Lens-Artists Challenge: Natural Light

Lens-Artists Challenge #138: Natural Light

There are abundant opportunities to capture natural light as sunlight changes color over the course of the day. Light is different every day and every moment. You may also include photos of backlight and/or side light in your own yard/ local parks or shadows from your windows.

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I’m always chasing the light. If I’m lucky, the sun shoots its magic through my living room windows at just the right time so I can catch it. Flowers are hastily moved to one spot after another…on a hastily cleared shelf…

There’s no time to waste…

Natural light cooperates more fully outdoors. If you’re paying attention…it may surprise you…

But my favorite natural light captures are at the end of the day…

…and as day turns into night.

Lens-Artists Challenge: From Forgettable to Favorite

Lens-Artists Challenge #134: From Forgettable to Favorite

This week we’re hoping you’ll show us a few images that may not have met your original expectations but that through editing you’ve turned into “keepers”. Here’s hoping you’re willing to share similar experiences demonstrating your use of editing to improve results.

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When I read Tina’s challenge topic for this week, I immediately thought of a recent photography disappointment. I had taken a few shots of a brief, but beautiful, scene outside my window a few weeks ago. The sun had just started to come out after a hard rain. Raindrops seemed to be suspended from all the bare tree branches behind my building…glistening (yes, glistening!) in the afternoon light. I acted on impulse at the sight – grabbed my camera, stepped onto the little porch off my second floor condo…and went to work.

However, the results did NOT match reality. So I chalked it up to…well…maybe next time.

Before

This challenge brought the photo out again. I thought…why not give it the old editing try.

I adjusted the contrast, highlighting and shadows. The rain reflections popped out. But it wasn’t until I cropped it that I was satisfied with the results. The power lines then seemed to blend in with the tree branches as well.

After

Now THAT’s what I saw!

Lens-Artists Challenge: Letter A

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #126: An Alphabet Challenge — Subjects That Begin with the Letter A

We invite you share images that feature a subject that starts with the letter A. You can also include signs and graffiti with the letter A. For an added challenge, capture an image that illustrates a concept with the letter A, such as alone, abstract, or afraid. 

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A is not just for Apple (as I was taught in school). So, for this challenge I ventured away from that delicious example.

I’ll start with Ablaze.

During a recent walk through my favorite (and only) refuge in the woods, I waited until the sun dropped low in the sky. This doesn’t take long during a late November afternoon, as daylight hours shorten. The wait was well worth it. One of these days I’ll figure out how to avoid the sun spots when I take these shots, but for now I let it be.

The field lit up as if on fire…lasting maybe a minute. When the sun Appears low on the horizon, it demands one’s Attention and prompt Action to capture a photo before it’s too late…

Next up is Angles

During a visit to an Art museum last year, I captured this shot of a wall visible from the cafe. Geometry was never even close to being my favorite subject in school, but I know an Angle when I see one. The sun…once more…doing its Amazing work…

Last…but not least…is Ass.

Yes, I know that sounds crude and perhaps inappropriate, but let’s remember…besides defining a body part or a human worthy of scorn, it names a member of Nature’s kingdom. Also known as a donkey.

When I visited the Shelburne Museum in Vermont last year, one exhibit consisted of a turn of the (last) century schoolroom. The room was full of Antique desks, a wood stove, blackboard and such. But what drew my attention were tablets hung on the wall – alphabet (and perhaps syllable) learning tools for young students of the day.

Apple was not used as an example for the letter A. The teacher at the time chose Ass.

All these years later, I learned some new interesting facts about this long maligned animal…

It also made me wonder when and why teachers Abandoned “A is for Ass” for “A is for Apple.”

Lens-Artists Challenge: The Sun will come out Tomorrow

Lens-Artists Challenge #122: The Sun will come out Tomorrow

…with everything that is happening in the world, it’s a good time to remember that, although everything seems gray, tomorrow the sun will rise again and it will illuminate everything.

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I am putting this post together on a cloudy, gloomy morning – so searching the archives for hopeful signs brought by the sun is a welcome positive distraction.

At the end of an afternoon visit to a nearby apple orchard this fall, I happened to glance across the road where a field of corn was planted. A sunshine spotlight!

Hampton Falls, New Hampshire

A ray of sunshine often surprises me during a walk in the woods…showcasing what lies within…

I was awake early enough one November morning in 2016 to catch this sunrise…

Hampton Beach, NH

A sunset to remember in November 2018…

Exeter, NH

The sun…from morning till night…always a welcome sight to see.

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Instead of an inspirational quote, I will close with an inspirational song.

Enjoy…

Lens-Artists Challenge: Focus on the Subject

Lens-Artists Challenge #121: Focus on the Subject

…we invite you show us an image that uses leading lines, patterns, color, contrast, selective focus, freezing the action, doorways or arches, or the eyes of humans or animals to draw our attention to the subject.

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The window in my computer/writing room faces the woods in back of our condo building. It also overlooks our tiny porch. I removed the screen from this window a while back, so that if the mood struck I could quickly open it and click away.

Last month, one such moment took place – a glorious tree decked out in Autumn colors framed within the outline of the porch railings. Leading lines and patterns contribute to the frame…

View from the window

Selective focus is perhaps my favorite photography technique. A cluster of “baby apples” at a local orchard caught my attention….

Baby Apples

A walk in the woods at the end of a beautiful fall afternoon led to this discovery. Lines everywhere courtesy of the late day sunlight…

Tree lines

Our local park is surrounded by a paved pathway for walkers like me. However since the pandemic began, social distancing signs and directional arrows were added. The two way path was now one way.

You can’t miss that yellow…

Go this way

Last but not least….when I was taking this shot I initially intended to capture a lake view where my family was enjoying our “covidcation.” I liked the scene with a lone figure sitting off to the side. At first I didn’t notice one very observant pup looking straight at me, but I soon did. His name is Taco and he doesn’t miss a trick.

Taco

Lens-Artists Challenge: What a Treat

Lens-Artists Challenge #120: What a Treat

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.

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My choice for this week’s challenge may seem kind of odd, but a recent package in the mail turned out to be quite a treat. And fitting for this election time of year. These days most everything is…well…odd.

I was recently in touch with my one and only cousin for the first time in several years. Her mother was my father’s much older sister and as a result we shared a set of grandparents.

She lived nearby our grandparents for most of her life (I did not) and knows more about them than I do. I wanted to learn about our grandmother’s history, as my father had only researched his father’s ancestry – and not his mother’s. For some reason, the maternal lineage is not as interesting? I think not. That’s usually where all the stories are.

I emailed my cousin, asking if she had any information about Grammy’s ancestors. She promptly called me on the phone, shared some hilarious memories and said she’d see what she could find regarding a family tree and “anything else.” The box of “anything else” arrived within the week.

What a treat.

Apparently Grammy’s father – J. J. Green – was involved in local politics in the tiny town of Graysville, Tennessee where she grew up. My cousin had an old photocopy of one of J. J.’s campaign “posters” – a musty yellowed 8″ x 11″ sheet of paper with Grammy’s notes penciled in around the border. 

What a fascinating peek into small town political history. I had to smile at the line: “the best moral comes through the influence of women.” A bigger smile for Grammy’s comment…”he always won everything he run for….”

I know nothing else about my great grandfather, but I sure am curious!

My cousin also sent a few photographs, several crocheted handkerchieves and a stack of written out memories from various family members.

Among the photographs…an undated black & white image of J. J. labeled “in the living room.”

I’d vote for this guy!

Lens-Artists Challenge: A Photo Walk

Lens-Artists Challenge #117: A Photo Walk

You are invited to share your photo walk, whether park, beach or street.

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Every walk I take usually ends up as a “photo walk,” transforming most walks into their own photo diaries. I often head towards the beautifully landscaped neighborhood next to mine. It consists of single homes which are part of a condo development. A pond, located in one curve of the road, supplies water for potential firefighting purposes (I think).

Photo opportunities have been plentiful along this street, but not just for the flowers. It has also been the home of various wildlife – both winged and webbed.

Back in May I attempted to photograph a duck family making its way across the pond. Little did I know that by September the water level would be reduced to a fraction of what it once was. A drought has hit the northeast United States (in this case New Hampshire) and sights like this are becoming more and more common.

As we all know…what a difference a few months can make.

No more ducks, fish, turtles or frogs when I pass by. I wonder, where did they go? 😦

Not all wildlife is gone however. A family of deer (looks like a family to me) and I meet at a bend in the road every so often. In August, I was mesmerized as – after the first one stared at me for about 30 seconds – they crossed one by one to the woods on the other side, bringing to mind the age old question…

Why did the deer cross the road?

I must clarify…they actually sauntered across the road, not seemingly in any big hurry. I’d like to think they’d seen me before and figured a human with camera in hand was a safe bet. They hung out in their destination spot for a few minutes…too hidden from view for another photo.

This bright autumn display greeted me during a walk last week. Fortunately I took the picture when I did, as the leaves had totally fallen within days of this photo.

Another photo walk complete.

Lens-Artists Challenge: Symmetry

Inspired by Lens-Artists Challenge #116: Symmetry

This week, we invite you to explore Symmetry as a way to create dramatic and impactful images.  Show us your images that use vertical, horizontal and/or radial symmetry. 

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Symmetry is…calming. Nice and orderly. Perhaps predictable.

Gee…what’s been missing for the last 6 months?

When I read Patti’s description of symmetry as it relates to photography, I realized many of my favorite shots inadvertently head in that direction.

For instance…horizontal symmetry is illustrated below. A walk with a friend one afternoon prompted…I have to stop and take a picture of this!

There was just something about the scene that drew me in…

Exeter River, Exeter, NH

Many walks in the woods behind my condo building are made possible by a long dirt path littered with stones, leaves, twigs and errant branches. It becomes muddy in Spring (although not this year, as we are experiencing a drought) and icy in Winter.

A few months from now, when the trees are bare, much more space will open up and the path will appear to widen. But now…with leaves just beginning to drop and colors starting to turn from green to yellow to red to orange to brown…it feels just right to me.

Vertical symmetry…

During one of those walks in May, I spotted a row of leaves, which to my eye appeared to be waiting in line. Hanging out – all fresh and new – ready for Summer, which was fast approaching.

Their veins exhibited nature’s predictable patterns in impressive detail.

Perhaps symmetry within symmetry?…

And then there are flowers. I discovered a plethora of socially distant sunflowers during recent gotta-get-out-of-the-house visits to a local farm this summer. One day I was lucky enough to find a bee who would hold still. Bonus!

Radial Symmetry Sunflower

Last, but not least, a small town baseball field captured my attention back in August. Empty no doubt because of local restrictions on gatherings…but ready nonetheless.

Vertical Symmetry
Play Ball…Please

From Camp to Kites

A good snapshot keeps a moment from running away. 

Eudora Welty

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This post inspired by two challenges this week…

Lens-Artists Challenge #115: Inspiration

We look forward to seeing your thoughts and images on what inspires YOU.

V.J.’s Weekly Challenge #113: How It All Started

…think back to those moments that changed your life. No need to use the prompt; just demonstrate how “it” started.

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I was only 10 years old when I got my first camera. And fell in love with photography. I don’t remember the circumstances of who gave me the camera or why. I just thought it was cool (or as we used to say back then…”Keen!”…”Sharp!”) and I’ve never been without one since.

My first attempts at photography – with a Kodak Brownie camera and black & white film – manifested as square blurry images of trees, lean-tos, and other 10 year olds at Girl Scout camp. Hard to believe that a week of rustic living became a defining moment in my life as a photographer, but I guess it did. This despite my most vivid memory being the latrines (just plywood for seats, people – I mean seriously?) and how I dreaded making the trip to That Building (no pictures, sorry).

It was also where I discovered (after the film was developed) that when I held the camera on the lean-to railing the blurring disappeared…

Over time, I slowly improved at steadying the camera and moved on to capturing my younger siblings when they least expected it. As the years went by I became the family photo historian by default. Even more so when I advanced to color film! Very exciting.

My friends knew I would always show up with a camera as the unofficial keeper of the memories. Even at a young age I became acutely aware of how quickly life – and people – could change. It became very important – for me at least – to preserve what I could. I do remember feeling all of that. Which kind of astounds me now.

Oh…and it was fun.

I was 14 ½ when my 4th and youngest sibling was born and he became a willing subject for photography practice. Never mind that he was exceedingly cute and followed me around constantly. I was “in charge” of him most of the time so taking pictures was easy.

The photographs I took at college and summer jobs are best left off the internet, but they are definitely treasured keepsakes.

I graduated to a Canon SLR camera shortly after I got married and burst onto the taking-pictures-of-my-children-at-every-milestone-possible scene. They were my inspiration for decades and have appeared in many blog posts, so I will restrain myself from adding them in here. Same goes for my grandson, who is now 4 and very comfortable getting his picture taken as a child of the smartphone generation.

However, now (accompanied by a Canon DSLR camera) I am also inspired by the ordinary…what’s outside my window…down the path into the woods…winding around that chain link fence. The mesmerizing waves at the beach. I am constantly looking up and down and to the side…not in as much of a hurry as I used to be.

The best photo moment – for me – still springs from the unexpected…no matter what (or who) the subject happens to be.

Last week I was able to return – after several months of Covid restrictions – to walk along the water’s edge at Hampton Beach. The tourist season is over. Crowds are gone. The parking rules have been relaxed. I couldn’t resist the trip on such a beautiful…sunny…blue sky windy day. Even with a mask on, it was worth it.

As I made my way across the sand to walk back along the street, I spotted something bright in the sky.

Off came the lens cover.

It wasn’t the surf or the rocks or what usually fascinates me about the beach.

I had to get a closer shot.

I set the camera on what I call Grandson Mode or Freezing the Action Mode.

And I was off…

Hampton Beach, NH

And…by the way…it is still fun.

Lens-Artists Challenge: Negative Space

Inspired by Lens-Artists Challenge #114: Negative Space

This week we will explore negative space in photography. Negative space is the area around the main subject of your photograph. This space is empty or unoccupied. 

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Negative space shows up in many of my photographs.

I like to use it to accent flowers as they wait for the afternoon sun to make an entrance in the dining room.

And then…many shots later…the fun with editing begins. Sometimes by altering the surrounding space around the image.

I will attempt to use one of the (sliding) block editor features to compare two different versions.


Well, that’s the magic “before and after” block for what it’s worth! (never mind how long it took to get that to work, but there it is)

Negative space also shows up when I am taking pictures looking down:

…when I’m looking up:

And when I’m looking out the window of an airplane (hard to remember those anymore)…looking forward to Christmas with my family.

December 2019
Logan Airport, Boston MA