Weekly Photo Challenge – Endurance / Travel Theme – Strong

“The strength we find within ourselves gives us endurance and perseverance.”

Ellen J. Barrier

(4 photos)

TWO BUTTERFLIES

TWO BUTTERFLIES

Our challenge this week, Endurance, has caught me feeling a bit philosophical, as has Ailsa’s Travel Theme, Strong. As always, there are many ways to interpret the concepts. For some literal examples of both strength and endurance, I invite you to visit my previous posts on man-made masterpiece Angkor Wat, or natural phenomena like Patagonia’s Andes Mountains  and the Giant Redwoods of California. This week however, after spending a day photographing some of Kiawah’s incredible nature, I’ve decided to address the challenges a bit more abstractly.

Take the butterflies above for example. These incredibly delicate creatures teach us the value of moving with the help of the wind rather than fighting it. How much more easily might we endure life’s challenges if we accepted the help of family and friends?  What about the strength we might draw from spirituality or a belief in a higher power? Allowing others to support us during times of need can be a much-appreciated gift as we deal with life’s inevitable moments of crisis.

STALWART

STALWART

“Scars are not signs of weakness, they are signs of survival and endurance.”

Rodney A Winters

In the abstract above we see two examples of endurance. The reeds’ delicate stalks endure by bending gently rather than resisting the often-extreme coastal winds around them. The trees, on the other hand, survive by setting their roots deep in the soil and using their strength to hold themselves steady as the wind blows around rather than through them. So too must we decide whether to bend or to stand strong in the face of life’s challenges. There is a place for both reactions depending on a given situation.

GRASSHOPPER

GRASSHOPPER

“Endurance: It is the spirit which can bear things with blazing hope.”

Anonymous

Here, the lowly grasshopper. His lesson? That endurance can often be achieved by blending into our surroundings. Had I not stopped for a closeup of the flowers around him, I’d never have spotted him. His coloring and form are amazingly similar to that of a simple stick in a field of sticks and flowers. For us too there are times when laying low and remaining unobserved is the best response, and others when it’s important to stand up and be counted. Each individual must determine for him or herself where to draw their personal line.

BABY BOBCAT

BABY BOBCAT

“Stay determined to endure hard times.  No situation is permanent.”

Lailah Gifty Akita

Finally, a young bobcat I happened upon during my photography outing. His endurance lesson features adaptability to change, and to taking advantage of available resources. As recently as 20 years ago, much of Kiawah was an undeveloped barrier island rich with ground cover and teeming with prey. Today the bobcat has learned to use our boardwalks and golf cart paths to traverse the island more quickly and easily. They protect themselves from the sun in the shade of our porches, and  naturally manage our marsh rat and deer populations. Might we not benefit from learning that endurance often depends on accepting change and making the necessary adaptations?

With thanks to Krista and Ailsa for their complimentary challenges, I invite you to click here and here to see some other bloggers’ interpretations.

Weekly Photo Challenge – Humanity

“Be ashamed to die until you have won some victory for humanity.”

Horace Mann

(7 photos)

FATHER AND SON

FATHER AND SON

Last week I responded to the “Adventure” challenge with some favorite wildlife photographs from our African safari.  It seems only appropriate then, that I respond to this week’s “Humanity” challenge with some favorite captures of the people we encountered on that same journey. Above, the expression on the face of a fisherman in Cape Town reflects the challenge of a difficult life. On the other hand, his son’s smile exemplifies the carefree exuberance of youth. A family that could be found anywhere in the world, demonstrating a classic parent/child dynamic.

After capturing the father and son, I was compelled to photograph the mother, seen below. What do you suppose was on her mind as I caught here in such serious thought?

RED BANDANA

RED BANDANA

“The ‘norm’ for humanity is love.”

Jack D. Forbes

We also visited a local community nearby, where my attention was drawn to this scene.  I felt the woman’s pose within her environment told an eloquent story.

STRAW HAT

STRAW HAT

“No matter what is happening in the world, I continue to believe in humanity.”

Britt Skarbanek

We spent several hours with some local children in a nearby school.  Here, two of the wide-eyed students observing us as we observed them.

AFRICA'S FUTURE

AFRICA’S FUTURE

“Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive.”

Dalai Lama XIV

After school, we saw three young friends experiencing the joy of finishing the day’s work.  Although it could be anywhere USA, this happy group of kids is headed home from school in South Africa.

AFTER SCHOOL

AFTER SCHOOL

“What sunshine is to flowers, smiles are to humanity.”

Joseph Addison

During our community visit, some of the residents graciously shared with us their customs and daily chores. Below, a woman who taught us how grains are processed to make one of the staples of the local diet using the long pole she handled so deftly. Several of the more adventurous among us sampled the fruits of her labor :-)

NO COMPLAINTS

NO COMPLAINTS

“Where humanity sowed faith, hope, and unity, joy’s garden blossomed.”

Aberjhani

Finally, one of my favorite people of all time, our guide in Botswana, Ezekiel. Full of life, exuberance, joy and love, Ezekiel introduced us to the glory that is Africa. His smile never dimmed, his knowledge of the land and the beautiful creatures who inhabit it led us to love it as much as he did –  gift for which I will be forever grateful.

EZEKIEL

EZEKIEL

“The greatness of humanity is not in being human, but in being humane.”

Mahatma Ghandi

A famous quote by Maya Angelou seems particularly appropriate for this week’s challenge. “Perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but by demonstrating that all peoples cry, laugh, eat, worry, and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try and understand each other, we may even become friends.” Words to travel by, don’t you think?

Want to check in on some other bloggers’ views of humanity?  Click here.

African Adventure – Weekly Photo Challenge

“Here’s to having an excellent adventure and may the stopping never start.”

Jason Mraz

CHEETAH AT REST

CHEETAH AT REST

Most photographers love an adventure; after all, with lens in hand even the back yard can be an adventure :-) Those who have been following my blog know that my husband and I love to travel, and many of our journeys have been adventure-focused. We’ve climbed mountains, soared in hot air balloons, hiked on and cruised through glaciers, crossed wobbly rope bridges in the rain forest….well, you get the idea. But for me the word adventure automatically takes me back to our safari in Africa.

FOCUS

FOCUS

“Life is a daring adventure. I am enjoying every bit of the joyful journey. “

Lailah Gifty Akita

There are two schools of thought when photographing animals in the wild. One approach is to get up close and personal and try to capture the spirit within, focusing if possible on the eyes. Another option is to show the animal in its natural habitat, preferably exhibiting characteristic behavior. With thanks to Michelle for her Adventure challenge,  I thought I’d contrast the two approaches to see which resonates more strongly. I’ve opened with two different captures of the powerful and incredibly fast cheetah. It was quite something to see the burst of speed this seemingly docile creature employed when she spotted potential prey.

MACHO BATTLE

MACHO BATTLE

“Let your imagination be your adventure and see where it takes you.”

Carmela Dutra

Above and below we see first, two wildebeests locked in battle, showing their prowess with their sharp and (one would assume) deadly horns. Second, a portrait of this rather odd-looking animal – although I suppose not so odd to another wildebeest:-) – looking quite placid.

HERE'S LOOKING AT YOU

HERE’S LOOKING AT YOU

 “Adventure is not outside man; it is within.”

George Eliot

One of the most beautiful creatures on safari is the lithe and graceful leopard. We saw them in trees, on the hunt, with their young, at rest, feeding on their catch – in just about every way possible. Each time we were thrilled with the sighting and watched as long as possible. Here then, a close up followed by an environmental portrait.

BIG-EYED BEAUTY

BIG-EYED BEAUTY

” Between safety and adventure I choose adventure.”

Craig Ferguson

CAT IN A TREE

CAT IN A TREE

“Even the mediocre can have adventures and even the fearful can achieve.”

Edmund Hillary

Following the beautiful leopard, one of the most reviled of wild animals, the hyena. Perhaps they’ve been given a bad rap based on their association with witchcraft and their reputation for stealing food from other animals. In fact, hyenas kill most all of their food themselves and are quite crafty – working in packs to defeat faster, stronger predators. We witnessed a hyena challenging a leopard for her kill and were amazed that the leopard lost the battle in fairly short order. Below, two approaches to this species.

LOOKING BEHIND

LOOKING BEHIND

“I’m an adventurer, looking for treasure”

Paulo Cuelho

THE LOOKOUT

THE LOOKOUT

“Make everything an adventure.”
Nita Morgan

Finally, one cannot think of Africa without a nod to the king of beasts, the lion. Hardly the dominant creature he is reputed to be, we found them mostly sleeping or at least at rest, and bearing the scars of many battles. We saw more juveniles than mature beasts, and more females than males. Unfortunately their numbers are in serious decline due to loss of habitat, encounters with humans and continuous battles with one another. How sad to think their future could be in question as they are such incredibly majestic animals.

KING OF BEASTS

KING OF BEASTS

“Adventure: extreme circumstances recalled in tranquility.”

Jules the Kiwi

THE MAIN MAN'S MANE

BATTLE SCARRED

Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing at all.”

Helen Keller

As we all know, time does fly. Although it feels like yesterday, it’s been nearly 8 years since we experienced this marvelous adventure. Digging deep into the archives, I’ve included only shots not previously posted – with thanks to the Weekly Challenge for the pleasure of  revisiting fond memories while making my selections.

One final thought; despite my aversion to an early wake-up call, in Africa daybreak and sunset are the times when the animals are active, and mid-day sun is nearly unbearable. Even for me though, the daily 5:00 am departure hardly seemed a challenge when the promise of Africa was on the  agenda.

So…. close-up or environmental portraits? I must admit I’m partial to the close-up myself but I enjoy the habitat shots almost as much. How about you? And if you’re in the mood to enjoy the adventures of some other bloggers click here.

Weekly Photo Challenge – Dialogue

“There is more than one way of perceiving. Thoroughly check your inner dialogue.”

T.F. HODGE

This week’s challenge was, to me at least, one of the more interesting we’ve had thus far. The subject “dialogue” calls for us to include two photos which can be perceived as having a “consensual interaction” , opening up meanings which were not there if each was viewed alone. The set of photos above connects the interior of a single conch shell with a group of conch on the right. The intricacies of the beauty that lies within might be lost without the focus on the single shell. Likewise, without the perspective of the outer shells, one is left wondering about the purpose of the subject on the left.

“There is always an inside from outside the door.”

Munia Khan

The two photos above were made at the same lighthouse. As a photographer, I found the interior much more compelling. Did you recognize the construct of a lighthouse before seeing the second photo? To me the details of the left side capture speak to the complexity of the mechanics necessary to to make the beacon shine from the more straightforward exterior structure shot on the right.

“What lies in front of you, and what lies behind you, pales in comparison to what lies inside of you.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Finally, a small home, which like the others in this post comes from a long-ago visit to the Bahamas. I shot the photograph on the left because I loved the angle of the staircase. The simple exterior gave me no hint that there was such an interesting scene to be found in the back :-). The backyard scene told us much more about the lives of the residents than did the capture from the front.

 I hope you’ve enjoyed my “dialogues” this week – to see the photos in more detail, please click on the individual shots. To check in on some other dialogues, click here.

 

Hudson County Meander- Weekly Photo Challenge: Fray

BARGAIN BRAIN CARE

BARGAIN BRAIN CARE

“There is no psychiatrist in the world like a puppy licking your face.”

Bernard Williams

An interesting challenge from John Godley this week with the word “fray”. The dictionary defines it as “unraveled or worn at the edges”. It goes on to portray usage in such terms as “frayed nerves” or “jump into the fray”. I’ve opened with a slightly humorous twist on the theme, with what might be considered bargain treatment for a case of frayed nerves :-).  I found it on a photo expedition last week in downtown Hudson, New York.  It should be recognizable to Peanuts fans everywhere!

VINTAGE SCENE

VINTAGE SCENE

“History always has a few frayed tricks up its sleeve.”

Terry Pratchett

On a more literal front, notice the frayed edge of cloth poking out of the door behind this old gas pump. This little scene from yesteryear was spotted in the hills around the same area. My husband and I  were following a scenic route recommended by Mister Google which did not disappoint. Here then, some of the other scenes that greeted us along the way.

STRIPES

STRIPES

“Nature’s heart beats strong amid the hills.”  

Richard Monckton Milnes

While my husband drove, I co-piloted – shouting out for a stop whenever something caught my eye. Let’s just say we made many stops, indulging along the way in a very satisfactory visit to Dad’s Copake Diner-home of yummy burgers, friendly waitresses, and delicious soft ice cream – yet another visit to days gone by!

TWO SILOS

TWO SILOS

“A quiet, secluded life in the country….such is my idea of happiness.”

Leo Tolstoy

Of course the bucolic countryside was home to quite a few lazy cows and grazing horses. One farm is home to a number of rescued horses, including the two below. I found myself wondering if the mare’s white face was the result of mistreatment or simply old age. Of course we hoped it was the latter.

TWO HORSES

TWO HORSES

“All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”

George Orwell

ABOUT FACE

ABOUT FACE

 “God had given him a tail to keep the flies off, but he would sooner have had no tail and no flies.”

George Orwell

So where do the cows and horses return when they’ve eaten enough grass/flowers/hay and it’s time to call it a day? To the iconic red barns of course. We saw lots of those as well, including both old and new, spiffy and nearly done in/worn/shall we say “frayed”?!

OLD AND NEW

OLD AND NEW

“Honor the Lord with thy substance, and with the first fruits of all thine increase. So shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine.”

Proverbs 3:10

THE BARN DOOR

THE BARN DOOR

“Creating a new theory is not like destroying an old barn and erecting a skyscraper in its place.”

Albert Einstein

The rural roads notwithstanding, downtown Hudson offers a wealth of opportunity for a photographer. I’ll surely be posting some captures from my visit in the coming months. But I’ll close with one more literal example for the theme –  the tattered edges of a newspaper on a colorful downtown door.

RED DOOR

# 610

“Two of the cruelest, most primitive punishments….the empty mailbox and the silent telephone.”

Hedda Hopper

 

Want to see some other frayed examples? Click here.

 

Kiawah in Silhouette – Weekly Photo Challenge

The dance between darkness and light will always remain.

C. JoyBell C

PALMETTO SUNSET

PALMETTO SUNSET

This week our challenge is “silhouette”, admittedly not one of my favorite forms of art. If I hadn’t skipped last week’s challenge due to a hectic travel schedule, I’d have seriously considered skipping this one. Then again, isn’t that what a challenge is all about – stretching to do something outside of your comfort zone? So here’s an attempt to deliver on the silhouette challenge with some shots of our lovely barrier island. The opening capture features South Carolina’s state tree, the palmetto. I shot it on Kiawah’s famous Ocean Course; well-known to golfers everywhere :-). And yes, the sky really was that color.

GAZEBO

GAZEBO

“The dark does not weep for itself because there is no light.”

Libba Bray

The second shot was made with a view from the Ocean Course toward a small gazebo overlooking the sea. In both this shot and the last, our brilliant island sunsets offered me a perfect opportunity to feature the drama between darkness and light.

QUIET MOMENT

QUIET MOMENT

 “If we are unwilling to be aware of the dark, we cannot see the light.”

John Cowan

The capture above features a romantic couple taking in the view from a bicycle path that runs 10 miles, to and from the furthest ends of the island. The vistas along the way are spectacular, especially as the sun casts its final rays across our beautiful salt marshes.

MORNING FOG

MORNING FOG

“Darkness is your candle…..you must have shadow and light source both.”

Rumi

Finally, not all silhouettes feature bright sunlight. Here, a small bird swims in silhouette surrounded by the peaceful quiet of a foggy morning on one of Kiawah’s many lagoons. For me, this final image is more compelling because of its simplicity. As always though, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. So, fellow beholder, are you a fan of bright and colorful, or do you prefer muted and monochromatic? Isn’t it nice that nature gives us such lovely choices?!

To see the silhouettes that captured the imagination of some other bloggers  click here.

China’s Geometry – Weekly Photo Challenge: ZigZag

“A zigzag strategy is the best way to get ahead.”

Tahir Shah

CHINA'S GREAT WALL

CHINA’S GREAT WALL

In response to this week’s challenge “zigzag”, I’m opening with the ultimate example, China’s Great Wall. The wall zigs and zags as far as the eye can see through some of the world’s most mountainous and remote terrain.  It makes one wonder at the amount of effort that must have gone into its design and construction. The wall was one of many zigzagging examples on our journey throughout the country this past fall. Here then, a few of my other favorites.

RICE FIELDS, LONGSHENGRICE FIELDS, LONGSHENG

RICE FIELDS, LONGSHENG

“How many twists can a tongue twister twist around the twisting tongue.”

G.K.Griswold

The rice fields of Longsheng offered many samples of roads and plateaus zigzagging their way about. I chose this shot particularly because it gives one an idea of the scale of the fields compared to the the road twisting through their base.

OLD TOWN SHANGRI-LA

OLD TOWN SHANGRI-LA

 “Pursue some path, however narrow and crooked, in which you can walk with love and reverence.”

Henry David Thoreau

Above, a look at the zigzagging path that runs through old town Shangri-La. Actually I should say “ran”.  Sadly the town was virtually destroyed soon after our visit by a massive fire that burned for 10 hours and destroyed more than 250 homes and businesses.

Below, an amazing vista seen from the incredibly crooked, narrow, and (I thought) dangerous road we traveled from Tiger Leaping Gorge to the lovely farmlands of Shangri-La.

THE VALLEY BELOW, YUNNAN

THE VALLEY BELOW, YUNNAN

 “May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view.”

Edward Abbey

Finally, an “up close and personal” look at the long day of a dedicated farmer working the zigzag paths of China’s verdant fields. I must admit I enjoyed the rudimentary scarecrow almost as much as the farmer himself :-)

LONG DAY'S JOURNEY

LONG DAY’S JOURNEY

 “Crooked paths look straighter as we approach the end.

Jean Paul

Wishing everyone the pleasure of discovering new paths, be they straight, crooked or even zigzagged.