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Come Join Us! A NEW Weekly Photo Challenge

Do you miss sharing your creative ideas and photos each week in the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge? We do. That’s why we’re inviting you to join us for the new LENS ARTISTS weekly photo challenge. Our goal is to continue our creative community on WordPress.

Each Saturday at noon EST we will publish a photo challenge similar in form to the now-defunct WPC. If you choose to participate, please make sure to tag your post with the name of our group LENS-ARTISTS so that all of the responses can be found together in the WP Reader. Please also include a link to the challenge moderator’s original post (links to the posts within the Reader will not work correctly). One of our 4 moderators will host the challenge each week.

Week 1 – Patti of

Week 2 – Ann-Christine aka Leya of

Week 3 – Amy of

Week 4 – Tina of

Be sure to subscribe to all 4 blogs to receive the weekly challenges. Patti will post the first challenge on Saturday, July 7.

To remind us of what we’re missing, here are two of my personal favorite photos from previous WPC challenges.

First, a capture of Kiawah’s amazing beach at low tide from April 25, 2018’s “LINES”. This image caught the attention of another Kiawah resident who ordered a framed 16×20 canvas for her home 😀.



And from further back in the archives, October 2016’s Challenge “LOCAL”, a capture of a local shrimpboat headed out at sunrise. This one I framed for myself and hung over my living room fireplace.



We hope you’ll join us as we continue to support the wonderful community of creative sharing we all greatly value. We look forward to seeing you next week.

Lens-Artists Challenge #127 – Precious Moments


“Find a group of people who challenge and inspire you; spend a lot of time with them, and it will change your life.” 

Amy Poehler

I couldn’t resist opening this week’s response with an image from an annual event my friend and I have hosted for years. It’s a golf outing where prizes are included for creative costumes. That’s me in front on the far right – yes, in reindeer glasses. It’s been a favorite event for many of us but of course we didn’t run it this year. We have so many precious moments with our friends here on Kiawah I couldn’t begin to cover them all. But what is missing from the image, and in fact, from Kiawah as a whole? Children! We rarely see children other than our visiting families or vacationers.


“Children are the hands by which we take hold of heaven.”

Henry Ward Beecher

I’ve made images of children all over the world – I suppose as we travel my eyes and heart are drawn to them. For me, they represent the most precious of moments. The adorable little lasses above were demonstrating their prowess with the Highland Jig.


“When I approach a child, he inspires in me two sentiments – tenderness for what he is and respect for what he may become.”

Louis Pasteur

In Vietnam my husband and I sailed overnight into HaLong Bay, a gloriously beautiful area of which I have many images. There is a community there that lives entirely on the water, visiting land only to trade goods. The little one above was happily entertaining herself on the edge of her floating home and seemed perfectly attuned to her small, wet world.


“While we try to teach our children all about life, Our children teach us what life is all about.”

Angela Schwindt

I was instantly drawn to the little guy in the image above. Deep in a remote area of China, he was happily sitting in his basket playing with the sunflower seeds. He couldn’t have been better posed if I’d put him there myself!


“If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. Want them to be more intelligent – read them more fairy tales.” 

Albert Einstein

Beyond capturing children while traveling, I also enjoy creating images of my own family. The image above is our precious granddaughter who is much more grown up now. She’s always loved dodos – aka dogs – and her precious cat Mitzy.


“Children are the living messages we send to a time we will not see.”

John F. Kennedy

I come from a large family (4 brothers, all married with children and grandchildren). The images above and below are from our reunion two summers ago. Our annual summer reunion and our family holiday gatherings have both been COVID-cancelled this year.


“Children see magic because they look for it.”

Christopher Moore

Kiawah is a small community where many people know my photography, so I’m often asked to photograph visiting families. The images that follow are two favorites from 2020. Like us, many have not seen their families since COVID disrupted travel. These two families were among the fortunate exceptions.


“History will judge us by the difference we make in the everyday lives of children. “

Nelson Mandela

If there must be trouble let it be in my day, that my children may have peace.”

Thomas Paine

In my opinion, EVERY moment, with every child, is a precious moment. We’re looking forward to seeing the moments you’ve chosen, and extend our thanks to Amy for causing us to focus on some of the many positives in our lives. Be sure to link your responses to her original challenge here. Thanks also for your responses to last week’s Alphabet Letter A challenge. We so appreciate your creativity and commitment to our challenge, and hope you’ll join us next week when Ann-Christine is our host.

Wishing everyone a safe and healthy week ahead, along with special good wishes to those of the Jewish faith for a lovely Chanukah.

Lens-Artists Challenge #122 – The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow



“Sunrise, sunset – swiftly fly the years.”

John Williams

This week we are proud to welcome guest host Ana of Anvica Photos, whose beautiful post asks us to focus our responses on the restorative powers of the sun. Historians among us know that our world has gone through many difficult times in the past, eventually proving the resilience and strength of good people everywhere. War, disease, weather disasters and terrorism have been unable to defeat us, nor shall the current pandemic, or here in the U.S. a divisiveness that has threatened our very democracy. This too shall pass – and the sun will indeed come out tomorrow.



“Do not judge me by my success, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again.”  

Nelson Mandela

This week has been a momentous one here in the U.S. A record 144 million of our citizens came out, despite the pandemic, to exercise their right to vote. Illustrating what has been a deep divide among us, the nearly-final tally was 74 million for now president-elect Joe Biden vs 70 million for our incumbent president Donald Trump. While I work hard to keep politics out of my posts I will say my sincere hope is that the promise to serve all people equally, and to unite us despite our differences, sounds like the sun may yet shine on a new day for us all.



“Rock bottom became the solid foundation in which I rebuilt my life.”

J.K. Rowling

Whatever our political leaning, as we struggle through the tsunami that is COVID 19, there is much to be said for a leader with decades of experience, well-known for his kind heart. There is also a sense of tremendous accomplishment across many factions in the election of a female vice president – a woman of color and the daughter of immigrants – a long-overdue symbol of the dawning of a new day here in the US.



“If you’re going through hell, keep going.”

Winston Churchill

As we move through the final stages of solidifying the election results, I would encourage any who voted the other way to (as we’ve said in years past) give peace a chance. Allow the new administration time to find their way and trust that they have our best interests at heart. Our issues are many and extraordinarily complex. There are no quick fixes, but things have a way of working out in the long run.



“The oak fought the wind and was broken, the willow bent when it must and survived.”

Robert Jordan

In the images above I’ve included some glorious sunrises across various locations in the South Carolina lowcountry, as well as several from our travels. I’ll close with some personal favorites highlighting our very own Kiawah Island, which has some of the most astoundingly beautiful sunrises and sunsets anywhere. 



“Life doesn’t get easier or more forgiving, we get stronger and more resilient.”

Steve Maraboli

sunrise, Kiawah island


“It’s your reaction to adversity, not adversity itself that determines how your life’s story will develop.”

Dieter F. Uchtdorf



“Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying ‘I will try again tomorrow’.” 

Mary Anne Radmacher



“From suffering can come strength – if we have the virtue of resilience.” 

Eric Greitens

In our local Sunday paper this morning, Leonard Pitts had this to say: “The moral of 2020: You only get so many star-filled nights and rainy midsummer days. Only so much baby laughter. Only so much music. So it is always a good idea to take joy urgently.”  Remember, the sun WILL come out, if not today then tomorrow. Let us all take joy whenever and wherever we can.

With apologies to our international followers for a very US-centric post, I’ll offer sincere thanks to Ana for her extraordinary post and her interesting and uplifting challenge. As always we look forward to seeing your ever-creative and thoughtful responses. Be sure to link them to Ana’s post here, and to tag them with our Lens-Artists tag. We hope you’ll join us again next week as Ann-Christine brings us challenge #123. Until then, wising you a week of beautiful sunshine, good health and continued safety.


NOTE TO MY EMAIL FOLLOWERS: The “happiness engineers” at WordPress are working to resolve the issue that caused last week’s post to display incorrectly. If the problem recurs, please click on my post’s title in your email, which will take you directly to my post on the web.



Lens-Artists Challenge #61 – Precious Pets

“Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.”

Anatole France



For the past few weeks our challenge has addressed a number of photography skills – framing a shot, finding different perspectives and combining multiple elements in a single image. This week, let’s relax a bit and share something just for fun – our precious pets.

Bernese Mountain Dog, beach


“Dogs do speak, but only to those who know how to listen.”

Orhan Pamuk

Here in the U.S. (as well as in China and India), the most common pet is a dog. Dogs are loyal companions – sharing our moods, our homes and most importantly, our love.  The capture above features Geneve, a gorgeous Bernese Mountain dog. Despite very hot, humid conditions, she was willing to spend an hour posing on Kiawah’s beach in her naturally thick coat because her beloved human and I asked it of her. What is that phrase “no greater love”?  Interestingly, a recent study by the Mayo Clinic confirmed a long-suspected fact that dog owners are more likely to have better heart health – perhaps that explains why the U.S. celebrated International Dog Day this past week.

black cat


“Once a cat loves you, it loves you till the end.”

Will Advise

On the other hand, in Switzerland, Austria and Turkey the most popular pet is a cat. In my experience (and prevailing opinion), most of us are dog OR cat people but not usually both . To me, cats have always seemed a bit more aloof, except to the (typically) ONE person with whom they choose to bond. They do not come when called, do not do tricks on demand, and only eat when they are darned good and ready – not before. I suppose that simply means they are the smarter of the two species – just sayin’ 😊.



“Our pets are our family.”

Ana Monnar

Dogs and cats may be the most obvious subjects for today’s challenge, but there are a number of other, less predictable choices. Exhibit A – the alpaca above. The beloved pet of a family in upstate New York, he (or she) loves to trot down to the front-yard fence to greet passers-by. One wonders whether the family invites her to sit by the fire on a cold winter’s evening as one might a dog or cat – or if there is a cozy alpaca bed available at a pet supply store near you!

two-tone horse


“We could all learn a thing or two from our four legged friends.”

Howard Upton

Another less-than-obvious choice might be an equine companion. Just ask Anne Leueen at Horse addict about her faithful steed Biasini. Horse and rider often times know each other as well as can be imagined, working together in a dance of stunning coordination. Love and trust between them is a critical component of their performance.



“Pets understand humans better than humans do.”

Ruchi Prabhu

Many people have birds as pets – both large and small. Although you may not think of a hummingbird as a pet in the traditional sense, having spent several days at my brother’s home in Colorado I now have a new appreciation for these small creatures. He and his wife keep their feeder well-supplied and out of reach of other wildlife. The hummingbirds are on a constant journey back and forth between their nests and the feeder, lining up patiently for their turn. Happily I was able to capture the little beauty above snacking on an iris in an area near his home before it headed out on its winter migration – which can include up to 2000 km (1200 miles) without a break.

asian woman with ox on a leash


“Love is love, whether it goes on two legs or four.”

Gwen Cooper

You must admit that a woman holding an ox on a leash is not something you see every day. This scene greeted me one afternoon during a visit to a very remote area of China. Do you suppose if the ox decided to take off, the thin rope the woman is holding would serve its purpose? I’m guessing probably not. I’m also guessing this will be the only “ox as pet” photo we’ll see in this week’s challenge responses.

golden retriever, aging


“Our pets are the kids who never leave home.”

Nick Trout

I’ve closed today’s post with an image of Hallie, a beautiful Retriever with a heart of gold. She sweetly led me through the colorful marshes as her mistress and I searched for (and found) stunning vistas and roseate spoonbills on nearby Seabrook Island. Her white muzzle may indicate advancing age, but in her heart she’s still a puppy. Isn’t that one of the many things we might learn from our pets – to be forever young at heart? That along with giving love unquestioningly and enjoying the simple things – a master class in living life to the fullest. 

Patti, Ann Christine, Amy and I look forward to seeing your take on pets, both expected and surprising, in your responses this week – extra credit for any images that make us smile or better yet, laugh out loud 😀. Be sure to link to this post (IMPORTANT NOTE: Please be sure to link to the original post, Links posted within the Reader are not working correctly) and to use the Lens-Artists tag to help us find you. For instructions on how to join us, click here– and of course be sure to visit Patti’s Pilotfish blog next week for Challenge #62.

Last week you responded to Amy’s FRAMING challenge with some terrific examples.

Have you seen these?

Beth of Wandering Dawgs showed us how landscapes can be framed in multiple ways

Debbie Whittam showed us a creatively humorous framing of a sweet little pet

Abrie of Abrie dink hardop (Abrie thinking out loud) shows us how South Africans are framing their famous Table Mountain




Lens-Artists Challenge #41 – Delicious

“You are what you eat. What would YOU like to be?”

Julie Murphy



Like the painter who created the wall art above, I love a good farmers’ market. It’s among my favorite activities when I travel, and it’s also a great local resource for fresh fruits and vegetables. I’ve chosen to respond to Patti’s Delicious challenge by sharing some of the foods I’ve enjoyed in recent visits to local markets.

Various spices in a Jerusalem farmers market


“I don’t think I’ll ever grow old and say, “What was I thinking eating all those fruits and vegetables?”

Nancy S. Mure

The spices in the image above were on display in a Jerusalem farmers market. No matter what one decides to cook, some wonderful spices will make the dish even more delicious.

Various hummus flavors on display in farmers market


“Anyway, what is ‘beauty’ apart from the combination of the letters of ‘buy’ and ‘eat’?”

Alain Bremond-Torrent

In Tel Aviv I learned that the one or two flavors of hummus we eat here in the states are quite boring compared to those of the Israelis. Just think, Chocoboom hummus – how could THAT be bad?!

POMEGRANATE display in a farmers market


“Hunger gives flavor to the food.”

Amit Kalantri

Even if (like me) one is not a fan of pomegranates, it’s hard not to appreciate their beauty. The display above was a very tempting one but I decided to pass. Something about this fruit makes it one of the few I don’t enjoy. I’m definitely in the “Look don’t eat” category on this one.



“Enjoy food like that’s the only thing left in your world.”

Nikita Dudani

Olives, on the other hand, are one of my favorite foods.  A good olive or two adds wonderful flavor to most any dish (except perhaps dessert 😊). I’m a big fan of Kalamata and couldn’t be happier that the oft-recommended Mediterranean Diet includes them along with olive oil as a staple.



“Some people just don’t have what it takes to appreciate a cookie.”

James Patterson

Sometimes market items are a feast for the eyes rather than the palate. I offer exhibit A – these beautiful sunflowers which our local farmers market provides in abundance during season.



“Never ask a baker what went into a pie. Just eat.”

George R.R. Martin

Let me just say I am normally a very healthy eater, although I will admit to a sweet tooth which makes it impossible to resist my husband’s chocolate chip cookies. While in Israel however, I was persuaded to try Shawarma, pictured above. It’s one of the most popular Middle Eastern street foods, normally cooked on a vertical spit and shaved while rotating. I believe the version we tried was a combination of lamb and beef although I’m not really sure. I can only tell you it was amazingly delicious – and that’s from one who very rarely eats meat. I’m happy we don’t often see it here in the U.S. as it would be very hard to resist on a regular basis!

Thanks to Patti for her delicious challenge. Now excuse me while I go fetch a snack – this post has made me hungry! Thanks to those of you who responded to last week’s Something Different challenge. We look forward to seeing your ideas about what you find delicious.  Be sure to tag your responses with the Lens-Artists tag to help us all find them.  If you’d like more information about our challenge and how to join us, click here.









Lens-Artists Challenge #144 – Taking Flight


“Birds are magical. Their flight alone can arouse a clever thought.”

Michael Bassey

Flying…how often have you thought about how amazing it would be to simply stretch your arms and soar? When you think about it, the number of flying “objects” is quite large. Yes, of course the birds. But beyond them, butterflies, bees and other insects, airplanes, balloons, bubbles, kites….well, you get the idea. So this week, although I’m focused on some of the beautiful birds of Kiawah, please feel free to be creative and choose whichever flying objects catch your imagination and your lens.

Roseate spoonbills, pink, birds

“The biggest favor you can do to yourself is fly freely like birds.”

Kuldeep Gera

Kiawah is home to an incredible abundance of birdlife. I captured the barred owl in my opening image two weeks ago very close to my home. As the old poem says, “A wise old owl sat on an oak”, and indeed he did. Roseate spoonbills such as those just above spend weeks here in the spring but leave to have their chicks in Florida. They return and can be seen here well into autumn. Their distinctive pink coloring and spoon-shaped bills are obvious elements of their name.


“What joy can compare with that of a bird that has just learned she can fly?”

Marty Rubin

A few weeks ago I posted an image of the eaglets above with one of their parents on the nest. On a return visit, big brother was apparently either teaching the next-born how to fly – or he was letting the little guy know who was really boss. We were fortunate to have four active eagle nests on the island this year and all of them had eaglets that successfully fledged. Does that mean next year we’ll have eight?!


“You are the only one that knows how high or how far you can fly.”

Theodore Volgoff

I’ve often posted images of the beautiful blue herons that are frequently seen around our lagoons and ponds.This is the first time however that I’ve shared an image of a juvenile such as the one above. It’s hard to believe his rather unimpressive brown feathers will soon become a beautiful blue-grey, and his little wings will expand to over 6 feet across.

Hooded merganser, pair, ducks

“A bird seldom depends on the strength of the breeze for its flight. It relies solely on its own wings to soar higher.”

Anurag Anand

The image above is one of my archived favorites. We’d had a “fish kill” here on Kiawah, which sometimes happens when the water in our more shallow lagoons gets too warm. I was shooting with a friend who’d shared her 600mm lens that fit my camera as well. Fortunately I was using a tripod that day as I could not have handheld something that heavy.


If you never dream of flying, then you’ll never wake up with wings.”

Natalie Kendall

Finally, I’ll admit the little hummingbird above is not a Kiawah Resident. I spent hours at my brother’s home in Colorado trying to capture these incredible creatures as they lined up for their turn at the feeder. Their speed and agility was amazing, although I was surprised by their aggressiveness toward each other. I could have watched them for days – and in fact, I did!

Thank you as always for your responses to last week’s Colorful April challenge – you shared some amazing examples of spring’s (as well as a few of autumn’s) incredible beauty. We very much appreciate your creativity and continued support of our challenge. We look forward to seeing your interpretation of this week’s Taking Flight challenge – please remember to link to my original post and to include the Lens-Artists Tag. Last but definitely not least, we hope you’ll join us next week when we welcome our Guest Host, Priscilla of Scillagrace . Be sure to check out her ever-thoughtful and interesting blog.

Lens-Artists Challenge #141 – Geometry

sunflowers, yellow

“Sometimes it’s all about the details, they make the whole more meaningful.”

Iva Kenos

This week Patti has challenged us to explore geometry. I will admit it was never my favorite subject, but the great minds of history – such as Euclid and Archimedes and Fibonacci – have shown the incredibly specific order of our universe which in turn gives us the ability to build and create everything in our world. Fibonacci is known for proving that even nature itself follows geometric principals to create things like flowers, trees, seashells, the patterns on giraffes and tigers, even our own DNA.

Chihuly, glass, yellow, orange, art

“Mighty is geometry; joined with art, resistless.”


Geometry comes from the Greek words “Geo” and “Metron” which mean Earth and Measurement. Geometry, aka “Earth’s Measurement”, is a branch of mathematics that studies the sizes, shape, position, angle and dimension of things. Even the pyramids, built in 2800 B.C. are noted to have followed the most intricate of geometric principles, the “golden ratio”.


“Architecture is geometry made visible in the same sense that music is number made audible.”

Claude F Bragdon

From the ancient pyramids to the beautiful skyline of Shanghai’s Pudong district, architects have used geometry to study and divide space as well as to draft detailed building plans. Builders and engineers rely on geometry to create safe structures. Designers apply geometry along with color and scale to create appealing spaces. Geometry is also inherent in art as demonstrated in the beautiful Chihuly glass in my earlier capture above.

spider, web

“Life is a web that you weave.”

Irfa Rahat

Spiders’ webs are intricate examples of natural geometry. Every side of the web is equal to every other side, and their strength and geometric precision is unique. Interestingly, scientists are studying spider silk because it is highly flexible, extremely stretchable, surpasses steel in strength, and can be formed into a mesh that would stop a bullet.

bubbles, blue

“Scratch the surface of knowledge and mystery bubbles up like a spring.”

Chet Raymo

Have you ever thought about the shape of bubbles, which are always round? Mathmeticians explain it using the “isoperimetric” theorem. It comes down to geometry – soap bubbles form spheres to minimize surface area. Who knew?!


“Our actions in the present build the staircase to the future. “

Craig D. Lounsbrough

While Patti’s challenge for the week definitely required more than my usual thought, it also made me realize the number of images I could use to illustrate it. To me, that was further proof that geometry is everywhere if we give it some consideration. Perhaps I should have paid a bit more attention to it in those classes long ago 😊.

My personal thanks to Patti for her creative challenge this week. We look forward to seeing your take on the subject. Please remember to link your response to her original post, and to use the Lens-Artists TAG to help us and our other followers to find you in our WP Reader section. As always, we appreciate your creative and interesting responses to last week’s Change of Scenery challenge. Special thanks also to Beth of Wandering Dawgs for having joined us as guest host. Finally, we invite you to give some thought to next week for Ann-Christine’s “You Pick It” challenge, which suggests you choose your own subject. Until then, please remember to stay safe and be kind.

Lens-Artists Challenge #138 – Natural Light

storm, kiawah island, fisherman, dock

“A painter works with color as the medium, a photographer works with light.”

Carlotta M. Corpron

Amy’s Natural Light challenge is sure to deliver a treasure trove of sunrises and sunsets, all beautiful in their presentation of nature’s gifts. I’ve chosen to illustrate the light a bit differently this week. I’ve opened with a stormy sky captured on my iPhone one Kiawah afternoon. The storm was about to erupt and a fisherman was scurrying off the dock to reach safety. The deep color of the clouds was broken in places by the last remaining rays of sunlight peeking through. Nature at its best.

Bryce Canyon, hoodoos, clouds, light

“It takes darkness to be aware of the light.”

Treasure Tatum

The dramatic light shining in the image above captures the hoodoos of Bryce Canyon in Utah. It followed a violent storm, the remains of which can be seen in the clouds above the canyon. My husband and I dashed to and remained in our car while the storm raged. Returning to the canyon when it abated we found ourselves alone with this amazing scene, as any other visitors had long departed.

double rainbow, light, storm, clouds

“Life throws challenges and every challenge comes with rainbows and light to conquer it.”

Amit Ray

Not unlike our experience in Bryce Canyon, the red beaches of Prince Edward Island in Canada were made that much more beautiful by the light which followed a storm. There, a double rainbow appeared to further embellish the landscape.


“Let the starlight shine upon you, let it lead you to your peace.”

Victoria Moschou

Not all light is found between sunrise and sunset. Some of the most beautiful light can be found in the twinkling of the stars after the sun has set. My capture above was made at just such a time, when the stars were bright in the night sky over the ocean. Even on a slightly cloudy night, such as the one in my image, the stars can still shine brilliantly.

flower, bokeh

“O Sunlight! The most precious gold to be found on earth.”

Roman Payne

For photographers, the world is filled with amazing subjects just waiting to be captured. While the glories of sunrise and sunset present us with wonderful opportunities, there are many other ways to see and show the light. Both the previous and the following images are examples of simple subjects that, when captured in the right light, become quite special. Above, a beautiful bokeh was created by light on the water beyond the flower, while below, the sinking sun created a lovely backlight on the coneflowers. Yes, they’d seen better days but were still exquisite. How fortunate are we to be able to see, save and share those little moments of delight?!


“A photograph is your vision, held together by light.”

Steve Coleman

Sincere thanks for your wonderful responses to Ann-Christine’s SOFT challenge, which showed us how very many kinds of softness there are! Thanks also to Amy, for pushing us this week toward the light. We look forward to seeing your adventures with light, wherever they may be. Please remember to link to her original post here, and to use the Lens-Artists Tag. I’ll be back to lead next week’s challenge right here on Travels and Trifles. We hope you’ll join me then and in the meanwhile will continue to stay safe and be kind.

Lens-Artists Challenge #137 – SOFT


“I admire the fog, how it fades into itself.”

Marty Rubin

This week Ann-Christine has asked us to think about things that are soft, and immediately I thought of fog. To me, it softens everything it surrounds, creating a quiet, gentle atmosphere of silence. Often it brings with it a soft, gentle mist that seems to cleanse the world of its blemishes before returning it to the light.


Do not be angry with the rain; it simply does not know how to fall upwards.”

Vladimir Nabokov

Like fog, a gentle rain too can bring a sense of quiet to the world, cleansing whatever it touches as it softly falls from the clouds. Often it can bring a sense of melancholy along with it, although its ability to refresh and nourish the earth makes it a worthy recipient of our gratitude.


“I understood that clouds were not my enemy; that they were beautiful, and that I needed them.”

Limani David

Clouds too can be seen as soft, especially when, as they sink deep into the crevices of a mountain landscape. Were we to be walking among them, the clouds would feel more like fog or light rain. Seen from above their soft beauty cannot be denied.


“Sometimes the clouds in the sky are mistaken. They didn’t come to block the sunlight. They came to embrace it.”

Kaylee Stepkoski

Climbing the mountains of Glacier National Park in Montana, the road was as foggy, wet and cloudy as in my first three captures, As we broke through the clouds having reached a higher elevation, we were greeted with the magnificent vista in my image above. To me it feels a bit like our current situation. For a year now we have been surrounded by the clouds and fog of a pandemic. We are hopefully on the cusp of reaching beyond the haze if we can just hang on a little bit longer. Surely there is light ahead for us all.


“Get close to grass and you’ll see a star.”

Dejan Stojanovic

Here in South Carolina the soft pinks of our native sweetgrass are a harbinger of autumn’s arrival. Despite their fragile appearance, they move gently with the wind rather than fight its power. So too we have learned the difficult lessons of the pandemic. We’ve worn masks, avoided crowds, and sadly abandoned any travel plans. As our turns have arrived (or soon will), we suffer the insult of being injected with the dreaded disease to avoid succumbing to its wrath. We have learned difficult lessons about what is most important to us, and look forward anxiously to reconnecting with friends and family.


“It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change.”

Leon C. Megginson

Like the soft-pelted prairie dogs of the U.S. West, we are cautiously peeking our heads out from our protective burrows, sensing the degree of danger and gauging the safety of re-emerging. Our hearts are heavy for those who have lost loved ones along the way, but our spirits lift at the thought of a return to at least some degree of “normal”. How close we will get remains to be seen, but at least we have begun to see the lifting of the darkness before the dawn.

Sincere thanks as always to those who responded to Patti’s Letter S challenge last week. We thoroughly enjoyed the wide variety of clever S-themed images and captions. We hope you’ll join us this week for Ann-Christine’s SOFT challenge. Please remember to link to her original post and to use the Lens-Artists TAG. Next week Amy will once again lead our challenge with the subject Natural Light. Until then, please stay safe and be kind.

SPECIAL NOTE: This week I am grateful to Frank of Beach Walk Reflections for featuring my images in his post about the wonders of travel. I’d very much appreciate your visiting and commenting on his site, which is always rich with interesting thoughts about his subjects. He welcomes any who are interested in collaborating to contact him via his site.

Lens-Artists Challenge #136 – S for Strand Feeding and Scavengers

dolphins, pelican, strand feeding, Kiawah

An animal perfectly in harmony with its environment is a perfect mechanism.

H.G. Wells

In response to last week’s post, I.J. Khanewala asked a question about an image in my collage of creatures that set me thinking about its subject. It’s one I’d addressed in a post several years ago – Strand feeding dolphins. Since Patti has conveniently asked us to respond to her challenge with the letter S, I’ve taken the opportunity to highlight this unique behavior and its benefit to the scavenging birds.


“For a scavenger, patience is the key to the pantry.”

Delia Owens

Here in coastal South Carolina, bottlenose dolphins form teams in order to herd bait fish up onto the beach for easy access. It’s an amazing thing to watch, and once you’ve learned their patterns it can be fairly easy to anticipate. Either from the shore or even more closely from a kayak, one sees the dolphins gathering into teams of up to a dozen. The group, upon some unheard signal, then swims together in an amazing burst of speed to push schools of fish up onto the shore. They then thrust their 500+ pound bodies onto the shore as well, whereupon a frenzy of activity ensues and the smaller fish become easy pickings.


“It’s a cruel and random world, but the chaos is all so beautiful.”

Hiromu Arakawa

Those of us who have observed the dolphins’ behavior know the best way to anticipate it is to watch the birds, who have an uncanny knack for knowing just where and when the dolphins will strike. This creates an easy meal for the scavenging birds and a wonderful viewing opportunity for us.

dolphins, pelican, strand feeding, ocean

Opportunity does not waste time with those who are unprepared.”

Idowu Koyenikan

Several years ago, the dolphins’ strand feeding behavior was studied and filmed by National Geographic here on Kiawah. It became part of their “Secret Life Of Predators” series because of the unique hunting strategy. Scientists believe it is proof of the animals’ ability to think and plan, and perhaps more importantly, to pass their skills on to their offspring. No dolphins anywhere other than along the southern coast of South Carolina and the northern coast of Georgia have ever been seen to employ the behavior, which several generations of local dolphins have used for over 50 years.

dolphin, fish, ocean, bicycle

“Fish learn from the water and birds learn from the sky.”

Mark Nepo

I’ve learned the hard way that taking one’s camera on a kayak is not a great idea, so these photos are from my archives. They were taken from a boat shooting directly into harsh sunlight, but despite conditions, hopefully you get the idea. It’s quite something to see these powerful, graceful, majestic animals in action, as I have been fortunate to have done many times. Part of the excitement comes from never knowing if it will happen and whether you’ll be in the right place if it does. The good news is although it may be rare, there have been very few times that I’ve been on or in view of our waters that I’ve not seen dolphins at least swimming by, and for a nature lover, that’s something quite special too.

Sincere thanks once again to Sheetal for her wonderful challenge last week, and for those of you who joined us with your as-always creative responses. We look forward to seeing your thoughts on Patti’s S challenge this week. Please remember to use the Lens-Artists tag and to link to her original post here. Finally, we hope you’ll join us next week when Ann-Christine presents us with our next challenge. In the meanwhile, as always please stay safe and be kind.