Weekly Photo Challenge: Twinkle

“There is light in the world, and it is us!”

Eliezer Yudkowsky

( 7 photos)

I must admit that Jen Hooks’ challenge this week, “Twinkle” had me scratching my head a bit. ‘Tis the season for twinkle – holiday lights, the star of Bethlehem, Hanukkah’s 6-pointed star. But because my husband and I travel to visit with our families for the holidays, our “decorations” are a bit on the spare side. That notwithstanding, I thought I’d share a capture from our happy little tree.

FORE

FORE

This fellow reflects the fact that my husband and I are golfers, so of course our glass snowman ornament is a golfer too 😊.  And, since no holiday home is complete without the light of a few candles, here are some of ours.

SHINE A LIGHT ON IT

SHINE A LIGHT ON IT

“How far that little candle throws his beams! So shines a good deed in a weary world.”

William Shakespeare

Beyond a look into our holiday home, the things I’d like to share today are the real highlights of Kiawah. Fellow blogger Annette from Beauty Along the Road, who was staying with a friend here on Kiawah, took the time to get in touch with me earlier this month. Together yesterday we visited some of my favorite spots for photography.

DOUBLE IBIS

DOUBLE IBIS

“You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world.”

Matthew 5:14

On one of our stops we came upon the two beautiful Ibises above taking in the late afternoon sun. It was one of those moments when everything comes together. The birds, the light, the green of the tree branches…..and a new friend / fellow photographer with whom to share it.

FRONDS

GOLDEN GRASSES

“Deep in their roots, all flowers keep the light.”

Theodore Roethke

On another stop, we came upon a group of marsh grasses beautifully back-lit by the sun’s golden light. They reminded me of a challenge from yet another blogging friend, Jane of Just Another Nature Enthusiast. When I commented that I loved her “Gone But Not Forgotten” quote last week, she challenged me to use it in one of my own posts. So Jane, how’d I do?! I couldn’t decide if I preferred the shot above or the one below, so I’ve included both.

LONELY IN THE LIGHT

LONELY IN THE LIGHT

“Live, love, laugh and let your light shine!”

Rob Liano

Next on the agenda with Annette was a stop to shoot a group of egrets and ibises feasting on the tiny fish that populate the creeks of our beautiful marsh. We were actually driving to another location when I spotted them, so I quickly U-turned to take advantage of yet another Kiawah photographic opportunity.

AFTERNOON'S GLOW

AFTERNOON’S GLOW

“Light is more important than the lantern.”

Nizar Qabbani

Last but not least, I’d like to share a final “twinkle” from our time together here on a winter’s afternoon.  I happily introduced Annette and her lovely friend Asma to one of our favorite residents (in fact several of them), the American Alligator. You can’t tell me that’s not a twinkle in his beady little eye! What do you suppose he was thinking about as we came in close to capture his portrait?

HAPPY GATOR

GRINNING GATOR

“May it be a light to you in dark places, when all other lights go out.”

J.R.R Tolkien

Happily Annette’s visit caught one of Kiawah’s truly beautiful days when the late afternoon light warmed both the temperature and nature’s colors. I thank her for taking the time to reach out to me, and for introducing me to her friend, my sometimes-neighbor Asma. As the sunlight was fading and we were about to head back home, Asma asked me “Does it ever get old?”. I answered No, not so far 😍.  But sometimes it takes the pleasure of sharing it to remind us how very special it really is.

To share in the twinkles captured by some other bloggers, click here.

Gone But Not Forgotten – Weekly Photo Challenge

“The Moment! Once you miss it, it’s gone forever.”

Henri Cartier Bresson

ONLY GOD CAN MAKE A TREE

ONLY GOD CAN MAKE A TREE

(6  photos)

This week Krista has offered us an interesting challenge: “Gone But Not Forgotten”.  A few weeks ago I posted about a glorious sunrise at Botany Bay in the nearby Ace Basin of South Carolina. At the time I promised to later post some B&W versions of the hauntingly beautiful trees that have been decimated by the tides as they encroach upon the beach.  It seems to me that those trees are a wonderful subject for this week’s challenge as they cling to their last moments of existence.

ALL BUT GONE

ALL BUT GONE

“Photography is very philosophical. You look one moment and there’s everything, next moment it’s gone.”

Joel Meyerowitz

As I mentioned in my previous post, the sunrise at Botany Bay was incredibly vibrant the day I visited, but once the sun began to rise higher into the sky, the day became quite difficult for color photography. On the other hand, very high-contrast situations such as a bright sun over the ocean with dark trees as subjects, lend themselves wonderfully to B&W.

SOON TO BE GONE

SOON TO BE GONE

“No man-made invention will ever be as clear, or as vivid, as the image captured in your mind of a loved one who’s gone.”

Larry Wilder

I’ve often commented to friends that the subjects of my photographs are the most memorable moments of my travels. Is that because they were more memorable to begin with, or because I’ve translated them from my eyes, through my lens and onto a solid medium such as a framed print or a book? I suspect a little of both. But I do find that photography not only causes me to notice more of the wonders of our world, both large and small, but it also helps me to remember them.

SWIRLING WATERS

SWIRLING WATERS

“There is always the feeling that something is gone.”

David Plowden

The ephemeral nature of this particular site, Boneyard Beach, is emotionally moving. One is faced with the transitory element of life – here today, gone tomorrow. But forgotten? Let us hope not. If only memorialized by photographers like myself who find them stunningly beautiful, at the very least they will be remembered by some number of us. So too all of us, who will someday cease to exist other than in photos or more importantly in the minds and hearts of those who have known and loved us.

UPROOTED

UPROOTED

“What I like about photographs is that they capture a moment that’s gone forever, impossible to reproduce.”

Karl Lagerfeld

No one wants to think about ceasing to exist, after all, it’s the only thing we know. But much has been written of late about what happens after death. Science and medicine have reached a point where many who have been technically dead for some time – no heartbeat, no brainwaves, no breathing – can be returned to life. Many of them have reported experiencing a wonderful “existence” after physical death, such that they were reluctant to return to life in the here-and-now. Who are we to question, since we have no way of knowing what really happens? People of faith have always believed in a hereafter of some form, and many people around the world firmly believe in reincarnation. Who are we to think we know otherwise?

BOTTOMS UP

BOTTOMS UP

“My favorite thing is to go where I have never gone.”

Diane Arbus

“Gone but not Forgotten” not only describes the barren trees of Boneyard Beach. It also applies to the loved ones we have lost, and of course to the incredible moments I spent in this very special place. For that reason, this week I have surrounded my photography with the quotations of famous photographers. Who better to talk about Gone but not Forgotten than those who have captured fleeting moments and frozen them for all time? Because of their amazing collective works they will not soon be forgotten either.

To see what other bloggers have not forgotten, click here.

Weekly Photo Challenge – Converge

“To photograph is to hold one’s breath, when all faculties converge to capture fleeting reality. ”

Henri Cartier-Bresson

(3 photos)

TRIANGLES

TRIANGLES

Our challenge this week comes from Ben, who has invited us to show how lines and shapes can converge to create interest. Some of you may have noticed my absence from last week’s challenge. As it turns out, my husband and I spent the week in California, reuniting with good friends in several cities. In my attempt to travel light, I elected to leave my DSLR and computer behind – hence, my blogging absence.

LINES AND CIRCLES

LINES AND CIRCLES

“The sweet spot is where duty and delight converge.”

Thomas Mann

People will tell you that it’s the photographer, not the equipment, that makes the shot. While I find that true to some degree, if you don’t have the right equipment it is a great deal more difficult to capture what your photographic vision commands. Although I had a small point-and-shoot with which I took these photographs, alas they are not at all what might have been. As small cameras go, mine is not awful, but I sure could have used a polarizer and one or two of my good lenses while shooting in the mid-day sun.

CIRCLES WITHIN CIRCLES

CIRCLES WITHIN CIRCLES WITHIN LINES

“Remain true to yourself, but move ever upward…..for everything that rises must converge.”

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

Two weeks ago my off-camera flash died when the batteries exploded inside (yep, shame on me for leaving them in there in the first place). I’m resisting buying a replacement because I’m seriously considering moving to mirrorless technology, but am not quite ready to abandon my trusty Nikon and it’s wonderful lenses just yet. Equipment not-withstanding, a few of the things that caught my eye during last week’s travels fit Ben’s challenge quite nicely. I hope you can enjoy my geometric examples by using your imagination to envision the creations I had in mind when I shot them 😊.

 To see where some other bloggers found convergence, click here.

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.