For the vast majority of time, life on a barrier island is idyllic. When one is waiting to see if a devastating Category 5 hurricane is heading your way, one wonders if perhaps there may have been a better choice of locale.
Count us among the Waiting for Hurricane Irma Evacuation orders, hoping not to get them.
“Photography is seeing only.”
I once read an interesting quote from a photographer who said that after a while he had a tendency to see the world as if he were looking through a 4×6 frame. I sometimes find myself doing the same thing. As any good photographer will tell you, photography is not so much about technique or equipment (although of course both are important), rather it’s about seeing/visualizing an image before creating it.
“A photograph is both a way of seeing and a way of remembering.”
In our challenge this week, Jen has asked us to think about the structure, the intimate detail of some “wonderful things”. I’ve chosen to highlight two captures I made last month in a beautiful garden outside of Santa Monica (above), as well as a study I did earlier this week of a glorious live oak not far from my home. In both cases nature has given us amazing examples of her finest artistry.
“I’ve found photography has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them.”
Take, for example, a close look at the bark of this ancient live oak. Note how the lines run in parallel, how the colors change as your eye moves across the bark, and how the little leaves cling to their anchor hold.
“A photographer’s main instrument is his eyes.”
Manuel Alvarez Bravo
Now step back just a bit and see how the scene changes. Note the way the oaks bends and shapes itself due to the influence of the salt air surrounding it. See how it reaches beyond its own canopy to drink in the sunlight over the marsh.
“Photography with its unique realism gives me the power to go beyond the conventional ways of seeing.”
Finally, see the bigger picture, a majestic example of graceful limbs that invite us to pause, to drink in the scenery and breathe the fresh air – perhaps even to have a swing from one of the sturdier branches.
Nature has a way of showing us the importance of detail, whether it be in the curve of an oak’s limbs, the color of a lily pad, or the heart of a flower. The photographer’s challenge is first and foremost to be aware and become a part of his or her surroundings, and only then to capture and share the experience.
“Always there has been an adventure just around the corner.”
Roy Chapman Andrews
For this week’s challenge I am reaching into my archives for some favorite corners in China. It was an amazing journey that resulted in some wonderful memories. I remember distinctly feeling that around every corner there was a marvelous surprise just waiting to be captured.
“The great thing about life is that you never know what’s around the corner.”
One of the interesting things about the Chinese is the effort they put into their decorative rooftops. Two of my favorites are the opening dragon capture and the beautiful tea house just above. Can you imagine they remain this beautiful after centuries of abuse by the elements?
“Around the corner from every ugly thing there’s something really beautiful.”
Of course the ultimate example of endurance through the ages, (and quite a few corners I might add!) is China’s Great Wall. It was one of my lifelong dreams to visit the wall and I am happy to report that it met and exceeded even my wildest expectations. For more of my Great Wall photos click here.
“The secret heart of the known awaits just around the corner.”
Of course the delightful surprises of China’s corners went far beyond their structures. For example, who would expect a group of sheep to come marching around the corner while strolling the streets and alleys of China’s naturally-glorious Shangri-La?!
“A work of art is a corner of creation seen through a temperament.”
Or just as interestingly, a simple corner when infused with light and reflections, might become a work of art if we are open to seeing it.
“Still round the corner there may wait, a new road or a secret gate.”
The message for the week, captured in my final example above, is to see the world through the eyes of a child – always expecting and therefore seeing wonders around every corner.
“We are here to love. Everything else is distraction.”
This week’s Photo Challenge invites us to share that which distracts us – and it comes during a week when distraction is a welcome relief from the onslaught of horrific news items. First there was Charlottesville, VA and shortly thereafter Barcelona. We find ourselves wondering when and how it will all end.
“Distraction is a killer of dreams, visions and goals”
Following these tragic events there have been many, and varied, responses. One I found very interesting was an essay comparing the number of white supremacists who responded to the call for a “massive gathering” (estimated at a few hundred people,) versus the millions of the rest of us who find them repulsive. Another observation was made by none other than the great philosopher Tina Fey 😊. She reminds us that the White Supremacists’ call to return our country to those who originally owned it forgets that it was we who actually stole it from its original inhabitants, the Native Americans.
“Listen to your inner voice and never let the distraction of the crowd discolor your poise.”
Let’s talk for a moment about the Anti-Semitic Nazi-flag bearers. It is of course their right to hate and disparage Jews. Should they decide to go that route, we must remind them they should be denied access to any of the contributions Jews have made to our lives. No cure for polio or syphilis, no cardiac defibrillator or pacemaker, none of the music of Irving Berlin or Bob Dylan, none of the humor of Jerry Seinfeld or the Marx Brothers, no levis (or their successors, blue jeans), no sewing machines, and none of the contributions of Albert Einstein – just to name a few simple things. And by the way, many notable historians speculate that Columbus was actually a Jew whose voyage was funded by Jews so I suppose they’d have to give up America as well – just sayin’.
“Eliminate all distractions and focus on things that add value to your life”
Yet another response to this week’s events is a renewed focus on Free Speech. Here in the US it has always been a fundamental principal that anyone is allowed to express any opinion, no matter how hateful. Questions have been raised about the rights of businesses to fire exposed haters or the rights of social media platforms to disallow their use for spreading venom. Today’s editorial in our local paper explores the right to free speech versus speech designed to incite violence. Difficult to distinguish, but an interesting differentiation deserving of further thought.
“One man’s distraction is another man’s refuge.”
Khang Kijarro Nguyen
As I’m sure you’ve noticed, I’m responding to Andrea’s challenge with some of my favorite distractions – scenes of “vintage” decaying places and things. One might assume I’m suggesting that bygone days were less troubled, more peaceful. I would disagree whole-heartedly. Previous generations had turmoil every bit as disruptive as ours today. One need only think of the wars over the centuries to know that racial divide, religious differences and nationalist fevers have sadly always been a part of our existence.
“Don’t let the noise around you distract you from listening to the voice within you.”
So as Mr. Asi suggests, let us tune out the noise of those who would divide us, and listen to the voice inside, which reminds us that no one person, place or belief is better than any other. Let us stand together to denounce hatred and bigotry in all of its forms.
Wishing you peace and a world without fear – see you next week.
“Earth, water, fire, and wind. Where there is energy there is life.”
Our earth is filled with wondrous places vibrant with color and teeming with life. Some of the swamps of South Carolina offer a view into what our world may have looked like centuries before landfill became an option and development became the order of the day.
“Nature that framed us of four elements…..doth teach us all to have aspiring minds.”
Here we observe life at it’s most fundamental. Creatures not often seen in other environments are plentiful here – one need only pause to hear their calls. Perhaps they are warning others of our approach, or more likely they are simply communicating in ways we cannot begin to understand.
“Awareness is a mirror reflecting the four elements.”
In these primitive environments we see our earth at its most basic. Deep dark waters house fallen leaves while reflecting the colors of the sky and the sturdy trees that surround them. The heat of the day begins to fade as the cool waters envelop us and we pass more deeply into the realm of the arboreal canopy.
“Warmth is the vital element for the growing plant and for the soul of a child.”
A moment’s pause in the heart of this environment brings a very particular peace if we are open to it. The sun’s rays are filtered and softened and the air is a tangible thing – somehow heavier and lighter at the same time. The whisper of the breeze can be heard above the peculiar noises of the swamp’s creatures, and at the center of it all, the swamp’s waters nourish both the life of its inhabitants and the soul of its visitors. As John Muir said “In every walk with nature, one receives much more than he seeks.” How very true.
*This quote has also been attributed to Niccolo Machiavelli
“The texture of our universe is one where there is no question at all but that good and laughter and justice will prevail.”
In the strictest sense, texture refers to the look or feel of a thing, but as in Mr. Scott’s opening quote, it can also take on a more abstract meaning. Could it not refer to the texture of relationships, environments, our very lives?
“The texture of my own mind renders me very indifferent to the rest of the world.”
There are people who have richly textured lives – beyond work and family they seem able to maintain interests in things like the arts, music, philanthropy, sports, education and any number of other areas. Perhaps the much-maligned “Jack of all Trades, Master of None” is not such a terrible thing after all.
“Art is the colors and textures of your imagination.”
Beyond our various interests, perhaps the texture of our lives could be enriched by focus on what’s right with the world rather than what’s wrong. Surely there are as many things to be happy about as there are subjects deserving of complaint.
“The past becomes a texture, an ambience to our present.”
Finally, I would suggest that nature in all her abundance can add layers of texture to our lives if we will only let her. A walk in the woods, a stroll on the beach or a simple quiet moment in our own backyard can soothe the soul and refresh the spirit as nothing else. Here then, a few more examples of nature’s textures.
“It’s a man’s world they say; but in its daily textures it is a world created by and for women.”
“Extinction rates soar and the texture of life changes.”
“I think great romance demands great obstacles and textures.”
“The eyes’ perception of texture is pale compared to the lips’.”
Here’s wishing everyone a wonderful week ahead.
WPC – Textures
“If you are not content with what you have, you would not be satisfied if it were doubled.”
Charles Haddon Spurgeon
How many of us remember the old rhyme “to market to market to buy a fat hen”? In times past markets were the only way to buy produce and protein for the daily table. Of late the street market is once again thriving in cities and towns everywhere. Farmers and local growers enjoy an outlet for their products and consumers can choose from an array of fresh foods of all kinds.
“He who is not satisfied with a little, is satisfied with nothing .”
One of the stops along our travel route this past month was in Santa Monica where we spent time with good friends at the local farmers’ market. While much can be said about the quality and freshness of fruits and vegetable here in the south and across the country, to me there is nothing quite as wonderful as fresh produce in California. Driving from LA to San Francisco, we were amazed by the incredibly vast fields of olives, almonds, avocados, oranges, garlic – you name it we saw it growing!
“The more challenging the obstacles in life, the greater the satisfaction in overcoming them.”
Because we had walked to the market we were a bit restricted in what we could carry home, but that didn’t stop us from buying some of the most delicious peaches, strawberries, tomatoes and breads I’ve ever eaten. Beyond the pleasure of the food, we also enjoyed people-watching and of course photography 😀.
“To be able to look back upon one’s life in satisfaction is to live twice.”
One interesting activity during this visit was helping my friend research and purchase a new camera. Since I’m not in the market for equipment I’ll admit I’ve not spent much time studying what’s out there. Things have certainly come a long way since I bought my last weapon several years ago. Searching for an easy-to-use, lightweight, fixed-lens alternative that wouldn’t break the bank led to her choice of the Panasonic Lumix FZ1000. It has an incredible zoom range of 25 to 400mm and good performance in low light – perfect for her upcoming trip to Africa (and yes, I’m insanely jealous of her trip!). The farmers market provided a great opportunity for a quick photography lesson and some shooting practice.
“Satisfaction comes from working next to 500 photographers and coming away with something different.”
Hopefully the vendors that day were satisfied with the results of their efforts – I know we were more than satisfied with our choices. As for my friend’s camera selection, here’s hoping that by the end of her trip she’s satisfied with her decision. I’ll be awaiting her results with eager anticipation!
“For those who are lost, there will always be cities that feel
For those who live in or around a big city, my opening scene is nothing special. But for someone like me, who lives on a small island surrounded by nature, such a scene is quite unusual. I literally took the shot with my i-phone through the bathroom window of the home of our good friends who live in downtown San Francisco. To see such a beautiful cityscape, capped off by a view of the glorious Golden Gate, was a rare (and unusual) treat for me.
“San Francisco is poetry. Even the hills rhyme.”
No post about San Francisco would be complete without a capture focused on the iconic Golden Gate. My husband and I have visited our good friends there several times, but never have we seen such perfect, blue-sky days warmed by the bright sunshine. As always, I took many photographs of the beautiful Golden Gate, but this uber-touristy shot of her majesty is one of my favorites.
“San Francisco is the only city I can think of that can survive all the things you people are doing to it and still look beautiful.”
Frank Lloyd Wright
While it’s true being in a large, beautiful city is quite unusual for me, we had an experience while there which was unusual even for the full-time residents. During our visit a large group of humpback whales decided to have a swim in San Francisco Bay just under the Golden Gate! We were fortunate to be there at just the right time (completely by chance), and even more fortunate to have had our cameras with us. It would have been nice to have had my long lens, but I was thrilled simply to watch these beautiful creatures cavorting nearby, feasting on the schools of anchovies that frequent the bay in the summer and fall months.
“San Francisco has only one drawback: ’tis hard to leave.”
I’m closing with a personal favorite from our visit. As we finished shooting the whales from our high vantage point atop Fort Point, I took a moment to capture one of the guards inside, surrounded by shadows of the bridge. Somehow the scene expresses the melancholy I feel to be leaving this glorious city and our very special friends who moved there several years ago. As Jean de la Fontaine said “Rare as is true love, true friendship is rarer.” I am blessed to have found both – may you be able to say the same.
“In order to see birds it is necessary to become a part of the silence.”
This week as we continued our travels we spent time in the Colorado mountains. While we had many excellent adventures 🙂 I’m featuring a very special element of the visit. My brother and sister-in-law’s home outside of Denver is at about 8,000 feet and is a favorite stopping point for hummingbirds. I spent time watching and shooting these amazing little creatures and while I didn’t have the equipment necessary to really capture them, I was able to get close enough to create some interesting textures. In response to this week’s challenge, I’m including a collage of some of my favorites. Hope you enjoy my impressions of these fast-moving beauties!
“I demolish my bridges behind me…then there is no choice but to move forward”
Many of the opportunities for photography during our visit to Maine were natural wonders, while others, like the bridge in my opening capture, were man-made. This sweet little bridge is one of the most photographed in the entire state and simply sits by the side of a busy road. My ever-patient husband drove the 20 minutes back from our rental home so that I could shoot it, after we’d passed it several days earlier on our way to a family wedding.
“Gratitude builds a bridge to abundance.”
Roy T Bennett
During one of our days in Bar Harbor we came upon this idyllic scene which reminded me of bygone days. The 4-masted schooner is a recreation of one of the many ships that would have dotted the harbor in this seafaring town long ago.
“The hardest thing to learn in life is which bridge to cross and which to burn.”
Maine is well known for its lighthouses, one of which is shown above. Its rocky shoreline presented a challenge for sea captains as they traversed the area going about their dangerous work.
“Build your opponent a golden bridge to retreat across.”
Speaking of rocky shorelines, the little glint of sun caught my eye as I was capturing some macro shots of the seaweed early one morning. I couldn’t resist including it in my captures for the day. I suspect the sea captains found it much less appealing than I did!
“Men build too many walls and not enough bridges.”
Joseph Fort Newton
While not strictly a bridge, the shot above epitomizes Maine for me. The lobster traps are neatly stacked waiting for their next deployment, lending color and atmosphere to the waters beyond. The pier on which they sit is fully exposed but in a few hours will be completely hidden as the tide comes in and they are once again put to work.
Maine’s lobster business is thriving, much to the delight of visitors like yours truly. The little red truck above fronted one of our favorite dinner spots, Thurston’s Lobster Pound. Their LBLT (lobster, bacon, lettuce, tomato) sandwich is enough to make even the strictest dieter stray from their rules.
“If you’re gonna burn a bridge behind you, make sure you’ve crossed it first.”
Quentin R. Bufogle
Each of the companies that trap in Maine’s harbors has its own colors to identify its traps. Thurston’s were a bright red, which of course caught my eye as I meandered through their work areas while waiting for dinner to be served.
“Love is the bridge between you and everything.”
I’ll close with a capture of a sea-weathered little window I spotted that was chock full of the tools of a sea-faring trade. It’s a difficult life the lobster fishermen live. Short seasons, rough weather and seas, abundant competition and fluctuating prices all combine to present challenges only the strongest can survive. I’ll think about that the next time I’m enjoying the fruits of their labor.