Weekly Photo Challenge – Achievement

“Only those who attempt the absurd can achieve the impossible.”

Albert Einstein

(4 photos)

IMPRESSIONIST AT WORK

IMPRESSIONIST AT WORK

This week Michelle has challenged us to illustrate the concept of “achievement”. I’ve chosen a scene I remember vividly from our recent travels in China. Several plein air painters, including this young man, were attempting to capture a beautiful vista in Shangri La. Those who follow me know how much I love photography for its ability to transform an image into art. What you probably don’t know is that I tried my hand at painting and was an abysmal failure 😞 As such, I admire that much more those who are able to create beauty on canvas with only a brush.

CANVAS CREATIVITY

CANVAS CREATIVITY

“Every achievement is a servitude. It compels us to a higher achievement.”

Albert Camus

Above,  a capture of the canvas our young friend was working on. While his piece was still in process, I thought it was already quite an achievement, and expected it to be lovely upon completion.  Below the painters’ subject as captured by my lens.

SHANGRI LA SCENE

SHANGRI LA SCENE

“Happiness… lies in the joy of achievement, in the thrill of creative effort.”

Franklin D. Roosevelt

While I understand the focus of the painters on the golden hue of the plants and grasses and the angles within the hills behind them, I personally found the lush red wildflowers in the foreground of the classic white farmhouses nearby an even more interesting subject.

FIELDS OF RED

FIELDS OF RED

“Achievement has no color.”

Abraham Lincoln

That’s the thing about art, it is totally personal; beauty is definitely in the eye of the beholder. Subject notwithstanding, I think it is a wonderful achievement to be able to see and to capture beauty, whatever your platform of choice. To see the achievements of some other bloggers, click here.

Botany Bay – Weekly Photo Challenge “Minimalist”

“Minimalism means not trying to improve perfection.”

Bryant McGill

(6  photos)

SIMPLICITY

SIMPLICITY

I was happy to see Jeni’s “Minimalist” challenge this week, as it works nicely with an expedition I made just a few days ago.  About an hour south of my home there is an area known as the Ace Basin.  Its 1.1 million acres include nature preserves renowned for their pristine landscapes. The current issue of National Geographic features an interesting article on it, including beautiful photography by local professional Vincent Musi.

I made the captures above and below in the hour following sunrise last Thursday. I thought they were a good match with Jen’s minimalist definition:  “a large portion of negative space, a monochromatic color palette with good contrast, and an interesting subject.”

ALONE

SOLITUDE

“I am a minimalist. I like saying the most with the least.”

Bob Newhart

One might think from those shots that sunrise was fairly docile that day, but that would be SO wrong! My commitment to a 4am wake-up call waivered a bit when the weatherman forecast overcast conditions and a chance of showers,. The cold front was due late in the day though, so there was also a chance for an interesting sky. Although risky, the decision was…GAME ON! How did it work out, you ask? Well it was one of the most spectacular light shows I’ve ever seen, with colors amazing enough to make you cry. I had about 40 minutes to shoot the incredible display before the clouds converged and created a simple blanket of blue-grey (captured above) that eventually dulled to a dreary, flat monotone sky. But what a display it was while it lasted!

HIGH TIDE, BOTANY BAY

HIGH TIDE, BOTANY BAY

“Minimalism is the intentional promotion of the things we most value and the removal of anything that distracts us from it.”

Joshua Becker

I made these captures in an area know as Bone-yard Beach within the Botany Bay preserve. It’s an incredible spot where at high tide many of the oak and palmetto trees that border the beach end up at least partially beneath the waves. Because of the area’s geographic orientation, the best opportunity for compelling compositions is once or twice each month when sunrise coincides with peak high tide. As such, outings must be well-timed, and Mother Nature needs to be at her most cooperative.

SURREAL SUNRISE

SURREAL SUNRISE

“Minimalism is the new extra mile.”

Mokokoma Mokhonoana

I laughed when I told my husband the story of the shoot. As he and others who know me understand only too well, I am NOT a morning person. My feeling is that Mother Nature knew how miserable I’d have been if I’d gotten up at that hour and driven that far only to shoot a boring sky.  They say don’t fool with Mother Nature, but I think in this instance, Mother Nature decided not to fool with ME 😊

AGROUND

COASTAL CREEPER

“A well-used minimum suffices for everything.”

Jules Verne

A few people with whom I’ve shared these shots have asked me if I enhanced the colors. The answer is a resounding no.  In fact, I actually desaturated them a bit to tone down the brightness. It was literally the most dynamic, colorful sky I’ve ever seen. (For the photographers among us, I underexposed the sunrise shots to capture the sky’s colors and then lightened the shadows a bit in post processing).

GOLDEN GLOW

GOLDEN GLOW

“If people who can fit all of their belongings in a backpack inspire you, you might be a minimalist.”

Courtney Carver

Isn’t it interesting how color can change the mood and feel of a photograph?  I’m looking forward to taking that concept a bit further in a future post, when I can share some B&W versions which I think are quite haunting; I hope you’ll stay tuned for that. In the meanwhile, if you’d like to see the minimalist interpretations of some other bloggers, click here.

Weekly Photo Challenge – Descent; Reaching for the Light

“Winds shall rise, and fog descend”

Star Trek, Three Witches

(3 photos)

MORNING FOG, ASHEVILLE

MORNING FOG, ASHEVILLE

In response to Michelle’s “Descent” challenge,  I’ve chosen images that offer a literal illustration of  downward movement.  Above, the descent of nature’s layers traveling from the sky, down a steep mountain, to the valley floor.  Below, the mid-air descent of  a beautiful monarch butterfly toward a colorful floral target.

There is a figurative aspect to my choices as well –  the emotional descent/ascent between darkness and light.

DESCENDING

DESCENDING

“A fall from such a height is rarely straight downwards.”

Victor Hugo

At some point, most all of us have faced an issue that could cause a descent into darkness. The question is, how will we react when these things happen? Even the most positive among us occasionally give in to despair – we are only human after all. But how long will it be before we recognize that the light remains and our often difficult task is to pull ourselves up and reach for it, no matter how far away it seems.

LANDED

LANDED

“You’ve seen my descent, now watch my rising.”

Rumi

Darkness will come. Will it pull us in or will it teach us by comparison to appreciate the light? Will it cause our descent, or help us to recognize others’  more difficult issues than our own? With few exceptions, each of us has the strength within to move back toward the light. More importantly, we have the power to share our own light with others in need. Let us understand that the darkness need not triumph in our moments of descent – in time and with help, it too shall pass.

To see the descents of some other bloggers, click here.

True Colors – Weekly Photo Challenge: Cover Art

“I see your true colors”

Cyndi Lauper

(5 photos)

TRUE COLORS

TRUE COLORS

Having participated in the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge for some time now, I must admit I found Pete Rosos’ challenge “Cover Art” to be one of the most interesting yet. Pete invites us to post photos that might be used as cover art for a book, album, movie, or any other art form of our choice. Since I was playing around with abstract shots featuring the colors of nature earlier this week, it seemed only right that I should choose to illustrate Cyndi Lauper’s famous “True Colors”. My opening shot was a composition that blended the beautiful colors of the twilight sky with the earthtones of a fallen branch.

FRONDS

FRONDS

“True colors are beautiful, like a rainbow.”

Cyndi Lauper

Here in abstract form is a capture of one of Kiawah’s prolific ferns. While the opening photo was made by moving the camera during a long exposure, the motion in this shot was created by slowly zooming in while shooting.

BARK AND BRANCH

BARK AND BRANCH

“Don’t be afraid to let them show, your true colors”

Cyndi Lauper

Again using motion, here my thought was to capture the rays of skylight peeking through the palm fronds versus the solid texture of a tall pine. One of my favorite things about photography is that it causes you to stop and absorb the peaceful moments that might otherwise pass unnoticed. The colors of nature’s palette are really quite amazing when you focus your attention on them.

SPINNING

SPINNING

“Your true colors, that’s why I love you”

Cyndi Lauper

Last week my post featured some of the beautiful yellows and oranges of our state wildflower, the goldenrod, and some visiting butterflies. Here I’ve created an abstract of that same flower by rotating my camera while shooting. I find it interesting how differently you can present a subject by looking at it in a new way.

SOLAR EVENT

SOLAR EVENT

“Shining Through.”

Cyndi Lauper

I’ll close with a capture I made on the beach as the solar eclipse was finishing its brilliant show here on Kiawah. While I had my white balance set on cloudy to add a bit of warmth, I have not otherwise manipulated the colors in the shot. The evening sky was quite something, and although I was very tired after a long day, I was happy in hindsight that I’d made the effort to catch the final solar event of the year.

The thing I most enjoyed about Pete’s challenge is the latitude it provided for being creative. I expect we’ll see a very wide range of responses this week. To check some of them out, click here.

Butterflies and Refraction – Weekly Photo Challenge; Vibrant Colors – Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge

“Inside all of us is a light.”

Courtney M Privett

( 7 photos)

THROUGH THE WINDOW

THROUGH THE WINDOW

This week Kevin has asked us to post a photograph that illustrates refraction,  or the effect created by light as it passes through an object. I chose the shot above, which I took a while ago from inside Charleston’s lovely City Hall. It shows a refraction effect both as the light passes through the wrought iron window onto the sill, and also in the distorted effect on the building’s facade on the windows across the street. But speaking of light, there was another related subject that caught my attention this week.

DELICATE PERCH

DELICATE PERCH

“You don’t find light by avoiding the darkness.”

S. Kelley Harrell

My timing was especially serendipitous in a walk along the path from my home to the ocean. There were literally blankets of yellow flowers (which I later determined were goldenrod, our state wildflower) adorning every inch – drawing beautiful Gulf Fritillary butterflies. The brilliance of these “Passion Butterflies” against the deep yellow of the flowers seemed a perfect fit for Cee’s challenge this week “Vibrant Colors”.

SUNLIT

SUNLIT

“Find the light. Reach for it. Live for it.”

Al R Young

I found myself following the delicate creatures with my lens, noting the difference from spot to spot as the butterflies’ wings caught the sunlight at different angles. It was a great reinforcement of the importance of light to photography. Often times we are drawn to specific subjects, only to be disappointed by the way they appear when captured. In many cases our results can be improved simply by moving to a new position, catching the light in a different way.

TRANSLUCENT

TRANSLUCENT

 “Light, seeking light, doth light of light beguile”

William Shakespeare

AIRPLANE WINGS

AIRPLANE WINGS

“Even coal shimmers in the light”

Jocelyn Murray

SIDELIGHTS

SIDELIGHTS

“When the heart is on fire, light comes from within.”

Tania Silva

Clearly, the angle of light makes all the difference. So too, the platform so beautifully placed by mother nature on which the creatures feasted:

SOLIDAGO ALTISSIMA

SOLIDAGO ALTISSIMA

To see where other bloggers found refractions and vivid colors, click here and here.

Weekly Photo Challenge – Dreamy

“That which is dreamed can never be lost, can never be undreamed.”

Neil Gaiman

(4 photos)

DREAMY DUCKS

DREAMY DUCKS

Sometimes the Weekly Photo Challenge moves us to study our archives, and other times it pushes us to go out and get creative. This week, along with a good friend, I was shooting near my home on Kiawah. With the challenge in mind, and admittedly because the day’s lighting was still quite strong, I decided to do some abstracts of our beautiful natural scenes. The first shot, above, captures three small ducks making waves across one of our many lagoons. Dreamy? Well, I suppose that’s in the eye of the beholder, but they seemed quite dreamy to me 😊

WATER REFLECTIONS

WATER REFLECTIONS

“There is nothing like a dream to create the future.”

Victor Hugo

Above, the same lagoon, this time reflecting the beautiful trees that grow so easily here in our warm, humid climate.

SHADED COPSE

SHADED COPSE

“Nothing happens unless first a dream.”

Carl Sandburg

Here the trees were reflected in an area of the lagoon that was a bit shadier than the previous shot. The minor ripples created an interesting pattern of tree trunks played out on the surface of the green-tinted waters.

TREES AND FLOWERS

TREES AND FLOWERS

“Our dreams are luminous, a cast fire upon the world.”

Charles Wright

Finally, there are times when art is simply the capture of color, or movement, or depth – with a hint of subject matter. For me, the scene above offers just enough of the tiny white flowers reaching up to the trees beyond to let us feel the warmth of the sun that lifts them, and the coolness of the beckoning shade.

So what about you – do you dream in color or are you a black and white dreamer? Are your dreams abstract or concrete? Isn’t it interesting to think about what our dreams really mean? A thought-provoking challenge from Michelle this week – what did it bring to YOUR mind? To see what it did for some other bloggers, click here.

Signs of Fall-WPC / Travel Theme-Bountiful

“Signs may be but the sympathies of nature with man.”

Charlotte Bronte

(5 photos)

SWEETGRASS ON THE MARSH

SWEETGRASS ON THE MARSH

This week Cheri has challenged us to share some “signs” while Ailsa has asked us to address “bountiful”. Over the years I have made many a photograph of interesting, funny, clever and even beautiful signs. But I’ve posted several times on the subject, for example here and here. So instead I’ve decided to illustrate some “signs” of the arrival of autumn’s “bounty” here on Kiawah.

First up, our iconic pinkish–purple sweetgrass. Each spring dry sweetgrass bushes are cut back so that they can once again grow green for the season. In fall that green becomes a delicate pinkish purple which lasts for about two months. It is beautiful to look at, especially when it borders the fall colors of our marshes. While our friends in New England and other parts north delight in their red and gold leaves (which I must admit is one of the few things I miss about living in the north), here in the south we celebrate fall with pink. As an added bonus, there is no need for leaf raking once fall has shed her glorious coat of colors.

HEADING HOME

HEADING HOME

“Not everything is a sign, some things simply are what they appear to be.”

Diane Schoemperlen

Another sign of fall here in the south is the arrival of our beloved shrimp boats. This of course also signals the availability of the freshest, most delicious white shrimp you’ve ever tasted. 😄 We humans aren’t the only ones who await the boats’ arrival. Below we see some clever birds awaiting the bounty to be found in the shrimpers’ nets. I’ve treated both of these shots using Nik’s Silver Efex Pro 2. I was going for an antique look in the first, and a ghostly feeling in the second. Sadly, I’ve tried to portray shrimping as a dying art – impacted by an aging fleet, the rising cost of fuel and ever-increasing competition from low-cost suppliers delivering lesser-quality foreign products.

SCAVENGING

SCAVENGING

“Success is not a stop sign.”

Robert Kiyosaki

While at the beach shooting the shrimpers, I turned to see the beautiful golden dune grasses gently bending in the breeze. Although the grasses are with us year round, in the fall their color becomes even more golden as the sun begins to set further to the west.

GOLDEN GRASSES

GOLDEN GRASSES

“Life is one big road with lots of signs.”

Bob Marley

Yet another sign that fall is upon us – the many families who share our beach during the summer season have left to return to real life and schoolwork. Below, their lonely sea kayaks are stored sadly under one of our many beachwalks. Although we miss their laughter and the joy of their play, we also appreciate the return of peace and quiet as we stroll happily along our now mostly-deserted shores.

STORED FOR THE SEASON

STORED FOR THE SEASON

“Words are but the signs of ideas.”

Samuel Johnson

Thank you Cheri and Ailsa for your challenges. To see some other bloggers’ responses click here and here .