Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Flights of Fancy

How do you photograph a fantasy?

What do your daydreams look like?

“Sometimes, in a summer morning, having taken my accustomed bath, I sat in my sunny doorway from sunrise till noon, rapt in reverie.” – Henry David Thoreau

 “Sit in reverie and watch the changing color of the waves that break upon the idle seashore of the mind.” – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

“Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living, it’s a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope.” – Dr. Seuss

“Nothing happens unless first a dream.” – Carl Sandburg

The fabulous thing about this challenge is that you would have no photographs to submit unless your flight of fancy could become reality. We may be more fortunate than we dare to imagine. Thanks to Johnbo for the prompt!

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Mountains Are Calling

“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees.” – John Muir

“We are now in the mountains and they are in us, kindling enthusiasm, making every nerve quiver, filling every pore and cell of us.” – John Muir

Thank you, Amy, for the challenge to seek higher ground.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Flower Favorites and their stories

Unlike our host this week, Ann-Christine of Leya (sounds like a princess’ name, and indeed she is Lens-Artist royalty!), I do not grow flowers or keep a garden. However, I have loved and cherished them and have stories of how they have made happiness bloom in my life.

Lilacs

My first favorite flower is the Lilac. There was a row of lilac bushes that belonged to our next-door neighbor that sat on the dividing line of our properties. When they bloomed for two short weeks in early summer in Illinois, their fragrance intoxicated me. I wanted to cut the bunches and bring them to my room so that I could smell them as I went to sleep. I was soon instructed by my mother that first, they weren’t mine, and second, they would quickly drop their blossoms and become a mess to clean up inside. I vowed that when I grew up, I would have my own lilac bushes and surround myself with their lovely perfume. I missed lilacs while living in California, but my husband planted dwarf lilacs for Mother’s Day at our house when we moved back to Illinois. Then he took me to the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island in Michigan, where they have a Lilac Festival each year, and he bought me a small bottle of lilac essence, which I dabbed on my skin with sheer delight until it was all gone.

Fringed Gentian
Fringed Gentian, open

Fringed Gentian was a legend on the restored prairies of land protected by the Cedar Lakes Conservation Foundation of Wisconsin, where I worked for five years. I had never heard of this early Fall flower before or seen it until I was in my 50s. One September day, my friend Jerry (on the Board of the Foundation and their main trail steward) called me up and told me to grab my camera – the Gentians were up! I was absolutely enthralled by their tightly twisted blooms that opened to four fringed petals of blue perfection.

Rose

The Rose speaks of love silently
In a language known only to the heart

My late husband, Jim, loved roses. He gave me lots of them. He gave me the crystal plaque with the above inscription when I was in High School. It sits in the curio cabinet I inherited from his mother. Next to it is an acrylic-coated and gold-tipped rose, a souvenir from the weekend we spent together at a couples’ resort, a mini-vacation from our four kids. I love roses with the deep scent of raspberries; the soft, furry sweetness of their aroma is a heaven of blissful indulgence. They speak of romance and exclusive preference, to me. They will always remind me of Jim. I have moved into houses where rose bushes were left behind in the garden. The blooms were always a gift, not something I felt I had earned. I suppose that’s totally appropriate for a love flower, and why it is so very special.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Treasure Hunt

Charlie is a treasure. He is very much a beloved pet in our family.
This treasured pet was named “Moon”, so I get double credit for his photo!
Sunset makes the clouds into a golden treasure. Another double credit!
These parents are making treasured moments with their child in the reflection of the sun sparkling on the Pacific Ocean.
A small “truck” full of autumn pumpkins, a treasure for the kids ready to carve them, and foliage in the background.
I treasure autumn days when I find foliage on my walk: a golden carpet underfoot!

Thank you, Tina, for inviting us to join you on a Treasure Hunt! Here’s the list for all you additional treasure-hunters out there:

  • A pet or pets (yours or someone else’s)
  • The moon or the sun (extra credit for both in one image)
  • Clouds (extra credit if you also include rain or snow)
  • A reflection
  • A child (extra credit if with other family members)
  • An umbrella (extra credit if you include a person using it)
  • A truck (extra credit if you include the driver or what the truck is hauling)
  • Autumn foliage (extra credit if it’s something that only blooms in the fall)
  • Something fun you found on a walk

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Over the Hill

“The years between fifty and seventy are the hardest. You are always being asked to do things, and yet you are not decrepit enough to turn them down. ” – George Eliot

Donna of Wind Kisses is our host for this week’s challenge. She mentions that she will be turning 60 years old this week and invites us to explore the idea of “over the hill”. Coincidentally, I turned 60 last month, so the topic turns my thoughts to the long view of life’s journey.

“After climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb.” – Nelson Mandela

“The secret of life is enjoying the passage of time
Any fool can do it
There ain’t nothing to it
Nobody knows how we got to the top of the hill
But since we’re on our way down
We might as well enjoy the ride.” – James Taylor

The journey of my life has definitely been a range of summits and valleys, each with their difficulties and exquisite beauties. I’m not looking to quit any time soon, although my pace has slowed a bit. I strive for the wisdom and grace that will teach me to walk observantly, respectfully, and kindly toward unknown horizons.

Happy Birthday, Donna, and many happy returns of the day!

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Opposites

“What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness.”
― John Steinbeck

“You couldn’t have strength without weakness, you couldn’t have light without dark, you couldn’t have love without loss”
― Jodi Picoult

“Any life expands and flowers only through division and contradiction.” ― Hermann Hesse

Opposition, it seems to me, is a relationship where there are many similarities and a few striking differences. You wouldn’t say that the opposite of a lemon is an airplane. You might say its opposite is an orange – they are similar except that a lemon is more sour and an orange can be sweet. A mirror image is almost exactly the same, except that everything is reversed. So maybe, if you are distressed by getting the opposite of what you want in life, you can narrow your focus down to one or two factors that are making the outcome contrary. Then, you can see that your life, by and large, is quite satisfactory – a reason for joy, in fact!

Thanks to our Challenger this week, Tina of Travels and Trifles, for an excellent theme and inspiring photos!

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Favorite Finds

“Our ability to perceive quality in nature begins as in art with the pretty. It expands through successive stages of the beautiful to values as yet uncaptured by language.” – Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac

Our host this week, Ann-Christine, writes, “I am sure you have something hidden in your archives that once surprised you or filled you with awe…” I am delighted to be continually filled with awe by light falling on something living, something vibrant. Most recently, it was the orchid my daughter gave me last week for my birthday catching the morning light streaming through my kitchen window.

Getting a beautifully lit close-up at marine life at the Oregon Coast aquarium was a special treat. So was that perfect moment of morning fog being pierced by the rising sun at Spencer’s Butte.

Looking deep into the undergrowth to find those diamond dewdrops, you might be rewarded by a wealth of jewels, arranged in magical symmetry.

My favorite finds are these simple and exquisite examples of Nature’s inexhaustible variety and beauty. Thanks for asking, Ann-Christine!

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Motion

“A still photograph is called a still photograph because the picture doesn’t move, not because the objects in the picture are not in motion. The photographer’s mission, should he decide to accept it, is to capture motion with stillness. ” – Vincent Versace

Patti, our Lens-Artist host, prompts: “This week, we invite you to have fun with motion. Show us images where you froze the action or focused on the moving parts of an image in the foreground or the background. Maybe you discovered techniques like action panning or time lapses. It’s your choice.”

I have to admit that I haven’t experimented very much with using the blur of motion creatively in my photos. I have used slower shutter speeds to suggest flow, but haven’t done anything dramatic with moving the camera while the aperture is open. I also don’t have any post-production software installed that I can play with. When I look at my images, I see either “freeze” or “flow”.

This last image, however, is more of an example of “surprise and fear”! When this tarantula scurried across my path near Battleship Rock in New Mexico, I reached for my camera and snapped a shot without checking the exposure settings.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: My Photo Groove

For me, photography is a precious, sentimental hobby with its origins in a love story. It allows me to delight in the moments of my life and savor them over time.

When I was in high school, I envied friends who were taking photography classes. Their images were so artfully composed and memorable. My boyfriend (who later became my husband) bought me a Canon AE1 for Christmas after we’d been dating a year. My mother wasn’t sure it would be wise for me to accept such an expensive gift at the tender age of 17, but I was absolutely sure this was the perfect gift, and the perfect giver. I really enjoyed taking pictures of my loved ones and the memories we’d made, and kept them close to me when I moved away to college.

When Jim and I married and had our four ridiculously photogenic children, I was the one taking pictures and chronicling our family’s growth and adventures with the very camera he’d bought me that Christmas.

Two years after my 47-year old husband died and our children had left the nest, the mechanism on my Canon that advanced the film jammed. I decided that for my 50th birthday, I would buy a digital camera…another Canon.

At this point, I fell in love with photographing a new subject – Nature. My new and current groove is all about what is out-of-doors.

Of course, I’m still the family photographer and thrill at the opportunity to capture special moments with my favorite humans.

In two weeks, I will be celebrating my 60th birthday. I think I deserve another milestone present in my photography story. I’m thinking that I will either get an 18-300mm lens for my Canon, or a small, tough, travel camera like the Olympus I borrowed and took backpacking last month.

Thanks for listening to my groovy photo story, and thanks, Anne (our host) for asking! I look forward to seeing what other Lens-Artists are exploring with their art.

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!