Lens-Artists Challenge #241 – Spring

Magnolia Gardens, Charleston, bridge, wisteria, reflection
Spring Has Sprung, Magnolia Gardens, Charleston SC

“Does the robin sing because the cold of winter is leaving or the warmth of spring is coming? Or might he be singing because each without the other would lessen both?”

Craig D. Lounsbrough

Although our followers may have seen many versions of my opening image, I’ve chosen it to open my post about spring because to me it illustrates exactly what we love about the season. Our earliest blossoms, the beautiful purple wisteria are draped over the corner of the bridge while another of spring’s earliest arrivals, the azaleas, are reflected in the water below. The scene is from nearby Magnolia Gardens, as is this week’s header. It’s a local ritual to visit the gardens every spring to capture nature at her absolute best.

Back home on Kiawah nature also makes a wonderful showing, including that of the two images that follow.

butterfly, flower, pink, dewdrops
Butterfly and Blossom, Kiawah Island

“Spring – a fairy land of imagination where flowers bloom with joy, butterflies fly with song, and love dances with love.”

Debasish Mridha
kiawah, daisies, river, spring
Seasonal Bloom, Kiawah Island

“Spring is made of solid, fourteen-karat gratitude, the reward for the long wait.”

Barbara Kingsolver

Beyond the beauty of our spring flowers and the insects that thrive on them, today I’m focused on the arrival of the newborn chicks that will be added to the local bird population. I was privileged to visit a nearby nesting site several years ago and am including some images from that day. Unfortunately the birds have moved on but these images are among my all-time favorites so I love to revisit them as a reminder of spring’s magic.

Egret Chicks
Egrets in The Nest

“A bird is safe in its nest – but that is not what its wings are made for.”

Amit Ray

Today’s images are various varieties of herons, including egrets. The site had hundreds of nests, many of them at eye-level. The nesting area was on private property surrounded by fences so the birds obviously felt quite safe. The site also had a very large water element providing them access to water and small fish for feeding. The avian wonderland was made available to me through a good friend who is related to the property’s owner.

blue heron chicks, nesting, birds
Heron Chicks

“When the universe wants to communicate, it sends a dream. If the dreamer is awake, it sends a bird.”

Michael Bassey Johnson

Above, I’ve included a nest of blue heron chicks. Blue herons are IMHO among the most beautiful of birds. We watch them with delight as they glide gracefully over our local lagoons and ponds, their great wings carrying them perfectly to their destination. It’s hard to believe that the creatures above will one day become such amazing specimens! Like the yellow-beaked chicks in the previous image, they will mature quickly thanks to their doting parents and the safety of their carefully-chosen surroundings. The birds in the image below are just a week or two older that those above and already one can better imagine what they will one day become,

heron, chicks, egret, beaks

“Not a single bird makes its first leap from a tree without faith.”

Suzy Kassem

The Suzy Kassem quote above reminded me of watching these little creatures bravely attempt their first efforts to fly. The chick below was definitely fortunate to have been caught in the branches of its chosen tree rather than in the waters below!

Before and After

“Blessed be the Lord for the beauty of summer and spring, for the air, the water, the verdure, and the song of birds.” 

Carl Linnaeus

I’ll close with my favorite subject of the day, a juvenile blue heron. He was fiercely guarding his smaller brothers and sisters in a nearby nest. I just loved the hairdo that looked like an exact replica of the nest being guarded!

heron, chick, hairdo, bird
Ready to Rumble

“To be elated over a bird’s nest or a wildflower in spring – these are some of the rewards of the simple life.”

John Burroughs

Thanks to Sofia for the opportunity to revisit some of my favorite images of spring. Here on Kiawah nature cannot seem to make up her mind. Warm one week, cool the next, spring seems to be struggling to maintain a foothold. That said, I have every confidence she will return as always. We hope you’ll join us this week with your own thoughts and images of spring – or whatever season you may be entering these days. Remember to link your post to Sofia’s magical original here and to use the Lens-Artists Tag.

Thanks also to John for last week’s challenge – The (Photography) Road Most Often Taken. How interesting it was to see everyone’s favorite styles and genres! We look forward to seeing the seasons through your responses this week. Anne will lead us next week after returning from her amazing travels so be sure to visit her Slow Shutter Speed site. Until then as always stay safe, be kind and enjoy the journey!

Interested in joining the Lens-Artists challenge? Click here for more information.


Lens-Artists Challenge #240 – The Road Most Often Taken

desert, golf, mountain, Palm Desert
Desert Vista

I believe that photographers should be passionate, determined, disciplined and ready to seek out their own styles and identities.

Michael Kenna

This week John has asked us to describe our favorite type of photography – our “road most often taken”. As much as I’d like to have a clear answer to his challenge, the reality is I don’t really have one. For me the subject determines my approach. a quick glance through my Lightroom database will confirm exactly that.

palm trees, desert, Palm Desert
Tall and Stately

“My biggest advice would be to take the pictures you want to take… Don’t think about style.” 

David LaChapelle

There was a time when I primarily captured images vertically, but blogging favors a horizontal format so I’ve adjusted a bit in that area. Now if I’m interested in my subject I’ll capture it both ways to give myself an option. Although many think of me as a nature photographer, my favorite is actually travel photography. Nothing is quite as inspirational to me as seeing many different people and places around the world. Unfortunately COVID rather put a stop to our world travels and we’ve only now begun to dip our feet into some US travel, as evidenced by this week’s images of last week’s journey.

Oh My – what big TEETH you have!

I don’t believe a person has a style. What people have is a way of photographing what is inside them. What is there comes out.

Sebastiao Salgado

I promised myself that I would take my camera and lenses with me on our recent visit to Arizona and California but as I packed my carry-on it became apparent they would be left behind. Yet another step in my evolution is an appreciation of the power of the i-phone. No, it’s not as capable as a camera with a good lens, but it’s come a very long way indeed. The image above was captured in portrait mode and my phone was far less tiresome to carry as we walked through Palm Desert’s fun “Living Desert Zoo”. Both the image above and the one that follows were captured there. While great for close-ups and portraits, I definitely missed my zoom lens for the image below which has been cropped pretty severely.

Push Me Pull You

“Seeing is the most important trick of modern photography.”

Karl Pawel

I tend to agree with Mr. Pawel above. The most important influence on our style of photography is “seeing”. How many times have you seen a photograph that really resonated with you, making you think “why didn’t I see that??” Or worse yet, how many times have we seen what could have been a marvelous image but we passed it by in our haste to get somewhere or to see something else. We’ve all done it if we’re honest with ourselves, right?

cactus, flower, green

“II don’t like styles. I only like taking photos and expressing myself through them.”

Andre Kertesz

I also tend to like getting up-close-and-personal as they say – closing in on a subject and capturing its essence as in the image above. The iPhone these days has a pretty good portrait mode but I’ll admit I’m a bit envious of those who own and use Lensbaby lenses. It’s hard to beat a soft, lovely bokeh. The same, of course, can be done with a normal fixed or zoom lens, but somehow IMHO lensbaby has conquered the technique to the nth degree.

Palm Desert, Aged
Times Gone By

“Be true to yourself…Figure out your own style and vision and stick to it.”

Jodi Cobb

Finally, those who follow me know I enjoy creative editing. Because my vision of Palm Desert is often one of looking back to its portrayal in old-time western movies, I’ve used Photoshop and Topaz itextures to create the image above.

Sincere thanks to John for taking us on this week’s journey. We hope you’ll join us with your own response to his thought-provoking challenge. Be sure to link to his original here, and to use the Lens-Artists Tag to help us find you. Thanks also to those who responded to my Finding Peace challenge last week. We enjoyed seeing the many ways each of us uses to find calm in our busy world. Sofia will lead us next week so remember to visit her beautiful Photographias blog on Saturday at noon EST.

For those of us impacted by Daylight Savings Time, remember to turn your clocks forward tonight, and get ready to enjoy the longer days ahead. And of course, as always, stay safe, be kind, and enjoy the journey.

Interested in joining the Lens-Artists challenge? Click here for more information.

Lens-Artists Challenge #239 – Finding Peace

ocean, chairs, flags, Kiawah
Perfect Perch

“If you are guided by courage, awareness, tranquility and peace nature will serve you.”

Amit Ray

Last week Ann-Christine challenged us to address Alone Time. Many of our responses spoke to the contentment we find when we are alone – doing things like reading, gardening, walking, etc. So this week, let’s take Ann-Christine’s challenge one step further, and address the ways we’ve learned to Find Peace in today’s ever-more busy world. In the image above the two seats are perfectly arranged for peaceful contemplation. Below, a sunset sail assures its passengers will have a peaceful evening.

sailing, sunset, water, Kiawah
Sunset Sail

“So be satisfied and quiet, be contented with your contentment. 

Jeremiah Burroughs

For me, time along the ocean – sitting and watching the waves. walking along the shore, or sailing calm seas – is guaranteed to bring moments of peace. There is something about the gentle pull of the waves, or their synchronized motion, that erases the creases on my forehead and reminds me that despite any perceived problems, for the most part all is right with the world.

pond, chairs, sun
Day’s End

“Learn to sit back and observe, not everything requires a reaction.”

Inner Peace Zone

Although the sea brings its own sense of peace, for me pretty much any water view will do. The image above features our quiet spot along the edge of one of Kiawah’s ponds. As long as no alligators are close by, it too fosters a sense of inner peace.

Foggy Day on Kiawah

“Peace is not the absence of the commotion outside, it is the presence of serenity inside.”

Bangambiki Habyarimana,

Somehow I’ve found that weather can be a profound influence on my sense of inner peace. A thick layer of fog, as above one morning on Kiawah, or as below during a fast-moving NYC rainstorm can be just the thing to quiet an active mind.

apartments, NYC, sunlight, rain
Afternoon Light and Rain, New York City

“World peace begins in each home.”

Mashona Dhliwayo

I have a very strong memory of the amazing NYC moment shown above. The sun was shining brightly in the late afternoon as the rain poured and the winds blew. It was something I’d never seen before and brought the city to a near standstill. The image is straight out of camera, showing the incredible light that late afternoon, which lasted only a few brief moments before it was gone.

egrets, water, flowers
Three Little Birds

“Whenever possible, choose peace.”

Donna Goddard

I’ve often posted about the many places on Kiawah where nature surrounds us, and where I find my most peaceful moments. The image above, however, proves that quiet and peace can be found anywhere. The scene was captured as we traveled to NJ for a family celebration. Only 20 minutes from the chaos of Atlantic City we came upon an area filled with hundreds of beautiful birds enjoying the sunlight as they fished in the tidal creeks.

Thanks to Ann-Christine for her Alone Time challenge last week which led me to today’s subject. This week we hope you’ll share the ways you find peace in your corner of the world. Be sure to link to my post and to use the Lens-Artists Tag to help us find you. Finally, we hope you’ll also join us next week when John will once again lead us on his Journeys with Johnbo post. In the meanwhile, as always please stay safe, be kind and enjoy the journey.

Interested in joining the Lens-Artists challenge? Click here for more information.

Lens-Artists Challenge #238 – Alone Time

ocean, photographer, kiawah
Photographer at Work

“The endless ocean was his sole companion.”

Adelheid Manefeldt

This week Ann-Christine challenges us to discuss “Alone Time”. I’ve opened with something near and dear to my heart – a photographer at work. I love that he’d found a tiny island of sand from which to capture the beautiful scene in front of him. Also alone, the woman in the image below is also undertaking one of my favorite activities – a morning walk. Personally, I prefer Kiawah’s beach to the chilly East River of NYC although both are beautiful. You can see the iconic Statue of Liberty in the background of the image.

walking, riverfront, NYC, Statue of Liberty
Winter Walk, NYC

“Maybe this is who I really am. Not a loner exactly. But someone who can be alone.”

Gary Shteyngart

Below, yet another image focused on an individual alone in a favorite activity. This one features my brother, an excellent fisherman who lives in Colorado. One day during our visit, he and my husband were working the waters while my sister-in-law and I enjoyed a lovely walk in the surrounding nature. It’s a fond memory for me and hopefully for them as well.

fisherman, stream, path
Working the Water

“When you learn how to be alone you’ll discover the difference between alone and lonely.”

LJ Vanier

A less athletic but often solitary example of a pastime, I captured a plein-air painter at work while visiting one of the many estates on New York’s Hudson River. Home of the famous Hudson River School of landscape painters, perhaps she was inspired by some of the many scenes they may have captured.

painter, artist
En Plein Air

“Solitude is the soil in which genius is planted, creativity grows, and legends bloom.”

Mike Norton

On a less active note, the next two images feature people alone and relaxing with a favorite activity – reading.

newspaper, reading
Studying the Day’s News, Tel Aviv

“Lingering is so very lonely when one lingers all alone.”

Mervyn Peake
reading, beach, bench
Beach Reader

“If you are never alone, you cannot know yourself.”

Paulo Coelho

Finally, some examples of places to be alone for those who seek them.

church, Holy Spirit
Place of Peace

“Only through our love and friendship can we create the illusion for a moment that we’re not alone.”

Orson Welles
Steinway, piano,
Let There Be Music

“Music was my refuge. I could crawl into the space between the notes and curl my back to loneliness.”

Maya Angelou

Thanks to Ann-Christine for the opportunity to highlight some of my own favorite activities when solitary is the option of choice. We look forward to seeing your thoughts on the subject. Be sure to link your responses to her beautiful post here, and to use the Lens-Artists Tag to help us find you. Thanks also to Bren for guest-hosting last week’s Softness challenge. Hopefully we all learned a bit from the many terrific responses. We hope you’ll join us next week when I’ll be leading the challenge with “Finding Peace”. Until then, as always please stay safe, be kind and enjoy the journey.

Interested in joining the Lens-Artists challenge? Click here for more information.

Lens-Artists Challenge #237 – Lowering Clarity to Bring Softness

flowers, soft, textures
Aging Gracefully

“The photographer should know by instinct, grounded in experience, what subjects are enhanced by hard or soft, light or dark treatment.”

Bill Brandt

This week we are pleased to welcome our guest host Bren of Brashley Photography. She has challenged us to create softness in our images by lowering clarity. I’ve taken the opportunity to follow her lead using several different techniques, including applying textures, as above, and using Topaz software as shown below. I created the first image as part of a class in floral photography, and the second during a visit earlier this month with Lens-Artists team member John Steiner.

garden, bench, impression, path, Kiawah
Cezanne-ish Garden

“A picture is the expression of an impression. If the beautiful were not in us, how would we ever recognize it?”

Ernst Haas

Another favorite technique for softening images is panning, as shown below. Moving the camera very slowly from side to side, nature’s light and color become the subject as opposed to the action of the waves and the surf.

Kiawah, ocean, panning, light
Panning Kiawah’s Ocean

“Photography…is about solace, and panning for gold.

Grant Lucas

Yet another technique I sometimes use is to capture the reflection of an object rather than the object itself. The image below shows a much softer version than would an image of the actual tree. I captured this one on the same photography outing with John that I mentioned earlier in my post.

palmetto, kiawah, reflection
Palmetto Reflection

“Am I a reflection of my film or is my film a reflection of me?”

Kevin Russo

Finally, one additional way to soften is to let Mother Nature take the lead, capturing the soft light created by an overlay of fog or mist. The scene below is one of my favorites. To capture it, I’d weathered a major rainstorm to await its arrival. It was almost as if nature was rewarding me for my perseverance 😊.

fog, Kiawah, mist
Breaking Through

When somehow the atmosphere becomes alive with fog, or clouds, or rain,…great photographs can be made outdoors.” 

Brooks Jensen

Sincere thanks to Bren for leading us with her interesting challenge. I enjoyed both her beautiful images and the techniques she used to create them. I’ll definitely be trying her approach in future outings. Be sure to link your responses to her post here, and to use the Lens-Artists Tag to help us find you. Thanks also to Amy for last week’s North/South/East/West challenge. Once again we are reminded that the world is indeed a beautiful place.

I’ll be traveling next week but will do my best to follow this week’s responses and comments, and to join next week’s challenge. In the meanwhile, as always please stay safe, be kind, and enjoy the journey.

Interested in joining the Lens-Artists challenge? Click here for more information.

Lens-Artists Challenge #236 – East Meets West

doorway, China, Red
Double Double Doors

“Double, double, toil and trouble.”

William Shakespeare

This week Amy has challenged us to contrast East / West or North / South. I’ve decided to focus on architecture, comparing that of China in the East and the U.S. in the West. As architecture goes, in my humble opinion (😊), there couldn’t be two more different examples.

pagodas, china, orange

“Anything difficult to say must be shouted from the rooftops.”

Natalie Clifford Barney

While it’s true that the differences are many, it is also true that one thing is constant….no matter the location there is beauty to be found everywhere. In China one will find some amazing uses of color – exhibits A and B my two opening images. Is there anything more striking than the color red (which is found all over China) or the gracefulness of the colorful upturned roofs? Perhaps also the inclusion of dragons, something never found in the U.S.!

dragons, China, Rooftop
Devilish Dragons

“I’m not so much a dragon slayer, more a dragon annoyer.”

Craig Ferguson

One thing we share with China is a preponderance of parks. Although they may differ in size and scope, all illustrate the glories of nature. One of my favorites in China was the beautiful Summer Palace which takes full advantage of its nearby waterfront and is open to the public.

china, summer palace, walkway, water
China’s Imperial Summer Palace

“Be thine own palace, or the world’s thy jail.”

John Donne

Although I’ve used the image below in previous posts (and on my desktop), no conversation about architecture in China would be complete without the incredible Great Wall. Our world is an amazing place, and I’ve been fortunate to see much of it, but I rank the Great Wall among my top five memories of all time.

China, great wall
Beyond Compare

“There were endless stories locked into the silent, cool mass of the Wall.”

Braam Malherbe

The thing about beauty is that it comes in many forms, some concrete, others abstract. Happily, it can be found everywhere if one is open to it. Beyond Chinese architecture and landscapes, there is beauty in the warmth of her people – especially those we met in the more remote areas of this vast, incredible country. The same, of course, is true of our own country. Beyond the natural beauty I often post about here on Kiawah, in nearby Charleston one can see architectural beauty that could not be more different from that found in China. We are famous, for example, for the amazing ironwork crafted by local artist Philip Simmons which is found throughout the city.

iron scroll, charleston
Iron Scrolls

“I come to a world of iron to make a world of gold.”


Similar to the many temples to be found across China, Charleston is known as “the holy city” because of its many churches, some 400+, many of them from before the 1800s. Often they feature beautiful steeples like the two examples below. They can be seen perfectly from any of the higher buildings or rooftops throughout the city. For me, they bring to mind the children’s rhyme and finger game “Here’s the church and here’s the steeple, open the door and see all the people”. Do other countries also play that game?

church, steeples, charleston
Church Steeples

“I like the silent church before the service begins, better than any preaching.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

One thing we share with much of the world, but which I did not notice to be prevalent in China is the ubiquity of fountains. Throughout our travels in Europe we saw them everywhere. Charleston was originally settled by Europeans which may explain their presence here. One of my favorites is the fountain in our Riley Waterfront Park. It is built in the shape of a pineapple, a symbol of welcome and hospitality which is seen frequently throughout the city.

fountain, pineapple, charleston
Riley Waterfront Park Pineapple Statue

“True hospitality is marked by an open response to the dignity of each and every person.”

Kathleen Norris

I’ll close today with a favorite image from quite some time ago. I captured it while strolling, camera in hand, along one of Charleston’s main streets. It’s located at what we call the “Four Corners of Law” (God’s law (St. Michael’s Church), state law (Charleston County Courthouse), city law (Charleston City Hall), and federal law (Federal Courthouse). The image captures an area of Charleston’s City Hall and to me is a wonderful example of the charm and beauty of the city.

Charleston Charm

“All the diversity, all the charm, and all the beauty of life are made up of light and shade.”

Leo Tolstoy

Having spent nearly a month in China and nearly half of my life in the Charleston area, I could have gone on for days with examples of the beautiful architecture to be found in both places. Instead I’ll stop here with advice that should you ever have the opportunity to visit either or both, you should jump in as quickly as possible with both feet!

Sincere thanks to Amy for the opportunity to share two of my favorite places. Be sure to link your response to her wonderful challenge here, and to use the Lens-Artists Tab to help us find you. Thanks also to Patti for last week’s Shadows and Reflections in Monochrome challenge. Her post and your responses reminded us all to think creatively and to see and show our world in new ways. Finally, we’re excited to announce that next week’s challenge will be guest-hosted by Bren of Brashley Photography. Bren’s topic will be “Lowering Clarity to Bring Softness” so be sure to visit her site for a look next Saturday at noon EST. In the meanwhile, as always please stay safe, be kind and enjoy the journey.

Interested in joining the Lens-Artists challenge? Click here for more information.

Lens-Artists Challenge #235 – Monochrome Shadows & Reflections

shadows, man, B&W, Bridge
Into The Shadows

“When Small men begin to cast big shadows, it means that the sun is about to set.”

Lin Yutang

This week Patti has given us a double (or even triple) challenge – shadows/reflections/monochrome. She does a terrific job of explaining our options in her original post. I’ve taken her quite literally and have done some experimenting with a number of my images this week. However, my opener is an all-time favorite which I suppose many of you have seen before. I captured the man in the shadows standing under the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. The dichotomy was stunning as I’d just left the brilliant sunshine where I’d been photographing some rare whales that came in to feed in the waters below. I wanted some images of the bridge’s structure and when I walked a bit closer I was drawn to the shadows first, only to come upon the man completely by chance. We all have our favorites in our portfolio of images, but this one always makes my top 5. I thought it perfect for this week’s challenge as it is only truly effective in B&W which of course adds to its mystery and “film noir” feel.

shadow, golf cart, bunker
Guess What!

“Without the past to cast its long shadow, might you see the future more clearly?”

Diane Setterfield

Well, I suppose from the sublime to the ridiculous as they say! I was on an assignment photographing a golf tournament and saw myself within the shadow of my golf cart and thought it made a fun image. Note the rake in the upper left corner, which tells you the shadow is within a bunker while fortunately for them, the golfers were not!

But enough of life in the shadows – let’s see some reflections! Below you’ll recognize one of my favorite spots on Kiawah, a reflection you’ve seen on my blog more than once in all kinds of weather and various times of day. However I believe this is the first time I’ve tried it in monochrome. I love the many usual colors of the scene, typically stunning blues and greens, often with pink sweetgrasses blowing in the wind, once in a great while with the whites of ice or snow. I must admit after adjusting the scene to a rich sepia, I rather liked the result. What do you think?

reflection, sepia, palmettos, pond, Kiawah
Reflecting On One Of My Favorite Spots

 “Life is a mirror and will reflect back to the thinker what he thinks into it.” 

Ernest Holmes

On the other side of the world, an image that once again featured rich, beautiful colors as well as a wonderful sunset. Captured during our visit to China, I’ll admit I prefer the original, but I also liked this interpretation. To me it seems rather like a sketch the architect might have made as he or she was designing the original scene. My choice of blue further reinforced my thoughts of a pen and ink drawing.

blue, sketch, pagoda, China
Pagoda Sketch in Inky Blue

“By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; Second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience which is bitterest.”


Back on Kiawah, another image I’ve posted previously comes to mind when considering reflections, especially in monochrome. The scene was very cluttered with leaves and branches and chaotic greens and browns. Removing the colors and choosing the purity of white for me made this a more interesting image.

high key, plants, water, kiawah
High Key Interpretation

“Reflection must be reserved for solitary hours.”

Jane Austen

The quote above mentions “solitary hours” which brought to mind the image below. Like the one above, for me this scene is more compelling in monochrome than in its original color version.

heron, alone

“Being solitary isn’t a disease that needs a cure.”

Natasha Pulley

I’ll close this week with an image I enjoyed in color for the vibrance of the subjects, but I also liked this new version, which feels a bit like a vintage postcard to me.

sailboats, vintage, monochrome
All Aboard

“You don’t command wind in the direction it blows, but you command a ship in the direction it sails.”

Mashona Dhliwayo

A big thanks to Patti for her interesting challenge this week, which had me revisiting a few of my favorites as well as creating some new versions. Be sure to visit her beautiful original here, and to use the Lens-Artists Tag in your response to help us find you. Thanks also to Donna for her wonderful Messages challenge last week, and to all of those who joined us with so many terrific responses. Amy will lead us next week so be sure to visit her Share and Connect site then. In the meanwhile, as always please stay safe, be kind, and enjoy the journey.

Interested in joining the Lens-Artists challenge? Click here for more information.

Lens-Artists Challenge #234 – Messages

birds, spring, egret, anhinga
“Tis The Season

“Life is an ever-evolving cycle that fosters continuous growth through each season of action.”

Jeffrey G. Duarte

This week we welcome our newest team member Donna, who has challenged us to share some Messages. As she notes in her beautiful post, they are truly all around us, some more obvious than others. I’ve opened with two examples of our avian friends here on Kiawah – on the left a pair of anhingas and on the right a beautiful egret. In both cases the birds are exhibiting messages that they are hoping to mate. The anhingas develop a greenish-blue area around their eyes while the egret is showing off both its green eye coloring and its beautiful feathers in an attempt to attract a partner. These changes are seasonal and are a message to residents that springtime has arrived once again.

storm, weather, rainbow, clouds
Before and After

“Thunderstorms are as much our friends as the sunshine.”

Criss Jami

Mother Nature is a master at sending messages. In the images above we see two of them. The first, from a visit to Scotland, the gathering clouds offer a clear message that a storm is coming – bringing with it a deluge of rain and strong winds. On the right, a stunning Kiawah rainbow signifies the end of a storm as a whistle delivers the message to return to play. The flags at half-mast signify the death of a person of note.

sea turtle, birth, eggs
Last One Out

“If you focus on what you left behind, you will never see what lies ahead.”

Gusteau, Ratatouille 

Above, another of Mother Nature’s messages – this time about the cycle of life. A newborn sea turtle has emerged from its nest, as have all of its siblings whose eggs have been left behind. In late spring, the massive mothers lumber onto our beach to dig their nests and lay their eggs, which hatch some two months later. Those that survive, as few as 1 in 1,000, will live some 50+ years and upon reaching adulthood will return to the same beach each year to deliver their own hatchlings and continue the cycle of life..


“If this ring could talk, it would have more stories to tell you than even me.”

Mukta Singh-Zocchi,

There are many inanimate objects that deliver a message, perhaps none as clearly as a ring. Because of the rings in the image above we know the man on the left is proud of his alma mater, and because of the ring above the held hands we know the couple is about to be wed. The wedding ring will signify the couple’s love for and commitment to one another. The round shape of the rings is meant to signify the eternity of their commitment.

Some messages are even more obvious, for example those in the following two images.

alligator, sign
Trust the Sign!

“Do not curse the alligator before crossing the river.”

Dr. Lucas D. Shallua
Tree, giant, redwoods
No Kidding!

“Trees are sanctuaries. Whoever knows how to speak to them, whoever knows how to listen to them, can learn the truth.” 

Herman Hesse

Some messages have become ubiquitous, as shown in the image that follows. On the left, a sign in China and on the right from Jordan. People the world over know exactly what awaits them when they see the bright red sign for McDonalds. Kudos to the company for the consistency of their message – we know exactly what we will get should we choose to eat there. While I’m not especially surprised by their prevalence here in the U.S., I’ll admit I was a bit stunned to see them elsewhere.

McDonald's, China, Jordan

“Here, there and everywhere.”

Paul McCartney

I’ll close with a final image from our visit to Scotland (as you can surely guess). There the kilts carry a message of belonging – of Scottish heritage and of Scottish pride. They are still worn for special occasions, or these days for most any reason at all.

tartan, kilt, clansmen
Members of the Clan

“Ancestors unite the clan, and heaven unites nature.”

I Ching

A warm welcome to Donna along with sincere thanks for her challenge . Please be sure to link your response to her original here, and to use the Lens-Artists Tag. Thanks also to Anne for last week’s One-Lens Walk challenge. It was so interesting to see the lenses each of us is using and why. We very much appreciate your creative responses. Finally, please be sure to join Patti next week for our next challenge “Shadows and Reflections in Monochrome” on her wonderful Pilotfish blog. Until then, as always please stay safe, be kind, and enjoy the ride.

Interested in joining the Lens-Artists challenge? Click here for more information.

Lens-Artists Challenge #233 – A One Lens Walk

sweetgrass, frozen, grasses, Kiawah

Frost, like the crystallized dreams of autumn, began to coat the clearing with its sugar glaze.”

Victoria Logue

This week Anne challenges us to “take a walk”, and to do so with only one lens. Coincidentally, that is exactly what I did about two weeks ago. As I’ve often said, I am NOT a morning person. However, I’d arranged to walk our beach with a good friend and the tide charts favored an early morning outing. I decided to walk to our meeting place and as I did I was treated to one of the most beautiful morning spectacles I’ve seen in a very long time.

“It was like traveling through a stage setting, the air clear and tingling, the light sparkling off bushes laced with frost.”

Robert Specht

As our followers may recognize, I’ve often featured Kiawah’s beautiful sweetgrass, especially as it turns a lovely pink color during the fall. On my walk that morning, there had been a frost the previous night, highly unusual for us here in the south, and the sweetgrass plants were dazzling with diamond-like droplets. My opening image is a scene I’ve featured often, usually with pink grasses or with glorious reflections, but this day was quite something else again!

droplets, sweetgrass, branch
Magic Wand

“I’m pretty lost in becoming all this frost. Strung-out like a string of pearls.”

Ashly Lorenzana

So….what lens DID I use? Actually, it was my IPhone 13 Pro Max, shooting for the most part in portrait mode. I’d had no intention of doing a photo shoot and really wished I’d had my DSLR for some f/2.8 shooting but honestly the IPhone gave me nearly the same capability. It was harder to isolate the branches from the backgrounds but I was happy to have had it because the beauty around me was simply exquisite. Of course that’s one of our favorite things about smartphones – always there when you need them!

droplets, sweetgrass
Diagonals and Droplets

“Despite the heart numbing frost, my soul is blooming like spring.”

Debasish Mridha

A few more images from that beautiful morning, all captured with my trusty IPhone companion:

frost, droplets, sweetgrass
Dazzling Drops

“Winter teetered on the verge of succumbing to the returning sun. “

leaves, red

“In every falling leaf there is some pain, some beauty. And that’s the way new leaves grow.”

Amit Ray
red, berries

“The winter is kind and leaves red berries on the boughs for hungry sparrows…”

John Geddes

Finally, I’ll close with a rather sad ending. Just before arriving to meet my friend, I came across this definitive statement about the end of the holiday season. Carelessly tossed aside into the woods, I knew eventually poor Santa would magically return to Kiawah the following year. But honestly, who does that?!

santa, balloon, holiday
Sad Santa

“It ends when you’re ready for a new beginning.”

Adrienne Posey

With that, I’ll say thank you to Anne for the opportunity to share the capabilities of the iPhone’s portrait mode, and the beauty to be found following a freak freeze in the southern US. We look forward to seeing where you walk and which lens you choose for the exercise. Be sure to link your responses to Anne’s original here, and to use the Lens-Artists tag to help us find you. Thanks also to Sofia for last week’s exploration of the way our world has evolved through the years. We enjoyed the variety of examples you chose to share, proving it is indeed a wonderful world.

Next week’s challenge will be Donna’s first opportunity to lead us as a team member. We look forward to seeing what she comes up with and know it will be wonderful. Be sure to visit and follow her beautiful Wind Kisses blog. Until then, as always please stay safe, be kind and enjoy the journey.

Interested in joining the Lens-Artists challenge? Click here for more information.

Lens-Artists Challenge #232 – The Evolution of Things

Nikon FM, Photography, camera, lens
And So It Begins

“Photography is the only language that can be understood anywhere in the world.”

Bruno Barbe

This week Sofia challenges us with presenting an evolution – defined as “the gradual development of something, especially from a simple to a more complex form“. While one can think of hundreds of things we’ve seen evolve in our lifetimes, few have evolved more than technology. In fact, if not for technology we wouldn’t have blogging, would we?!

Having spent my entire career in technology, I have experienced first-hand the wonders (and the challenges) it offers. Taking advantage of its leaps and bounds, photography equipment and editing software both offer wonderful examples of progress. From my first camera, my beloved Nikon FM shown above, to today’s iPhones, there is no longer any reason anyone interested cannot learn to make memorable images.

antiques, historic, iPhones, apple
IPhone Antiques

“Although the technology made everything easy, good images still depend on the creative eye.”

Lakshman Iyer

Apple’s IPhone offers an excellent example of a remarkable evolution since its introduction 15 years ago. Along with many other improvements, the quality of the images (and videos) it can produce today is simply remarkable. From a 2 MP, stills-only camera and a max 16 GB of storage, today’s iPhones deliver up to 128 GB of storage and a dual-camera system with both optical and digital zoom, image stabilization and HD video recording. The image quality competes easily with many of the cameras available today, and offers an advantage they do not – ubiquity! How many times when out and about have you wanted to make an image but had no camera? I’m guessing you used your omnipresent cellphone without a second thought!

Iphone, 12 Pro Max
IPhone 12 Pro Max

“Everybody now has a camera, often as part of our phone, and most of these cameras require little to no technical training.” 

Michael Kenna

Beyond the capabilities of our cameras and phones, once an image has been made there are an incredible number of software products which allow us to alter them in multiple ways. From simple cropping or straightening to combining layers, adding or deleting elements, softening reality, replacing skies…….I could go on and on.

While traditional photographers see images as art, there is an entire world filled with cellphone users who love memorializing the important moments in their lives. Children and grandchildren will have thousands of images to pour over in their later years, iconic buildings and landscapes will be captured during millions of journeys, and Mother Nature’s finery (and treachery) will be available for all to see whenever and wherever we want. There are also dozens of cellphone apps, often designed simply to make photography fun, and many outlets for sharing such as Facebook and Instagram.

flower, dew, droplets

A good eye can edit before the shutter opens.”

Craig Coverdale

I’ll close my post with an example that illustrates some of today’s thoughts. On the left of the side-by-side images above I’ve positioned an unedited iPhone image captured last month. On the right i’ve removed the cluttered background using the tap-and-lift technique Donna describes here. From there I’ve used some readily-available editing tools as an example of the artistic freedom that offers both opportunity and challenge for today’s photographers.

Blushing Flower, Topaz Textures
Dark and Stormy, Nik Silver Efex Pro
Abstract, Topaz Impressions

“Artistry is important.”

Sarah Kay

Technology has in some ways made our lives easier, and in others, more complex. When it comes to photography, technology gives us the ability to capture what we see, which is of course critically important. But it is the seeing that defines us as artists. A palette filled with all of the colors in the world is nothing without the hand of the artist who visualizes and then creates a masterpiece. Our cameras offer us the technical ability to create art, but our eyes, heart and vision are what brings it to life. Here’s to a New Year filled with creativity, challenge, and at least occasional satisfaction with a job well done.

Sincere thanks to Sofia for this week’s challenge, which I’ll admit required a bit more thought than usual. Be sure to link your responses to her original here, and to use the Lens-Artists Tag to help us find you. Thanks also to John for his Favorite Images of 2022 last week. It was so much fun seeing the images everyone chose and understanding why they chose them. Finally, be sure to join us next week when Anne leads our challenge on her beautiful Slow Shutter Speed blog. Until then, remember to stay safe, be kind, and enjoy the journey.