Lens-Artists Challenge #123 – Found in the Neighborhood

King Tide, Kiawah Island
King Tide, Kiawah Island

“You cannot stop the tides from changing.”

Brandon Sanderson

This week Ann-Christine has asked us to share some images of our neighborhoods. As so many of us are confined either by mandate or by choice to our neighborhoods, they have become ever more important to us. The Kiawah image above was taken during our most recent “King Tide”. While it may look like a lovely view of the ocean or marsh, in fact it is a fairway on one of our local golf courses. Needless to say, there was a bit of maintenance required by the course management team before golfers could effectively play the hole.

Oystercatcher At Work

“The first man gets the oyster, the second man gets the shell.”

Andrew Carnegie

Here in our Kiawah “neighborhood” the marsh is an amazing source of life. We are careful to avoid the occasional alligator as dolphins swim leisurely by, sportsmen fish for the plentiful mullet and redfish, and crabbers use traps to capture delicious hardshells. We also have access to a well-known local delicacy, oysters. In the image above an oystercatcher is hard at work harvesting oysters which will later be sold in local markets or served at nearby restaurants. I have never been able to get past their look and feel to try eating one, but most everyone here would tell you they are a wonderful treat.

spring, worker, marsh, green, blue sky
Springtime on the Marsh

“If you think my winter is too cold, you don’t deserve my spring.”

Erin Hanson

As winter descends upon us, it is important to remember that each season has its purpose. This winter more than ever, it will be incumbent on all of us to be mindful of the lurking virus and its ability to spread during indoor gatherings. It is also critically important to remember that while winter’s chill may not be our favorite time of year, the spring will surely follow as it always does. This year, it will hopefully bring a vaccine as well and perhaps a return to something closer to the old (vs new) normal.

Next Generation

“The present generation is the future generation, beware of what you teach them”

J. Nedumaan

I would be remiss when writing about my neighborhood to neglect the amazing birdlife on Kiawah. Our island is a refuge for so many species it is impossible to list them all. I will simply say there is never a day that goes by without my appreciating the wonders of the winged inhabitants who share our little island.

Kiawah Sunset

If the ocean can calm itself, so can you.”

Nayyirah Waheed

Of course, as you may have guessed, I’ve chosen to close with an image of our beautiful Kiawah beach. We never forget how fortunate we are to live in a neighborhood so blessed by nature’s glory. Its restorative power even in the worst of times is an amazing gift.

I look forward to visiting your neighborhoods as you respond to Ann-Christine’s challenge. Please remember to link to her original post here and to use the Lens-Artists tag to help us find you. In the meanwhile, as always we thank you for your support and wish you a safe and wonderful week. We hope you’ll join us next week as Amy brings us Challenge #124.

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 #121 – Focus on the Subject

white,birch, pan


“The camera is a remarkable instrument. Saturate yourself with your subject, and the camera will all but take you by the hand and point the way.”

Margaret Bourke-White

You might wonder why, when Patti has challenged us to “Focus on the Subject” I would open with an image created by panning. It’s simple really, and in tune with Ms. Bourke-White’s quote. I distinctly remember the moment when I captured this scene. The snow had just fallen and its pure white, combined with the matching white of the trees, was mesmerizing. I felt a pan would draw the viewer’s eye not only to the birches, but also to my feelings about the abstract quality of the  scene’s purity. What do you think?

desert, landscape, sand, rock


“Deciding on a composition when framing a scene is an exercise in subtraction. Unlike the painter who starts with a blank canvas and builds up his image by the addition of paint, as photographers we work in the other direction.”

Pete Bridgewood

Unlike my opening landscape, a more concrete version appealed to me in the Judean desert scene above. In this one I wanted to illustrate how harsh and vast the desert can be. The eye is drawn to the distant rocks by the formations which frame them in the middle ground as well as by the triangular rock which acts almost as an arrow.

In both my opening image and the one above, my choice of aperture was key to translating my impressions. In Fujifilm’s “Dose of Inspiration” this month several professional photographers commented on the importance of aperture in creating images. Their comments were in sync with Patti’s challenge as well as the DPS link she included. For these images, f/22 allowed enough light to achieve my opening pan, while f/8 brought the entire desert scene into focus.

red leaves, blue sky


“Successful Photographers must possess both Vision and Focus neither of which have anything to do with the eyes.”

Kevin Russo

As mentioned in Patti’s post, color can be another way to create focus on a subject. The intense red of the foliage against the blue of the sky in the image above leaves no doubt about autumn’s arrival. One cannot look at the image without focusing on the subject in this case!

door, antique, laundry, peeking


When you begin viewing the world through a camera lens, your senses sharpen as your mind and eyes are forced to focus on people and things never before noticed or thought about.”

Kent Reno

Another suggestion for drawing the eye to your intended subject is capturing it through a frame –  a window, a door or a hallway for example. In the image above the open door leads the viewer directly to the subject. One wonders if she is reading, studying, responding to emails, surfing the web or playing a computer game as the laundry dries above.

With the image below my goal was to present the scene as if looking through the eyes of the two tourists. Petra’s Treasury is a stunning surprise reached at the end of a beautiful canyon of rose-colored rocks. One’s first glimpse of its size and beauty, carved into the rocks so long ago, is a magical moment indeed. It seemed to me that the ancient Nabataeans’ placement of the structure was no accident – clearly they too understood the importance of framing the subject.

The Treasury, Petra, red rock


You can’t depend on your eyes if your imagination is out of focus.”

Mark Twain

As we look through our lenses at the beauty of the world, it is equally important to focus on our humanity. My final image this week is among my favorites ever. Its subject is Ezekiel, our warm, genuine, funny and caring safari guide in Botswana. I worked to capture just a bit of his amazing spirit in my capture. Upon our return, I created a children’s book entitled “Ezekiel and the Elephants”, which I’ve since gifted to my nieces and nephews as they began learning to read. Through it, Ezekiel has become part of our family, teaching the next generation the importance of protecting our world and its many creatures.

Africa, tour guide, smile


“You have to focus on what you are doing, not just as a photographer, but as a human being”

Anders Petersen

Speaking of our safari, many thanks as always to those of you who responded to my “What A Treat” post last week. The answer on the young lion’s expression is…….YAWNING! Despite seeing dozens of lions during our safari, we never saw any growl or roar. Also, many of you shared your preference for knowing our themes in advance versus enjoying a surprise. Beginning in November we’ll test advance sharing of our themes. In the final challenge of the month, we will post the theme for the first week of the new month.

Finally, we are excited to announce that next week’s challenge will be guest-hosted by the very talented Ana of Anvica’s Gallery. We look forward to that, as well as to your responses to this week’s challenge. Please be sure to link to Patti’s original post here, and to include the Lens-Artists tag to help us find you.  Until then wishing you a safe and beautiful week ahead.



Lens-Artists Challenge #120 – What A Treat!



“Travel , photography and wilderness are my addictions….And I’m happy with that…”

Kedar Khepe

There are many terrible aspects of the COVID 19 pandemic, too numerous to count really. On the other hand, there are a few positives as well. This week I experienced the latter – which in the spirit of Halloween week here in the U.S., I am calling “quite a treat”. Thanks to COVID, our local photography club has been able to enlist some well-known photographers who would otherwise be leading group photography tours around the world. At home instead, they have welcomed the opportunity to teach groups via Zoom. This week we were honored to host renowned wildlife photographer Kathleen Reeder, who joined us from her home in Arizona.

elephant, Africa


“When you look a wild animal in the eye, it’s like catching a glimpse into the soul of nature itself”

Paul Oxton

Kathleen is a marvelous teacher. Organized and to-the-point, she also illustrated her instructions with superb images. Her guidelines for photographing wild animals caused all of us to wish we could revisit the places where we’d captured God’s creatures in their natural habitat. Personally, I thought immediately of our African safari – yet another incredible treat. I would love to return for a “do-over” (now that would REALLY be a treat!) but that is not currently in the cards. Instead I decided to revisit my images to see how often I’d followed her instructions – either intentionally or by luck. I’m illustrating some of her many suggestions with today’s images. 

sable, motion, pan, running


“Animals are a window to your soul and a doorway to your spiritual destiny.”

Kim Shotola

I’ve included several of Ms. Reeder’s points in my three opening images. The first capture, of a beautiful leopard, shows tack-sharp eyes, ears up and pointed in the same direction as the eyes, the animal off-center in the image and a clear delineation between the animal’s head and the image’s background. Check 😊.  The second image shows the elephant exhibiting a “behavior” which makes him more interesting. The image of the sable, above, uses panning to illustrate motion and speed. It breaks the rule of including the animal’s legs but as was mentioned during the presentation, this is one of the more difficult techniques to master so I’m giving myself a passing grade on it. 



“Each species is a masterpiece, a creation assembled with extreme care and genius.”

E.O. Wilson

Another of Ms. Reeder’s suggestions is to use burst mode when interacting with wildlife in motion. Often when using this technique your chances are better for getting one or two good shots – especially when multiple animals are involved. My burst-mode series of two wildebeests in battle resulted in several images that are among my favorites, including the one I’ve chosen above.



“We don’t own the planet earth, we belong to it. And we must share it with our wildlife.”

Steve Irwin

The image above represents several of Ms. Reeder’s suggestions. First, when shooting animals in a tree, a vertical composition is most effective. Second, when possible try to include the animal’s tail – check! And finally, look for tender moments, such as the interaction between the cub and its mother. I would have preferred better lighting for this one but hey – you can’t have everything!

ostrich, africa


“The love for all living creatures is the most noble attribute of man.”

Charles Darwin

An interesting suggestion was to capture wildlife in motion by including a raised leg. It’s hard to believe that such an ungainly looking creature could be so fast but in fact ostriches are among the fastest land animals – easily reaching speeds up to 50 miles per hour with a stride up to 25′ long.



“Any glimpse into the life of an animal quickens our own and makes it so much larger and better in every way.”

John Muir

My image of the juvenile lion above is a reminder of a suggestion that Ms. Reeder illustrated very effectively for capturing an animal’s “mood or behavior”. There is very little difference between an animal that is growling and one that is simply yawning. We were shown several images and asked which of the two behaviors the animal was exhibiting. We got several wrong 😊. So what do you think – growling or yawning on the image above?  

Speaking of lions, I’ve illustrated one final suggestion from Ms. Reeder below. Include space above and below to show the animal’s entire mane. Full disclosure, I had several images that did not do so, but happily this image did – and what a mane it is!

Lion, mane


“Our task must be to free ourselves… by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty.”

Albert Einstein

There were many more helpful hints, including how to photograph through fences, cages and glass enclosures in zoos and wildlife parks.  I found the session very helpful and hope to be able to get additional practice when COVID restrictions are lifted. 

This week we are including what we hope is a treat for all of you! At the suggestion of one of our followers we are announcing NEXT week’s theme. Our host, Patti will share “FOCUS ON THE SUBJECT” on her blog Pilotfish. Please let us know your thoughts – is it helpful to know the theme in advance or do you prefer to be surprised? Your responses will help us to formulate our future plans.

Finally, sincere thanks to those of you who participated in Ann-Christine’s Hideaway challenge last week. As always we enjoyed your creativity and the peek you gave us into what you consider a hideaway in your own lives.


  • I.J. of Don’t Hold Your Breath gave us an insightful post about how people have reacted to lockdown during COVID
  • Ana of Anvica’s Gallery cleverly used clay figures to illustrate her personal concept of a hideaway
  • Khurt of Island in the Net shared a beautiful natural retreat in a densely populated area of my former home state, New Jersey

We look forward to seeing what you have in store for us this week. We’d love for you to share something that was a treat for you – a visit from your grandchildren, a special event, a recipe you really loved, maybe even a Halloween surprise ….it’s up to you. Whatever you choose, please remember to link to this post, and to use the Lens-Artists TAG. Until then have a lovely week and as always, please remember to stay safe.









Lens-Artists Challenge #119 – My Hideaway

river, yellow, flowers, kiawah


“Rivers know this: there is no hurry. We shall get there someday.” 


This week Ann-Christine has invited us to share our personal hideaway(s). Although In her view a hideaway is indoors (a place like her gorgeous glass house!) during this time of COVID restrictions, Kiawah has gone beyond being my home and has indeed become my hideaway. Here there is fresh air, ocean, river and marsh surrounding us.  Birdlife is abundant as are deer, alligator, and the occasional bobcat. What more could one ask of a hideaway?

lagoon, branch, water, kiawah


“A drop of water, if it could write out its own history, would explain the universe to us.”

Lucy Larcom

Kiawah has beautiful walking paths and a myriad of bicycle routes. We are a small island located about 30 miles from downtown Charleston SC. Because my husband and I are avoiding the city during COVID, we are fortunate to have several restaurants on the island – all of them now offering outdoor dining. Except for an occasional cold snap, our weather is quite mild allowing for most any outdoor activity year-round including dining.

shrimp boat, ocean, swimmers


“The sea is man’s only hope. Now, as never before, the old phrase has a literal meaning: we are all in the same boat.” 

Jacques Yves Cousteau

While we are not quite “all in the same boat” as Mr. Cousteau says, we are all facing a myriad of issues. Some of us are retired while others must work. While that sounds like a benefit, with it comes a higher risk of being in a more virus-vulnerable age group. Some of us can isolate in areas more blessed by nature, but that same isolation makes it more difficult to be with our families and loved ones who live elsewhere. There is no easy answer nor are any of us exempt from all of the issues that COVID presents. Our best chance at surviving our problems is to focus on the positives while managing through the obstacles.

early sweetgrass


“Be tough in the way a blade of grass is: rooted, willing to lean, and at peace with what is around it.” 

Natalie Goldberg

Here on Kiawah, the arrival of sweetgrass as a sure sign of fall. Like the glorious reds and golds of colder climes, our pinks and purples predict the arrival of cooler weather and attest to the ephemeral aspects of nature. All of today’s images were created on a single day last week. The beginning of shrimping season means that huge boats followed by dozens of birds can be seen while enjoying the warmth of our southern beaches. Rivers and lagoons are calm and quiet, bordered by sweetgrass blowing in the breeze. I’ve included several images of these beautiful harbingers of autumn to show not only its delicacy but also its resilience as it continues to bloom year after year.


sweetgrass, kiawah, pink, green


“When the wind blows, the grass bends.”  


sweetgrass, kiawah


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

Dejan Stojanovic

sweetgrass, water, trees, kiawah


“I believe a leaf of grass is no less than the journey-work of the stars.”

Walt Whitman

Many thanks to those of you who responded to our first-ever horse host, Biasini, and to Ma Leueen who helped him with his typing and responding to their Communication challenge. These days communication becomes ever more important as COVID keeps us from our normal daily interactions with friends and loved ones. We appreciate your sharing your thoughts and images on the subject with us, as always. This week we look forward to seeing your personal hideaways. Please be sure to Tag them Lens-Artists and to link them to Ann-Christine’s original post here. Finally, we hope you’ll stay tuned next week as I’m back at the challenge helm right here on Travels and Trifles. Until then, stay safe and have a great week.





Lens-Artists Challenge #118 – Communication

arabs, reading, newspaper


“Newspapers cannot be defined by the second word—paper.  They’ve got to be defined by the first word—news.”

Arthur Sulzberg Jr.

We welcome our first guest-horse, Biasini, who has asked us to address the concept of communication. Biasini makes an excellent case for non-verbal communication and as such it is incumbent on us to follow his directive and “speak” to the same subject. In my opening image I’ve shown two versions of communication. The senior gentleman is getting the news of the day from his newspaper, while his younger companion communicates using a smartphone.  

two friars, brown, pillars


“Style is a way to say who you are without having to speak.”

Rachel Zoe

What we wear often speaks as loudly as any voice can. Obviously we know that the two gentlemen above are religious figures which communicates a great deal about them. The same can be said of people in business suits seen hurrying from place to place, or of sports-persons in their uniforms. The expansion of what we once called casual Friday has muddied the waters a bit but in many cases the messages our dress codes deliver can be clearly understood.

3 musicians


“How is it that music can, without words, evoke our laughter, our fears, our highest aspirations?”

Jane Swan

While many famous pieces of music do indeed use words, there are just as many that evoke emotion or deliver a message purely through their notes and melodies. Who has not been moved by pieces like Debussy’s Clair de lune or Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata?

blue, CO2, protest


“Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.”

John F. Kennedy

Here in the U.S. we’ve had more than our share of violent protests these past few months. As we traveled abroad a few years back we came upon the protest above, which was peaceful and silent. Their message, on the other hand, was loud and clear. Carbon Dioxide, the best known greenhouse gas, pollutes our atmosphere and threatens earth’s climate. Their silence along with their goofy costumes was in my opinion more powerful than words would have been.

2 elephants embrace


“No matter how few possessions you own or how little money you have, loving wildlife and nature will make you rich beyond measure.”

Paul Oxton

Obviously, elephants do not use spoken language. But the two beautiful creatures in the image above clearly show us that they feel love just as we do. The image below, on the other hand, is a bit more difficult to understand. At first glance one would think the lion is fierce and wants to make sure we understand that. In reality though, he was merely yawning. Like language, non-verbal communication can also be misunderstood.

lion, yawning, teeth, tongue


“Never be embarrassed by how much you care about animals and how they’re treated.”

Stephanie Feldstein

Finally, when I captured the image below my thought was that the two players could have used a bit more communication 😊, spoken or otherwise. The best athletic teams have learned to read one anothers’ signals without the use of the spoken word. Think of the catcher’s signals to his pitcher, the unspoken signals between doubles partners, or the signals between a quarterback and coach.

tennis foibles


“Some stumbles are not intended for our downfall; they’re just warning signals telling us to be more careful.”

Vincent Okay Nwachukwu

We appreciate your creative responses to last week’s Photo Walk challenge. The variety of the paths we’ve walked was amazing, covering multiple continents and a wide variety of locales. We saw beaches, forests, waterfalls, parks, lakes, gardens and multiple other venues. Clearly each and every one of them offered a lovely respite from the issues of the day.

Finally, our sincere thanks to Biasini and his partner (and personal typist) Ma Leueen, for guest hosting this week’s very interesting challenge. We and they  look forward to seeing your responses. Please remember to link them to their original post here, and to use the Lens-Artists tag to help us find you. We hope you’ll stay tuned next week as Ann-Christine leads us on our next challenge.






Lens-Artists Challenge #117 – A Photo Walk

moth, flower


“Enjoyable walks await the nature photographer; the priceless satisfaction whatever may be the outcomes of his photography, of a day well spent.”

Camillo Semenzato

This week Amy has encouraged us to take a photo walk – an opportunity to see and capture elements of interest. I took to the bike path here on Kiawah and am happy to share some of the gifts nature presented along the way. My opening image is a common moth – quite beautiful when seen in its natural environment. Having studied the many moths on the internet, I’m guessing this creature is a “white-striped, longtail Chioides”, aka a Chiodes albofasciatus. Who knew?!



“A photographer must do a lot of walking with a purpose, so the most important piece of equipment after the camera is a good pair of shoes.”

David Hurd

In addition to the interesting creatures I came upon, I was quite taken by the lovely light. As it kissed the ferns along the path, I worked hard to portray the ethereal feeling. The image above was my favorite of those captures.

FRITTILARY, red flower


“We walk by wonders every day and don’t see them. We only stop at what shouts the loudest.”

Barbara Bordnick

I can relate to the quote above by photographer Barbara Bordnick. I take Kiawah’s 10-mile bike path several days each week, either on foot or on my bike. Since I am typically focused on an aerobic workout I seldom stop to observe the wonders around me. This week, many thanks to Amy, I purposely set out to see nature’s offerings. I was fortunate that they were so plentiful (of course they are probably always there and I’ve just passed them by without noticing). I believe the butterfly above is a “clouded sulphur” (aka a collies philodice) posing on what might be a cardinal flower. Perhaps the gardeners among you might help on this one?

mushroom, tree


“I just walk around, observing the subject from various angles until the picture elements arrange themselves into a composition that pleases my eye.”

Andre Kertesz

We often see mushrooms growing at the base of trees or tree stumps here on Kiawah – and presumably they’re in forests the world over. There are, however, two unusual elements in the image above. First the rich color of the fungi, and second, that it was growing at least 20 feet (6 meters) above ground near the top of a large oak tree. Had I not been looking for subjects I would surely have missed this.



“Just walking. Painting pictures in my mind. Shades of light. Shapes and textures. The eye is drawn. The camera drawn.”

Steve Coleman

Autumn on Kiawah means the arrival of the Golden Silk Orb Weaver, often incorrectly referred to by residents as a banana spider. They can grow quite large and their webs are intricate and deadly (to small insects only, thank goodness). I’ve combined two images, the left showing the amazing web and the right focused in on the creature itself. I will admit I am not a fan but one has to admire the handiwork!  What do you suppose happens to them as winter approaches and they completely disappear?

yellow flower


“Photography can be a mirror and reflect life as it is, but I also think it is possible to walk, like Alice, through a looking glass and find another kind of world with the camera.”

Tony Ray-Jones

There is so much beauty in the world, no matter how small the area we survey – it is incumbent on us to stop and notice it now and then. My thanks to Amy for pushing me out the door and forcing me to smell the roses (or the small yellow flowers as the case may be 😊). I very much enjoyed the exercise and plan to make it a more regular part of my week.



“Daylight is too easy, What I want is difficult – the atmosphere of lamps and moonlight.”
Edgar Degas


I’m closing with a final image which is a bit of a cheat. I captured this one later in the evening as my husband and I spent some time at the opposite end of Kiawah’s beach. By pure luck the evening was one of the most beautiful I’ve seen on Kiawah. I’d tossed my camera in the car as an afterthought, was nearly out of storage on my memory cards and was literally seconds away from zero battery when the nearly-full moon crept out from behind the clouds as the sun set behind us. The reflection of the pink sky on the waters left by high tide was glorious. The basking birds added the final element to a perfect scene. Ah to have had a tripod and a bit more time!

As always, our thanks to all of you for your creative responses to last week’s Symmetry challenge. We enjoyed your interesting and thoughtful images that beautifully represented the concept. We look forward to seeing your results from this week’s Photo Walk. Please remember to link them to Amy’s original post here, and to Tag them Lens-Artists to be included in our reader section. Last but not least, we hope you’ll join us next week when our special guest host Biasini, Anne Leueen’s clever horse, hosts our next challenge on her always-interesting blog Horse Addict.








Lens-Artists Challenge 116 – Symmetry

pagoda, reflection, symmetry, china


“Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and life to everything.”


This week Patti has challenged us to illustrate the principal of symmetry in our images. Many of us have studied photographic techniques and worked to develop skills that are in line with the principal. On the other hand, an untrained eye often instinctively finds compositions that follow the same guideline. Whether trained, instinctual or sometimes just lucky, images that are symmetrical in nature are among the most pleasing to the eye – drawing viewers in to the object(s) of our attention. Reflections, such as those in my image above and below, are often an excellent way to capture a horizontally symmetrical image, where the top and bottom of an image are closely matched or identical.

egrets, two, reflection, birds


“The most beautiful birds do not know how beautiful they are until they see their reflection in water.”

Matshona Dhliwayo


doors, ornate, Buenos Aires, four


“Knowledge unlocks the door to the mysteries of our mistakes; wisdom guides us away from repeating them”

Evinda Lepins

As we travel, cameras in hand, our eyes are drawn to symmetrical scenes such as the image of doors above or the beautiful mosque windows below. As photographic principals go, three is a better number when capturing the elements of an image. As always though “rules” are made to be broken. My image of four doors is an example of rule-breaking that reflects the scene of the street image as I saw it, rather than as the “rules” would have had me present it.

windows, blue, mosque, orange


“Blue color is everlastingly appointed by the deity to be a source of delight.”

John Ruskin

There are those who might not be drawn to the image below, but as always, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. It is a simple image of a wall I found in Hong Kong. It’s colors drew me in, along with their symmetry. I especially liked the small square in the top right, without which the image would be, at least to me, less interesting. A break in the symmetry is said to give the eye a place to rest.

green, yellow, wall, symmetry


“Mere color, unspoiled by meaning, and unallied with definite form, can speak to the soul in a thousand different ways. ”

Oscar Wilde

The image of boats framed within a bridge in Shouzhuang may not meet a classic definition of symmetry, but many of its elements are subtle suggestions of the concept. The scene is reflected in the water, the image is centered such that both sides are similar if not identical, and the boats draw the eye to a strong focal point. Again, the tiny vertical window in the building at the far end, for me adds an extra element of interest.

four, boats, framed, reflection, symmetry


“A lake is earth’s eye; looking into which the beholder measures the depth of his own nature.”

Henry David Thoreau

Finally, an example of radial symmetry, where circular patterns emerge, often due to water droplets. The thing that drew me to this one (which was the result of a raindrop rather than a stone’s throw), was the small circular leaf floating within the water’s concentric circles. 

water droplet, reflection


“As you sit on the hillside, lie prone under the trees of the forest, or sprawl wet-legged by a mountain stream, the great door, that does not look like a door, opens.”

Stephen Graham

As always, Patti’s challenge presents us with interesting food for thought and offers us an opportunity to explore a strong technique for honing our skills. We look forward to seeing your examples and reading your thoughts on the subject. Please remember to link them to Patti’s original post here, and to Tag them with our Lens-Artists Tag.  My sincere thanks for your many and varied responses to last week’s Inspiration challenge. The creativity you showed in your approaches was amazing –  your continuing support and enthusiasm are very much appreciated. We hope you’ll join us again next week as, with a slight modification to our schedule, Amy hosts Challenge #117. Until then be well and stay safe.








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.