Lens-Artists Challenge #143 – Colorful April

spring, flowers, path, color, Middleton Plantation
SPRINGTIME SCENE, MIDDLETON PLANTATION

“See with a different eye, visualize with a colorful mind, manifest your thoughts with the energy within.”

Michael Bassey Johnson

Well it is’s official, spring has definitely sprung here in the southern U.S. Earlier this week a friend and I drove to nearby Middleton Plantation to see whether the azaleas had begun to bloom. As you can see in the image above, they had more than just begun 😊. It was a glorious, sunny spring day with flowers at every turn. A photographer’s dream, we did our best to take full advantage of it.

Middleton Plantation, bridge, water, landscape
GLORIOUS NATURE

“Did I live the spring I’d sought? It’s true in joy, I walked along, took part in dance, and sang the song.”

Roman Payne

The earth was awash in glorious color from every direction. As Amy so rightly noted, the verdant greens seemed to predominate every scene, but the reds, pinks, whites and yellows found ways to make themselves known just the same. No matter the color, the many ponds throughout the venue reflected them all equally.

Japanese Maple, red, landscape, Middleton Plantation
ALMOST JAPANESE

“Have the Japanese, from generations spent in one-story paper houses, learned an alphabet of beauty in nature, that we, in our houses of brick and stone, have shut out?”

Anne Morrow Lindbergh

I chose a quote about Japanese art because the image above, and the view it captured, reminded me of something one might see on a Japanese scroll. I also believe the red tree in the foreground is a Japanese maple. I made a point of keeping the image soft, especially in its background – thinking a Japanese artist might depict it that way.

SPRING, MIDDLETON PLANTATION, SPANISH MOSS, TREE, SPRING
PERFECT PLACE TO PONDER

“If you never go out on that limb, you’re missing a hell of a view.”

Jodi Picoult

The image above features one of many gorgeous live oaks which grace the property. Most are hundreds of years old, and are symbiotically decorated with patches of spanish moss. There are benches throughout the property should one wish to sit and ponder nature’s gifts. For us, knowing there was another beautiful vista around every corner, we chose to keep moving and shooting.

A DIFFERENT ANGLE

“A flower does not use words to announce its arrival to the world; it just blooms.”

Matshona Dhliwayo

There were so many beautiful blossoms throughout the plantation, it would be impossible to portray them all. I chose instead to include a small sampling. On the left, a pink camellia. These are the first blossoms of spring and are about finished blooming. On the right – a pink azalea just entering its prime. Finally, from the back, a white flower which unfortunately I didn’t recognize – anyone??

spanish moss, spring, Middleton Plantation, spring
MOSTLY MOSS

“More delicately, more intricately fashioned than any grasses of the field, more subtle in texture than any seaweed of the sea…There is a religious reticence in the nature of moss.”

John Cowper Powys

Middleton is a National Historic Landmark spanning 110 acres along the Ashley River. Like most southern plantations, it prospered from the use of slaves. A 10-year Middleton research project has worked to identify the names and stories of some 2,800 slaves who worked the plantation until 1865. They have created an exhibit, a book and a documentary film to “explore the lives, families and contributions of seven generations of enslaved people.” While we cannot undo the wrongs of the past, at the very least we can learn from them as well as acknowledge and give names to those whose labor created the beauty we enjoy today.

As always, we thank those of you who joined us for last week’s “You Pick It” challenge. What a diverse set of images and subjects you presented! I’ll be back right here on Travels and Trifles to host next week’s challenge. In the meanwhile we look forward to seeing your colorful images of April. Please remember to use our Lens-Artists tag and to link to Amy’s original post here.

Lens-Artists Challenge #142 – Photography as Art

Spanish Moss
MAGIC MOSS

“Art is both the taking and giving of beauty.”

Ansel Adams

This week Ann-Christine is hosting “You Pick It”, a challenge for which we choose our own subject. Since there were several comments about the artistic interpretations in my recent post about Magnolia Gardens, I chose to focus this week on photography as art. My opening image of Spanish Moss was captured last week here on Kiawah as the late afternoon sun peeked through the dense foliage.

reflection, green, art
WATERY PALMETTOS

“Photography is an art form – human beings expressing their understanding of and connection with life, themselves, and others.”

Lisette Model

On the same photography outing I created the image above with a slow camera pan on a reflection of palmetto trees in the marsh. I loved the verdant green of the water which looks to me almost like the careful strokes of an oil painting.

egrets, art, impressionist, birds
TWO EGRETS IN A DREAM

“The camera need not be a cold mechanical device. It can be an extension of the mind and heart.”

John Steinbeck

I took one of my Magnolia Garden images about as far from reality as I could in the rendition above. My intent was to have the image appear as if in a dream. The birds were so free and delicate with their beautiful white feathers I couldn’t resist.

OUT ON A LIMB

“If photography is truly an art…it’s about what’s inside of you. … artistic expression, not objective duplication.”

Brooks Jensen

Yet another Kiawah scene captured during last week’s outing, in the image above I focused on the single oak tree limb gracefully curling through the leaves and moss. I purposely overexposed the shot to emphasize the contrast between the limb and the feathery foliage. I applied an impressionist filter to the background in post processing to emphasize its ethereal quality.

art, impression, palmetto, moon
MOON AND PALMETTO

“A photograph is an art form; it means different things to different viewers and is totally subjective. Like music, sculpture, painting, it stirs up a different feeling and thought within anyone who looks at a picture.

Edmond Terakopian

The scene in the image above reminded me a bit of the South Carolina flag, which has become quite controversial of late. We are working to standardize on a single image for the flag and our politicians cannot agree on which is the best option. I applied an impressionist filter and overlaid it with a bit of texture to create the final image. I think it would make a lovely flag but adding another option is probably not the best idea at this point 😊.

reflection, trees, water
NATURE’S IMPRESSIONISM

“Photography is a bridge between science and art. It brings to science what it needs most, the artistic sense, and to art the proof that nothing can be imagined which cannot be matched in the counterpoints of nature.”

Ernst Haas

My final image above is Straight-Out-Of-Camera. I saw it as nature’s version of an impressionist scene. It is simply the reflection of a copse of trees on the waters of a small lagoon. The colors come from a blend of last autumn’s remaining leaves with the early greens of spring’s new growth, all set against the reflection of the mid-day sky – proving once again that Mother Nature knows best.

It was great fun seeing your portrayals of geometry in last week’s challenge – you took us on quite a world tour! As always we thank you for your support of our challenge. This week we look forward to seeing which subjects you choose and how you portray them. Remember to link your responses to Ann-Christine’s original post here, and to use the Lens-Artists Tag. Amy will be our host next week so stay tuned to see what she comes up with! Until then, please stay safe and be kind.

Lens-Artists Challenge #141 – Geometry

sunflowers, yellow
FIBONACCI FLOWERS

“Sometimes it’s all about the details, they make the whole more meaningful.”

Iva Kenos

This week Patti has challenged us to explore geometry. I will admit it was never my favorite subject, but the great minds of history – such as Euclid and Archimedes and Fibonacci – have shown the incredibly specific order of our universe which in turn gives us the ability to build and create everything in our world. Fibonacci is known for proving that even nature itself follows geometric principals to create things like flowers, trees, seashells, the patterns on giraffes and tigers, even our own DNA.

Chihuly, glass, yellow, orange, art
CHIHULY ART

“Mighty is geometry; joined with art, resistless.”

Euripides

Geometry comes from the Greek words “Geo” and “Metron” which mean Earth and Measurement. Geometry, aka “Earth’s Measurement”, is a branch of mathematics that studies the sizes, shape, position, angle and dimension of things. Even the pyramids, built in 2800 B.C. are noted to have followed the most intricate of geometric principles, the “golden ratio”.

SHANGHAI SKYLINE
SHANGHAI SKYLINE

“Architecture is geometry made visible in the same sense that music is number made audible.”

Claude F Bragdon

From the ancient pyramids to the beautiful skyline of Shanghai’s Pudong district, architects have used geometry to study and divide space as well as to draft detailed building plans. Builders and engineers rely on geometry to create safe structures. Designers apply geometry along with color and scale to create appealing spaces. Geometry is also inherent in art as demonstrated in the beautiful Chihuly glass in my earlier capture above.

spider, web
A TANGLED WEB

“Life is a web that you weave.”

Irfa Rahat

Spiders’ webs are intricate examples of natural geometry. Every side of the web is equal to every other side, and their strength and geometric precision is unique. Interestingly, scientists are studying spider silk because it is highly flexible, extremely stretchable, surpasses steel in strength, and can be formed into a mesh that would stop a bullet.

bubbles, blue
TINY BUBBLES

“Scratch the surface of knowledge and mystery bubbles up like a spring.”

Chet Raymo

Have you ever thought about the shape of bubbles, which are always round? Mathmeticians explain it using the “isoperimetric” theorem. It comes down to geometry – soap bubbles form spheres to minimize surface area. Who knew?!

STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN

“Our actions in the present build the staircase to the future. “

Craig D. Lounsbrough

While Patti’s challenge for the week definitely required more than my usual thought, it also made me realize the number of images I could use to illustrate it. To me, that was further proof that geometry is everywhere if we give it some consideration. Perhaps I should have paid a bit more attention to it in those classes long ago 😊.

My personal thanks to Patti for her creative challenge this week. We look forward to seeing your take on the subject. Please remember to link your response to her original post, and to use the Lens-Artists TAG to help us and our other followers to find you in our WP Reader section. As always, we appreciate your creative and interesting responses to last week’s Change of Scenery challenge. Special thanks also to Beth of Wandering Dawgs for having joined us as guest host. Finally, we invite you to give some thought to next week for Ann-Christine’s “You Pick It” challenge, which suggests you choose your own subject. Until then, please remember to stay safe and be kind.

Lens-Artists Challenge #140 – Change of Scenery

bridge, Magnolia Gardens
CAPIVATING COLOR

“Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes. “

Terry Pratchett

It has been a long time (or so it seems) since we’ve been able to travel to new and different foreign locations. This week’s guest host, Beth of Wandering Dawgs, reminds us that often a change of scenery can be just around the corner and need not involve planes, trains or cruise liners at all.

Just a 30 minute drive away from our home on Kiawah are the beautifully exotic Magnolia Gardens and Plantation. Each year I try to visit at least once, and this year is no exception (although sadly the pandemic did keep me away in 2020). There, all seasons are magical, but spring is especially so. All of today’s images are from my Gardens visits during spring through the years.

egrets, nesting
NESTING EGRETS

“The key to a better life isn’t always a change of scenery. Sometimes it simply requires opening your eyes.”

Richelle E Goodrich

One of the things I most love about the Gardens is the abundance of nesting birds. Egrets, Blue Herons, Cormorants and many other species are everywhere (as are photographers). Females update the nests as their mates continually deliver building materials. Interestingly as many as a dozen nests with birds of every variety can often be found on a single tree – rather like a multi-cultural bird condo. 😊 Chicks can be heard calling for a meal as gators cruise below hoping for a fall.

great blue heron, heron chicks, birds
GREAT BLUE HERONS – MOTHER AND CHICKS

“A garden to walk in and immensity to dream in–what more could we ask?”

Victor Hugo

As the birds busily prepare for, give birth to, and raise the next generation, there is incredible growth happening throughout the plantation’s gardens. Magnolia is the oldest public garden in America, founded in 1676 and opened to the public in 1870. Today it is comprised of nearly 500 acres with paths meandering among camellias, daffodils, azaleas, wisteria, magnolias and countless other varieties of blooms. Built along the Ashley River, it also includes wetlands and a beautiful cypress and tupelo swamp.

wisteria, artistic impression
WANDERING WISTERIA

“You can spend your life traveling around the world searching for the Garden of Eden, or you can create it in your backyard.”

Khang Kijarro Nguyen

One of the things I love about the Gardens is the way the grounds lend themselves to a marvelous integration of trees, flowers, waterways and structures. I’ve taken a bit of license with the images above and below because in my opinion the natural beauty lends itself perfectly to artistic interpretation.

magnolia gardens, bridge, foliage, red
NATURE’S PALETTE

“The leaf that spreads in the light is the only holiness there is.”

Kage Baker

I’ll close today’s post with a favorite image of a simple azalea blossom, followed by an image of a lily which I’ve posted previously. I include it in honor of the arrival of spring her in the U.S. and the coming of Easter for those who celebrate.

pink, flower, azalea
SHINE A LIGHT

“Just past hell lies paradise. Sometimes we have to remind ourselves of that.”

Serena Hartwell
lily, light
LIGHT ON A LILY

“The greatest skill is the ability to persevere.”

Avina Celeste

My thought in closing with my final two images is directed toward resurrection. So many of us have been awaiting the moment when we can re-enter the lives we had become used to – filled with family, travel, restaurant dining and so many other things we have been denied this past year. While not full resurrection, we are at last beginning to again see the light of day beyond the view from our own windows. As we look forward to further freedoms, please remember to follow the advice of the scientists and be mindful of the safety of others as well as your own.

Thanks to all who responded to last week’s Special Moments post – we very much enjoyed sharing in your fondest memories. We thank Beth for leading us this week, and look forward to seeing the scenery you’ve chosen in response. Please remember to link to her original post and to use the Lens-Artists Tag. Next week Patti will once again deliver our challenge. Until then, as always please stay safe and be kind.

Lens-Artists Challenge #139 – Special Moments

eagles, eaglets
THREE’S A CROWD

“Life is not made up of minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, or years, but of moments. ”

Sarah Breathnach

We’ve all had them…..you know what I mean…those moments that take your breath away. Moments that you want to save forever in your heart of hearts. Aha moments. The birth of a child, taking your wedding vows, your first shooting star, a perfect sunrise….I could go on and on. This week, let’s look beyond the life-changing events and share some everyday special moments and what they mean to us. Hopefully we’ll end each post with a smile for the gifts these moments have brought into our lives.

My opening image was captured here on Kiawah earlier this month. Eagle nests are typically very deep and very high above, making it quite difficult to capture the birds “in residence”. Eaglets are even more difficult to photograph, as typically they are hidden deep in the nest, emerging only to eat until they are large enough to fledge. To have captured an eagle with her two eaglets was as excited as I’ve been about a photograph in a long time. For me it was a very special, unique moment.

elephants, contrast, botswana
CROSSING TO NAMIBIA

“A photograph is an opportunity to keep a moment forever.”

Destin Sparke

A bit farther afield 😊 the image above represents our many amazing travel adventures. Seeing sights like the Great Wall of China, the Great Barrier Reef, Angkor Wat at sunrise, the rose rocks of Petra…..has gifted me with many special moments. I distinctly remember my excitement on our African Safari and the moment I saw my first elephant – from above the Okavango Delta in a small plane. To find myself up close and personal with these gentle giants gave me many moments I’ll always cherish.

Charleston, pineapple fountain
SOUTHERN COMFORT

“The memories of beautiful moments are magical.”

Giovannie de Sadeleer

The image above is an iconic symbol of welcome in nearby downtown Charleston, SC. It represents the moment my husband and I arrived here in the south, having relocated from the cold and crowded northeast. We enjoyed living in town while we built our home on Kiawah. In hindsight it was the perfect time for a move and we’ve never looked back.

snow, golf, sneakers
CLAIMS TO FAME

“Life is short. Don’t count the seconds. Enjoy the moments.”

David Cuschieri

I laughingly call the two moments above my “claims to fame”. On the left, my image of my husband during a rare snowfall on Kiawah. (In 20 years we’ve seen snow here only twice. ) Once home I posted the image on Facebook. An hour later we were watching TV when incredibly my photo appeared, fullscreen! The announcer talked about how rare it is to see snow on the famous Kiawah Island Ocean Course. Our phone started ringing immediately with friends asking about the photo. It was the last time I published an image without my watermark 😊. On its right, an image I submitted to the New York Times for their feature on “Why People Travel”. Not only was my image and story selected but it was published in full color on a quarter page of the Sunday Times and was the featured image on their online site for several weeks. Seriously fun AHA moments!

Redwoods, trees
FOREST PRIMEVAL

“It is up to you and me to create the everlasting from fleeting moments.”

Sanober Khan

I cannot overstate how magical I found the Giant Redwood Forest during a visit to California. In my image, my 6’3″ husband is leaning against the bottom of one of these incredible specimens. It is truly life-changing to stand among them, knowing that they are in fact interconnected beneath the earth, sharing the resources that help them continue to thrive. A truly ethereal moment.

Also magical, we were fortunate to visit Arizona during a superbloom. It was an incredible experience hiking through the amazing explosions of floral color and beauty. Of course it took a great deal longer than normal, as I stopped every few steps for yet another photograph!

SUPERBLOOM, DESERT
DESERT SUPERBLOOM

“Try to hold on to those moments that flicker like candlelight with the people we care about.”

Katherine McIntyre

Of course my special, more personal moments would include things like the moment my husband and I married, the birth of our beautiful granddaughter and that of every one of my 16 nieces and nephews, family reunions, you get the idea. But instead I’d love to turn it over to you! Show us some of your favorite moments and tell us why you chose them. We look forward to seeing your responses. Please remember to use the Lens-Artists Tag and to link to my original post.

In closing, we thank you for your glorious examples of Natural Light in response to Amy’s challenge. The variety was amazing, and proved beyond doubt the importance of light to an image, no matter the subject. Next week we’re excited to announce we’ll welcome Beth of Wandering Dawgs as our Guest Host. Be sure to stop by and check out her always-interesting blog. Until then, as always stay safe and be kind.

Lens-Artists Challenge #138 – Natural Light

storm, kiawah island, fisherman, dock
SENSATIONAL SKIES, KIAWAH ISLAND

“A painter works with color as the medium, a photographer works with light.”

Carlotta M. Corpron

Amy’s Natural Light challenge is sure to deliver a treasure trove of sunrises and sunsets, all beautiful in their presentation of nature’s gifts. I’ve chosen to illustrate the light a bit differently this week. I’ve opened with a stormy sky captured on my iPhone one Kiawah afternoon. The storm was about to erupt and a fisherman was scurrying off the dock to reach safety. The deep color of the clouds was broken in places by the last remaining rays of sunlight peeking through. Nature at its best.

Bryce Canyon, hoodoos, clouds, light
THE CALM AFTER THE STORM

“It takes darkness to be aware of the light.”

Treasure Tatum

The dramatic light shining in the image above captures the hoodoos of Bryce Canyon in Utah. It followed a violent storm, the remains of which can be seen in the clouds above the canyon. My husband and I dashed to and remained in our car while the storm raged. Returning to the canyon when it abated we found ourselves alone with this amazing scene, as any other visitors had long departed.

double rainbow, light, storm, clouds
DOUBLE YOUR PLEASURE

“Life throws challenges and every challenge comes with rainbows and light to conquer it.”

Amit Ray

Not unlike our experience in Bryce Canyon, the red beaches of Prince Edward Island in Canada were made that much more beautiful by the light which followed a storm. There, a double rainbow appeared to further embellish the landscape.

STARS, NIGHT PHOTOGRAPHY
STARRY, STARRY NIGHT

“Let the starlight shine upon you, let it lead you to your peace.”

Victoria Moschou

Not all light is found between sunrise and sunset. Some of the most beautiful light can be found in the twinkling of the stars after the sun has set. My capture above was made at just such a time, when the stars were bright in the night sky over the ocean. Even on a slightly cloudy night, such as the one in my image, the stars can still shine brilliantly.

flower, bokeh
BEAUTIFUL BOKEH

“O Sunlight! The most precious gold to be found on earth.”

Roman Payne

For photographers, the world is filled with amazing subjects just waiting to be captured. While the glories of sunrise and sunset present us with wonderful opportunities, there are many other ways to see and show the light. Both the previous and the following images are examples of simple subjects that, when captured in the right light, become quite special. Above, a beautiful bokeh was created by light on the water beyond the flower, while below, the sinking sun created a lovely backlight on the coneflowers. Yes, they’d seen better days but were still exquisite. How fortunate are we to be able to see, save and share those little moments of delight?!

PRETTY IN PINK

“A photograph is your vision, held together by light.”

Steve Coleman

Sincere thanks for your wonderful responses to Ann-Christine’s SOFT challenge, which showed us how very many kinds of softness there are! Thanks also to Amy, for pushing us this week toward the light. We look forward to seeing your adventures with light, wherever they may be. Please remember to link to her original post here, and to use the Lens-Artists Tag. I’ll be back to lead next week’s challenge right here on Travels and Trifles. We hope you’ll join me then and in the meanwhile will continue to stay safe and be kind.

Lens-Artists Challenge #137 – SOFT

THROUGH THE FOG

“I admire the fog, how it fades into itself.”

Marty Rubin

This week Ann-Christine has asked us to think about things that are soft, and immediately I thought of fog. To me, it softens everything it surrounds, creating a quiet, gentle atmosphere of silence. Often it brings with it a soft, gentle mist that seems to cleanse the world of its blemishes before returning it to the light.

SKY TEARS

Do not be angry with the rain; it simply does not know how to fall upwards.”

Vladimir Nabokov

Like fog, a gentle rain too can bring a sense of quiet to the world, cleansing whatever it touches as it softly falls from the clouds. Often it can bring a sense of melancholy along with it, although its ability to refresh and nourish the earth makes it a worthy recipient of our gratitude.

LOVELY LAYERS

“I understood that clouds were not my enemy; that they were beautiful, and that I needed them.”

Limani David

Clouds too can be seen as soft, especially when, as they sink deep into the crevices of a mountain landscape. Were we to be walking among them, the clouds would feel more like fog or light rain. Seen from above their soft beauty cannot be denied.

ABOVE THE CLOUDS

“Sometimes the clouds in the sky are mistaken. They didn’t come to block the sunlight. They came to embrace it.”

Kaylee Stepkoski

Climbing the mountains of Glacier National Park in Montana, the road was as foggy, wet and cloudy as in my first three captures, As we broke through the clouds having reached a higher elevation, we were greeted with the magnificent vista in my image above. To me it feels a bit like our current situation. For a year now we have been surrounded by the clouds and fog of a pandemic. We are hopefully on the cusp of reaching beyond the haze if we can just hang on a little bit longer. Surely there is light ahead for us all.

SWEETGRASS IN MOTION

“Get close to grass and you’ll see a star.”

Dejan Stojanovic

Here in South Carolina the soft pinks of our native sweetgrass are a harbinger of autumn’s arrival. Despite their fragile appearance, they move gently with the wind rather than fight its power. So too we have learned the difficult lessons of the pandemic. We’ve worn masks, avoided crowds, and sadly abandoned any travel plans. As our turns have arrived (or soon will), we suffer the insult of being injected with the dreaded disease to avoid succumbing to its wrath. We have learned difficult lessons about what is most important to us, and look forward anxiously to reconnecting with friends and family.

SURVIVAL

“It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change.”

Leon C. Megginson

Like the soft-pelted prairie dogs of the U.S. West, we are cautiously peeking our heads out from our protective burrows, sensing the degree of danger and gauging the safety of re-emerging. Our hearts are heavy for those who have lost loved ones along the way, but our spirits lift at the thought of a return to at least some degree of “normal”. How close we will get remains to be seen, but at least we have begun to see the lifting of the darkness before the dawn.

Sincere thanks as always to those who responded to Patti’s Letter S challenge last week. We thoroughly enjoyed the wide variety of clever S-themed images and captions. We hope you’ll join us this week for Ann-Christine’s SOFT challenge. Please remember to link to her original post and to use the Lens-Artists TAG. Next week Amy will once again lead our challenge with the subject Natural Light. Until then, please stay safe and be kind.

SPECIAL NOTE: This week I am grateful to Frank of Beach Walk Reflections for featuring my images in his post about the wonders of travel. I’d very much appreciate your visiting and commenting on his site, which is always rich with interesting thoughts about his subjects. He welcomes any who are interested in collaborating to contact him via his site.

Lens-Artists Challenge #136 – S for Strand Feeding and Scavengers

dolphins, pelican, strand feeding, Kiawah
MULTI-SPECIES BENEFITS

An animal perfectly in harmony with its environment is a perfect mechanism.

H.G. Wells

In response to last week’s post, I.J. Khanewala asked a question about an image in my collage of creatures that set me thinking about its subject. It’s one I’d addressed in a post several years ago – Strand feeding dolphins. Since Patti has conveniently asked us to respond to her challenge with the letter S, I’ve taken the opportunity to highlight this unique behavior and its benefit to the scavenging birds.

PELICAN, DOLPHIN, GULL, STRANDING
WATCHFUL

“For a scavenger, patience is the key to the pantry.”

Delia Owens

Here in coastal South Carolina, bottlenose dolphins form teams in order to herd bait fish up onto the beach for easy access. It’s an amazing thing to watch, and once you’ve learned their patterns it can be fairly easy to anticipate. Either from the shore or even more closely from a kayak, one sees the dolphins gathering into teams of up to a dozen. The group, upon some unheard signal, then swims together in an amazing burst of speed to push schools of fish up onto the shore. They then thrust their 500+ pound bodies onto the shore as well, whereupon a frenzy of activity ensues and the smaller fish become easy pickings.

DOLPHINS, STRANDING, OCEAN, KIAWAH
CHAOS

“It’s a cruel and random world, but the chaos is all so beautiful.”

Hiromu Arakawa

Those of us who have observed the dolphins’ behavior know the best way to anticipate it is to watch the birds, who have an uncanny knack for knowing just where and when the dolphins will strike. This creates an easy meal for the scavenging birds and a wonderful viewing opportunity for us.

dolphins, pelican, strand feeding, ocean
OPPORTUNIST

Opportunity does not waste time with those who are unprepared.”

Idowu Koyenikan

Several years ago, the dolphins’ strand feeding behavior was studied and filmed by National Geographic here on Kiawah. It became part of their “Secret Life Of Predators” series because of the unique hunting strategy. Scientists believe it is proof of the animals’ ability to think and plan, and perhaps more importantly, to pass their skills on to their offspring. No dolphins anywhere other than along the southern coast of South Carolina and the northern coast of Georgia have ever been seen to employ the behavior, which several generations of local dolphins have used for over 50 years.

dolphin, fish, ocean, bicycle
ESCAPING

“Fish learn from the water and birds learn from the sky.”

Mark Nepo

I’ve learned the hard way that taking one’s camera on a kayak is not a great idea, so these photos are from my archives. They were taken from a boat shooting directly into harsh sunlight, but despite conditions, hopefully you get the idea. It’s quite something to see these powerful, graceful, majestic animals in action, as I have been fortunate to have done many times. Part of the excitement comes from never knowing if it will happen and whether you’ll be in the right place if it does. The good news is although it may be rare, there have been very few times that I’ve been on or in view of our waters that I’ve not seen dolphins at least swimming by, and for a nature lover, that’s something quite special too.

Sincere thanks once again to Sheetal for her wonderful challenge last week, and for those of you who joined us with your as-always creative responses. We look forward to seeing your thoughts on Patti’s S challenge this week. Please remember to use the Lens-Artists tag and to link to her original post here. Finally, we hope you’ll join us next week when Ann-Christine presents us with our next challenge. In the meanwhile, as always please stay safe and be kind.

Lens-Artists Challenge #135 – Glimpse Into My World

Kiawah, creatures
Wildlife of Kiawah

Share my wildlife with me. Because humans want to save things that they love.”

Steve Irwin

We are happy to welcome Sheetal as our guest host this week, and especially pleased to be asked for a glimpse into our world(s). As much as I love to travel and experience the world’s many cultures, for me Dorothy said it best – there is indeed “no place like home“. How better to celebrate Valentine’s Day than by sharing some of the many things my husband and I love about our beautiful island.

Kiawah in Bloom

“If you take a flower into your hand and really look at it, it’s your world for a moment.”

Georgia O’Keeffe

This week I’ve been playing a bit with collages, and have found them helpful for today’s response because there is so much we love about the island we call home. My opening image pays homage to a few of the many creatures with whom we share our world. The image just above includes a small subset of our beautiful blooms, while the collage below features a sampling of our many avian neighbors.

birds of kiawah island
Kiawah Winged Residents

“The reason birds can fly and we can’t is simply because they have perfect faith, for to have faith is to have wings.”

J.M. Barrie

Of course, I cannot close without including our signature treasure, Kiawah’s beautiful beach. Beneath ever-changing skies, the importance of our shoreline and its protective dunes cannot be overstated. Because we are a barrier island, our seas are more gentle than most – except of course when a major storm threatens. Our sand is hard-packed, making running, walking and/or bicycling an important element of many residents’ daily agendas. We enjoy seasonal fresh crab and shrimp – and for those less squeamish than yours truly, wonderful oysters.

kiawah, beach
Kiawah’s Beautiful Beach

“In every curving beach, in every grain of sand there is the story of the earth.”

Rachel Carson

I could have included many more images of these and several other important elements of our world – the amazing marshlands, our beautiful trees (including our iconic live oaks), and our golf courses. I could also have featured nearby downtown Charleston, which offers an easy getaway whenever we need a bit of city life – restaurants, culture, shopping, a major airport, etc. But we do need to save some things for future challenges, don’t you think?!

Sincere thanks to all who responded to last week’s editing challenge, which was enlightening and great fun. Again, thanks to Sheetal for hosting this week and for her interesting and fun theme. Please remember to link your responses to her original post, and to use the Lens-artists tag to help us find you. Until next week when Patti is back at the helm, please stay safe and be kind.

  • Kiawah Critters, clockwise L to R – Bobcat, Fawn, Stranding Dolphin, Newborn Loggerhead Turtle, Eagle, Green Tree Frog, American Alligator
  • Kiawah Birds, clockwise L to R – Hooded Merganser, American Oystercatcher, Black-crowned Night Heron, Red-tailed Hawk, Anhinga, Roseate Spoonbill, Black Skimmer, Osprey, Great Blue Herons, Great Egret
  • Please Note – while I have not named the collage flowers, Kiawah’s iconic sweetgrass is included in today’s header

Lens-Artists Challenge #134 – From Forgettable to Favorite

CYCLE OF LIFE

“We should strive to welcome change and challenges, because they are what help us grow.”

H.G. Wells

Here in the U.S., the phrase “Your underwear is showing” is used when others see something we’d prefer they didn’t. This week we’re hoping you’ll show us a few images that may not have met your original expectations but that through editing you’ve turned into “keepers”. For example, I edited my opening image using a texture overlay around the edges to emphasize the ethereal quality of the flowers. It is also cropped to focus on the heart of the image and the morning dew. Its original (along with all of my other originals) is shown at the end of today’s post.

bouquet of dead leaves
ALL THE LEAVES ARE BROWN

“Our ancestors have invented, we can at least innovate.”

Amit Kalantri

I created the leaf image above for a photography class focused on extracting a subject from a larger group of subjects. The idea was to find and capture beauty where it was least expected. For my submission I used a group of dead leaves I’d gathered from the ground. The black background was extended via photoshop, as was a bit of added contrast. The contrast brought some vibrance to the subject and protected the reflection in the lower part of the image.

SUNRISE, BOTANY BAY, SC

“If something is perfect, then there is nothing left. There is no room for imagination.”

Tite Kubo

I have a clear memory of the sunrise shown in the image above, which was quite simply astoundng. The location is about 90 minutes’ drive from my home, followed by a bit of a hike to the location. To arrive and be ready to shoot before dawn is quite a commitment for a night owl like me. I went with a friend / fellow-photographer which gave me some extra motivation. I’ve often said that if I’m waking that early there had better be a heck of a show 😊, and what a show it was! Not only was it glorious, but a year later a hurricane destroyed the very small beach and took down all of the trees that had stood in the water. Timing, as always, is everything. As you’ll see in my original, the only edit was removing branches from the image edges to allow the single tree to stand alone.

COPSE

“Practice does not make perfect. Imperfect makes us practice.”

Mokokoma Mokhonoana

Speaking of trees, the copse above is meant to illustrate what happens when your subject is too far away for a “foot zoom”. This particular grouping stood on the opposite side of a large lagoon, which held the reflection I visualized as a key element for a circular composition. Fortunately, today’s technology delivers large enough files to allow cropping when positioning oneself simply isn’t possible. I framed the circle with a square crop, and because the colors of the day were drab and flat, used Nik Silver Efex Pro to convert the scene to B&W.

BABY MAKES THREE

“We make our discoveries through our mistakes.”

Sir Arthur Thomas Quiller-Couch

Earlier this year I photographed the family of a good friend’s daughter. The timing was built around the baby’s schedule – thereby putting us in mid-day sun on a beautiful but highlight-filled day. I cropped the image, removed the post of an umbrella I’d used to shade the scene, and did some P/S work on the blown out sky. Fortunately the little one was an adorable, happy baby, thereby making the day much more fun than it otherwise might have been.

As many of us mentioned in last week’s posts, photography is more about “seeing” than shooting. Used effectively, editing can help us to realize our vision by overcoming technical challenges and/or by facilitating our artistic interpretations. I’ve included the originals of today’s images below, despite my reluctance to “show my underwear” 🙂. Here’s hoping you’re willing to share similar experiences demonstrating your use of editing to improve results. Please remember to link to my original post, and to use the Lens-Artists Tag to help us find you.

We very much enjoyed your responses to Amy’s “Photography Journey” challenge last week. It was great fun learning more about all of you – where you started and the paths you’ve followed to arrive where you are today. We are excited to announce that next week’s challenge will be hosted by Sheetal of Sheetal Thinks Aloud. Be sure to check out her ever-interesting blog and watch for her post next Saturday at noon EST. Until then, stay safe and be kind.