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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 #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 #115 – Inspiration

storm clouds, golden light, scotland


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

Charles F. Glassman

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

sunflowers, butterfly, yellow


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

J.R. Rim

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



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

Rabindranath Tagore

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



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

Eric Weiner

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



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

Aldous Huxley

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


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

Raymond Salvatore Harmon

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

three, children, umbrella, joy


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

Criss Jami

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



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

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

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











Lens-Artists Challenge 114 – Negative Space



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

Yiannis Kouros

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



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

Victor Hugo

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

Palouse, farmland, shadows


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

Booker T. Washington

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

two, calves, flowers, yellow


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

Mawlana Jalal-al-Din Rumi

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



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

Eckhart Tolle

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

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






Lens-Artists Challenge 113 – Labors of Love


“The hand expresses what the heart already knows.”

Samuel Mockbee

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

hands, tiler, saw, dust


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

Mahatma Gandhi

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


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

Heinz Beck

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

tuk tuk driver, SE Asia


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

Israelmore Ayivor

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

china, female captain


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

Richie Norton

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



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

Munia Khan

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

monk, bald, colorful, writing


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

Mother Teresa

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

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

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

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












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



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

Bruce Garrabrandt

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

birdlike seashell


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

Maya Angelou

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



“Creativity is intelligence having fun.”

Albert Einstein

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



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

Kurt Vonnegut

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



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

Paulo Coelho

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

Accreted whelk and shells


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

Dieter F. Uchtdorf

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



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


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

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

Have you seen these?

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

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

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

Lens-Artists Challenge #105 – SPRING



“Spring will come and so will happiness. Hold on. Life will get warmer.”

Anita Krizzan

Next up on our seasonal challenges, this week we turn to thoughts of Spring. Noted by poets and lyricists as a season of hope and renewal, spring teaches us that despite (or perhaps because of) the hardships of winter, our world will once again blossom with new life.  As we continue to deal with the issues of the day, spring teaches us to remain hopeful despite our challenges. One of the many rituals of the season here in the Charleson area is a visit to beautiful Magnolia Gardens. There we might learn from the cypress trees which draw strength and nourishment from waters that would destroy a less-resilient species.



“The day the Lord created hope was probably the same day he created Spring.”

Bernard Williams

Spring here on Kiawah also delivers some incredibly dramatic skies – yet another example of nature’s lessons. The image above shows a line of beachfront cottages made smaller by the immense, threatening clouds. Yet for the observant among us, there is a small bright spot in the center of the maelstrom.  We can learn from Mother Nature that despite the worst moments there is always a spot of hope somewhere even when troubles threaten to engulf us.

egret chicks, nest


“Wait. Be patient. The storm will pass. The spring will come.”

Robert H. Schuller

Spring is also a time of rebirth – not only of the plants and flowers but also of the creatures with whom we share Mother Earth. Pandemic notwithstanding, birds continue to deliver and nourish their chicks, does give birth to fawns and tiny alligators emit high-pitched, musical melodies as they take joy in swimming through the lagoons. Of course, we are always mindful that mom is surely keeping a watchful eye on them (and more importantly, on us) should her fierce protection be required.



“If we had no winter the spring would not be so pleasant. if we did not taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome.”

Anne Bradstreet

There are reasons that platitudes exist. They take note of things that are commonplace and widely acknowledged. If one searches for quotations about spring there are significantly more than on most other subjects. The vast majority speak to hope, renewal, rebirth, determination … you get the idea. There have certainly been days in the recent past when most of us have wondered when we will ever return to life as we knew it. Surely others have felt the same during trying times in the past – the great depression, world wars, earthquakes and other natural disasters – yet somehow time heals, trials end, and we are reborn with a new appreciation of the things we’d long taken for granted.



“That is one good thing about this world–there are always sure to be more springs.”

L.M. Montgomery

So let us pause, refresh, and reset our expectations. We have been given the gift of time – to learn more about ourselves and the world around us, and to develop a new or renewed appreciation for living every moment. Personally, I’m working on developing a view of the “new normal” as an opportunity for self-improvement, definitely an uphill battle for me – how about you? 

Speaking of opportunity, many of you ran with the opportunity to shine in your responses to last week’s SUMMER challenge. Your posts ranged from poignant to buoyant, were both clever and original and offered some unique perspectives for all to enjoy. We very much appreciate your support of our challenge as we come together creatively to navigate these difficult times.

Have You Seen These?

Finally, we hope you’ll join us again next week as Patti brings us our Autumn challenge. In the meanwhile and as always, stay safe out there!







Lens-Artists Challenge #102 – A Quiet Place



“When images become inadequate, I shall be content with silence.”

Ansel Adams

As I thought about Patti’s Quiet Place challenge, my mind immediately went to a mystical journey through the Scottish Highlands that I hope never to forget. Tucked away in the remote northwest corner of the country, we’d driven hours on a one-lane road to reach our destination in Lochinver along Scotland’s magical coast.

northwest Scotland road


“I have never heard a more eloquent silence.”

Laurie Halsey Anderson

We made the drive in the early evening as dusk was settling in and the infamous Scottish fog was creeping over the hillsides. During our nearly 3-hour drive we saw a total of 2 or 3 cars, one of them shown above.  The beauty that surrounded us was more breathtaking at every turn, which helped ease our fears that another car could be approaching around one of the many blind curves. At one point our only choice was to back up until we found a berm to allow another car to drive by in the opposite direction.

HEATHER, Scotland, FOG


“The world is quiet here.”

Lemony Snicket

Around many of the bends in the road there were amazing vistas. Stone ruins, heather-covered hills, small lochs with weathered boats, and one with a beautiful copse of trees standing in its center. The fog brought with it a silence much deeper than that of a city or town. In the quiet, one could almost feel the presence of those who’d traveled the same road long before. 

copse of trees


“So quiet one can almost hear other people’s dreams.”

Gayle Forman

It was a long and difficult journey worth every moment of white-knuckle driving. My ever-patient husband never complained about my requests to stop for photography along the way. As the fog thickened, its dense moisture left me, my camera and my lenses fairly drenched by the end of the trip. Happily, no harm done and all for a good cause.  

boats, loch, scotland, clouds


“Sit and quiet yourself. Luxuriate in a certain memory and the details will come. Let the images flow.”

Frank McCourt

Eventually we reached our destination and after a much-needed meal and a good night’s sleep we set off to see the surrounding sights by light of day. I’ve included above one of many peaceful scenes, this one from a nearby loch. We spent several days in the area enjoying the quiet and restoring our own inner peace as we closed in on the end of our Scottish journey. For the most part our weather while in Scotland had been amazing and the Scottish light every bit as beautiful as any I’d ever seen. Somehow though, I believe the fog-shrouded quiet is the Scotland that will stay with me far longer.

Many thanks to all who responded to last week’s One Single Flower challenge; and special thanks to Cee for the care and support she’s given to so many of us. It was our honor to have her lead our challenge – not surprisingly one of our most popular to-date . We look forward to seeing your response to this week’s Quiet Place. Remember to link your post to Patti’s original challenge here, and to use the Lens-Artists TAG so we can more easily find you. We hope you’ll join us next week when Ann-Christine brings us Challenge #103.








Lens-Artists Challenge #101 – A Single Flower

flower with bee


“If we could see the miracle of a single flower clearly our whole life would change.”


This week we are excited to have Cee, one of the most successful bloggers on WordPress, joining us as Guest Host. Beyond her creativity and talent, she is well-known for generously helping others to succeed. As a new blogger eight years ago (yikes!), it was Cee whose reblog of my post generated one of the largest responses Travels and Trifles has had. I still remember my excitement as the likes and comments poured in.  I couldn’t be more proud to see her leading our challenge with her amazing spirit and beautiful photography.



“Minds are like flowers, they open only when the time is right.”

Stephen Richards

I’ll admit that my archive of images is a bit short on flowers. Truly though, any photographer in the southern U.S. will most always have at least a few images of a beautiful magnolia. Fossil records suggest it has been with us for 150 million years, making it the first flowering plant. Unlike other flowers, these blossoms grow on trees, and are fertilized by beetles rather than bees. To my mind, their beauty is surpassed only by their incredible fragrance.

light, lily


“The loveliest of all, the lily family….with this plant the whole world would seem rich though none other existed.”

John Muir

Let me be perfectly honest, although I love flowers I have absolutely no talent when it comes to growing them. I am the classic “black thumb”, deadly to any flower that comes near me! I’ve been known to photograph them but not often, and more usually either when plentiful in a field or when they are being visited by a bee or a butterfly. That said, I’ve done my best to respond to Cee’s call for a single flower (although admittedly my opening image may be a bit of a stretch on that front).

partial daisy on green background


“The splendor of the rose and the whiteness of the lily do not rob the daisy of its simple charm.

Therese of Lisieux

Because I am not prone to photographing a single flower, and because at the moment we are restricted to our local environment, several of this week’s blooms are among those I’ve previously posted. On the other hand, they are some of my personal favorites so with your indulgence I’ve included them as well as several new images in today’s post.

pink and white rose


“A rose can never be a sunflower, and a sunflower can never be a rose. All flowers are beautiful in their own way.”

Miranda Kerr

Those who follow me know that I include quotes as well as images to support my message. The search can be harder for some posts than others. Interestingly, it seems there are more quotes about flowers than one could ever hope to use. For today’s post I chose those that spoke to the individual species as well as those that referenced a perspective on our humanity. In today’s climate it’s helpful to find quotes that speak to hope, individuality, and appreciation of the differences that make us unique as individuals yet stronger as a whole.



“Connecting our hearts through love yields a nectar so sweet we are forever full.”

Amy Lee Mercree

Sometimes nature simply grants a gift, and our job is to be ready to take advantage of it when it is presented.The image above is one example. My attempt for most of that morning to capture a hummingbird without including a feeder had been very frustrating. Then, that afternoon while golfing near my brother and sister-in-law’s Colorado home, we came upon this gorgeous little bird feeding on vibrant red/orange flowers. I was thrilled to get the opportunity I’d wanted in a more natural environment. 

butterfly, flower, orange, red, yellow


“The butterfly is a flying flower, the flower a tethered butterfly.”

Ecouchard Le Brun

I’ll close this week’s post with three favorite images of butterflies on single flowers. The first image shows how wonderful nature can be when she blesses us with coordinated colors. The two below illustrate how beautiful  differences can be.

butterfly, flower, stripes, orange


“We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty. “

Maya Angelou

I particularly liked Maya Angelou’s quote above. In these troubled times it is important to remember that nothing worthwhile comes without difficulty. If we believe in the goal, the journey becomes more tolerable.

pink flower, yellow butterfly


“Where flowers bloom so does hope.”

Lady Bird Johnson

I got a bit carried away with Cee’s single flower challenge, which you can find here. We look forward to seeing your interpretation and enjoying the beauty of your responses. Be sure to link to Cee’s original post and to include the Lens-Artists tag so that we can more easily find you. We hope to see you again next week when Patti brings us Challenge #102 –  and as always our sincere thanks for your continued support. Special thanks to those who congratulated the team on our 100th Challenge – it’s been an amazing journey. Be safe out there and if possible, try to pause for a moment to enjoy nature’s bounty. 






Lens-Artists Challenge #100 – The Long and Winding Road

road, hill, keffiyeh


“Feel kinship with fellow travelers on the long and winding road toward unification.”

Brian Greene

As you can imagine, the team at Lens-Artists coordinates challenge subjects throughout the year to avoid duplication or confusion. Little did we know when we chose the theme for this week’s challenge how very timely it would be. The entire world has been trudging wearily along the long and winding road of a pandemic that most of us would not have believed possible even a few short months ago. Added to that, here in the U.S. the past week brought tremendous unrest following a horrific instance of police brutality in Minneapolis, MN.



“The winding road slants downward many a time.”

Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Protests have been taking place in most major cities and many smaller ones, including our own beloved Charleston. Many of the protests are peaceful – seeking justice in the specific case as well as sweeping changes in the policies and programs that foster inequality among our citizens. Sadly, in several cities some of the protests turned violent, smashing windows, looting stores, defacing and burning buildings and police cars, and most importantly in some cases causing loss of life.

autumn foliage, winding road


“Sometimes you have to stop, turn around, and take the longer harder road.”

Ash Sweeney

Most are of the opinion that violence defeats the purpose of the protests and causes harm in many cases to the very people hoping for change. There is speculation that some of the violence is driven by outsiders rather than local citizens. The impacted shops and restaurants had only recently re-opened following the easing of COVID-19 restrictions; sadly many may now close permanently. Jobs will be lost and freedoms will be further restricted. Curfews have been imposed on many of our cities and scientists fear an uptick in virus cases due to the large gatherings.

path, trees, golf course, Kiawah


“Life is not always perfect. Like a road, it has many bends, ups and down, but that’s its beauty.”

Amit Ray

It is my firm belief that the vast majority believe in the merit of the protesters’ cause, and that justice will prevail in the specific case in question. Further, I believe we will see fundamental change to many of the laws and policies that foster inequality sooner rather than later due in large part to the peaceful protests taking place throughout our country. It is my fervent desire that those who believe in the cause will help to quell the mayhem that is defeating their purpose. Beyond protesting, write to your senators and congressmen and let them know you are watching. Write to your local and national newspapers. Make your vote count. Be an advocate for change. Let your voice be heard any way you can, but in a way which is not hurtful to others. Remember Nelson Mandela’s words “It always seems impossible until it’s done.”

Utah, road, rock arch


“Sometimes the only way to find a way is to get lost.”

Talismanist Giebra

Do you find yourself wondering how much worse the problems in the U.S., as well as those in the rest of the world can get? I know I do. My hope is that we will be stronger as people and as nations when we begin to see our problems as part of our past rather than the present. Perhaps Talismanist Giebra is right – we’ve been lost and are looking to find the way out.  Let’s hope we find it soon – the warriors are becoming weary. Hang in there my friends, there is often a rainbow after the storm. 

This week, share your images and thoughts about the long and winding road. Feel free to be literal or metaphorical in your approach. Know how much we appreciate your support and enjoy seeing your responses to our challenges. Be sure to link them to my original post and to include the Lens-Artists Tag.

Speaking of responses, thank you as always for your creative approaches to Amy’s Old and New challenge last week.  Have you seen these?

  • Anne Leueen shares images of medieval armor vs current horse “decor” in her Horse Addict blog
  • Wendy of My Plaid Heart shares an astounding experience as RAF jets fly over ancient Duffus Castle
  • We welcome Meikah of Wordplay at Midlife who bravely shares both old and newer images of herself

Finally, we are excited to announce that next week the Lens-Artists team will be bringing you a very special event. Cee of Ceenphotography has graciously agreed to lead us on our next challenge. All four members of the Lens-Artists team will join Cee next Saturday at noon EST in response to her challenge subject. We look forward to seeing where she leads us, and hope you’ll join the fun as well.