“If there is no celebration, there is no real worship.”
The world is full of colorful celebrations, many of which I’m sure will be featured in this week’s responses to Amy’s Celebrations Challenge. I’ve decided instead to focus on a celebration that has become a part of everyday life for people all over the world – the celebration of worship.
“Everybody worships; it’s just a matter of what, or whom, we serve.”
Paul David Tripp
In our recent visit to Israel, we were amazed to see the number and variety of houses of worship. Our pre-conceived notion was that we would predominantly see synagogues and examples of Jewish culture – how very wrong we were. One of the things that most impressed us was the incredible denominational variety. There were as many Christian and Muslim churches, mosques, worshipers and pilgrims as there were synagogues.
“The purest worship is to simply love — without demand, without condition, without fear.”
Mankind has worshipped since the beginning of time. There is evidence of spirituality dating back 300,000 years to the paleolithic era. Many of the ruins we visited in Israel included evidence of religious worship. For example, the altar above is from Avdat in the Negev Desert, which dates back to the third century BC.
“Worship is not what we do with our lips; it is what we do with our lives.”
The celebrations we observed along the way included everything from a small gathering of Catholics observing mass among the trees to services in majestic churches and mosques (such as the Dome of the Rock below) that would rival the world’s most beautiful architecture.
“Worship can be defined as celebrating the availability of God.”
“Service is the highest form of worship.”
For me, one of the most impressive examples of worship came from our visit to Petra in Jordan. To quote National Geographic “A worthwhile hike from the Royal Tombs leads up to the numerous places of worship on the flattened High Place of Jebel Khubtha.” As usual, if you look closely you can see many tiny figures, all of whom are tourists visiting the enormous structure. Originally built as a tomb, archaeological evidence points to its later adoption as a place of worship. Of course, National Geographic was correct – it was a VERY worthwhile hike!
“Churches would be empty ruins without the sinners who transform them into places of life, love and worship.”
Rev. Kellen Roggenbuck
I’ll close with the image above, which shows a section of Jerusalem I captured from a rooftop overlooking the city. I was drawn to the mix of religious symbol, including the Muslim minaret in the foreground and the Christian crosses in the distance. There is a certain joy one experiences during a visit to such an historic and spiritual place. For me it was a celebration of mankind’s better instincts – to worship freely, with respect for others’ beliefs, in recognition of the greater good. Would that we could all remember it more often.
Thanks to Amy for her thoughtful post – looking forward to seeing your responses.
“The happiest man is he who learns from nature the lesson of worship”
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Those who know or follow me will not be surprised that my response to Ann-Christine’s Happiness challenge is all about nature. Having spent the Thanksgiving weekend in Colorado with family (yet another reason for happiness) I was happy to see a glorious sunrise over a fresh coating of snow. Here in South Carolina we rarely see snow, and I rarely see the sunrise – sometimes happiness can be found in a two-hour time change. 😊
“I felt my lungs inflate with the onrush of scenery – air, mountains, trees. I thought, “This is what it is to be happy .”
Another thing we don’t see here in South Carolina is a grove of aspens – in fact, as far as I know we have no aspens at all. I was happy to find this small grove near my brother’s Colorado home as I enjoyed an early morning walk in the crisp air. I often shoot them with a bit of blur (as above). I find their white trunks make a lovely subject, especially against new-fallen snow.
“Colors are the smiles of nature.”
Returning home, I was happy to find the beautiful southern sweetgrass still blooming. I captured this image of the causeway on which we enter/exit our island using my iPhone as I bicycled to the gym on our first morning back (and yes, I did need to work off the excesses of Thanksgiving weekend). This is one climate change I was happy to see!
“If you want to find happiness, find gratitude.”
Finally, I love photographing nature, and was happy to have my zoom lens with me on one of our local golf courses earlier this month. High in a tall pine tree bordering the course my friend spotted the beautiful hawk in the image above. I don’t often use a cart but when I do I try to remember to bring my Fuji along for the ride. I was glad I did.
I think Steve Maraboli got it right that gratitude is the key to happiness. I personally am ever-grateful for my husband and partner in life, our families, our friends and of course for the beauty of nature all around us. As the old song says – if you can’t sleep, count your blessings instead of sheep. There may be times when it’s a bit harder to see them, but no matter what, they’re always there.
Thanks to Ann-Christine for giving us the opportunity to focus on the things that make us happy. And thanks to all those who’ve chosen to join us for our Lens-Artists challenges. We’re happy to see participation growing each week. Be sure to stay tuned for Amy’s challenge next Saturday – we hope to see you then!
“May there be no end to the sea, to the sand, the splash of water, the glow of the sky, the prayer of man.”
Patti’s “SPLASH” challenge made me think of our recent visit to ancient Caesarea in Israel. The ruins there date back to the time of King Herod, who in 25 BC built a mighty port city – eventually brought to ruin by the Crusaders in the 7th Century. On the day of our visit the sea was incredibly (and unusually) rough – entertaining tourists by splashing mightily against the buildings (above) and the rocks (below). My lens, which happily had a UV filter attached, was fine after a few wipes with a handy lens cloth 😊.
“Unless you paddle for the wave, you’ll never know if you can catch it.”
The sea was much quieter during our visit to Jaffa, another of the world’s oldest port cities. It is mentioned several times in the Old Testament, including its location as the port from which Jonah sailed before meeting the whale. Archaeologists have discovered evidence that the city was inhabited as early as 7500 BC.
“The breaking of a wave cannot explain the whole sea.”
Although rough seas and big waves can be fun, even thrilling, the peace and calm of a quiet sea at sunset is food for the soul. The scene below followed an incredibly busy day of touring. Our guide drove like a crazy person to get us back in time to see the golden orb sink below the hills surrounding our hotel. His effort was greatly appreciated as we enjoyed the serenity of the evening on the beautiful shores of Galilee.
“My soul is full of longing for the secret of the sea.”
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Finally, I’ll close with a bit of fun. Full disclosure – I did NOT take the photo that follows. In fact, that’s me in the black hat splashing sand into the air at the request of our guide at Wadi Rum in Jordan. Apparently he felt the need to have us remove our shoes, get on our knees, and splash sand in the air while he captured the moment. I must admit it felt really good, but then I was on the left and the wind was blowing to the right! 😀
““Are we etched in stone or just scratched in the sand waiting for the waves to come and reclaim the land?”
Like many others, this week I spent the Thanksgiving holiday surrounded by family. In my case this meant braving the “friendly skies”, and dealing with much colder weather, but as always well worth the effort. I have much for which I am thankful, and hope all of you can say the same. Wishing you all the best of the holiday season.
All images created with Fuji x-t2
“Doors can lead you to other worlds, or to what is behind what is in front of you.”
“What’s behind what’s in front of you” – what an interesting concept – describing not only doors but also the art of photography. As we press the shutter to capture an instant, are we not working to express our idea of what the scene tells us; what it makes us feel, what’s “behind” the image? Are we not hoping that the viewer will be drawn into the scene just as we were?
“There always two people in every picture, the photographer and the viewer.”
Each of us brings his or her own experiences to an image, whether we are creating it or studying it. The best photographs focus on that which drew us in the first place. In my opening image, for example, it was the person behind the door that drew my attention. Although the doors look like they could tell a million stories, for me the real questions revolved around the young woman – what was she studying/reading? Was she tired, absorbed in a story while waiting for the next load, bored? Why had she left the doors ajar in the first place?
“Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it.”
Have you ever thought about what drew you to a particular scene, painting or photograph? In my second image it was the boxes of fruit and the empty ticket booth that caught my eye. The booth reminded me of those old-fashioned amusement park booths with a fortune teller inside – a bit spooky and forlorn. The contrast of the fresh fruit beside it told me there was life nearby waiting to be savored. In the image above It was the shadows of the iron gate leading out to the beautiful blues of the sea and sky beyond. Often our eye is drawn by our subconscious but as photographers or viewers, it’s a great exercise to analyze what appeals to us and draws us in.
“Life is a succession of lessons which must be lived to be understood.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson
I’m a fan of a bit of mystery in an image – everyone loves surprises, right? In the image above, for example, like everyone else who has been to Petra I found the famous Treasury Building to be spectacular. Having seen so many images of it in its entirety, I personally preferred the image above. I liked having just a taste of the structure’s splendor from the natural portal created by the rock walls of the Siq, and the thought of the two onlookers seeing the scene for the first time. And yes, of course I also made an image of the entire building – but that’s for another day 😉.
“Every life is different because you passed this way and touched history.”
Sometimes it’s fun to manipulate images to deliver on an idea. In the capture above I combined two doors which were physically quite close to each other into a single image. It seemed to me that the doors had been nearly identical until a passing street artist decided to add some individual flare 😊. Do you suppose it was the same artist? Did the owner(s) appreciate or resent the paintings? Did you, the viewer, think this was a single panorama or did you sense the combination. Do you think it works or would the single images have been better left alone? Did you have to pause for a moment to think about it? Isn’t that part of our goal – to cause others to pause and think about an image and our intent in creating it?
“A photograph is a secret about a secret. The more it tells you the less you know.”
Sometimes we create an image simply to capture beauty. The image above, of one of the doorways into the Dome of the Rock, is exactly that. It is one of Israel’s holiest places to Muslims, Christians and Jews alike, and has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage site. I was drawn not only to the beauty and spirituality of the site, but also to the political controversy surrounding its accessibility.
“The adrenaline and stress of an adventure are better than a thousand peaceful days.”
Finally, no post about doorways in the Middle East would be complete without one of their incredible antiquities, in this case an arched doorway in Caesarea. Originally built by Herod the Great in 20 BC the city ruins are remarkably well-preserved and are now part of an Israeli National Park. I have always been interested in archeology and the stories these kinds of ruins tell us about life so long ago. I made this image in recognition of my own sense of wonder and in the hopes that you too might give the long-ago history a moment’s thought. More on the many sites like this one in future posts.
Thanks for staying with me as I meandered through so many doorways this week – I look forward to seeing your responses! Please remember the Lens-Artists tag to be seen in our Reader section, and feel free to link your post to this one as well. For more information about our challenge click here. And don’t forget to join Patti for her challenge next week.
HAVE YOU SEEN THESE?
Last week Amy enchanted us with her Magical Light challenge and your responses were amazing. Check these out:
Along with some other beautiful examples, Bren of Ryan Photography created a composite moonscape for us;
Steve of TheOutershores introduced us to a new word (and creature) “pollicipes” shown in the beautiful morning light.
Deb of Twenty-four showed us what happens when water meets the treeline in a beautiful sunset.
Ana of Anvica’s Gallery showed us it’s actually possible to touch the sun.
Wishing everyone a great week, and a Happy Thanksgiving to all who celebrate.
“Light is to the photographer what words are to the writer; color and paint to the painter; wood, metal, stone, or clay to the sculptor.”
This week Amy has hit the proverbial nail on the head – light, at least to a photographer, is magic. Especially when traveling, it can be difficult to choose the times during which we’ll be able to shoot, but we can always find a way to capitalize on the light that’s available. In my opening image of one of Petra’s amazing rock-carved masterpieces, I was able to capture the soft, late-day light just as the shadows were beginning to creep in. Note the tiny people in the image to get an idea of the structure’s massive size – which amazingly dates back to 400 BC. Tragically 11 people were killed when a massive flash flood hit Petra just 5 days after our visit. Thousands of tourists were evacuated and the site is temporarily closed for cleanup – timing, as always, is everything.
“Every photo tells a story, but remember this, there was a storyteller behind the lens.”
On the other hand, in the image above a bedouin camel-herder leads three of his charges in the mid-day sun of Wadi Rum. Notice the shadows of the subjects directly beneath them. In this case, although I’d have preferred softer light, I felt that the subjects carried enough of a message that I was willing to overlook the harsh mid-day conditions. Sometimes the story can be as important as the timing.
“In nature, light creates the color. In a picture, color creates the light.”
In the image above, it was the mid-day sun passing through an awning – nearly the exact blue of the sky – that drew my attention. The dome in the background for me added an element of spirituality and mysticism. Perhaps the combination of the elements meant more to me having just learned the importance of the color blue to those who study Kabbalah.
“Photography is being able to grasp those instants which pass with the ticking of a clock, never to be duplicated.”
“I believe in the photographer’s magic – the ability to stir the soul with light, and shape, and colour.”
In Israel’s Negev Desert, night falls quickly and the cool light of blue hour is softened by the warm hues of the desert rock. Here, a massive crater was formed by the action of the sea rather than by volcano or meteor. Rocks at the crater’s bottom have been dated as old as 200 million years. 25 miles long and over 1600 feet deep, it is an amazing example of nature’s incredible power.
“To learn the magic of light, get up before sunrise….. and watch.”
Finally, I’ll close with a capture of sunrise over the Sea of Galilee. I was drawn to the scene in part because the moon still clung to its place in the sky despite a push from the sun to claim it. Having heard so many stories about Galilee growing up a Christian, I found it particularly meaningful and surprisingly beautiful.
Thanks to Amy for giving us an opportunity to explore the many forms of light – which color our world and enrich our lives. Be sure to visit her original post here, and remember to tag any responding posts with the Lens-Artists tag.
All images captured with Fuji x-T2, 18-55mm
“It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences.”
This week my husband and I in the midst of a trip to Israel. Ann-Christine’s blending in/standing out challenge comes as we are experiencing an incredible blending of many different cultures, nationalities and religions all around us. For example, above we see three young Israeli soldiers having a break at a gelato counter. How strange for us to see their machine guns casually draped over their shoulders as they decide which flavors they’ll choose. It seems quite foreign to us, yet there are young soldiers everywhere blending into street scenes wherever we look.
“Different is good. But different is hard. Believe me, I know.”
In Israel, one sees an amazing array of unique costumes signifying different religions and sects. The three young men above represent an Orthodox Jewish sect known for their black hats, black coats and long payot curls. Although their dress causes us to assume theirs is a serious conversation, for all we know they may just as easily have been discussing the Red Sox victory over the Dodgers to clinch the US World Series 😊
“Honest differences are often a healthy sign of progress.”
I was surprised to see as many Christian sects represented in Israel as Jewish and Muslim. The Franciscans, such as the two shown above, are quite prevalent. They are responsible for many of the Christian churches and historic sites visited by pilgrims from countries all around the world. Again, their robes lead us to believe theirs is a serious conversation, but the bright blue sneakers seem to tell a different story!
“Things look different depending on your perspective.”
Speaking of blue, I was drawn to the headwear of this beautiful young girl in one of the alleys of Jerusalem’s Old City. While its distinct shape told me she is of a different culture than most of the young people I know, she is as intently focused on her cellphone as any other young person might be. While there would surely be differences, clearly there are also areas of commonality among the world’s many cultures.
“Differences were meant by God not to divide but to enrich.”
Finally, a silhouette of a man in religious garb moving into the light from the darkness of an alley. To me he represents everything that is important about humankind. His garb shows his beliefs, which make him different. But his journey from darkness to light is the same for us all. Whatever our beliefs, we all face challenges, striving to be our best selves as we move through our lives. Let us focus on those things that unite us while appreciating the differences that make us unique.
On a personal note, I would like to add my voice to those who have expressed support for the victims of the Pittsburgh Synagogue attack. There is no place in this world for such hatred, nor for anti-semitism of any form. Edmund Burke once said “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good people to do nothing.” At the very least we must speak out against such acts of cowardice.
Note: All images captured with Fuji X-T2, 18-35mm f/2.8 lens
“It’s more fun when you’re not the only one having it.”
This week Patti has invited us to have some fun and I’m all for that! I chose my opening image because I can only imagine the artist created it just for fun. I’m open to anyone who can venture a guess as to what it’s all about! I captured it in a small park in NYC this past weekend.
“Never ever underestimate the importance of having fun.”
Several years ago while visiting Alaska, I came across this fellow who had been caught on the wrong side of the river where he AND the bears were fishing. Needless to say, had the standoff ended the bear would definitely have had the upper hand. Fortunately he was a young juvenile and was merely curious rather than hungry 😀.
“Fun is good.”
One day I looked out of my kitchen window and saw a bright yellow golf ball firmly lodged in a palmetto. I found myself wondering just how bad the golfer must have been, as the tree is nowhere near the route to the green. I suspect he wasn’t having as much fun as he’d have liked, at least on that hole 😀.
“There is no fun in having nothing to do. The fun is in having lots to do and not doing it!”
Finally, an image I made quite some time ago. We often see dolphin swimming, feeding and even jumping in our marsh and rivers, but this one seemed to actually be dancing on his tail. In all of the many times I’ve seen them, this was the only instance in which I’d ever experienced this behavior. Clearly he was simply having fun.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this week’s fun challenge, and a big thanks to Patti for the opportunity to smile at some fond memories!
Remember to tag your posts Lens-artists in order to appear in our reader section, and of course stay tuned for Ann-Christine’s challenge next Saturday. As for me, I’m traveling for the next several weeks but will do my best to be in touch on the upcoming challenges.
“Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.”
Back on Lens-Artists Challenge #11, Amy was focused on “Small is Beautiful”. This week I’d like to submit that Big can be Beautiful too! Exhibit A – the gorgeous hawk in my opening image. He visited a large tree next to my home earlier this year and posed nicely until I could get a shot without too many leaves in the way.
“Life is one big road with lots of signs.”
Speaking of posing, this beautiful peacock was giving us quite a show. I must admit I’d never seen a peacock fly, nor sit in a tree. Typically they’re on the ground strutting their stuff. This male showed us that peacock flight capabilities are actually quite good 😀. Well excuse us for wondering!
“Big results require big ambitions.”
Now there are those I’m sure who would say an alligator is not necessarily beautiful, but I would beg to differ. They are amazing creatures, built of strong armor and blessed with big, beautiful teeth – the better to eat you with if you are a small animal or an unsuspecting bird. Here on Kiawah, we don’t bother them and they don’t bother us. But a big lens and a bit of distance are very good things where gators are concerned.
“Big shots are only little shots who keep shooting.”
I’ll close with an image from this past week. A friend and I were shooting a very large flock of seabirds when they all decided to leave en masse. The tiny little sandpipers looked a bit lost among the large numbers of much bigger skimmers and gulls, but they seemed to hold their own quite nicely. But the MOST fun thing about the shoot was that I was sharing it with a good friend I’d previously known only through blogging. We had a great time connecting in real life vs virtually, and our husbands very much enjoyed the connection too. Whew!!
I look forward to seeing your Big Shots (pun intended) this week. Do remember to tag your posts Lens-Artists so that we can all see them in the WP Reader. Be sure to check in with Patti of Pilotfish next Saturday for Challenge #17.
For more information about our challenges click here.
HAVE YOU SEEN THESE?
Amy’s CHANGING challenge last week drew many interesting and creative responses.
Anvica’s Gallery showed us some very creative editing in her Out of Bounds post
Sue (Mac’s Girl) shared an amazing look at how times have changed in her Sign of the Times post about vintage advertisements
“Change comes like a little wind that ruffles the curtains at dawn; like the stealthy perfume of wildflowers hidden in the grass.”
Amy’s challenge this week speaks to those of us who enjoy working with some of the many tools available for editing images. Simple edits in programs like Lightroom or Google Photos, or Apps like Snapseed or Diptic give even beginning photographers the ability to morph their photos into something a bit more artistic.
“In every change, in every falling leaf there is some pain, some beauty; that’s the way new leaves grow.”
Editing resources become even more accessible with the abundance of tutorials and videos available on the web. With a few clicks one can find “How-to’s” on just about any product – from the simplest to the most complex. For those who prefer learning the old-fashioned way there are books both in hard copy and online to foster self-teaching. Sadly from the moment they’re published it seems the products they address have been changed or updated and further study is required.
“Those who are crazy enough to think they can change the world usually do.”
As a former user of Apple’s Aperture software I’ve experienced the pain of transitioning from one product to another. As such I try to use only tools offered by companies whose editing products are their primary business. While there is no guarantee, my hope is that companies like Adobe (providers of Lightroom and Photoshop) or Topaz Labs can be trusted to continue evolving their products as time goes on. Of course those of us who use and love the Nik products have learned that such is not always the case.
“Change is not a four letter word…but often your reaction to it is.”
For this week’s images, I used Lightroom to make a few minor edits, followed by Topaz Impressions and Topaz Texture Effects to create a more painterly effect. Those who follow me know I am a fan of impressionist painting and I’ve included some images in the past using textures and impressions to create an image quite different from the one with which I started. All of the Topaz tools used in today’s post are part of their “Studio” product which is available at no charge for the basic package.
“A change in the weather is sufficient to recreate the world and ourselves.”
As I’ve mentioned previously, autumn here on Kiawah does not deliver the glorious colors of the northeastern US. Using software tools on the two previous images I’ve turned summer-day images into something a bit more like our fall. I added some reds to the grasses and trees, some gold and brown to the marsh and some color to the skies. While nothing like the reds and golds of a Vermont mountain scene in October, to me they speak to the changes we will soon see here in the southeast.
“No one can change a person, but a person can be the reason someone changes.”
Shannon L. Alder
Finally, my personal favorite – an image of my nephew and his son, my great-nephew. I just loved the way they are in lock-step with each other. The little one is the image of his dad, making it really fun to watch him grow into the person he will some day be. As Shannon Alder says in the quote above, my nephew’s wife and son are a big part of the reason he has grown into the loving, responsible, mature man he has become.
Sincere thanks to Amy for giving us the opportunity to “paint” outside the box. For the purists among us, I promise to return to realistic SOOC or slightly tweaked images next week. Also, for those who are interested, I’ve included the original images in their unaltered state below.
Be sure to check out Amy’s post here. Should you decide to join us, remember to tag your post Lens-Artists to have it appear in our reader section for the week.
“Through the window, I saw the beautiful world outside.”
Taking today’s opening quote literally, I’ve chosen to open my response to Ann-Christine’s windows challenge with a look through my own kitchen window. As a nature lover I am happy to be surrounded by palmettos, oaks, and a lovely little lagoon, which draws beautiful birds and our neighborhood alligator. It does my soul good to enjoy the peace and quiet, surrounded by the morning sunlight before I set out for the day’s activities.
“Drive nature out of the door and it will fly in at the window.”
I made the preceding image of a beautiful oak tree reflected in a very wide window not far from my home on Kiawah. In this case nature truly is flying in at the window 😊. At the opposite end of the spectrum however, the view in the image below is from a high-rise apartment in New York City. I was enchanted by the raindrops that remained after a fierce storm as well as the incredible light it had created. It was a wonderful lesson on the beauty of nature in the very heart of a bustling city.
“Photography is both mirror and window, connecting subject and viewer through the heart, eyes and mind of the photographer.”
Proving that nature is not the only beautiful thing seen in a window, I captured the image below in the middle of downtown Lexington, Kentucky. I was drawn to the dichotomy of the classic statehouse architecture reflected in the contemporary windows of the building across the street.
“If the house of the world is dark, love will find a way to create windows.”
From the archives, below I’ve included an image from quite some time ago – the cupola of St. Stephen’s Basilica in Budapest. I’d thought about posting it for Patti’s “look up” challenge last week but chose to go in a different direction. I was glad it fit this week’s windows challenge. Imagine the job of cleaning those beauties!
“I live in a very small house, but my windows look out on a very large world.”
Finally, speaking of window cleaning, I captured my final image in Beijing, China. The window washers were working on the Olympic Village’s Aquatic Center which has since been transformed into a recreational water park. I had to smile at the tiny size of their squeegees versus the enormity of the structure. Not a job for the faint of heart!
“My favorite journey is looking out the window.”
Thanks to Ann-Christine for her fun challenge this week. Be sure to catch challenge # 15 at Amy’s ShareandConnect site next week, and remember to please include a TAG with your post to have it appear in the Lens-Artists reader section.