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 .

Nighttime Shooting – Weekly Photo Challenge

“I like the night. Without the dark, we’d never see the stars.”

Stephanie Meyer

(6 photos)

STARS

STARS

One of my favorite things about the photo challenges is that they incent me to revisit my archives, often times coming upon photos I’ve not seen for a while. The shot above, for example, was made during a class last year on “painting with light”. I remember distinctly that the evening was much colder that most on Kiawah, and I was trying to shoot wearing gloves – always a challenge . It was a fun class that I really enjoyed while learning quite a bit.  In the first shot we used no additional lighting and focused on capturing the evening’s stars. By comparison, in the second we used a flashlight to illuminate the gazebo, which then became a more prominent element of the composition. Personally, although I enjoyed playing with the light,  I prefer the first shot; how about you?

EVENING AT THE GAZEBO

EVENING AT THE GAZEBO

“I have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night.”

Sarah Williams

In the bridge shot from Shanghai which follows, the lighting was already in place and the two stargazers offered an interesting compositional element. How nice of them to stand perfectly still without even being asked :-)

STARGAZING

STARGAZING

“The darker the night, the brighter the stars.”

Fyodor Dostoyevsky

After Shanghai we visited Hong Kong, where we were told of their marvelous nightly light show. Challenged by the size of the crowd (all of whom had obviously heard the same thing) I was determined to find an open spot for my tripod that would allow an undisturbed shot. Fortunately my husband is a tall and determined guy, and was able to help me maneuver into position for the capture below. For more night shots of both Shanghai and Hong Kong, visit my post here.

CITY LIGHTS

CITY LIGHTS

“Listen to the music of the night.”

Charles Hart

Finally, two shots taken several years ago in beautiful Dubrovnik. The first was taken from my hotel window with the camera positioned on the sill. I was enamored with the red rooftops and the outstanding quality of the evening’s blue light. By comparison, the second was taken on a moody, lamplit, cobblestone walkway. I liked the effect of the blur, which I thought added to the feel of the composition.

THE BLUE HOUR

THE BLUE HOUR

“Those who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night.”

Edgar Allan Poe

LAMPLIGHTS

LAMPLIGHTS

“The night shall be filled with music,
And the cares, that infest the day,
Shall fold their tents like the Arabs, and silently steal away.”

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

This week in particular, it is important for me to remember that the darkness does indeed help us to appreciate the gift of light. I offer a huge thank you to my family and friends – all of whom are part of that very light.  I also thank Ben for his timely reminder.  To see the nights of some other bloggers, click here.

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.