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: The Eyes Have It

“An animal’s eyes have the power to speak a great language.”
― Martin Buber

“The face is a picture of the mind with the eyes as its interpreter.”
― Marcus Tullius Cicero

Tina, our Challenge host for this week, reminds us that in photography, the most successful portraits focus on the eyes. She shares stunning examples HERE and invites us to post our favorite eye-catching photos. There is an intimacy in photographing the eyes of a living being that tells a story – a story not only of the subject’s mindset, but also of the relationship between subject and photographer. That is why it is so satisfying to have recorded images of these special beings who have captivated me with their expressions and allowed me to gaze at their souls. I am grateful to have known them all!

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Triptych

Our Challenge host this week, Ann-Christine, has given us a really fun idea to play around with. Here’s how she puts it:

 “With Three of a Kind, I want you to think about things related to your main photo – maybe a book, a flower, a room, a piece of art… Almost anything will fit in here – you could make your three images tell a story too! Simply put: Your post should have three separate images that are somehow related. (Another option is splitting one photo into three parts.)

There is a special word for this art of three – triptych. The shape may be seen in Christian Iconography and became a common conventional style for altar artworks in the Middle Ages, from the Gothic era forward, both in Europe and overseas.

Here are a few groupings I created:

“A man’s work is nothing but this slow trek to rediscover, through the detours of art, those two or three great and
simple images in whose presence
his heart first opened.” ― Albert Camus

“Three things in human life are important. The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind.
And the third is to be kind.” ― Henry James

“To live in this world, you must be able to do three things: to love what is mortal; to hold it against your bones
knowing your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go.” ― Mary Oliver

Please visit Ann-Christine’s post HERE to see some excellent examples of displaying photos in threes and play along with us Lens-Artists!

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Emotions

“Adopt the pace of nature. Her secret is patience.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

Patti, this week’s host, writes, “Show us portraits or street photography that captures people’s feelings, such as happiness, anger, sadness, curiosity, or fear. Or, choose a subject or scene that evokes an emotion in the viewer. If you are able to shoot new images in your area, consider how light and shadow, the weather, warm or cool colors, the surroundings, and your choice of subject might impact the emotional response of your viewers.”

“All the knowledge I possess everyone else can acquire, but my heart is all my own.”
― Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

“You will do foolish things, but do them with enthusiasm.”
― Colette

“You know you’re in love when you can’t fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams.”
― Dr. Seuss

“But the love of sisters needs no words. It does not depend on memories, or mementos, or proof. It runs as deep as a heartbeat. It is as ever present a s a pulse.”
― Lisa Wingate

“Compassion is the basis of morality.”
― Arthur Schopenhauer

I find, as a photographer, that it is very difficult to capture a subject’s emotion without being intrusive. The most common expression when someone is taking your picture is one that is happy. When you’re in the throes of an uncomfortable emotion, do you really want someone snapping photos? To be allowed that privilege, the subject must either be very willing, trusting, motivated or without any choice. I would imagine babies are great subjects for capturing numerous human spontaneous emotions without any objection to being photographed. As adults, I suspect most of us would like to be more in control of what emotions we permit people to observe and record. Tricky subject, actually.

Instead, the photographer can use a simple object or scene to spark emotion in the viewer. Still tricky. What gives an object emotional significance at first view? That’s a good question for me. I’d like to explore this further in my photos.

Thanks, Patti, for the challenge!

Lens-Artist Photo Challenge: Silhouette

Patti challenges us with silhouettes this week. “They are a marvelous technique to add to your photographic repertoire because they can add drama, mystery, emotion, and atmosphere to your photos.  They can also tell a story to your viewers.”

Here are my silhouette stories:

I took this photo of my husband on the beach at my grandmother’s cottage on Lake Michigan with the Cannon AE1 film camera he gave me for Christmas when I was 17. The location is a place rich with three generations of memories. The subject is familiar and much beloved to me, but sadly also a memory. Jim died in 2008 at the age of 47. The sunset lighting adds a layer of romantic yearning that completes the picture. 

This silhouette is my youngest daughter on stage at the Lyric Opera House in Chicago. We were attending an opera comedy cabaret performance where the audience was seated at cafe tables onstage facing a smaller stage set up downstage. Emily has been in many musical comedy performances and studied play-writing in college. The theatrical setting and her curly hair are the perfect components of her personal silhouette.

Finally, here is a gallery of landscape silhouettes. The story here is that I love to be outside with my camera discovering how the light of the sky is a background for all that happens in the world. And the world is a wonderful place!

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Variations on a Theme

In my mind, there can only be one theme for today. Today is my daughter Susan’s birthday. I’ve been photographing her for 33 years now. She is one of my very favorite subjects, not simply because she has a beautiful smile and is ridiculously photogenic, but also because she is an extraordinarily caring person. You can see how her warmth touches the other subjects in these photos. 

Happy Birthday, my darling daughter! May your endlessly creative variations continue for many more years. 

Variations on a Theme

Weekly Photo Challenge: That Marvelous Face

First Face:

mom laughing

My Mother’s Face had to be the first face I learned to love. I am sure that I gazed at her for long stretches while nursing. I learned to get over my teen-aged embarrassment at her lazy walleye, her “long Celtic chin” (as she called it) and the fact that she never wore make-up. Her face is particular and characteristic. Her prominent eyes and small nose and mouth have been gradually swaddled by more wrinkles and folds as she ages. She is now 81; this photo was taken 3 years ago. What I love most about this picture is that she is in her natural state – enjoying life! 

Second Face:

scan0012

This is the face I see continually in my dreams, the face of my true love. He was 19 when I took this picture with the camera he bought me – a Canon AE-1.  We were married for 24 years and had 4 children. He died in 2008. This face has echoes in the living expressions of my kids, and I love that they inherited his warm eyes, his strong jaw, his brilliant smile.  

I have what might be called a photographic memory.  I close my eyes and see faces. Sometimes they are faces that I don’t recognize. I used to play with that ability to imagine crowds of strangers with particular faces and wonder if I had actually seen those faces in passing or if my brain was just making them up. I do know that I pay close attention to faces and always have. Perhaps I do carry those faces within me and always will. No matter how many I collect, I think these will always be #1 and #2. 

Face