Rare Sightings in Nature: Weekly Photo Challenge

At the critical moment it is the rare few who can do what needs to be done.”

Icarus

COLORFUL CRAWLER

COLORFUL CRAWLER

This week my husband and I returned to Kiawah after our summer adventures.  As always, it was great to travel and just as great to get home! Soon after our return my neighbor called to invite me to photograph the gorgeously-colored monarch caterpillars (technically called larvae) which had taken up residence on her parsley plant. These little creatures are true eating machines, bulking up in preparation for their time in their chrysalis stage.  Sadly, monarch sightings are becoming more rare every year. Scientists have noted their numbers have dropped 10-fold in the last decade.

SINISTER SMILE

SINISTER SMILE

“They’re so rare, those hearts that carry the blessing and lavish it over everything.”

Rumi

We all know the American Alligator is NOT rare. However, it is (happily) rare to find one in your backyard. Yep, this guy was sitting in our back yard earlier this morning. Perhaps he just came by to welcome us home. 😀 And yes, I was using a 200mm zoom lens to capture him. Our local gators do not typically attack humans but I see no reason to test that theory!

BIG BEAVER

BIG BEAVER

“Everybody talks, nobody listens. Good listeners are as rare as white crows.”

Helen Keller

Kiawah is known to have otters but as far as I know we do NOT have beavers. I captured this guy in our travels when I should have been paying more attention to my golf game. Combining photography with golf isn’t particularly good for scoring but it does add a different element of interest to the sport.  As for rarity, the beaver is another species on the decline, with numbers estimated to have dropped from 60 million to less than 12 million. Especially in my neck of the woods, beavers are a rare sighting indeed.

Have a great week everyone, and as always, thanks to Ben for his interesting challenge.

 

 

Victoria Harbor Fun

“There is no pleasure in having nothing to do; the fun is having lots to do and not doing it.”

Andrew Jackson

TUBBY TAXI

TUBBY TAXI

On my 30th birthday my younger brother sent me a card.  Inside he wrote “Happy Birthday.  Don’t ever grow all the way up.”   Many years later I can still see that card as if it were yesterday.  I’m sure by now he’s long forgotten his message but it has stuck with me longer than I care to admit.

HARBOR FERRY

HARBOR FERRY

“Never get so old that you forget about having fun.”  

Tom Giaquinto

Sometimes as grown-ups fun means forgetting how silly we look and just enjoying the ride – as we did in the Victoria Harbor Taxis above. It means focusing on the thrill rather than the danger – like not worrying about whether the rusty joints of the un-inspected harness will hold as you parasail high over the ocean on an island vacation.  Or giving in to the turning of your stomach as the helicopter pilot decides to give you a nosedive thrill landing on a remote glacier.

JUJU AND VIRGO

JUJU AND VIRGO

“Have fun, even if it’s not the same kind of fun everyone else is having.”

C.S. Lewis

My husband is a master of having fun. Although he has a serious side, he lives his life with an amazing sense of joie-de-vivre. Perhaps that’s why everyone says he’s so young for his age. Truth be told, a great many of the fun things I’ve done in my life have been a direct result of his urging. He is always pushing for us to go, to do, to explore, to have the next adventure – and so we have 😄

SHIPYARD

SHIPYARD

“The purpose of water is to drink it but we swim in it for the fun of it.”

S.A. Tawks

As we wind down this summer’s adventure, we’ve added some wonderful memories to our list. One very special one was our day with the orcas in Victoria which I posted about earlier this month. Before and after that experience, we enjoyed some fun activities in the harbor, highlighted above.  For now we’ll take a lesson from the happy harbor seals pictured below and relax a bit before summer ends and we wonder, as always, where it went!

FLOATING BLISS

FLOATING BLISS

So, back to my brother.  This year his daughter and her new husband quit their jobs, rescued a puppy, and are setting off on a rock-climbing adventure in their self-outfitted, refurbished camper. Sounds like the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree doesn’t it?!

To see what everyone else is doing for fun, click here.

 

MORNING HAS BROKEN: Weekly Photo Challenge

Morning has broken, like the first morning”

MOUNTAIN MORNING

MOUNTAIN MORNING

“Blackbird has spoken, like the first bird”

BLACKBIRD HAS SPOKEN

BLACKBIRD HAS SPOKEN

“Praise for the singing, praise for the morning”

PRAISE FOR THE MORNING

PRAISE FOR THE MORNING

“Praise for the spinging fresh from the word.”

KIAWAH MORNING SPRINGING FRESH

KIAWAH MORNING SPRINGING FRESH

“Sweet the rain’s new fall, sunlit from heaven”

SWEET RAIN

SWEET RAIN

“Like the first dew fall on the first grass…..”

MORNING GRASSES

MORNING GRASSES

‘Praise with elation, praise every morning.”

GOLDEN SUNRISE

GOLDEN SUNRISE

“God’s recreation of the new day.”

LIKE THE FIRST DAY

LIKE THE FIRST DAY

NOTE: Although Cat Stevens made the Morning Has Broken lyrics famous in his 1971 song, the lyrics were originally written in 1931 as a Christian hymn by Eleanor Farjeon.

For this post I’ve included a number of images from previous posts as well as several that are included for the first time. With thanks to Cheri for her lovely challenge, I offer you all my best wishes for a week filled with the all that mornings have to offer.

Vineyard Views – Weekly Photo Challenge: Narrow

“Go wherever the narrow way passes.”

Israelmore Ayivor

NARROW ROWS

NARROW ROWS

I admit it; I don’t like wine. There, I’ve said it. My husband, a world-class oenophile, might have reconsidered marrying me if I’d felt that way when we first met. (just kidding……or maybe not!!)  What I DO like, are vineyards. Ripe with grapes, just harvested, newly planted – you name it, they’re a photographer’s dream.

RED ROOF

IN THE FOOTHILLS

“Pursue some path, however narrow and crooked, in which you can walk with love and reverence.”

Henry David Thoreau

Happily, most vintners don’t mind my wandering through their countless rows of wine-to-be while my husband happily samples their wares.  Admittedly, there have been many occasions when I’ve stared glassy-eyed as he expounds with other like-minded wine lovers on the earthiness/fruit=forward/tennis ball in the mouth (REALLY?!??!) qualities of one vintage versus another.  On those occasions I’ve felt a bit like ET must have felt before he was able to Phone Home 😊.

ON THE VINE

FRUIT OF THE VINE

“A narrow neck keeps the bottle from being emptied in one swig.”

Irish Proverb

Perhaps my favorite thing about visiting vineyards is that wine lovers to a person all seem to know and appreciate good food. Count on it – where there are vineyards, there will definitely be wonderful restaurants. Now THERE’s a quality that gets my attention.  Walla Walla Washington, where these captures were made, was no exception. Good food. beautiful weather, good photo ops and a happy husband? Priceless!!

save salmon

“Small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”

Matthew 7:14

In closing, I shot the advertising poster above in one of the vineyards we visited because a) it made me laugh and b) when explained it made perfect sense.  The Walla Walla vineyards join others across Oregon and Washington in protecting water quality and bio-diversity for native salmon. They do so by planting trees on streams, growing cover crops to control run-off, and applying natural methods to control weeds and pests. Who knew?!

Cheers – whatever your libation of choice – until next week.

 

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 😄