/or mountain landscape, a rainbow, a church, a musical instrument, a boat, a plane, a waterfall
  • Extra Credit Items:  An expressive portrait of one or more people, a very unusual place, knitting or sewing, a fish, an animal you don’t normally see, a bucket, a hammer, a street performer, a double rainbow, multiple challenge items in a single image. 

Tina’s choice photos illustrate these beautifully, as usual.

Well, let’s see what’s in my Treasure Chest.

Gotta admit I treasure the photo above. It’s my son and his dog on the coast of Oregon, where I’ll be moving at the end of June. So, it’s an expressive portrait of my son at a seascape/mountain landscape with a dog. Do I get extra credit?

How about the picture above for a sunset over a mountain landscape? 

Expressive portrait with a musical instrument? 

Double rainbow. Check. 

Very cold waterfall. Check.

My favorite church photo.

And my favorite bird photo.

I do enjoy the treasures I have in my photo files. Thanks, Tina, for sending me on this hunt!

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Capital

Books constitute capital. A library book lasts as long as a house, for hundreds of years. It is not, then, an article of mere consumption but fairly of capital, and often in the case of professional men, setting out in life, it is their only capital.

–Thomas Jefferson

Viveka of My Guilty Pleasures is acting as this week’s challenge host. She is an avid traveler, and has posted some lovely and varied shots of world capitals she has visited. She invites us to interpret this challenge however we choose, though, and since I haven’t got any digital photos of the world capitals I have visited (Washington, London, Edinburgh, Paris, Rome, Mexico City, Nassau, Budapest, Vienna), I am going in a totally different direction, following Mr. Thomas Jefferson’s lead in the quote above.

Nine years ago, I moved into a bookstore. I have been sharing a roof with Scholar & Poet books ever since.

In economics, capital consists of assets that can enhance one’s power to perform economically useful work. For example, in a fundamental sense a stone or an arrow is capital for a hunter-gatherer who can use it as a hunting instrument, while roads are capital for inhabitants of a city. — Wikipedia

Books are assets that have enhanced my entire life. They have definitely enhanced my power to perform economically useful work, like cooking. How many cookbooks do you have? When did you first make a meal using a recipe in a book? Did you learn anything about parenting from a book? Or about the skills that you are paid to perform?

I sometimes wonder whether books will become obsolete as technology advances. Perhaps in my country, that is a possibility. But globally, I think books will endure as long as human civilization does. 

I look forward to the day that I can read a book to my grandchild and pass on the pleasure, the investment, and the treasure of reading a book.

Yes, indeed. That would be capital! 😉 

 

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Leading Lines

This week’s challenge host, Tina, says, 

Leading lines carry our eye through a photograph. They help to tell a story, to place emphasis, and to draw a connection between objects. They create a visual journey from one part of an image to another and can be  helpful for creating depth as well.

I’ve never had any formal instruction in photography, but I think I have a pretty good natural eye for composition…sometimes. Let’s see if I’ve intuitively used Leading Lines in any of my pictures. 

Okay, wow. That one was obvious. You could argue that Lake Shore Drive and the street lights all lead to the Chicago skyline in that shot. 

The rustic fence and the gravel road take your eye to the Schottler farmhouse.

These two seem like they follow a reverse leading line…a receding line, or a vanishing point.

I think these last three are my favorites, though. They draw my eye to the horizon, which I long to explore.  

 

Anyone want to come with me?