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: I Choose Steve

I am the joy in change and movement. — Steve

The Lens-Artists photography group is celebrating their first anniversary. Hosts Tina, Amy, Patti, and Ann-Christine have invited us to choose our favorite photo subject. They chose Friendship, Connection, Imagination, and Discovery as the themes for their respective posts. I have chosen Steve, an undeniable person in my life who has taught me much about friendship, connection, imagination and discovery during the ten years we’ve known each other.

I really do grapple with the balance between these two elements of my consciousness, the thinker and the feeler, the heart and the head. The dance between the two is where good work is done. –Steve (forthelastwolverine.com)

Steve is the owner of Scholar and Poet Books, an online bookstore with listings on Amazon, eBay, A Libris, and ABE Books.

He is an English major, a philosopher, an anthropologist, an environmentalist, a musician, a conversationalist, a film fan, a student and teacher of spiritual psychology, a practitioner of Buddhism, a brother, a son, my housemate, and my friend.

He comes from Polish-German stock and thinks of himself as Slavic and moody.

There are three ideas that I make sure to spend time with every day. If pressed to reduce these ideas to a single word each, I might pick WILD, BEAUTY and ENOUGH. — Steve (forthelastwolverine.com)

I have photographed Steve over the last ten years from many different perspectives. In the span of that time, we’ve related as co-workers, trail buddies, string quartet members, lovers, exes, best friends, classmates, tent mates, housemates, and temporary step-parents to a fur baby named Pinkle.

We share so many memories. (Well, maybe not. My memory is much better than his.) And I have SO many photos. Several albums worth…that aren’t in albums yet. There could be a Steve’s Trail Shot Album, full of photos taken while we were out exploring somewhere. This would be the biggest album.

There could be an album’s worth of photos that might be called Black & White Author Headshots.

There could be a small album of Sleeping Steve…

And Couple Selfies…

And goofy Leftovers.

Here’s what I’ve learned: once you choose to let someone into your life, into your camera, there is so much to know about that person. That choice can have a lasting impact on you and your photo files. 

Choose wisely, friends. And choose friends wisely. I think Steve’s been an excellent choice as a photo subject…and a friend. 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Experimental

When my son asked me to do a photo shoot with his fiancee, and casually mentioned that they had already gotten the marriage license, I was (1) elated and (2) terrified that I would disappoint them.  Without a ceremony, the photo shoot was likely to be the most public and enduring record of this important milestone. I wanted it to be very special. And I was totally unqualified. I have never done portrait photography. This was one grand experiment – and turned out to be a ton of fun and very successful by all opinions gathered. Whew!

To start, I practiced trying out portrait settings. I knew we’d be outdoors. I live on 56 acres of conservation property, so my front yard was a great stage. My test subject was Jimmy Bear, appropriately clad in his concert tuxedo. He made a fine and very patient groom, but he’s a little short. My music stand gave him a boost.

I learned a lot about fill-in flash, back lighting and bokeh. The wedding entourage of 7 people helped with carrying in props and equipment and providing support of all kinds…and were great photo subjects as family. Here are a few of my favorite results of this joyful experiment. 

 

Experimental