Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: What’s Bugging You?

I’m beginning to think that maybe Donna of Wind Kisses might be a secret sister to me. I love her challenge to us this week! Last week it was bilingual 3rd graders, this week it was Kindergarteners (70 in all) who sang this song with me:

“Head, thorax, abdomen, abdomen
Head, thorax abdomen, abdomen
Two antennae, four wings and six legs
And don’t forget the exoskeleton!”
“Cabeza, tórax, abdomen, abdomen
Cabeza, tórax, abdomen, abdomen
Dos antenas, cuatro alas y seis patas
Y tambien el exoesqueleto!”

So, which of you Lens-Artists have a dung beetle in your photo archives? This specimen was living on the prairies of South Dakota. Could be elk or buffalo dung it was rolling around into a perfect sphere. I wish I had video to show you how he rolled it with his back legs until the slope’s gravity pulled him up over the top, facing skyward. Fascinating!

Another beetle. Ladybugs feature in nursery rhymes and seem pretty harmless, but my middle daughter discovered at Girl Scout camp that they bite, and so grew to be somewhat afraid of them, especially when some meaner girls threatened to fill her sleeping bag with them.

Okay, I’ll post some of the more glamorous bugs that everyone loves.

…and I’ll post some things that aren’t bugs just to see if you’ll jump.

I think it’s always good to meet the neighbors who sit on other branches of the Tree of Life, get acquainted, and learn to appreciate them. Most of them were here long before we were! I think they make great teachers.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Skyscapes and Cloudscapes

In her book, For the Time Being, Annie Dillard writes keen observations about anthropology, religion, culture, death…and clouds.

She quotes written observations of clouds from centuries ago. It seems that always, humans have looked up from their lives in wonder, trying to make sense of the shifting vapor, what it might mean for the present, for the future, how it all got there in the first place, and how it can be ever-new and unpredictable.

The unique atmosphere surrounding beloved Earth supports everything we know as Life. How much do we really know about it?

“I really don’t know Clouds at all.” — Joni Mitchell

“I see the world being slowly transformed into a wilderness; I hear the approaching thunder that, one day, will destroy us too. I feel the suffering of millions. And yet, when I look up at the sky, I somehow feel that everything will change for the better, that this cruelty too shall end, that peace and tranquility will return once more.” — Anne Frank

“Fear keeps us focused on the past or worried about the future. If we can acknowledge our fear, we can realize that right now we are okay. Right now, today, we are still alive, and our bodies are working marvelously. Our eyes can still see the beautiful sky. Our ears can still hear the voices of our loved ones.”
— Thich Nhat Hahn

“The sky is the daily bread of the eyes.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

“One can enjoy a rainbow without necessarily forgetting the forces that made it.” — Mark Twain

Thank you, Amy, for challenging us to find Skyscapes and Cloudscapes and offering such beautifully dramatic examples.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Mood

“There are a thousand ‘greatest’ melodies, just as there are a thousand ‘greatest’ poems and a thousand ‘greatest’ pictures, because there are a thousand moods in the mind of (a Person) when a certain note rings with the most clarity–when a certain design is most sharply silhouetted against the changing curtain of (their) mind.” ― Beverley Nichols, A Thatched Roof

Our host this week, Sofia, writes, “I challenge you and myself to think of mood, how to convey and create an emotional reaction to your shot. That can be accomplished by capturing situations or occasions, photography styles or people and their feelings.” Visit HER POST to see a variety of techniques for expressing mood in photography.

The following two photos were taken on the same day, while I was walking with a group of friends. I am always fascinated by the changing moods of the ocean…and of people.

I’m tempted to say that my driveway has moods…but it’s not the driveway at all. It’s the Place, the environment. My driveway just provides a fixed point of comparison.

It’s really amazing to consider how my own mood affects everything I perceive and to know that I can illustrate that in my photos as well.

I am amused to think of “hashtag MOOD” as a shorthand of popular culture. It is a humorous way to acknowledge our common human experience as shifting landscapes of emotion. How wonderful to recognize and resonate with each other as we share our Lens-Artists posts! I look forward to seeing yours!

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Backlit

“To love beauty is to see light.” – Victor Hugo

“The beginnings and ends of shadow lie between the light and darkness and may be infinitely diminished and infinitely increased. Shadow is the means by which bodies display their form. The forms of bodies could not be understood in detail but for shadow.” – Leonardo da Vinci

This week’s photo challenge comes from Ann-Christine, who writes, “Backlight is a versatile instrument in making pictures really come alive, even if they are only silhouettes or very dark. For landscapes it can be magical.” I find that especially true when water is part of the landscape, adding reflection, glow, and sparkle. I am really happy that the rain in Oregon has let up, and warm sunshine is bedazzling the Coast. I had a glorious day there yesterday, and will return soon!

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Still Life

“But in a still life, there is no end to our looking, which has become allied with the gaze of the painter; we look in and in, to the world of things, in their ambiance of cool or warm light, in and in, as long as we can stand to look, as long as we take pleasure in looking.”
― Mark Doty

“Bartholomeus went on, ‘I wanted to show that these objects are sensitive, suffer at the coming of night, faint at the departure of the last rays, which, by the way, also live in this room; they suffer as much, they fight against the darkness. There you have it. It’s the life of things, if you like. The French would call it a nature morte, a picture of inanimate objects. That is not what I’m trying to show. Flemish puts it better: a still life.”
― Georges Rodenbach, The Bells of Bruges

Patti has served up a worthy challenge for us this week: still life photography. I think of this genre as belonging to the studio or a fine arts classroom. It is all about creating a composition that is compelling, whether that be because of the juxtaposition of objects, or the light playing on textures, or the depth of field that draws the eye deeper into the photo. When I think of the shots I have taken that might qualify for this category, I think of the ones I spent more time staging. There’s a certain amount of creative manipulation that goes into this kind of photography, and I must admit, I don’t often go to those lengths. But when I do, it’s a lot of fun…and some frustration. I often know the WOW! result I want, but somehow, fail to get it. Playing around with the idea of the shot is exciting, though. I am really enjoying seeing your posts on this theme!

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Environments

“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.” – Henry David Thoreau

For this week’s challenge, Tina of Travels and Trifles asks about our preferences for our Environment and reminds us of the story of the City Mouse and the Country Mouse.

I happen to love tent camping. The first photo in the gallery was taken two years ago on a backpacking trip to the Strawberry Mountain Wilderness in Oregon; I was a month shy of 60 years old. The last photo was taken, I believe, in Acadia National Park in Maine; I was three years old. I didn’t take those photos. All the others were taken on various car camping trips in the last ten years. The smell of wood smoke and the crisp feel of fresh air make me feel more alive than any other environment. To me, a baked potato raked from the coals and covered in butter and salt and pepper can taste as heavenly as a gourmet meal at a 5-star restaurant. (It helps to be ravenously hungry!) The feeling of self-reliance and freedom that settles around me as I’m making camp in a spot I’ve chosen for its magnificent view is priceless. It makes me feel like I belong on this Earth, just as I am.

Others can have their cities of man-made majesty. I’m a happy camper in a cathedral of tall trees.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Glowing Moments

“We too can repair our cracks with gold
And glow again.
Crazed by life,
More beautiful than ever before.”
― Scott Hastie

Glowing moments, those incandescent peaks of joy and warmth, are precious in the present and heart-breaking in the past. I suppose the trick is not to look back on lingering light so much that you miss the approaching sunrise.

Thank you, Siobahn of Bend Branches, our guest host this week, for a beautifully luminous challenge!

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: It’s Tricky!

“Lord, what fools these mortals be.”
– William Shakespeare

Tonight, I’ll be performing in a production called “The Blaming of the Shrew”. It’s an adaptation of Shakespeare’s work. Our director says, “This adaptation, a conflation of the two distinct extant texts of this play, The Taming of the Shrew and The Taming of a Shrew, intends to explore the social and dramatic tension of the idea that this story is ostensibly a comedic one. We hope that this adaptation will spark conversations about patriarchal control (which is, at its core, what restricting abortion access is all about), as well as the prevalence of misogynistic humor in the stories that our society continues to tell.” Proceeds from the ticket donations will go to support women’s reproductive rights.

My character, Grumio, is a servant to Petrucchio, the man who “comes to wive it wealthily” by marrying Katharina and taming her independent nature. Grumio is a kind of comic narrator, but he is also a “Bro” who creeps on Katharina and contributes to breaking her with abuse. I get to deliver a lot of sexual double entendres around lutes and meat and mustard. I do have great fun clowning around in my foolish old man identity for laughs, but I am moved to tears when our lead actor implodes and becomes a shell of herself. It has been interesting hearing audience reaction and noting how poorly the text has stood up over time as a comedy. There are content warnings posted prominently in all our publicity.

Here are some production photos of my character…obviously I didn’t take them. They were taken by our director, Rachel Kohler.

It’s tricky to be an evolving and compassionate human being. Our species has been working on that for a long, long time with mixed results. For my part, I intend to keep on trying and supporting others in their journey to be a little less foolish each day. Thanks, Donna, for your April opening challenge!

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: New Experiences

“…We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time…

…Through the unknown, unremembered gate
When the last of earth left to discover
Is that which was the beginning;

…At the source of the longest river
The voice of the hidden waterfall…

…And the children in the apple-tree…

…Not known, because not looked for
But heard, half-heard, in the stillness
Between two waves of the sea…” ― from “Little Gidding” by T.S. Eliot

“And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.” ― Roald Dahl

“…Just think—no one has ever seen
inside this peanut before!

It is hard being a person.

I do and don’t love you—isn’t that happiness?”
― from “One Boy Told Me” by Naomi Shihab Nye

New experiences occur with every breath, every heartbeat. Each present moment is new and not repeatable. The gift of being alive can be wrapped up in so many different ways. I love the idea of “Beginner’s Mind” – it makes a new experience of everything, allowing a fresh perspective. It is a worthy challenge to cultivate this break with habit and sameness and taking-for-granted. I really enjoy hanging out with young people and watching them discover and exclaim over so many things that I have been seeing with dull eyes. I look forward to volunteering as a Teaching Naturalist for some school field trips coming up this Spring.

Anne’s challenge this week has inspired a lot of exciting posts about travel and adventure, but it has inspired me to look at the exhilarating experience of finding joy in my local environs. With warming temperatures and emerging life, it’s a whole new world out there!

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: The Road Most Often Taken

“Keep your love of nature, for that is the true way to understand
art more and more.” ~ Vincent Van Gogh

The challenge this week centers around a metaphor: the road most taken on your photographic journey represents your preferred style or genre. In looking at my portfolio, it became obvious that road I take most often with my camera is a walk in the weird, wonderful, wide world of Nature. The unexpected, the unexplained, the unusual, and the astonishingly beautiful never fail to catch my eye. Pattern, color, life, texture, phenomenon – it’s like performance art: everything, everywhere, all at once. I can never get enough!