“Random acts of kindness, however small, can transform the world.”
Like many others here in the U.S., my husband and I are visiting family to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday. Our travels took us to New York City, where I was amazed to see there are still quite a few beautiful autumn leaves on the trees, transforming parts of the city into a colorful wonderland.
“Personal responsibility leads to national transformation.”
On a grand scale, nature can transform our world. In New York City, on a somewhat smaller scale, several cityscapes have been transformed into lovely parks and paths for residents’ enjoyment. In today’s post I’ve included scenes from Fort Washington Park which my husband and I visited earlier this week.
“Don’t ever stop believing in your own transformation.”
On a smaller level still, textures and effects can transform simple iPhone photos into interesting personal perspectives. I’ll close with an artistic view of the George Washington Bridge, as seen from the park. It serves to transform the city into an egress/ingress point for travelers like ourselves.
“If you wish to transform, pretend this day until it is so.”
As we enjoy our long weekend with family, both immediate and extended, love and friendship figures high among the many things for which we are grateful. May you be equally blessed.
“Great things happen to those who don’t stop believing, trying, learning, and being grateful.”
Roy T. Bennett
This week our little island saw hundreds and hundreds of birds of all shapes and sizes soaring over one of our largest lagoons. A sudden (happily short-lived) cold snap caused a severe drop in the water’s temperature which created a decline in the oxygen level of the lagoon. As a result many of the lagoon’s fish either died or slowed significantly, such that they became easy prey for our avian friends.
“Each mistake teaches you something new about yourself.”
There were birds of prey, wading and shore birds as well as storks . I saw two bald eagles as well as three juveniles and several red-tailed hawks. There were many, still-endangered wood storks, dozens and dozens of egrets, hundreds of gulls, several ibis and the ever-present vultures waiting to clean up any mess left behind.
“To try and fail is at least to learn.”
I was determined to catch some of the birds in flight – always a challenge. In addition to using burst mode, I experimented with shooting in shutter speed mode (not my favorite), adjusting apertures and using Nikon’s Continuous AF/C. I ended up with at least as many throw-aways as keepers, but I also had some shots that I liked, and after all, isn’t that what experimenting is all about?
“Those who don’t jump will never fly.”
Leena Ahmad Almashat
Beyond the experimentation to catch the flying birds, I must say it’s the most excited I’ve been about a moment in nature in a long time. The incredible cacophony of the flying, swooping, squawking birds was amazing. Their movements were so graceful they reminded me of an avian ballet. Most interesting to me, they never even came close to colliding with each other – clearly what seemed like chaos to me was actually perfect avian choreography.
“Who dare tries is a success, and shall master the art of conquering dreams.”
The gulls were the noisiest and most aggressive. They seemed to have a well-developed process, defining which birds would swoop at what time and in which direction. They rarely surfaced without having made a catch, using remarkably impressive speed and precision.
“When you have faith in yourself, the possibilities are endless.”
Anthony T. Hicks
Finally, I’ll close with my favorite vulture capture, which I liked because it seemed a bit ominous. Although we may disparage them for being scavengers, in fact they serve a very important purpose. Were there no vultures to clean up our messes (as well as those of the avian community) we would have a much more difficult job keeping our streets, ponds, parks and pavement clean. So next time you see one, be sure to say thanks!
“The difference between try and triumph is a little umph.”
Speaking of saying thanks, remember next week as we gather with family and friends, the real point of Thanksgiving is gratitude. I know in addition to the many other things I am thankful for, I’ll also be thinking of this week’s wonderful gift of nature.
“During the course of your temporary hurdles, keep searching for a tad of optimism.”
Charmaine J. Forde
Not gonna lie, I was having a pretty lousy day. In the midst of an important tournament, my golf game was leaving much to be desired. I’ll admit it was making me pretty darned miserable.
“Never place something temporary over the priority of something of permanence.”
After joining the rest of the field for lunch, I headed back to my car, only to find two important email messages. The first was from my brother, letting me know his prostate cancer surgery had gone well. The second was to leave word on a loved one who’d received a report from her doctors. Her prognosis had improved dramatically following treatment of a severe illness. Nothing in this world could have highlighted more dramatically the unimportance of a bad day of golf.
“Failure is only but a temporary phenomenon.”
My golf now forgotten, I arrived home a few minutes later and happened to glance out my back window. I noticed a rather odd-looking animal in the back yard which, it turns out, wasn’t an animal at all. In fact, it was a gorgeous bald eagle which had stopped to rest beside a pond. I ran for my camera, knowing he wouldn’t sit still for long. I managed to hurriedly catch the first two captures in today’s post before he disappeared into the trees. My immediate thought was – bad golf, healthy family, beautiful eagle in my backyard….yep, definitely a more than fair trade!
“Opportunity often comes disguised in the form of misfortune, or temporary defeat.”
I’ve also included two captures of a beautiful hawk which settled into a tree in front of our next-door neighbor’s home last week. Happily, our neighborhood seems to have become a stopover for some beautiful birds of prey . Lucky us 😀!
When in the midst of a bad moment, no matter how inconsequential, we sometimes lose sight of what’s really important in this life. As I settled in for the evening I took a moment to be thankful for my many blessings, and vowed to try to remember them the next time I find myself over-reacting to life’s little annoyances.
“Change the way you look at things and the things you look at change.”
This week several members of our local photography club were invited to shoot a performance artist/hip hop dancer in an area filled with graffiti (aka wall art). I’ve included some of my favorite captures from the day in response to this week’s “Peek” challenge.
“You should look inside of yourself and see the person who is there”
The triptych above was my attempt to show our artist being dropped from the giant vulture in the huge painting behind him. His remarkable ability to leap tall building in a single bound 😀 was a big help to my efforts. (Do click on this one if you have a moment, it’s a bit too large to show effectively within the confines of the post.)
“You can save a hundred words with just one look.”
Mehmet Murat Ildan
Our artist was Lamar Hunter, a 20-year-old hip hop dancer with some amazing moves. Interestingly Lamar was mentored by a local photographer as a young boy. His interest in performance and dancing was a natural outgrowth of their friendship, which continues today. They are a great example of how important a mentor can be to a young child. In the capture above I used Topaz Impressions to help portray the fluidity of Lamar’s motion.
“Stop looking forward to things, look inward instead.”
It’s funny how things turn out sometimes. In his presentation to our club, the photographer told us that his friendship with Lamar came at an important time in his life. His focus on helping someone else made him a better person and gave him the gift of knowing his life had purpose. Today, he is in his 70s while his student is in his 20s. He is white, his student is black. His look is rather disheveled, while Lamar is quite stylish. Theirs is a totally incongruous friendship and yet it works for both of them. There is definitely a lesson there for all of us.
“Look through the eyes of your highest self. What do you see?”
Over time the team visited many area landmarks which were used to teach Lamar about history and local culture. Somehow their work was brought to the attention of the local news media and has been featured on TV and in the newspaper. It is currently on exhibit in a nearby center for the arts. It’s a positive story generating an excellent response. Without really seeking it, our photographer has become quite well-know around the Charleston area. Good things DO happen to good people sometimes.
“Miracles are always there. Look around and you will find them.”
One of my favorite things about the day was the way Lamar studied each of the pieces of art before beginning his movement. Clearly he felt it was important to interpret each piece differently depending on what the scene portrayed in his mind.
“What we see depends mainly on what we look for.”
One might think my message with the closing capture above is that Lamar is the winner in all this. And indeed his is. But so is the photographer, and so were those of us fortunate enough to experience his creative energy and talent, as well as that of his mentor – who proved that sometimes the best teachers learn as much or more than their students.
May your week be filled with valuable lessons of sharing and caring.
NOTE: For more information about the project, the photographer (Ron Rocz) and the performer, please visit their video here.
“The world is round so that friendship may encircle it.”
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
This week I’m responding to the Weekly Challenge with a bit of grunge, beginning with my opening capture. I created the image by applying some Photoshop color tones to the rusty metal which was part of an old canoe.
Similarly, I applied some grunge textures to the corroded wheel below, which I discovered on one of my many hikes. It was the control valve for a small waterfall that had obviously been locked in place to prevent tampering.
“Even the seasons form a great circle in their changing, and always come back again to where they were.”
While out walking with a good friend one afternoon, I came upon a frightening example of bad plumbing sitting at the base of a building on a busy street. I’m sure most of the passersby (and my friend) found it a bit bizarre as I knelt to photograph it, but I thought it might one day be blog-worthy 😊.( One of my favorite things about blogging is how often it makes me think and shoot “outside the box”.) For the version that follows I used both a texture overlay and some Photoshop color mapping to create the final image.
“Life’s a merry-go-round. Come on up. You might get a brass ring.”
Unlike my first three images, the circle below is a capture of one of my favorite pieces of art. It’s a very heavy, ceramic orb with a square of round rocks in its center and hangs on the wall of my home. It also represents a fond memory of a day spent with good friends at an art show in California. I applied an impressionist filter from Topaz to my original capture for a more artistic feel.
“I never knew what the word round meant until I saw Earth from space.”
Here’s to our beautiful round earth and all of its wonders wherever you find them.
“The glow of one warm thought is to me worth more than money.”
This week rather than create a new post, I’d like to invite you to visit another blogger’s site. I was honored to be asked by Liz of Exploring Colour to do a guest post for her series “Where and What is Beauty”. Please take a moment to visit my “Seeing Beauty” response by clicking here. Included among the photos are several other glowing examples 😊.
Wishing everyone a great week!
“It is a narrow mind which cannot look at a subject from various points of view.”
Earlier this year I published a post about my visit to Old Sheldon Church in nearby Yemassee, South Carolina. The church is beautiful from every angle and every perspective and I had great fun shooting it in as many ways as possible. One can imagine the scale of the graceful live oak based on the size of its single branch in the photo above.
“What you see and hear depends on where you are standing.”
One of my favorite perspectives that early morning included a beautiful sunburst peeking out from behind the remains of the building. Interestingly, we all know the sun is far larger than any building on earth and yet in the photo it appears far smaller. Can’t you just imagine worshippers over the years enjoying a similar view as they knelt in prayer or sang their praises to the heavens?
“As a photographer you realize how ordinary it is to love the beautiful and how beautiful it is to love the ordinary.”
The Marius Vieth quote above speaks to the beauty of everyday things. For a photographer, the dew on a simple leaf is as beautiful as the most glorious sunset or the highest snow-capped mountain. A simple trail of spanish moss is as captivating as the giant live oak it adorns. A crumbling church surrounded by nature is every bit as extraordinary as the grandest cathedral.
“Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it.”
The Old Sheldon Church, rather a ghost of its former self, has borne witness to several wars. Twice burned to the ground (first by the British during the Revolution and then by Sherman’s men during the Civil War), it speaks to the beauty of perseverance, of faith, of architectural grace, and of the artful blending of the hand of man with nature’s gifts.
“When I make a photograph I feel that I hold a piece of the universe in my hands.”
My husband once told a friend that he believes I see things that no one else sees. I consider it one of my favorites compliments ever. To me, beauty is captured in simple things, even when surrounded by grandeur. The artist’s hand holding a brush is to me more appealing than any masterpiece he or she might create. As Paul Chaplo says, the photographer holds the universe in his or her hands – capturing the beauty of simplicity, grace, history, nature, humanity or anything else that catches the attention of one’s ever-vigilant lens.
“Too often in life we pass by important things. Let’s pause, change perspective and see things more clearly.”
Sergio da Silva
Wishing everyone a beautiful week filled with new perspective.
NOTE: In addition to the scale of the various perspectives from which I made these captures, I’ve also used NIK Silver Efex Pro to convert them to sepia. To see the original post which includes the color captures, click here.
“Photography means painting with light.”
This week I participated in a class on the creative possibilities of Topaz Labs’ suite of products. Happily, it’s given me an excellent opportunity to respond to this week’s photo challenge “pedestrian”.
“A painter works with color as the medium, a photographer works with light.”
Carlotta M. Corpron
We’ve all been there – tried to photograph a wonderful scene where the lighting wasn’t perfect, or the wind was making sharpness impossible, or any of a thousand issues got in the way of our capturing the scene as we imagined it. Topaz helps the photographer to take those disappointing, pedestrian captures and turn them into something closer to what we’d seen in our mind’s eye.
“It all depends on what you visualize.”
I must admit I went into the class feeling that I had no further need for editing products, having worked extensively with Photoshop, Lightroom and the Nik tools as well as some terrific textures. I am happy to report that I was wrong, and although I’ve not spent as much time as I’d like with the products there is a definite future for them in my bag of tricks.
“Art is a visual language; I’m just perfecting my alphabet.”
Zachary A. Diaz
The best way to appreciate the power of the Topaz products is to use them – and the company offers a 30-day free option for anyone interested in trying them (just use the link above). For today’s images I used combinations of Topaz’s Simplify, Impressions and Texture Effects products. Once downloaded, I found the products easy to understand, fun to use and extremely flexible.
For reference, I’ve included the original photographs below. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the before-and-afters!
“The window of opportunity opens and closes as fast as a camera’s shutter.”
This week Michelle has invited us to look out our windows and frame what we see. While my view is lovely, there are far more interesting views that I’ve framed in my travels over the years. Here are a few of my favorites, including the captures above and below, which I made years ago at Angkor Wat. For me, the trip was a window into an incredibly sophisticated ancient culture. Imagine building a city as large as Berlin in the year 802, much of it undiscovered until as late as 2012.
“I find it impossible to think of a picture save as a window”
“We artists allow the world to see through our windows.”
Speaking of ancient marvels, the Great Wall of China was yet another perfect window into a long-ago world of wonder. Standing on the wall, one can imagine what the mindset of a sentry must have been while looking out at the beautiful landscape. Perhaps he was enthralled, or after days or weeks on a shift he may instead have hoped for an invasion attempt just to pass the hours 😊
“A window covered with raindrops interests me more than a photograph of a famous person.”
From ancient China we move to modern-day windows in Beijing’s Olympic Village. During our visit we saw two window washers working on the gigantic swimmers dome. I found myself wondering how it felt to be up there on that rickety scaffold considering the immense size of the surface, the tiny little squeegees, and the work still to be done.
“I demand of art….that it throw open the window to the soul.”
Speaking of immense size, the capture above is from our trip to South America – where the LaBoca district of Buenos Aires offered quite a few colorful artists’ plays on windows. While it may have been the color that caught my eye, it was the inclusion of the hair curlers that gave me my biggest smile 😊.
“Art might somehow affect the way people see, and thus open a window on the world.”
Also in Buenos Aires, a glorious glass work of art which provided a windowed ceiling above a small shopping area. Kind of makes you worry about the prices in the stores below, don’t you think?
“One may see the Way of Heaven without looking through the windows.”
I’ve chosen to close with one of my all-time favorite captures. The prism of light created by the stained glass to me forms a perfect union of the efforts of man and nature. Would that our art might always compliment rather than compete with the beauty nature provides.
“Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain.”
My sincere thanks to those of you who expressed concern in light of the forecast arrival of Hurricane Irma. Fortunately for the our little island, Irma struck only a glancing blow, resulting in flooding and down trees, but no serious damage. Our layers of emotion went from anxiety, to fear, to hope and finally to relief as she veered further and further west and away from the South Carolina coast.
“Not all the storms of life can be predicted.”
Beyond our emotional layers, Irma had some interesting impact on the layers of our local nature. One of my favorite pre-storm affects was the clustering of wood storks around a nearby lagoon. The lagoon waters had been drained in preparation for the oncoming rains, leaving a veritable feast of fallen fish on which the birds were happy to indulge. Wood storks are an endangered species so I was happy to see so many of them looking so healthy.
“Joy weathers any storm: Happiness rides the waves.”
What was good for the birds was obviously not so good for the fish. They were everywhere, as were the insects and birds feasting on them. As they say, one man’s pleasure is another man’s pain.
“The greatest storms on our earth break not in nature but in our minds.”
Mehmet Murat Ildan
In addition to the wood storks, herons soared overhead, perhaps looking for a safe place to avoid the 50 mph winds that were to come. I was in photographer heaven following the birds as they passed me by from every direction.
“In the midst of the storm, our anchor is hope.”
Lailah Gifty Akita
I’ve chosen to close with a capture that made me smile as I went through my results for the day. A wood stork seems almost to be playing like a child, spitting water like a feathered fountain. Perhaps he, like the rest of us, is simply celebrating the fact that the storm, at least this time, has passed us by. May you too find joy in the calm that follows the storm.