Weekly Photo Challenge – BROKEN

“Broken Glass. It’s just like glitter, isn’t it?”

Pete Doherty

(5 Photos)

STILL BEAUTIFUL

STILL BEAUTIFUL

This week our challenge is “Broken” – which on the surface might suggest an accident or a disappointment in life. But broken can also be a positive thing. I’ve chose to open my post with a capture of one of our gorgeous magnolia blossoms, which have broken out all over Kiawah this month. The slight tear in the top leaf does nothing to minimize the beauty of this beautiful flower.  I’ve used Nik Silver FX Pro to convert it to pure B&W.

PAST PRIME

PAST PRIME

“Life was such a precious thing, easily broken.”

Shaun Jeffrey

Like the magnolia above, as we age there are those who may think we become somewhat broken – contending with issues like failing eyesight, hearing difficulties, and the aches and pains that come with aging bones and muscles. But again like the magnolia, there is also beauty that comes with aging. Dignity, wisdom, and freedom to act without worry about what others think of us are some of the benefits that offset the downside of aging.

SHINING THROUGH

SHINING THROUGH

“We are all wonderful, beautiful wrecks. That’s what connects us–that we’re all broken, all beautifully imperfect.”

Emilio Estevez

Each year here in the south, I look forward to the blooming of the magnolia trees. For me they signify the arrival of summer – which comes early in our part of the world. This year we’ve noticed that the magnolia trees are incredibly lush and the blossoms are much more plentiful than in previous years. None of us is sure why they are so bountiful but we are all glad they are. The photographers among us are especially happy to see the large number of flowers blooming low on the trees as they are much more accessible than usual 😄. Unfortunately along with the magnolias, summer can also mean the arrival of  pesky mosquitoes –  which severely punished me last week as I worked to capture these shots.

YOUNG AND OLD

YOUNG AND OLD

“Take these broken wings and learn to fly.”

Paul McCartney

I especially loved the capture above, which to me shows the beauty of the creamy white magnolia in full bloom nearly but not quite eclipsing the lovely softness of the aging blossom behind it. Again, to me it is a metaphor for our own species, where youth makes a showy presence front and center – not quite managing to obscure the beauty of those with quiet grace in the background.

HEART OF THE MATTER

HEART OF THE MATTER

“Part broken – part whole, you begin again.”

Jeanette Winterson

I’ve chosen to close with a final B&W version of the heart of a blooming magnolia. I loved the way the center stands out when the color is removed from the image. This part is hidden until the flower fully blooms, and it is also the part that remains as the petals fall away one by one until it is all that is left. It serves as a reminder that no matter how beautiful we may be on the outside, it is always the heart that is most important, and that remains when all else fades away.

To see more broken examples, take a minute to click here.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Enveloped

 “True love is boundless like the ocean and…envelops the whole world.”  

Mahatma Gandhi

(6 photos)

UNDER MAMA'S WING

UNDER MAMA’S WING

I suppose our friends at WordPress are doing their best to throw us some curveballs these days, and this week’s “enveloped” is no exception. According to the dictionary, one definition of the word is to be “completely surrounded”. Happily, this week I spent time with some fledgling egrets who were completely surrounded by their leafy nest and more importantly by their parents’ loving care.  I thought they just might fit the bill for this week’s challenge and also illustrate my opening Gandhi quote at the same time😊.

SUPPERTIME

SUPPERTIME

Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark.

Carl Sagan

I was surprised to learn that Great Egrets such as these mate for life, and that their chicks take 6 to 7 weeks before they can leave the nest – growing almost to full size in that time. The nest above houses 3 egret chicks – imaging how hard the parents will have to work to keep them fed, and how crowded that nest will become before the chicks depart!

MOTHER'S WORK IS NEVER DONE

MOTHER’S WORK IS NEVER DONE

“We are . . . enveloped in a cloud of changing and endlessly shifting images.”

C.G. Jung

Life can be perilous for the young chicks. Unlike most birds, egret parents incubate their eggs as soon as the first one is laid.  The chicks often hatch at different times and it is not unusual for the strongest to kill the weakest. Because the nest can become quite crowded and feeding several chicks at once is very challenging, the parents allow nature to take its course. There is also a serious danger that the chicks will begin to attempt flight before their wings are strong enough. They often fall from the nest and become victims of nearby predators such as the alligators who live in the pond below these particular nests.

PREENING

PREENING

“The purity men love is like the mists that envelop the earth, and not like the azure ether beyond.”

Henry David Thoreau

Egrets are beautiful birds, especially during breeding season. The photo above shows both the long white tail feathers and the bright green eye markings that they display to attract their mates. Below, an egret exhibits another courting behavior – stretching of the characteristic long white neck.

LONG AND LEAN

LONG AND LEAN

 The wind envelops you with a certain purpose in mind, and it rocks you.

Haruki Murakami

Egrets nest in colonies and the area I visited this week had at least a dozen nests, each in a different stage of development. While the chicks in the nests of my opening photos were quite active, the one below held younger, sleepier chicks. The nests are high enough and deep enough within the trees to be out of reach of predators (and challenging for photographers😀). They are usually near a pond or wetlands, making it easier for the parents to capture the fish they feed on and regurgitate for their young.

NAPTIME

NAP TIME

“The singing enveloped me. It was furry and resonant, coming from everyone’s very heart.”

Anne Lamott

A big thank you to my friend Diane, who let me know the chicks had hatched and gave me some insight into their development. Should you care to see some other examples of envelopment, click here.

Patagonia’s Forces of Nature – Weekly Photo Challenge

“Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

BLUE ICE

BLUE ICE

This week, Brie Anne has asked us to demonstrate a “Force of Nature”. I was all set to use a group of new photos from earlier in the week but I simply couldn’t resist drawing from my archives on this one. Several years ago I was fortunate to visit Patagonia, traversing Chile and Argentina in an amazing experience as close to the forces of nature as one can possibly be. Above, an example of the incredible pressure of ice and snow as it forms the blue ice that peppers the water throughout the region.

GEOLOGY AT PLAY

GEOLOGY AT PLAY

“I have nature and art and poetry, and if that is not enough, what is enough?”

Vincent van Gogh

A second manifestation of the pressure that nature exhibits in creating its wonders – the amazingly colorful striations present in some of the rocks surrounding the area. Geology at play indeed.

UNDER PRESSURE

UNDER PRESSURE

“We can never have enough of nature.”

Henry David Thoreau

Nothing quite illustrates the force of nature as well as a waterfall.  While it looks powerful enough in a static shot, its force is only truly felt as one stands on (OK, maybe just NEAR) the edge of the waterfall and experiences the roar of the water as it thunders over the ledge.

WIND CLOUDS

WIND CLOUDS

“Let us give Nature a chance; she knows her business better than we do.”

Michel de Montaigne

Prior to our Patagonia adventure, I’d never heard of “wind clouds”, which are shown in the photo above. These flying-saucerish clouds are the direct result of the fierce winds that surround the beautiful peaks of Fitz Roy in Los Glacieres National Park.

FITZROY GLORY

FITZROY GLORY

 “If you will stay close to nature, to its simplicity, to the small things hardly noticeable, those things can unexpectedly become great and immeasurable.”  

Rainer Maria Rilke

I could not close without a shot of the peaks themselves, a testament to nature’s power as she pushes her plates from deep beneath the surface to create incredible beauty. Above, the peaks are surrounded by clouds and deep snow, offering further evidence of nature’s mighty forces.

How appropriate that this week we give a nod to Mother Nature, as we also give thanks or take a moment to remember our own mothers and their importance in our lives. Happy Mothers Day to all of the moms out there in the blogosphere,. To experience more of Mother Nature’s forces, click here.

Weekly Challenge – Intricate

“When we grasp the intricacy, beauty, and subtlety of life, then that soaring feeling, that sense of elation and humility combined, is surely spiritual.”

Carl Sagan

(6 photos)

INTRICATE CRAFTSMANSHIP

INTRICATE CRAFTSMANSHIP

This week Krista threw us a curveball with her challenge, Intricate. I’ve opened my response with an example of some incredible craftsmanship in Beijing, China. The details above are from the roof of one of the Imperial Palace buildings. One can only wonder how much time and effort went into the design and implementation of this amazing work.

BEAUTY IN BUDAPEST

BEAUTY IN BUDAPEST

“What we see above ground is only the outer margin of an ecosystem that explodes in intricacy and life below.”

Amy Seidl

As I have traveled throughout the world, I have been continually amazed by the incredible commitment of craftspeople everywhere. From a rooftop in China, to church domes such as the one above from our journey to  Budapest, to the beautiful scarves of a Vienna street market below, beauty has been lovingly and painstakingly created by people everywhere.

SUMPTUOUS SCARVES

SUMPTUOUS SCARVES

“Books are like women, all more or less have the same form, buts it’s the intricacies of what’s inside that makes them special.”

Dave Alexander Ramos

It has been said that whatever you choose to do, do it well or do it not at all. The intricacies of some of the beauty I’ve witnessed around the world gives tangible proof of how true this is. Below, the delicate lacework seen in a typical home in Provence, France.

LOVELY LACE

LOVELY LACE

“Imagination is … the basis of language, the arts, the sciences, systems of philosophy, and the all the vast intricacies of human culture.”

Ken Robinson

Closer to home, the beautiful sweetgrass baskets of the women of the Gullah culture – made with skills passed down for generations – provide another example of intricate beauty resulting from many hours of incredibly detailed effort.

CHARLESTON SWEETGRASS

CHARLESTON SWEETGRASS

 “The people who respond best to the intricacies of tea are people who enjoy wine.”

James Labe

Also perfected through generations here in Charleston, the delicate intricacy of iron working. In 2009 at age 97, we lost a local icon, master blacksmith Philip Simmons. In 1982, the National Endowment for the Arts awarded Mr. Simmons its National Heritage Fellowship, the highest honor that the United States can bestow on a traditional artist. While he is no longer with us, his beautiful ironwork can be found throughout Charleston as well as in museums throughout the United States.

CURVES OF IRON

CURVES OF IRON

“Each of us is a unique strand in the intricate web of life and here to make a contribution.”

Deepak Chopra

It seems wherever you look there is beauty to be found. In the efforts of craftspeople who create marvels such as I’ve shown here, or in the intricate natural beauty of a spider’s web or a butterfly’s wings, if you are open to it you will find it. To see the intricacies some other bloggers have featured, click here.

CHICKS IN MOTION – WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE

“Progress and motion are not synonymous.”

Tim Fargo

(7 Photos)

HOT CHICKS

HOT CHICKS

Those who follow me know I have missed very few Weekly Challenges. Last week, however, I was away for a family event in beautiful Charlottesville, VA during which I was the “designated” photographic chronicler of events. It was great fun, but definitely diverted me from my usual activities. My apologies to those who commented on my last post, as I never did get to either responding or return visits. I’m finally just about caught up with all of the things I didn’t do while I was away, and Jen’s challenge is on my list.

My niece was enchanted by these two runaway chickens during our outing so I’ve chosen to feature them in the midst of their forward motion.

RETRO CHICKS

RETRO CHICKS

“Unlike clocks, hours have no reverse motion.”

Anonymous

Most of my photography was events-oriented during the week, so I thought it might be interesting to feature some “before and after” images of the few of the nature shots I took.  Above, I chose a texture that gave the chicks a bit of a retro feel. What do you think?

COLOR IN BLOOM

COLORFUL BLOOM

“Life is in infinite motion. At the same time it is motionless.”

Debasish Mridha

Across the street from the home in which we stayed, there was a beautiful garden with the most amazing tulips in full bloom. The shot above captures some of their glorious color as originally shot.  Below, two different versions of the same bloom.

BOLD TULIP

BOLD TULIP

“Life is a full circle, widening until it joins the circle motions of the infinite.”

Anais Nin

After seeing the results of the slightly bolder version, I stepped a bit further outside the box, and came up with this impression.

TULIP IN BLACK

TULIP IN BLACK

“Never confuse motion with action.”

Ernest Hemingway

The tulips were resting against a time-worn fence which is the scene that first caught my eye. So speaking of outside the box, how about this edit? Must admit I may have gone a bit overboard with this one 😊

BLUE TULIPS

BLUE TULIPS

“Our nature consists in motion; complete rest is death.”

Blaise Pascal

Here’s the original of the Blue Tulips shot. I find it interesting to see how images can “feel” different as they are altered through editing, don’t you think? I’ve had some fun working with these shots, but now it’s back to reality and catching up with some far less interesting tasks.

ON THE FENCE

ON THE FENCE

“Colors answer feeling in man; shapes answer thought; and motion answers will.”

John Sterling

Motion need not be purely physical. Our minds stay fresh by learning new things and incorporating them–keeping our brains in motion as well as our bodies. For me, practicing some of the editing techniques I learned a few weeks ago is a good example of “Use it or Lose it”! To see how some other bloggers interpreted this one, click here.

Weekly Photo Challenge – AFLOAT

“Only by learning to live in harmony with your contradictions can you keep it all afloat.”

Audre Lorde

(10 Photos)

STRANGE BEDFELLOWS

STRANGE BEDFELLOWS

This week’s “afloat” challenge gave me an opportunity to use the capture above, showing two oddly-compatible creatures basking in the sun as pollen floats by on the water below. It’s one of many from our visit this past weekend to beautiful Magnolia Plantation in Charleston, SC.

GARDEN GAZEBO

GARDEN GAZEBO

 “Our glories float between the earth and heaven; Like clouds which seem pavillions of the sun.”

Edward Bulwer-lytton

The gardens and swamp are simply magnificent – I try to visit them at least once each spring. This weekend the gardens were lush with azaleas and camelias, as always surrounded by ancient live oak trees dripping with Spanish Moss. The swamp was bustling with activity.  Mama egrets and herons sat atop their soon-to-hatch eggs while fathers-to-be continued to spruce up the nests.

ANHINGA PARENTS-TO-BE

ANHINGA PARENTS-TO-BE

“Style is the gossamer on which the seeds of truth float through the world.”

George Bancroft

It was a beautiful day in Charleston, full of bright sunshine and warm, soft breezes. The site, founded in 1676 on the Ashley River, is brimming both with beautiful flowers and birds, and also with history. Originally established as a rice plantation – where the riverfront location meant critical access to transportation – the plantation housed both American and British troops during the Revolutionary War.  Later, following the Civil War (which threatened to destroy the plantation) the gardens were opened to the public and happily, saved from ruin.

FLORAL REFLECTIONS

FLORAL REFLECTIONS

“The greatest part of mankind float betwixt vice and virtue.”

David Hume

 As one approaches the Plantation, it’s a difficult choice whether to focus on the gardens or the swamp. For the  energetic among us, it’s possible to do both in a single day. On the garden side, we find meandering paths through incredibly glorious flowers, lovely river views and a multitude of ponds with scenic, romantic bridges. Many of the ponds are filled with beautiful, tall cypress trees showing their water-bound roots.

SUMPTUOUS SCENE

SUMPTUOUS SCENE

“Dignity does not float down from heaven…it is a reward reserved for those who labor with diligence.”

Bill Hybels

MIRRORED CYPRESS

MIRRORED CYPRESS

“Let go of the heavy pains of yesterday and you will feel lighter to float on top with your values.”

Israelmore Ayivor

Nearby but a bit further on, the swamp offers incredible opportunity for bird photography, as the egrets, herons and many other species build their nests very close to the paths which line the waters.

CHICKS IN THE MAKING

CHICKS IN THE MAKING

 “Life is a tide; float on it.”

Prem Rawat

The BEST time to visit the swamp is when the chicks are newly-hatched. The activity level increases exponentially as parents call to one another, dive for food, and feed their demanding brood.  During our visit last week we saw many nests with eggs but none of the chicks had yet emerged. I suppose that means I’ll just have to make another visit to the swamp in a few weeks!

PERCHED

NESTING

 “Watching the clouds float across the sky is by no means a waste of time.”

John Lubbock

Gardens or Swamp–such a tough choice. I’ll close with examples of each. Perhaps you’ll see why my answer is — BOTH 😊

FLOATING SWAMP TREES

AFLOAT ON GREEN WATERS

“Souls are not designed to float around in thin air.”

Alex Chiu

GARDEN GLORY

GARDEN GLORY

“Sin is a stone which does not float.”

Sri Guru Granth Sahib

With apologies for my longer-than-most post, and encouragement that if you’re ever in the area you visit this very special place, I invite you to see some other bloggers’ float posts here.

Weekly Photo Challenge – It’s a BLUR

“Imagination is the beginning of creation.”

George Bernard Shaw

(5 Images)

FOREST BLUR

FOREST BLUR

This week, the Weekly Photo Challenge and I are nicely in sync. The challenge, Blur, comes after a very interesting outing with professional photographer Denise Ippolito. Beyond sharing her wonderful images as well as her thoughts on blending art and nature, Denise spent a bit of time in the field focused on blurring techniques as well as both multiple exposures and image overlays in camera. I was happy with my results from the day, and definitely learned a few new tricks, but find I prefer the flexibility of overlay and multiple exposures in post processing. During the shoot I captured the scene above by doing a slow vertical pan which I later overlaid with an image of a French postcard. To me the opportunity for creativity was best addressed by post-processing the blurred image of the trees.

TREE

ONE TREE

“Pictures that require the most imagination and perspiration are the ones that look the easiest.”

Bob Croxford

The second shot, above, was taken the same day.  The tree in that shot was behind me, the forest from the first shot in front of me. (As always, I was following the photographer’s golden rule –  always look behind you.) It was actually a sunny, blue sky day but I loved the barren tree all alone in the field and thought it lent itself a bit better to a stark B&W image, which I then overlaid with some grunge effects.

YESTERDAY'S PASSAGE

YESTERDAY’S PASSAGE

 “The camera is an endlessly intriguing partner that challenges my imagination and knowledge.”

Ralph Auletta

Following our outing I decided to look at a few of the photos in my archives that might benefit from some blur. I especially liked the photo above, taken some time ago in Vietnam, as I felt the blurring created a feeling of age and timelessness. The shot below, created during the same journey, is from beautiful Ha Long Bay. It was among my favorites from the trip, and I felt adding an overlay gave me an interesting alternative to the original.

HA LONG HISTORY

HA LONG HISTORY

“A photographer brings your imagination to reality.”

Mark Cariaga

Finally, the capture below is from my adventure in China last year. Here I let a bit of color come through my overlay to give the shot a touch of whimsy.

WASH DAY

WASH DAY

“A good image can be created, executed, captured, recorded; but it is well before imagined by a mind.”

Lakshman Iyer

As you may have noticed, my quotes this week focus on imagination rather than specifically our challenge word, “Blur”. For me, impressionism, blur, creating art based on photography – are all examples of a photographer using imagination to create an end product that expresses an idea rather than realistic reporting. In my quest for these quotes, I came upon some thoughts from photographer Bob Croxford, who is also quoted above. I must admit they made me smile 😊

  • The best light occurs when I am stuck in the office or have left my camera at home
  • If I wait for perfect conditions someone will park a truck in the view.
  • Having walked for miles for a good picture I often find the best photo when I return is right next to my car. The only problem is that I’ve parked in the middle of the view

Hope everyone is enjoying a lovely holiday weekend. For a view of the blurs of some other bloggers, click here.