The One(s) That Got Away – Weekly Photo Challenge; Shaping Your Story

“The challenge of photography is to show the thing photographed so that our feelings are awakened and hidden aspects are revealed to us.”

Emmet Gowin

ALIEN LANDING

ALIEN LANDING – Cherry at the Top

Photography is hard. Those brilliant captures you see in National Geographic? They don’t just happen. Someone spent months researching them, spent thousands of dollars on equipment, and then spent days, weeks, months or even years waiting for just the right moment. PBS’s brilliant Planet Earth series did a great job illustrating that with their “Behind the Scenes” segments.

ALONE

ALONE

“Don’t shoot what it looks like. Shoot what it feels like.”

David Alan Harvey

So what does that have to do with anything? Well, this week our travels took us (unexpectedly) into The Palouse, one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen. It was magnificent really – mile after mile of gently rolling hills with geometrically perfect abstracts of golden yellow wheat, sapphire blue skies and verdant green fields – all topped off by the occasional farmhouse or the sudden appearance of a field of giant wind turbines.

SUNLIGHT AND DARKNESS

SUNLIGHT AND DARKNESS

“I still find the camera to be an endlessly intriguing partner that challenges my imagination and knowledge.”

Ralph Auletta

Photographers flock to the Palouse having planned their itineraries far in advance. They know where the best scenes are and at what time the best light will make them glow.  I, on the other hand, didn’t even know we’d be passing through. As we raced by at 60 mph, my wide angle lens and tripod were neatly packed away under 2-months-worth of luggage. The sun was high overhead, creating deep shadows, as huge trucks full of grain, or produce, or farm equipment made it nearly impossible to pull over in the narrow roads.

WHEAT AND WINE

WHEAT AND WINE

“Creating great images isn’t about the tools….the real challenge is coming up with an image that resonates, first of all with yourself and hopefully with an audience.”

Jerry Uelsmann

So, I explained to my ever-patient husband when asked, I was not using my camera to capture the incredible scenes as we flew by, I was using my eyes – taking it all in and trying to memorize every moment the way I imagine a painter might if he or she were trying to capture a scene for later re-creation.

YELLOW GOLD

YELLOW GOLD

“I realize more and more what it takes to be a really good photographer. You go in over your head, not just up to your neck.”

Dorothea Lange

Several years ago, while in China, we visited a beautiful Buddhist temple. As we rounded a blind corner I saw a very young monk – maybe 10 or 11 years old – peeking out of a pair of huge yellow doors. He was dressed in red robes and, framed perfectly, would have made a fantastic subject. Alas, as soon as I noticed him he darted back inside and the moment was lost. I’ve been haunted by that miss ever since.

This week, once again, I saw a scene that captivated me. It was a young girl – maybe 5 or 6 – with curly blonde hair lit by the sun. Behind her was a broken-down clapboard house with peeling paint set in the midst of a farm that had seen better days. Dorothea Lange would have loved it. But just like that the moment passed, never to be recaptured except in my mind’s eye.

BALES

BALES

“A great photograph is a full expression of what one feels about what is being photographed in the deepest sense, and is a true expression of what one feels about life in its entirety.”

Ansel Adams

With today’s technology, everyone can take pictures. Look around you and notice the number of i-phones and i-pads working to document an adventure or record an event.  But not everyone can create a photograph…and there is a world of difference between the two. Photography as art, whether made with a Hasselblad or an i-phone, generates an emotional response from the viewer. If a scene, it makes us want to visit. If a portrait, it makes us wonder about the subject and perhaps makes us want to know them – or glad we don’t.  A good news photographer can make us feel the pain of a child surrounded by war or suffering from disease or hunger.  A talented nature photographer creates a sense of wonder at the power or the peacefulness of the world around us.
COLOR

COLOR

“The photograph is an undeniably powerful medium. Free from the constraints of language, and harnessing the unique qualities of a single moment frozen in time.”

Steve McCurry

So I don’t give up, I keep looking – more importantly, I keep seeing and keep shooting. I work to capture images with my eyes, my mind and my heart.  Someday, with enough study, and preparation, and yes luck, I just might find that perfect moment when it all comes together just as I know it can. In the meanwhile, I’ll be out there enjoying the journey.

Chihuly Glass – Weekly Photo Challenge, Details

“At the root of creativity is an impulse to to understand, to make sense of random and often unrelated details.”

Paul Caponigro

CHIHULY DETAILS

CHIHULY DETAILS

This week we are challenged to show the little things, the details that make up the whole. Having recently visited the Chihuly Garden and Glass exhibit in Seattle, I thought I’d share some of the details of his amazing creativity.

COUPLED

COUPLED

“Details create the big picture.”

Sanford Weill

I will admit that I’m not typically drawn to contemporary art, nor to glass, but one cannot help but be amazed at the sculptures Dale Chihuly can create. His creations have been featured in over 200 museums worldwide including The Louvre in Paris, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London and the Tower of David Museum in Jerusalem.

RED AND YELLOW

RED AND YELLOW

“Art is beauty, the perpetual invention of detail, the choice of words, the exquisite care of execution.”

Theophile Gautier

Interestingly, if you go to Chihuly’s website the first thing you see in the page about him is his quote “The magic is in the light.”  It’s a message that rings true to the photographers and artists among us, but not one I’d have associated with glass-blowing. In hindsight, I would agree that indeed his work is magical in large part because of the way the pieces absorb, reflect and magnify the light.

CHIHULY IN SEATTLE

CHIHULY IN SEATTLE

“Beware of the man who won’t be bothered with details.”

William Feather

I loved the way Seattle shone through the glass building which featured red and yellow glass flowers (shown in detail in the previous shot).

SAIL AWAY

SAIL AWAY

“In photography, the smallest thing can be a great subject. The little human detail can become a Leitmotiv.”

Henri Cartier-Bresson

The capture above was my favorite piece. The brilliance of the colors, reflected in a mirror below, was amazing. I’ll never think of a rowboat the same way again 😊.

Sometimes when the world around us presents horrors beyond our understanding it helps to take a moment to focus on some of the world’s beauty.  Wishing you all a week of peace.

ORCAS LOOKING UP: Weekly Photo Challenge

“Keep looking up..that’s the secret of life…”

Peanuts (Charles Schulz)

LOOKING UP

LOOKING UP

This week rather than doing my own “looking up” I’ve chosen to feature some amazing orca gymnastics in which the subjects, truly amazing creatures, are actually doing the looking. In my opening capture we see a large orca (which can weigh up to 9 tons and be up to 32 ft long) doing a backstroke as his fellow pod-member swims along beside.

JUMPING FOR JOY

JUMPING FOR JOY

“When everything has gone down, God wants you to look up”

Richmond Akhigbe

While our weather in Victoria wasn’t the best, we decided to don the huge jackets, wool hats, fleece gloves and waterproof pants offered by our whale-watching charter and brave the wet cold to seek orcas.  After a freezing, drizzly speedboat ride that lasted 90 minutes we were rewarded with an incredible show provided by a very cooperative pod of these beautiful animals. Above I’ve included a boat-full of whale-watchers to give you an idea of the orca’s size.

FLYING ORCA

FLYING ORCA

“Keep looking up, don’t give up, you never know when your sun will begin to rise.”

Terry Mark

I had to look at this shot a few times to figure out what was going on. If you look closely you’ll see that the whale’s dorsal fin is pointed horizontally to the right as she jumps toward the boat. The fin itself can be up to 6 feet tall and is larger in males than females. As we watched our pod cavorting it was very clear which were the males based on this disparity. Interestingly, orcas in captivity often suffer from collapsed dorsal fins. Scientists have determined that the fins are made of collagen and are upright because of continual pressure from the water as they swim in open seas – sadly something unavailable to captive whales.

UP AND DOWN

UP AND DOWN

“Never forget to look up. Only the connoisseur sees high art.”

Steve Denby

The captain of our boat, part of Eagle Wing Tours, was terrific. She rode the waves like a cowboy, jumping and flying across the water at top speed. She was very knowledgeable about the whales, which are actually members of the dolphin family. In the northern Pacific there are two very distinct communities of orca – meat (primarily seal) eaters and fish (primarily salmon) eaters. The population of the latter have been on a steep decline due to a decrease in salmon quantities and habitat. Much of the issue is related to salmon farming which affects the numbers of wild salmon, and the damming of waters which used to feed their hunting grounds.

LONER

LONER

“Never memorize something that you can look up.” 😊

Albert Einstein

We were amazed by the speed and power of the whales which were clearly enjoying themselves as much as we enjoyed watching them. Our captain told us it was a combination of a few families relaxing and playing together as well as two male (bull) animals swimming on their own . Because the males were not a part of the families it was difficult to show in perspective how much larger they were than the others but the photo above gives a bit of a look at the size of one male’s dorsal fin.

The way the whales swam and jumped reminded me quite a bit of the dolphins we enjoy seeing on Kiawah, except of course for a major difference in size. It was a fantastic experience, well worth braving the cold. While the photos are definitely cropped (captains are VERY respectful of the whales and the regulations for keeping the right distance) we were actually quite close to these magnificent creatures – among the world’s most powerful predators.

One of the things I most like about blogging is the relationships we form with people they’ve never met. Special thanks to my blogging friends Andrew Seal of The Changing Palette (who, along with his wife Hilde I now HAVE met) and Deb Gale of Carry My Camera for their recommendations on things to do in their backyard (Vancouver and Vancouver Island). We’ve enjoyed it immensely, thanks in large part to their guidance. Perhaps they have some thoughts on how to drop the extra pounds some of their suggestions have resulted in as well 😄

Weekly Photo Challenge: Opposites; Nighttime Seattle

“Photography is a holding together of opposites: light and dark, beautiful and ugly, sublime and banal, conscious and unconscious.”

Jack Welpott

NIGHTTIME SEATTLE

NIGHTTIME SEATTLE

This week we traveled from downtown Portland along the Oregon Coast to Bandon Dunes, and then back north to Seattle. Ben’s Opposites challenge made me think of this photo, which captures the energy of Seattle at night. The headlights streaming down the highway contrast with the peacefulness of Puget Sound and the beauty of the mountains in the distance – much as is described in Jack Welpott’s quote above. I loved the feeling of the constant beat of the city and it’s many lights – especially compared to what one would find in our quiet little enclave on Kiawah Island.

BLUE LIGHT FERRIS WHEEL

BLUE LIGHT FERRIS WHEEL

“Every time I see a crowd of photographers surrounding a subject, my impulse is to go in the opposite direction.”

Ignacio Aronovich

The view from our downtown Seattle VRBO deck includes a ferris wheel as well as Puget Sound, across which the ferries constantly come and go. The evening light was particularly lovely and although it gave me some serious tummy tickles I ventured out with my camera and tripod to capture the scene.

PIKE PLACE

PIKE PLACE

“God turns you from one feeling to another and teaches by means of opposites so that you will have two wings to fly, not one”

Rumi

Although I firmly believe in the abilities of a good camera, lens and tripod, I was amazed at the ability of the i-phone for night photography. I captured the first two shots with my Nikon D300 while there was very little light and the wind was blowing hard. While I don’t believe the i-phone could have captured those scenes, I was surprised at the ability of the i-phone to capture the famous Pike Place market as we strolled by. You know what they say – the best camera is the one you have with you!

Wishing everyone a happy holiday weekend – assuming you have one wherever this may find you 😊.

 

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Partners

“Tread lightly on your partner’s heart. It was given to you for safekeeping.”

Alexandra Katehakis

PARTNERS

PARTNERS

This week in response to our “partners” challenge I’ve chosen to post one of very few “selfies” this one of me and my husband taken recently on our beautiful beach in Kiawah. While our little island is typically at its most crowded during the summer, as native-born northeasterners we find it a bit too warm and humid for our taste. So while vacationers head onto the island, we and most of our friends head out. This week finds us on an adventure through the Pacific Northwest, first stop – Portland Oregon.

MOUNT HOOD

MOUNT HOOD

“Your life partner is more precious than any other gifts in the world.”

Gakutama Sakteivel

Above, an i-phone shot of beautiful Mt. Hood which towers over the city and its Willamette River. It’s a wonderful walking/biking city which is also heaven for foodies! We’re making the most of it’s culinary offerings and then (hopefully) walking them off along the river paths. The bright sun, cool (for us) temps and humidity-free air are just what the doctor ordered! This morning we’re off to the Mt. Hood Scenic Route for some hiking and its promised waterfalls. Wish us luck!

Hope everyone out there is enjoying the weekend wherever it may find you.

 

Curves: Weekly Photo Challenge

“A smile is a curve that sets everything straight.”

Phyllis Diller

SWEETGRASS

SWEETGRASS

This week our photo challenge, Curves, was timed beautifully as my husband and I had just spent a day sharing our beautiful city with some out-of-town guests. One of the highlights of our lovely Charleston is the beautiful work local Gullah artisans do to create sweetgrass baskets. Skills that were originally brought with slaves in the early 1700s and handed down for many generations, the baskets are made from the grasses and reeds that grow in our sandy soil. The baskets of Mary Jackson are featured in the Smithsonian American Art museum, which notes the graceful curves of her work.

Many thanks to those who sent along birthday wishes for my husband. Our celebration was a great success and we especially enjoyed sharing it with so many of our friends and family members.

Pure Bliss – Weekly Photo Challenge

“By two wings man is lifted up from things earthly, by simplicity and purity.”

Thomas Kempis

AWAITING SIBLINGS

AWAITING SIBLINGS

There were many ways to address this week’s “pure” challenge, but since I recently visited the incredible rookery in nearby Wadmalaw Island, I decided to focus on the pure grace and beauty of the birds that nest there.  To get a better idea of the density of the population, visit my blog page where I’ve included a small segment of the area in my header.

My post opens with a sweet little egret chick who seemingly awaits the arrival of its siblings. The thing I found most interesting is the maturity of the chick. Typically the chicks arrive within hours or days of each other. This chick is surprisingly well-developed considering the other eggs have not yet hatched.

MOON FLIGHT

MOON FLIGHT

“A pure heart is a powerful heart.”

Dr. MaryAnn Diorio

Since I visited the same rookery last year I decided to impose some new challenges on myself this time around. Among several shots I self-assigned, most important was to capture birds in flight – no small task. I was pleased with the capture above showing a beautiful heron against the pure blue of the sky and the light of the moon in the midst of a beautiful morning.

GOING UP

GOING UP

“The truth is rarely pure and never simple.”

Oscar Wilde

Above I’ve featured the pure grace of a cattle egret rising upward toward the sky. The power of the birds’  wings is quite amazing as you watch them lift themselves from the branches to soar high overhead or to sweep downward toward their water-bound prey.

BIRDS OF A FEATHER

BIRDS OF A FEATHER

“Purity of heart illuminates your life with light and strength of character.”

Hector P. Perez

My second challenge was to capture more than one species in a single shot.  There is definitely truth to the old saying “Birds of a feather flock together”. In fact it is quite unusual to find two different species in the same vicinity – they tend to defend their territory quite vigorously from others. Above we see an egret and a heron, if not companionable, at least tolerating each other. Below, not so much 😊.

NO TRESPASSING

NO TRESPASSING

“The purest of heart often carries the heaviest burdens.”

Marie Sabillio

Somewhat less tolerant, this heron has staked its claim and wants no part of the great white egret thinking to invade its territory. Shooting birds in motion is definitely a challenge and in this case I’d have liked to have used a faster shutter speed and a different aperture to capture the egret a bit more clearly, but you get the idea.

SAD TRICOLOR

SAD TRICOLOR

“Purity is defined by the clearness of the stars”

Michael Biondi

Once I’d met my self-imposed challenges, I set about capturing the birds I found the most interesting. The shot above is a tricolored heron, which I found particularly sleek and graceful. His posture seemed to me a bit sad, but he’s probably just studying the water below for its fishing potential.

THREE OF A KIND

THREE OF A KIND

“The temple of our purest thoughts is silence.”

Sarah J. Hale

Is there anything more pure that the love a mother for her children – or in this case of a mother egret for her chicks? At the farm there are chicks of all ages, and parents are constantly soaring, dipping and diving for their next meal. The activity level and cacaphony are amazing.

DOUBLE JUVIES

DOUBLE JUVIES

“My strength has the strength of ten, because my heart is pure.”

Alfred Lord Tennyson

Above a pair of heron chicks in a perfectly mirrored position. It’s interesting to observe the young birds as yet unable to fly. Typically there is an older sibling that is very protective of the other chick(s) in the nest. When they are newly-hatched the chicks will peck at each other much as young human siblings will pick on each other. But the moment a third-party comes along they will fight hard to protect their younger brothers and sisters from the intruder.

BANANA BEAKS

BANANA BEAKS

“Purity of mind and idleness are incompatible.”

Mahatma Gandhi

Finally, I loved the feeling of the younger bird hiding beneath the wings of his slightly older sibling. To me it spoke to the purity of the bond between the two, and the trust the youngster placed in his brother or sister. Would that we could all feel so protected as we make our way in the world.

For me, a day at the rookery is pure bliss; bug bites and hot sun despite the early hour notwithstanding! Sincere thanks to my friend Jack for sharing this amazing place.