Abstract: Weekly Photo Challenge

“Everywhere is something which could be beautiful…. Abstract, fine art, nature, landscape and portrait photography.”

Florin Constantinescu

ISLAND SUNSET

ISLAND SUNSET

This week Ben’s challenge invites us to explore the world of the abstract – representing known objects in a new way. There are times as a photographer when the shape and color of a subject becomes more interesting to the eye than the object itself. In the capture above I’ve reduced the reflection of the clouds on the water as it gently laps the shore to an image that (hopefully) invites further study by the viewer.

CLOUDY SKIES

CLOUDY SKIES

All good art is abstract in its structure.”

Paul Strand
The basic elements of nature have been cited for centuries as including earth, water, fire and air. They were proposed to explain the nature and complexity of all matter in terms of simpler substances – divisible into infinitely small pieces without changing their nature. To meet this week’s challenge I thought perhaps abstract images of some of these elemental substances would honor them.  In the first capture we see both earth and water. Above, my interpretation of “air”, capturing an interesting configuration of clouds as they are configured by the air around them.
WINDBLOWN GRASSES

WINDBLOWN GRASSES

“You have to have time to be sorry for yourself to be a good Abstract Expressionist.”

Robert Rauschenberg

Further exploring the idea of “air”, some Scottish grasses, perhaps barley, gently blowing in the breezes for which Scotland is so famous.

MUDDY WATERS

MUDDY WATERS

“To abstract in art is to separate certain fundamentals from irrelevant material which surrounds them.”

Ben Shahn

I loved the quote above by Ben Shahn.  The creation of an abstract photograph allows the photographer to withdraw elements of a scene that appeal for many reasons in order to create something entirely new. One of my favorite captures, above, separated the water, grasses and tree trunks of our beautiful marsh from their larger environment. The abstraction showcases the age-old grandeur of the trees contrasted by the ethereal nature of the mosses and flowers around them.

RIVER ROCKS

RIVER ROCKS

“Abstract means literally to draw from or separate. In this sense every artist is abstract.”

Richare Diebenkorn

Above, a composition of river rocks that drew my eye last summer in the Colorado mountains. The longer exposure highlights the sweep of the water as it pours over the rocks – reshaping the earth as it moves along its way.

 

Finally, an interesting note on last week’s post.  I opened the post with a quote from Ken Poirot. Imagine my surprise when I noticed that Ken had seen and commented on the post as well as linked to it on his own site. It’s always interesting to see how far our thoughts and words travel as they make their way through the ethernet.  You never know, do you?

 

Dinnertime: Weekly Photo Challenge

“The best meals are those prepared by loving hands.”

Ken Poirot

FAMILY DINNER

FAMILY GATHERING

This week’s “dinner” challenge reminded me immediately of the capture above, which I made during a visit to Cambodia several years ago. I was a fair distance from the gathering but was drawn to the obvious affection of the participants. The inclusion of the family’s oxen made the moment just too good to pass up 😄.

GRAZING

OXEN HAVE TO EAT TOO!

“There are times when wisdom cannot be found in the chambers of parliament or the halls of academia but at the unpretentious setting of the kitchen table.”

E.A. Bucchianeri

Cambodia is a very special place, especially in light of their tragic history. One sentence about the reign of Pol Pot in the 1970’s sums it up:  ” The combined effects of executions, strenuous working conditions, malnutrition and poor medical care caused the deaths of approximately 25 percent of the Cambodian population.” *  25%! Think about it.

LEARNER'S PERMIT

LEARNER’S PERMIT

“One should never do anything that one cannot talk about after dinner.”

Oscar Wilde

Despite their history, or perhaps because of it, we found Cambodia to be a warm, gentle, peaceful place where children are treasured and life seems simpler.  There are times when simple is simply better.

  • Source: wikipedia

 

 

Future: Weekly Photo Challenge

“Photographs open doors into the past but they also allow a look into the future.”

Sally Mann

PHOTOGRAPHERS AT WORK

PHOTOGRAPHERS AT WORK

In Jen’s Future challenge this week she quotes Peter Drucker, who said “The best way to predict the future is to create it“. During our visit to China, our experience in Shanghai made me feel as if the Chinese had done exactly that.  In my opening capture above, some young Chinese tourists are photographing a family member or good friend. I found myself wondering why in heaven’s name they would be shooting with their backs to the glorious future-world behind them, which had been incredibly embellished by a glorious wall of flowers.

Downtown Shanghai

TOMORROW IS HERE TODAY

“Your future is only as bright as your mind is open.”

Rich Wilkins

Making our visit even more special, we enjoyed meeting fellow blogger Canadian Travel Bug and her husband. They had been living in Shanghai for several years as ex-pats and were happy to join us for a stroll along Shanghai’s famous Bund. The evening sky at dusk added a touch of gold as we watched day turn to evening across the Yangtze River. We’d heard horror stories about Shanghai’s air pollution problem but were gifted with beautiful clear skies for our entire stay.

NIGHTFALL, SHANGHAI

NIGHTFALL, SHANGHAI

“A photograph is a time capsule that extends from the past to the future.”

Henry Jesionka
The night of our arrival the sky was filled with fireworks (sadly I was not quick enough to grab my camera to capture them). I found the evening view of the city even more futuristic than the daytime panorama. As I revisit my photographs I still think the city looks like something you’d see at Disney World rather than a real place where people live and work.
LOOKING AHEAD

LOOKING AHEAD

“Photographs allow us to see people before their future weighed them down.”

Kate Morton

On the opposite side of the city, I found myself wondering what this young couple was thinking as they stared across the beautifully lit bridge. Were they planning a future together, thinking about the bridges they would might be crossing together as their lives unfold?

MORE TO COME

MORE TO COME

“The future belongs, not to those who have the most, but to those who do the most with what they have.”

Eugene P. Odum

Today, Shanghai is the most populated city in the world. Driving into the city one can see the massive amount of building being done to house the growing number of residents. The capture above helps to explain why some joke that China’s national bird is the crane 😃. Clearly, China is focused on world-leadership as they face the future. Having experienced Shanghai, I have no doubt they will accomplish their goals.

 

 

 

 

Landscapes – Weekly Photo Challenge

“A landscape image cuts across all political and national boundaries. It transcends the constraints of language and culture.”

Charlie Waite

BRIDGE TO BEAUTY, SOUTH AMERICA

BRIDGE TO BEAUTY, SOUTH AMERICA

I loved the opening quote by Charlie Waite. There is so much strife and discord in today’s world, yet there is never a quarrel with the beauty of the natural world we all share. How nice that Cheri’s challenge this week gives us the opportunity to share some of the beautiful landscapes we’ve seen around the world.

HISTORIC BEAUTY, SCOTLAND

HISTORY ON A PRECIPICE, SCOTLAND

“It’s an immensely liberating feeling when you’re out in the landscape, concentrating on creating a photograph, and you’re absolutely flying.”

Charlie Waite

As I’ve often noted, I’ve been very fortunate to see some amazing places around the world. Again, I agree with Charlie that the exhilaration one feels when experiencing a special place, especially for the first time, is hard to match. I am particularly drawn to the magnificence of nature, but also appreciate some of the man-made beauty I’ve seen as well. Two wonderful example of man making the most of nature are China’s Great Wall and the wonderful temples of Angkor Wat, both shown below.

CHINA'S GREAT WALL

CHINA’S GREAT WALL

SUNRISE, ANGKOR WAT

SUNRISE, ANGKOR WAT

“Photographs – especially those of people, of distant landscapes and faraway cities, of the vanished past – are incitements to reverie.”

Susan Sontag
Some of nature’s most wonderful landscapes are that much more appreciated because of the effort required to reach them. The beauty of Ha Long Bay in Vietnam, and the majestic creatures of Botswana come to mind as having been arduous journeys that were very much worthy of effort.
SHIPS, HA LONG BAY

SHIPS, HA LONG BAY

CLASSIC BOTSWANA

CLASSIC BOTSWANA LANDSCAPE

“A path is a prior interpretation of the best way to traverse a landscape.”

Rebecca Solnit

While it is easy to appreciate the glories of exotic places, some of the most wonderful landscapes can also be found in our own backyards. The captures below were made in areas much more accessible to those of us in the US.

MOONLIGHT, CALIFORNIA

EVENING MOONLIGHT, CALIFORNIA

IN THE HEARTLAND, MICHIGAN

IN THE HEARTLAND, MICHIGAN

TANGERINE SUNSET, KIAWAH ISLAND

PALMETTO SILHOUETTE, KIAWAH ISLAND

“All landscapes ask the same question in the same whisper. ‘I am watching you — are you watching yourself in me?’ “

Lawrence Durrell

I find that not only exhilaration, but also a rather spiritual feeling of tranquility can be found when we stop to appreciate the beauty around us. While the photograph just above was made here on Kiawah, I’ve also experienced some wonderful moments of the peace that only nature can provide in more faraway landscapes such as those below.

WIDE OPEN SPACES, ALASKA

WIDE OPEN SPACES, ALASKA

SHANGRI LA, CHINA

REFLECTIONS, SHANGRI LA, CHINA

“We travel to see beauty of souls in new landscapes.”

Lailah Gifty Akita

So many places, so little space 😄. Wishing you all the peace that nature can give.

To see the landscapes of some other bloggers, click here.

Half-Light: Weekly Photo Challenge

“Every day you play with the light of the universe.”

Pablo Neruda

HALF-LIGHT, SAN FRANCISCO

HALF-LIGHT, SAN FRANCISCO

Krista’s challenge this week invites us to share a photograph of the magical half-light between dusk and darkness.  She further challenges us to tie our choices to a favorite story or lyric. As I thought about my choice, a capture I made as evening settled in during a visit with good friends in San Francisco, I thought of the lyrics to a favorite Simon and Garfunkel song “Bridge Over Troubled Water”.

BUCOLIC BRIDGE

BUCOLIC BRIDGE

“There is light in darkness, you just have to find it.”

Bell Hooks

For me, the thing about the lyric is the comforting thought that although we all face trouble at least occasionally, someone will be there to catch us as we fall, to light our way through the darkness, to offer a shoulder to cry on when it is most needed.

BRIDGE OF ZHOUZHUANG

BRIDGE OF ZHOUZHUANG

“If you have knowledge , let others light their candles in it.”

Margaret Fuller

For me bridges signify a connection – not only between opposite shores but also between souls – between friends, lovers, even strangers. There is so much that connects us if only we would  take the time to recognize what we share rather than that which divides us.

BUCOLIC BRIDGE

DISTANT BRIDGE

“Kindness is the light that dissolves all walls between souls, families, and nations.”

Paramahansa Yogananda

This past week my husband and I completed our move to our new home. Unfortunately I then managed to come down with a nasty flu which I am convinced resulted from the stress of moving.  Of course, none of that matters a bit when we look at the sadness visited upon our neighbors in Belgium.  Let us hope that the world’s darkness turns to light sooner rather than later.

Wishing you a light-filled week ahead.

Dance – Weekly Photo Challenge

Everything in the universe has rhythm. Everything dances.

Maya Angelou

GREAT BLUE

GREAT BLUE

This week Ben challenges us to find the beauty of dance in unexpected places. To me, the flight of the graceful wading birds that surround us here on Kiawah offers a perfect example. Wings spread, powerful digits extended, they create their own music as they soar across our creeks and ponds.

Woodstork taking flight

LIFTOFF

“Dance is a delicate balance between perfection and beauty.”

Author Unknown

One of my favorite memories comes from a moment I experienced while walking the fairway alone one morning. As I was meandering in the total quiet, I heard an amazing sound. It was the swoosh-swoosh of hundreds of coordinated wings from a flock of wood storks moving in perfect unison directly overhead. The zen-like gift offered by their precise V-formation has stayed with me for years.  In my opinion no dance could possibly have been choreographed more beautifully.

Finally, I offer two captures of great white egrets that I shot using a slow shutter speed to illustrate the graceful motion of their flight.

Great White Egret

ANGEL WINGS

How can we know the dancer from the dance?”

William Butler Yeats

EGRET ON THE WING

EGRET ON THE WING

Dancing faces you towards Heaven, whichever direction you turn.”

Terri Guillemets

To see some other bloggers’ interpretations, click here.

 

Family: Weekly Photo Challenge – One Love

“Blessed is the influence of one true, loving human soul on another.”

George Eliot

People holding hands at sunset

CONNECTED

This week Anne has suggested “One Love” as our weekly photo challenge. My husband is, of course, the obvious choice. He is my one love as well as my soulmate and best friend.  He is also my family. Together, we are part of a larger family – some related by blood and some by marriage. Beyond that, we are fortunate to share a “family” of friends who are as close as is possible without sharing blood. I think Lindsey Rietzsch said it best “If you have friends and family who love you unconditionally – you truly have everything!”  And so we do.

To see what some other bloggers love, click here.