Lens-Artists Challenge #115 – Inspiration

storm clouds, golden light, scotland


“This storm will pass. Although, it has tested our strength, our foundations, our roots, we will arise stronger, wiser, and smarter.”

Charles F. Glassman

As many of our followers know, the Lens-Artists team selects themes long before they appear as challenges. No doubt I had something specific in mind when I originally chose this week’s Inspiration theme. I found myself struggling however when it came time to create my post. It occurred to me finally that it was because there are so many things that truly inspire me. So, with apologies in advance, I’ve included several of them.

sunflowers, butterfly, yellow


“Sunflowers end up facing the sun, but they go through a lot of dirt to find their way there.”

J.R. Rim

I am truly inspired by nature in all shapes and forms. My opening image of a stormy sky over the fields of Scotland shows her power, while the second, above shows her serene beauty. Whatever your mood, nature offers moments that match it.



“Faith is the bird that feels the light and sings when the dawn is still dark.”

Rabindranath Tagore

As one who tends more toward taking the cautious route, I am inspired by those who have faith. It comes in many forms and flavors – not only in God but also in human nature, in the triumph of good over evil, and in the coming of a brighter day. In these turbulent times, nothing could be more important than a belief that it will all work out in the end – hopefully sooner rather than later.



“Travel is essential the way books and hugs are essential. Food for the soul. Right now, we’re between courses, savoring where we’ve been, anticipating where we’ll go.” 

Eric Weiner

I am always and absolutely inspired by travel – to see the wonders of the past as well as to experience the lives and cultures of the people throughout our world. These days as we are confined closer to home, we are fortunate to have been able to travel in the past. As photographers we are able to relive those experiences through our images – which remind us we are but a small and transitory cog in the wheels of civilization. 



“That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons that history has to teach.”

Aldous Huxley

Part of the wonder of travel is the ability to see, touch and feel ancient history – yet another source of inspiration. The important lessons of past civilizations are much more tangible when seen first-hand. Visiting places like Cambodia’s Angkor Wat, Jordan’s Rose City of Petra, Israel’s Wailing Wall and China’s Great Wall for example, teaches us that even some of the greatest powers of the past eventually succumbed not only to enemies, but also to the passage of time, natural disasters, and disregard for the importance of natural resources. Perhaps it’s time we paid more attention to the lessons of the past.


“Art is an evolutionary act. The shape of art and its role in society is constantly changing.”

Raymond Salvatore Harmon

The term “art” can be applied to so many things – painting, photography, music, literature, theatre, dance – to name just a few. I find it inspiring in all of its many forms. My example above includes both street art and dance/performance art. The dance artist, Lamar, invited us to photograph his performance at a nearby area where street art is plentiful. I loved the way his actions conveyed the idea of his being released from the beak of the vulture painted behind his jump. 

three, children, umbrella, joy


“There’s nothing more contagious than the laughter of young children; it doesn’t even matter what they’re laughing about.”

Criss Jami

I could go on (and indeed I suppose I already have) but I’ll close with the beatific smiles of three young children we encountered in South Africa. Headed home from school their joy was so heart-warming; how could one not smile in return? The joys of childhood should be an inspiration to us all. They see the beauty of a world untarnished by race, creed, pandemics, politics or pain. If only life would let them (and the rest of us) stay that way forever.



We look forward to seeing your thoughts and images on what inspires YOU. Be sure to link them to my original post and to use the Lens-Artists TAG to appear within our WP reader section. Speaking of your thoughts and images – we were thoroughly impressed with your responses to Amy’s Negative Space challenge last week. Many of you mentioned you’d not heard of the technique but clearly you’ve been using it intuitively as proven by your wonderful responses. Have you seen these? 

  • Priscilla of Scillagrace found time to provide some wonderful examples despite dealing with wildfires and a family illness
  • Olga from Stuff and What If gave us both beautiful images and some very lyrical text to go with them
  • Janet of This, That and The Other Thing showed us some terrific examples of negative space in her macro images
  • We welcome James of JazziBeeblog who clearly shows the effectiveness of well-used negative space.

Thank you as always for your support of, and commitment to, our challenge. We hope you’ll join us next week when Patti brings us challenge #116 on her Pilotfish blog.











Lens-Artists Challenge 114 – Negative Space



“Like a tree that grows stronger with more branches and roots, you need to find more and more ways to be inspired.”

Yiannis Kouros

This week Amy challenges us to illustrate the photographic concept of “negative space”. Typically I am much more prone to “fill the frame” but agree that negative space is quite a powerful photographic tool. In addition to making a capture that emphasizes a primary subject, we can also create the effect in post processing. My opening image is an example of that concept. The original image was  a rather boring one. By concentrating on the negative space and using a bit of creativity, I was able to achieve a better result.  I much prefer the final, edited version for its simplicity and abstract quality.



“Be as a bird perched on a frail branch that she feels bending beneath her, still she sings away all the same, knowing she has wings.”

Victor Hugo

So too, the capture above. Once again, the final result was not my original concept. As we evaluate the results of our efforts in photography sometimes we need to look beyond what the camera has captured to see the potential of an image. In this case, the conversion to B&W combined with isolating the subject using negative space, resulted in a much-improved image.

Palouse, farmland, shadows


“No race can prosper until it learns there is as much dignity in tilling a field as in writing a poem.”

Booker T. Washington

Unlike my first two images, negative space was an important part of my intent on the Palouse image above. One of the most captivating aspects of the area is the wide expanse of farmland in every direction. While the small, rather run-down farm was key to the image, I also wanted to show its relationship to the land around it. The dramatic contours of the negative space helped me to create the feeling I wanted to capture in the image.

two, calves, flowers, yellow


“For one moment, quit being sad. Hear blessings dropping their blossoms around you.”

Mawlana Jalal-al-Din Rumi

In the image above the two adorable little calves are surrounded by beautiful flowers. However they are clearly the subject of the capture with the flowers playing a secondary role. As such it represents the concept of negative space not as empty per se, but rather as complimentary to the primary focus of the capture.



“Look at a tree, a plant. How still they are, how deeply rooted in being. Allow nature to teach you stillness.”

Eckhart Tolle

Sometimes negative space is intuitive as we compose our images, other times it appears as we process our results. Shining a light on its power will hopefully help us all to become more creative. Thanks to Amy for challenging us to focus on the concept, helping us to move further forward in our efforts as photographers and artists.

We look forward to seeing your responses to Amy’s challenge. Please remember to link them to her original post here, and to use the Lens-Artists TAG to have them appear in our WP Reader section. As always, we thank you for your support and participation and hope you’ll join us next week as we present Challenge #115 here on Travels and Trifles. Until then, have a wonderful week and please remember to stay safe out there.






Lens-Artists Challenge 113 – Labors of Love


“The hand expresses what the heart already knows.”

Samuel Mockbee

This week our guest host Rusha Sams has given us a most interesting challenge – A Labor of Love. Throughout our travels I’ve photographed many people engaged in a variety of labors but for today’s purposes I’ve chosen to limit myself to those who, in my eyes at least, are truly working at something they love. My opening example is a gentleman documenting his beloved Naxi language – spoken by an extremely small number of people and written by even fewer, in a remote area of Sichuan, China.

hands, tiler, saw, dust


“What the two hands of a laborer can achieve, the capitalist will never get with all his gold and silver.”

Mahatma Gandhi

As proof that I do sometimes use my camera locally for places and things other than birds and nature 😊, I’ve included the image above. It’s a personal favorite, captured in nearby Charleston, SC. The subject was happily working on tiles for a a building under repair and graciously allowed me to photograph him at his job. I loved the strength of his hands and the dust coming from his saw. The image was chosen as photo of the week by the Post and Courier, Charleston’s local newspaper.


“Working in the kitchen is my soul and my life, and I love it. I am there because I want to be. “

Heinz Beck

The chef’s mask in the image above was not in place due to COVID restrictions. I captured it pre-Covid in a restaurant in Xian, China. Xian is famous for their Terra Cotta Warriors, and  interestingly, also for their dumplings.  Said to be the best in the world, having eaten them you’ll get no argument from me. 😊 The capture was made through a window to the kitchen which allows patrons to watch the chefs at work. 

tuk tuk driver, SE Asia


“You are the driver steering your own dreams. Choose to knock down whatever crosses your way.”

Israelmore Ayivor

In Cambodia it was great fun traveling by tuk-tuk. Part of the reason was our first (and consequently only) tuk-tuk driver. He clearly loved his country and loved his work. After our first ride he agreed to be our driver for the remainder of our visit. His amazing smile was a great way to start and/or end the day.

china, female captain


“Watching her navigate life through a lens of love is inspiring. She’s the captain, we’re the crew.”

Richie Norton

Zhouzhuang is often called the Venice of China and having been in both places I found China’s version much more approachable. Yes, Venice is incredible and in a class of its own. But Zhouzhuang, a 2,500 year old city of 6,000 stone bridges, has canals that seem to go on forever, incredible food, and warm, friendly people. None more so than the captain of our little boat as she steered us through the ancient canals. It was a wonderful day filled with many memories, not the least of which was her smiling face.



“You will never feel alone, as every solitary step becomes your companion.”

Munia Khan

In China’s Longsheng rice fields, as the afternoon light was at its most glorious, I was intently focused on capturing the incredible landscapes. As I looked across the fields I saw a solitary worker, scythe in hand, tending to the crops. I found myself thinking about his day, and his life, and I thought it must be quite something to spend a lifetime amidst such beauty. Perhaps the serenity is enough to offset the difficulty of manually maintaining such an environment. In the many huge fields of China we saw very little machinery, and the vast majority of the workers – at least the ones we saw – were female.

monk, bald, colorful, writing


“Be faithful in small things because it is in that that your strength lies.”

Mother Teresa

I’ve chosen to close with another personal favorite, once again from our time in Cambodia. I was fascinated by the many monks we saw there, and truly excited to happen on the subject above. He was so involved in his labors he never noticed my effort to capture his intense concentration. Would that we would all be so committed to our everyday tasks. 

Sincere thanks to Rusha for agreeing to be this week’s guest host, and for her very interesting challenge. On this Labor Day weekend, we offer special thanks to those on whose labors we so depend – our health care workers, our policemen and firemen, those in the armed forces (especially those far from home), our teachers, those who grow, work in and/or deliver our food, our mail and our packages, and the many others who make our lives so much better thanks to their commitment to jobs well done. 

As always, thanks also to our followers for your much-appreciated support. We look forward to seeing your ever-creative responses. Please remember to link them to Rusha’s original post here, and to use the Lens-Artists Tag to help us find you. We hope you’ll join us next week as we return to our regular schedule and Amy brings us Challenge #114.

  • NOTE: I’ve included links to some previous posts on today’s subjects for those who may be interested in more information or additional images of the places mentioned.












Lens-Artists Challenge #112 – Word Choices

stars, night, sky


“May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears.”

Nelson Mandela

This week Ann-Christine has graciously given us several words from which to choose in response to her challenge. I’m opening with two images I captured last week of a sky crowded with stars. (Do you see the heart of stars near the center?! ) Our photography club had a group photo shoot – socially distanced of course – to try to capture the Milky Way. Unfortunately it was a very cloudy evening and sadly we saw NO stars whatsoever, much less any of the Milky Way. We stayed out for 3 or 4 hours but the sky never cleared and we all left quite disappointed. As an aside, we did have a glorious, unusual sunset which I’ve used as this week’s header image.

night, stars, kiawah, cloud


“It’s the choices we make that define who we really are.”

Charles de Lint

At around 10 pm I got home and processed my images, hoping against hope that I’d somehow captured something reasonable. Well what do you know….it turned out there were TONS of stars in every image and even a bit of the Milky Way (sadly the most cloud-covered part of the sky). It was an excellent example of what you see is not necessarily what you get with night shooting.  It was also a great learning experience which I will definitely try again on a clearer night. In the meanwhile, I managed to get several images crowded with stars in the cloudy skies. A lovely surprise that raised my enthusiasm for night shooting, it also provided me with an opportunity for growing my knowledge of photography techniques 😀.


“We are free to choose our paths, but we can’t choose the consequences that come with them.”

Sean Covey

Recently I posted some images from a family shoot I did for a friend here on Kiawah. At one point I asked the children to show me their best jump at the ocean’s edge. Apparently their grandson really enjoyed the challenge and nearly reached the sky with one of the most beautiful smiles I’ve seen in some time. Pretty much a visual definition of Ann-Christine’s word exuberant.



“It’s not about making the right choice. It’s about making a choice and making it right.”

J.R. Rim

This week’s final image shows my sunroom orchid framed by our backyard trees. When I saw the sun coming through the trees I thought it might create a nice bokeh background for the flower. Normally it would have been a passing thought but this time I took a moment to grab the camera and the image above was the result. The orchid has been growing beautifully since it was loaned / gifted to me by a good friend who was leaving for the summer. It is thriving in our sunroom; I’ve never seen so many blooms on a single orchid! I’m working hard to keep the orchid alive for my friend’s return in mid-September. So far so good 😀

Thanks to Ann-Christine for her interesting challenge, and to all of our followers for your continued support. We look forward to seeing your word choices for the week and the ways in which you respond to them. Please remember to link your responses to Ann-Christine’s original post here, and to include the Lens-Artists Tag to help us find you. Finally, we’re excited to announce that next week’s challenge will be hosted by Rusha Sams of Oh The Places We See. Be sure to check out her blog and watch for her post next week. Until then, as always Stay Safe and Be Well.








Lens-Artists Challenge #111 – Everyday Objects



“Open your umbrella of creativity when the glaring heat of adversity hits you unaware.”

Angelica Hopes

Let me open this week’s post with a sincere thank you to all who responded to last week’s creativity challenge. I was surprised and amazed at the amount of creativity shown and shared, and humbled by your wonderful responses. Perhaps the most important lesson learned from your posts is that we are all struggling with the frustrations of COVID and our ability to work through them by sharing within our creative community is a great help.

Now, it’s on to this week’s “everyday objects”. I am not one for still life photography and while greatly impressed with Patti’s images, I know it is a direction I dare not go. Instead, I offer a selection of an often overlooked everyday object, the humble umbrella. I’ve opened with beach umbrellas at the Delaware shore (above) and at a local beach-front pool on Kiawah (below).



“The mind is like an umbrella, it is most useful when open.”

Walter Gropius

Originally invented over 4,000 years ago to provide shade from the sun (and obviously still used that way on our beaches), the first waterproof umbrellas were made of silk by the Chinese in the 11th century B.C. Since then their utilitarian rather than decorative use has resulted in many different forms, including small pocket umbrellas, umbrellas that open automatically, clear plastic bubble umbrellas and umbrellas designed to work in high winds (often appreciated by die-hard golfers!)



“Worrying is stupid. It’s like walking around with an umbrella waiting for it to rain.”

Wiz Khalifa

In my travels I’ve enjoyed some marvelous art developed around umbrellas. The image above was an art installation we came across in Tel Aviv at one of their academies of dance. Many of my followers will have seen it before, as well as the image below, which was a colorful display of umbrellas for sale in Laos.

umbrellas, colorful, LAOS


“Borrowed books and umbrellas are seldom returned.”

Ruskin Bond

The image that follows is a very old one from a James Taylor concert several years ago. We’d elected to go for lawn tickets outside of the covered shed area. Typically it’s more easygoing and fun and the music can still be heard perfectly. Participants bring their own seats as well as picnic dinners – often elaborate affairs complete with wine and candlelight. On this particular night however, the lawn seats may have been a bad choice 😊. For today’s purposes I thought the sea of colorful umbrellas was worthy of inclusion despite the poor quality. It’s a fond and funny memory of a wonderfully entertaining event we attended with family.



“No umbrella’s colour matters under torrential rain.”

Mehmet Murat Ildan

Finally, another piece of umbrella-based art – this one a wall hanging made of iron that honors today’s everyday object, the umbrella. Perhaps not so “everyday” after all!



“If you were to put me under one umbrella, call me a storyteller.”

Farhan Akhtar

Thank you as always for your continued encouragement and much-appreciated support of our challenge. Special thanks to those who took the time to visit and comment on Marsha Ingrao’s interview of the Lens-Artists team.  This week we look forward to seeing your interpretations of Patti’s Everyday Objects. Please be sure to link to her original post here, and to TAG your post with the Lens-Artists TAG to help us all find you. We hope you’ll join us again next week when Ann-Christine leads challenge #112. Until then, take care and be safe.



Lens-Artists Challenge #110 – Creativity in the Time of Covid



“Creativity doesn’t wait for that perfect moment. It fashions its own perfect moments out of ordinary ones.”

Bruce Garrabrandt

Last week Amy patterned her Under the Sun challenge after the novel “Under the Tuscan Sun“. This week we’re playing on the words of Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s highly acclaimed “Love in the Time of Cholera“.  Knowing that generations past have managed to emerge from pandemics, with far less knowledge of science and pharmacology,  offers hope that one day we too will view Covid 19 as a distant memory.  In the meanwhile, many of us have found ways to cope with those restrictions through our efforts to maintain our creativity. This week it’s time to focus on those efforts.

birdlike seashell


“You can’t use up creativity. The more you use the more you have.”

Maya Angelou

Many bloggers, including yours truly, have been fortunate to travel extensively, learning about other cultures and seeing the world’s wonders. We’ve used our focus on photography and blogging to share those travel experiences with others. Now that we have for the most part been confined closer to home, we’ve been challenged to find other ways to channel our creative energies.



“Creativity is intelligence having fun.”

Albert Einstein

We may no longer be able to visit places like the Great Wall of China, or the rose walls of Petra, or the temples of Angkor Wat, but we have learned that there are other wonders in and around our homes that are worthy of creative exploration. As an example, some weeks ago a good friend shared with me her amazing collection of seashells, all gathered from the beach here on Kiawah Island. Having lived here 20+ years and never seen the likes of them, I must admit I became a bit obsessed with photographing them.



“To practice any art, no matter how well or how badly, is a way to make your soul grow. So do it.”

Kurt Vonnegut

Perhaps more interestingly, my friend – who is a wonderful artist – has decided to make them the subject of a series of beautiful oil paintings. You can see her first result on her blog Jane Iwan Studio  which features the shell in the image below. I visited with Jane earlier this week both to satisfy my own creative interest in these beautiful shells and to see how she is coming along with her paintings of them.



“One day you will wake up and there won’t be any more time to do the things you’ve always wanted. Do it now.”

Paulo Coelho

As Jane told me, the shells are primarily whelks, which she learned from consulting the book “Seashells of the World”. Not surprisingly, she is already working on her second painting along with writing her second novel. (Her first, Refugee of the Heart”  is available on Amazon and is a fictional story drawn from her time living in Hong Kong.) Obviously her creativity gene is alive and well and hasn’t been challenged by geographic restrictions. Her second painting, shown in process in her studio, is featured in my opening image. It captures the shell(s) in the image below.

Accreted whelk and shells


“The desire to create is one of the deepest yearnings of the human soul.”

Dieter F. Uchtdorf

As for me, blogging is a way to address two of my favorite creative outlets, photography and writing. Both through my own efforts and those of the bloggers I follow I am able to experience the world – both the wide outside world and my own place within in – from a creative perspective. This year in order to protect those efforts, I focused some of my lockdown time on a blog-to-book project, printing all of my posts since starting Travels and Trifles in 2012. I highly recommend the exercise if you are interested in preserving your own work for the future.



To be creative means to be in love with life.”


Sincere thanks to my friend Jane for sharing her studio, her artistic passion, her beautiful seashells, and her works in progress with me. Her generosity has been a wonderful subject for my own creative energies this week. So how about you? We’d love you to share with us the ways you’ve fueled and satisfied your creative energies these past few months as the pandemic has restricted our ability to move freely. We look forward to seeing the focus and results of your creativity.

Thanks also to Amy for her beautiful post hosting last week’s Under The Sun challenge and to those of you who, as always, responded with wonderfully creative posts. 

Have you seen these?

  • Priscilla of sillagrace explores the impact of recent changes in her own life under the sun
  • Tish Farrell tells a compelling tale about her years in Africa, Beneath a Tropic Sun
  • Jude gives us a peek at the changing landscapes of the UK’s southwest in Cornwall in Colors
  • We welcome Mesca of HIP Photography who brings us a bit of sunny color for the week

Finally, are you interested in learning more about about the team behind the Lens-Artists Challenge?  If so, we invite you to visit TCHistorygal.net where you’ll find our recent interview with Marsha Ingrao of Always Write. It was great working with Marsha and being a part of her Artists’ Interview series. We thank her sincerely for her efforts on our behalf. 

We hope you’ll join us next week for Patti’s challenge #111. Until then, as always take care and stay safe.

Lens-Artists Challenge #109 – Under the Sun

Ocean, dad, daughter, surf, play, iPhone


“The sun does not shine for a few trees and flowers, but for the wide world’s joy.”

Henry Ward Beecher

This week Amy’s “Under the Sun” challenge can be interpreted in many different ways –  after all, isn’t EVERYTHING on earth actually under the sun? For those of us living in a beach community however, it most often means enjoying the sand and surf during the intense heat of our summers.  As I  mentioned in my last post, I was recently asked to photograph a friend’s family visit. My opening image as well as the one that follows were both made during that outing as the family’s children enjoyed the sun and surf.


four, children, ocean, blue


“Sunshine is Nature’s hug and spirit breath to the earth.  “

Terri Guillemets

It’s always fun to see children enjoying their first time trip to the ocean. Since one of the families is from the midwest, this was a first for their youngest daughter. The position of our barrier island creates waves that are typically quite gentle – perfect for a little one’s first experience. In light of the pandemic’s travel restrictions, It was a special treat to see the grandparents, parents and children enjoying our beach together. 

shoes on beach


“The sun shines on everybody. You’ve got to keep believing. “

Dontrelle Willis

I captured the image above in an earlier beach outing. I had to laugh at the abandon I imagined the shoes’ owners felt as they dropped their footwear and had a run down to the water. There is nothing quite like the feeling of bare feet in the sand, followed closely by splashing into the refreshing ocean waves.

beach, Kiawah, beachgoers, surf


“Every morning the rising sun invites and inspires us to begin again.”

Debasish Mridha

Finally, I’ve included an image I captured the evening before Hurricane Isaias was scheduled to arrive. The surf was churning a bit more than usual, and the sun was very nearly set. Beachgoers were enjoying the larger-than-usual waves and the lovely pre-storm breezes. Sincere thanks to those who expressed concern for our safety as the storm moved into our area. Fortunately for us it created only a bit of rain and wind. Our neighbors to the north in Pawley’s Island and Myrtle Beach were impacted much more severely as were many in North Carolina and further up the eastern coast. Our thoughts are with them as they recover from nature’s wrath.

Thanks to Amy for the opportunity to highlight some of our beautiful beach time here on Kiawah. We look forward to seeing what YOU find interesting under the sun in your part of the world. Remember to link to Amy’s post here, and to use the Lens-Artists tag to help us find you. Hoping to see you here on Travels and Trifles next week as I host challenge #110.






Lens-Artists Challenge #108 – SANCTUARY

sea oats, blue sky, grass, kiawah island


“Remember, the entrance door to the sanctuary is inside you.”


This week the Lens-Artists team is excited to welcome Guest Host Xenia Tran of Tranature and Whippet Wisdom. Her challenge, Sanctuary, is most appropriate for these troubled times. As I searched for appropriate quotes on the subject many alternatives were covered – things like home, books, religion and art for example. For me, although I appreciate and relate to all of those suggestions and more, I find my explorations of nature, often combined with photography, to be a favorite sources of solace.

beach path, bicycle


“In every heart there is a room, a sanctuary safe and strong.”

Billy Joel

This week I was asked by a friend to photograph her family as they were visiting from the midwest (lucky her, lucky them!). While I was awaiting their arrival I was struck by the beauty of the afternoon and the peace and quiet that nature affords us as we deal with life’s challenges. All of this week’s images are from that afternoon on Kiawah’s beach, and are a reminder of the incredibly restorative power of nature.

bicycles, beach path, sea oats


“The sanctuary of peace dwells within. Seek it out and all things will be added to you.”

Peace Pilgrim

A place of sanctuary has never been more important than it has become these past months. As we struggle with uncertainty, fear, and isolation it becomes ever more critical to find temporary escape – a retreat for moments of peace and calm. Spending time among nature’s offerings – the warmth of the sun, an ocean breeze, the shade of a forest canopy – nourishes my soul and brings me a sense of contentment. I realize how fortunate I am that all of these things are readily available via a short walk or bike ride. Sharing them with my husband or a good friend makes them even more therapeutic.

boardwalk, path, beach, kiawah island


“There is sanctuary in being alone with nature.”

Jonathan Lockwood Huie

My quotes this week refer primarily to our individual power to find a place of sanctuary within ourselves. However difficult things may be, we can surely find reasons for gratitude and opportunities for growth. It’s not always easy, but here’s to finding our way no matter the challenges we face.

Sincere thanks to the community of creative and talented bloggers who continue to honor us with participation in our challenge. Thanks also to Xenia for her interesting and beautifully presented theme this week. Please be sure to link your response to her original post here, and to use the Lens-Artists Tag to help us all find you.  Next week we’re back to our regular schedule with Amy leading our challenge. Until then, be careful out there and stay safe!



Lens-Artists Challenge #107 – Winter



“To appreciate the beauty of a snowflake it’s necessary to stand out in the cold.”‘


I will admit I am not a fan of winter. The harshest winter we experienced living in the northeastern US convinced us it was time to move south. We hit the road in February of 2000, more than happy to leave the cold behind. Our first winter after moving to Charleston, SC we never once needed a coat and thought we’d found heaven on earth. That was before our first southern summer of course, but that’s a story for another day 😊.

blue sky, snow, frozen grasses, Kiawah


“I wonder if the snow loves the trees and fields, that it kisses them so gently?”

Lewis Carroll

Unfortunately, it turns out our first southern winter was a bit of an anomaly, although we’ve had several equally mild winters since. In a more typical winter we have our share of cold days – although those in places like Minnesota or Vermont would laugh at what we call cold. For us, an actual freeze or snow is extremely rare. Having lived here these 20 years we’ve had serious winter storms exactly twice. The first was Named Storm Leon in January of 2014, the second in January of 2018. In the latter, 5 inches (12 cm )of snow with no snowplows to clear the streets literally shut down the city for 5 days.

ice covered dried leaves


“He who marvels at the beauty of the world in summer will find equal cause for wonder and admiration in winter.”

John Burroughs

Winter storm Leon, although I despise cold, is for me a very fond memory. Our world of ferns, flowers and leaves was suddenly and totally encased in a sheet of ice. Once the storm abated my husband and I donned the winter clothes we’d brought from our home up north and headed out to survey and photograph a world of wonder. We had the entire island to ourselves and the photographic opportunity was astounding.



“Well I know now. I know a little more how much much a simple thing like a snowfall can mean to a person.”

Sylvia Plath

I’ve included three images from that day, the two above and one below. I’d never seen such a thing before nor have I since. Ice is almost non-existent here in the south and when winter hits in the north the leaves and flowers are already long gone.  To see the plants encased in their icy shrouds was so amazing I didn’t even notice the bitter cold. Fortunately we returned to our normal mild winter weather almost immediately and were astounded that the plants weren’t harmed in the least. Quite a lesson in Mother Nature’s magic.

icy grasses, beach sign, kiawah


“The field was covered with ice crystals sticking up like a garden of little diamonds.”

Chris Kurtz

We hope you’ve enjoyed having a bit of advance notice for our challenges this month. A big thank you to Ann-Christine for hosting July’s final season, Winter. We’re excited to announce that we’ll be starting August with a special Guest Host, Xenia, author of two beautiful books of poetry and photography as well as host of her two blogs Tranature and Whippet Wisdom. Be sure to watch for her challenge on August 1. 

Sincere thanks as always to our followers for their creativity and continued support of our challenge. We look forward to seeing your perspectives on winter. Please link them to Ann-Christine’s exquisite post here, and use the Lens-Artists Tag to help all of our participants find you. Until then, as always stay safe and be well.






Lens-Artists Challenge #106 – AUTUMN

autumn vista


“The bright summer had passed away, and gorgeous autumn was flinging its rainbow-tints of beauty on hill and dale”

Cornelia L. Tuthill

For me, as our seasonal challenges turn to autumn, my thoughts turn to two things – color and family. Color, of course, is obvious. The yellows, reds and golds of autumn are everywhere as the seasons change and the trees erupt in an annual show of finery. Here on Kiawah though, our autumn colors (with the exception of our beautiful sweetgrass) are a bit more subdued. In a normal year we seek autumn’s beauty with family visits. 



“When everything looks like a magical oil painting, you know you are in Autumn!”

Mehmet Murat Ildan

Our family in New York City is fortunate to have been able to take refuge from the pandemic in nearby Hudson County. Most years we have visited them in the city, and from there made a family trip to the countryside.  My opening image was captured as the sun was setting over their back porch view of  Hudson County. The second is an iPhone capture I made during a family walk along NYC’s Hudson River. Both images are from last year’s autumn visit.  We are sincerely hoping there will be a 2020 version this coming fall.

autumn, fall, color, Hudson County


“All the sun-faded colors of summer repainted by vivid reds and golds clinging to branches soon to be covered with snow.”

Naomi Ragen

I couldn’t resist one more image of the glories of fall in New York’s Hudson County. The image above comes from a solitary walk my Fuji and I took one afternoon while the family was otherwise occupied. As a native northeasterner, the beauties of fall foliage and their scent wafting through the air is one of the few things I truly miss living in the South. The season which follows it….not so much!

fall foliage, Arizona


“The sunsets of Autumn—are they not gorgeous beyond description?”

Charles Lanman

Crossing the country for another family visit, my husband and I sometimes visit my brother and sister-in-law at their home in Arizona. One evening I walked out into their back yard expecting to find yet another beautiful sunset. I was stunned by the way the light was hitting the large tree in his neighbor’s back yard, and turned my back on the sunset to capture its fiery glow.



“As long as Autumn lasts, I shall not have hands, canvas and colors enough to paint the beautiful things I see.”

Vincent Van Gogh

Of course I could not leave a discussion of autumn without at least one image of Kiawah’s sweetgrass. While it’s true that much of our plant life retains it’s green foliage throughout the year, our normally yellowy-green sweetgrass spends much of autumn showing off in beautiful shades of purplish-pink. Soft and willowy looking, do not be fooled – it’s blades are prickly and pointed, protecting it from any who might wish to take a few fronds back home. Here, the return of the sweetgrass to its plebeian yellow/green tint is a sure sign that winter is waiting in the wings.

As always, sincere thanks to those who responded to last week’s spring challenge. (Yes, we realize spring does not follow summer nor does autumn follow spring, but you must admit we made you think about it for an extra minute, didn’t we? 🙃 ) We very much enjoyed all of your responses – especially yours truly, since I am currently embroiled in another hot, humid southern summer! We hope to see you next week when Ann-Christine brings you Winter, our final seasonal challenge. In the meanwhile, please be sure to link your Autumn response to Patti’s original post here, and to use the Lens-Artists TAG to help us find you.