Lens-Artists Challenge #138 – Natural Light

storm, kiawah island, fisherman, dock

“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

“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

“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.


“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

“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?!


“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


“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.


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.


“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.


“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.


“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.


“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

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.


“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.


“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

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

“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


“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

“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.


“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.


“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.


“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.

Lens-Artists Challenge #133 – My Photography Journey

Nikon FM Camera

“One’s first love is always perfect until one meets one’s second love”

Elizabeth Aston

It was longer ago than I care to admit that I began my long journey into the world of photography. The image above is my first camera, a much-loved 35mm Nikon FM, an SLR film camera. Little did I know at the time that it would become a life-long passion. (And yes, you’re right – it IS bizarre that I still have that first camera and its manual 🙂.)

12 Apostles, Australia

“You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.”

J.R.R. Tolkein

For a while life got in the way as I built my career in the technology business. Through more luck than planning my husband and I were able to retire early and begin the life we’d often dreamed of. After moving south, we focused on exploring the world. My love of photography was re-awakened and coincided perfectly with the arrival of digital technology. I stored my film equipment away for good and bought an inexpensive Canon point-and-shoot which I quickly outgrew.


“Life is a blank canvas, and you need to throw all the paint on it you can.”

Danny Kaye

The Kiawah Photography Club became a wonderful resource for improving my skills with its many excellent speakers who came to lecture and lead photo shoots. Our safaris in Botswana and South Africa motivated me to invest in new technology – this time with Nikon. After studying my options I purchased their then-current DSLR – with a dazzling 6 megapixel sensor – and my beloved 70-200 f/2.8 lens. It served me well for many years (along with an array of other Nikon lenses and several camera upgrades 😊) until it became just too heavy for me to hold.

Great Wall, China

“I urge you; go find buildings and mountains and oceans to swallow you whole. They will save you, in a way nothing else can.”

Christopher Poindexter

As we continued our travels, photography not only captured our adventures, it added to our enjoyment and allowed us to revisit them long after they were over. On the equipment front, because weight had become key I moved to a mirrorless Fuji X-T2. It served me well on our first outing, a visit to Israel and Jordan. I was able to comfortably carry it all day, every day for three weeks. More importantly, I was very pleased with the results despite some technology glitches along the way.


“May your adventures bring you closer together, even as they take you far away from home.”

Trenton Lee Stewart

As we’ve traveled the world I’ve loved both seeing and capturing its wonders. None of it would have happened without the support and encouragement of my husband – the more adventurous and enthusiastic of our partnership. He has pushed me beyond anything I’d have accomplished without him and ensured that we’ve both enjoyed the journey. Happily, our photography club (where I am now occasionally a leader as well as a learner) continues to help me expand my skills. The image above for example is from a class I teach on making photography books, one of my favorite ways to savor and preserve our exploits.

sunset, Botswana, art

“Oh, the places you’ll go.”

Dr. Seuss

Finally, I’ve enjoyed learning the many sophisticated editing tools available. These days I use both Lightroom and Photoshop augmented by tools like Nik, Topaz and Luminar – which brings me to next week’s challenge! We’ll be asking you to share images that didn’t quite live up to your expectations together with your final versions after editing them. As an example, I’ve enjoyed dabbling in artistic interpretations like the image above, which can be great fun.

Looking back over my photography journey these many years has been a real pleasure for me. Amy is so right that photography is much more than what camera you use. Whether on another continent or in your own backyard, it’s also about what you see and how you translate your vision. My sincere thanks to Amy for this week’s inspiration, as well as to Ann-Christine and Patti who continue to inspire and motivate me. Finally, thanks to all of you who continue to follow along with us on our Lens-Artists adventures. We look forward to hearing about YOUR journeys. Remember to link to Amy’s original post here, and to use the Lens-Artists tag to help us find you. Until then, I’ll leave you with one of my favorite-ever quotes from Helen Keller: “Life is a daring adventure or nothing at all.”.

So far so good 😊

Lens-Artists Challenge #132 – Striped and Checked

mother and baby zebra

“You know you are truly alive when you’re living among lions.”

Isak Dinesen

For this week’s challenge “striped or checked” I decided to keep it simple and focus on a single subject – the beautiful zebras of Botswana. Surely there is no more iconic subject when it comes to stripes! All of my images this week were captured in Botswana’s Okavango Delta, home to the Plains Zebra – including the Burchell variety which is the only type found there.


“When you look a wild animal in the eye, it’s like catching a glimpse into the soul of nature itself”

Paul Oxton

Named a Unesco World Heritage Site in 2014, the Okavango Delta is so large it can be seen from outer space. It is one of the very few major interior delta systems that do not flow into a sea or ocean. Because it floods seasonally, the delta’s plants and animals have adapted their lifecycles to its annual rain cycle. During migration, up to 25,000 zebras can be found in Botswana. The image above shows a zebra and a wildebeest (both striped 😊) grazing comfortably side by side. While we did not see intermingling between species, we found most of the grazing creatures peacefully co-existing.

Burchell's Zebra

“Scientists think they can now clone an all-white zebra. Now, I’m no expert, but isn’t that a horse?

Jay Leno

The three types of zebra are very difficult to distinguish. The Plains zebra (including the Burchell) is noted for its faint tan line within its white stripes. The Grevy’s zebra is the largest species, and the Mountain zebra prefers to live in high altitude areas. All three varieties have that perfectly-shaped black and white mane that looks as if it has just come from the hairdresser 🙂. While generally placid, the kick of a zebra can break a lion’s jaw, and males are known to eat the foals of other males to reinforce their dominance within the herd.

Burchell's Zebra

“I asked the zebra, are you black with white stripes, or white with black stripes?”

Shel Silverstein

Zebras, horses and donkeys are the only members of the Equus genus of mammals. A male zebra and a female horse can mate, creating offspring called a zorse. Much more rare, a female zebra and a stallion can mate and give birth to a hebra. Interestingly, although very difficult for humans to recognize, each zebra has its own unique pattern of stripes, much like our own fingerprints. Scientists believe the stripes help hide the zebra from predators as they resemble the dappled sunlight through African trees, or that they form a bit of a thermometer assist – dark stripes attracting the sun on cool mornings and white reflecting it to cool them in mid-day heat.

dazzle of Zebras

“The herd may graze where it pleases, but he who lives the adventurous life will remain unafraid when he finds himself alone.”

Raymond B. Fosdick

A group of zebras is called a dazzle or, less interestingly, a herd. We found them to be curious creatures, but in an interesting way. Typically we’d come across a dozen or more in a group, but only one would turn to see us, typically the last in line. Do you suppose they have an appointed guard or lookout assigned to check out potential threats?

zebra close-up

“Question everything. Every stripe, every star, every word spoken.”

Ernest Gaines

I have amazing memories of our African safari, including the beautiful creatures with which one is surrounded. While in the midst of it however, there is much to see and absorb, such that little facts tend to be forgotten. Many of those in today’s post were discussed during our safari but had long been forgotten until I searched them online.

Parents and zebra foal

“Travel , photography and wilderness are my addictions….And I’m happy with that…”

Kedar Dhepe

I had a hard time narrowing down the number of images for this week as you may have noticed. Hopefully you’re still with me as I thank you for your creative and interesting responses to last week’s Emotions challenge. We appreciate your using the Lens-Artists tag to help us find you, and ask you this week to include a link to Ann-Christine’s post here. As always, we look forward to seeing your responses. Finally, we hope to see you again next week when Amy hosts our next challenge. Until then, stay safe and have a wonderful week.

Lens-Artists Challenge #131 – Emotions


He to whom emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead.”

Albert Einstein

This week Patti has asked us to show emotion with our images. As one who does not typically do portraiture, I was a bit flummoxed (don’t you just love that word?!) by this one. Not one to avoid a challenge, I carried on and found that my archives held more possibilities than expected. I was pleased to come across my opening image, which shows the happy smile of a young man in front of the sad eyes of a graffiti image. Two emotions in one – a good start for the challenge!


“Tired is a feeling. Lazy is a behavior. Don’t confuse the two.”

Steve Maraboli

The image above shows a Tuk-Tuk driver we passed by during our visit to Cambodia (remember those days when we never gave a thought to our ability travel the world?!) Our own driver was one of the happiest people we’d met anywhere, who seemed to take genuine pleasure in his work and his ability to meet people from all around the world. Apparently the gentleman in my image was long past that level of enthusiasm.


“Think big thoughts but relish small pleasures.”

H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

We came across the farmer and his chickens above in a market during our visit to one of the more remote areas of China. I loved his happy smile and the way he was so pleased with his offering. Simple pleasures indeed.


“If having a soul means being able to feel love and loyalty and gratitude, then animals are better off than a lot of humans.”

James Herriot

It was during our visit to Africa that we found absolute confirmation that animals have as many emotions as we humans. The elephants especially showed affection, playfulness, fear, anger, parental care and any number of other emotions. Their languages and expressions may be different from ours but are no less eloquent.


Never be too proud to say you’re sorry or I love you. These are words that strengthen our heart, and give us peace and wisdom.”

Ron Baratono

There’s a reason the phrase is “proud as a peacock”. The beautiful fellow above lives at nearby Magnolia Gardens and really struts his stuff – and very impressive stuff it is too 😊. While the image doesn’t show much emotion, let me just say this – everyone who has ever encountered him stays well out of his way when his feathers are on display! The image was captured at 200mm and cropped afterwards – trust me, I too kept my distance.


“He who knows contentment is rich.”

Lao Tzu

Finally, the adorable little bear cub above is as good an example as I can imagine of a contented not-so-little baby sucking his paw/thumb. Mama bear and 3 siblings were below, the little ones in various stages of climbing and mama carefully watching over the four of them. Woe be he or she who would try to interfere with the process.

We look forward to seeing how you illustrate emotions in your responses. Remember to link them to Patti’s original post here, and to include the Lens-Artists tag to help us find you. Thank you as always for your exquisite responses to last week’s Close-Up challenge, and of course a big thank you to Anne for joining us as last week’s Guest Host. We hope you’ll join us next week as Ann-Christine once again leads our challenge.

Lens-Artists Challenge #130 – Close Encounters


“Focus on the small things life already has offered you, else you may turn your boundless blessings to countless disappointments.”

Shihab Kazi

This week the Lens-Artists team is happy to welcome guest host Anne Sandler and her challenge to focus on the small things in life. With significant delays in the availability of our virus vaccines, and the events of the past week at the U.S. capitol, hers is very welcome advice.


“Rejoice in small things and they will continue to grow”

Slaven Vujic

As I ventured out earlier this week, my mood was as grey as the skies, and nature itself seemed sad and withered, having lost its usual vibrance. Although photography had been the last thing on my mind, I decided to use the portrait mode on my iPhone 8+ to capture some of the small things that drew my attention. They seemed to me to fit Anne’s challenge for looking at the world a bit more closely.


“Small things bring joy, somedays.”

Warren Ellis

We can allow ourselves to be caught up in the maelstrom, or we can remember the things that bring us joy. We may not be able to visit with our families, but we do not love them any less, nor they us. We can focus on the gloominess of a cold, cloudy day, or we can remember that the sun will shine again and there will be days when a cloud or two will be more than welcome 😊. We can focus on the effect of winter’s chill on nature’s vibrance, or we can remember that spring will surely follow winter and nature’s bounty will be renewed as always.


“We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorns have roses.”

Alphonse Karr

Not unlike the seasons, my image above is meant to illustrate a perspective on who we are and who we can become. The leftmost image shows two tree trunks that come close together in the middle when seen from a spot before reaching them. The middle image, when one is directly opposite the same trees, shows the distance between them. The third image was made after passing them – joined together in peaceful co-existence, despite their need to share the resources they depend on to continue their growth. So too the issues that divide and threaten to tear us apart. In the end we shall come together, stronger for having had to struggle and compromise along the way. In the meanwhile, do your best to keep the faith and focus on the small things that bring you happiness.

Thanks again to Anne for hosting our challenge this week. Be sure to visit and link to her original post here. My personal thanks for the beautiful images you shared in response to last week’s 2020 Favorites challenge – apparently there were more happy moments than we realized! We hope you’ll join us next week as Patti once again leads our challenge. Until then, remember to stay safe and be kind.

Lens-Artists Challenge #129 – Favorite Images of 2020


A new beginning is a blank canvas ready and thirsty for paint. 

Chaker Khazaal

The Lens-Artists team is back after our brief hiatus and is happy to wish a warm welcome to 2021. More than ever, this New Year brings with it a sense of hope that life will return to something closer to normal – perhaps with a greater appreciation for what is most important. Our annual “Favorite Images of the Year ” challenge presents a different opportunity this time around. While typically we might include visits to faraway lands, or to family in other places, 2020 was a very different year. Rather than highlight what I might consider 2020’s best photography, I’ve chosen instead to include images that tell my personal story for 2020.

I’ve opened with an image taken during our only trip of 2020, an early March visit with family in New York City. In fact, it was the last time we were with any of our family, our biggest disappointment this bizarre year. As it happens, we were but one tiny step ahead of the first major outbreak in New York. We remember joking about it, thinking it had been over-hyped and was nothing to worry about. We could not have been more wrong and in fact our timing was simply pure, dumb luck.


“The magic in new beginnings is truly the most powerful of them all.”

Josiyah Martin

We returned to the shelter of our small island, where we have taken advantage of fresh air, nature’s many gifts, and relative safety. As the COVID storm swirled around us we were able to spend time with friends – our pod members if you will – playing golf, walking the beach, bicycling and dining outside in our typically mild climate. We were unable to visit our families, and prevented from traveling for pleasure, but because we have been much more fortunate than so many others we cannot help but count our blessings.


A new dawn always breaks after darkness, but only those who have survived the night live to see it.”

Tristan Roulot

I will admit my enthusiasm for photography waned a bit this year, as the news continued to grow darker each day. Having become used to seeing new faces and places, the idea of capturing the “same old thing” failed to interest me. It was a visit with a friend whose beautiful garden drew me in that helped me to remember Mother Nature’s wonders were more than worthy of my attention. The luscious fruit above was one of my many images that day.


“You can do the impossible, because you have been through the unthinkable.”

Christina Rasmussen

Once re-energized it seemed nature’s gifts were everywhere. I took to biking around the island with my camera, with an eye toward being more observant. It was on those outings that I captured the images above and below.


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

Richelle E. Goodrich

Happily, our local photography club continued its weekly meetings using Zoom. We were able to host amazing professionals who would otherwise have been on the road leading groups exploring exotic locations. There were wonderful opportunities for expanding our skills, including an introduction to the concept of Wabi-Sabi which struck a chord with me. The two images that follow resulted from that session, which explored the beauty that can be found both in aging and imperfection (two concepts with which I am very familiar 😊).


“The days without difficulty are the days you do not improve.”

Evan Winter

“The great lessons in life often come to us through some form of extreme hardship.”

Robert White

Our lives are filled with moments of wonder that offset times of difficulty and hardship. It is only through the latter that we learn to better appreciate the former. Let us hope that if nothing else, 2020 has shown us that the curveballs life throws us are opportunities for growth that once overcome, strengthen our resolve to keep moving forward.


“I will love the light for it shows me the way, yet I will endure the darkness for it shows me the stars.”

Og Mandino

We are excited to announce that next week’s challenge will be guest hosted by Slow Shutter Speed’s Anne Sandler. Be sure to stop by her blog this week to see her beautiful photography and to make sure you don’t miss her post next Saturday at noon EST.

As the sun sets on 2020, may 2021 bring peace, good health, and moments of joy to us all. We look forward to seeing YOUR favorite images of 2020 and understanding why you’ve chosen them. Remember to link them to my original post, and to use the Lens-Artists Tag to help us find you. As always, we greatly appreciate your continued support of our challenge and the creativity of your responses.