Lens-Artists Challenge: Colors of Autumn

Lens-Artists Challenge #167: Colors of Autumn

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The colors of Autumn are peeking out…little by little…in my northeast corner of the US. I have chosen some old favorites to share in this challenge, as I think Autumn (once it gets going in my neighborhood) is the most colorful season (sorry Spring!).

There’s nothing like blazing red, orange and everything in between when you look up. It all seems to happen overnight or close to it.

Leaves crunch underfoot. I marvel at the uniqueness of each one. I know it’s nature and the leaves’ final stage of life, but perhaps the blaze of color is its glorious send-off after shading us all summer…

Gourds are once again arriving at grocery stores and farm stands. Their colors and textures…so unlike the vegetables of summer. They’ve always struck me as strange in a cool sort of way. I never know what to do with them (no decorating potential…Martha Stewart I’m not), but they deserve a photo.

I know that apples are available year-round at the grocery store – trucked in from somewhere, but Autumn is the time for apple picking in my local area. Fresh off the trees, branches weighted down…there’s nothing like it. Orchards are busy in September & October…morphing into destination spots for festivals, bluegrass music, hayrides and apple cider donuts. And apples. Lots of apples.

Last but not least, there is orange once more…not just leaves…but pumpkins too – so plentiful in Autumn. Pumpkins to set out on your porch as a festive nod to the season…but when our kids were growing up…the first step was carving jack ‘o lanterns. Very important preparation for placing a lit candle inside on Halloween night.

Hand a knife to a 5 year old and look out!

Careful creativity in the making….

1987
Daddy and budding artist daughter

It’s All About the Light

Len’s Artists Challenge #162: It’s All About the Light

This week the Lens-Artists team invites you to join us in exploring the magic of light…your challenge is to share images that illustrate the power of light ….

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Walk in the woods…catching the light

In my mind, the magic of light hides in shadows and the secrets they reveal. I love the surprise. I’m always on a treasure hunt…discovering the hidden lines and shapes of nature’s artistry.

It can be anywhere…a photo taken indoors near a sunlit window…crouching down on the floor…whatever it takes…

…or downtown, walking along a chain link fence…at just the right time of day…waiting for the clouds to part for the sun…

The shoreline at the beach…end of day in November…light and color merge in spectacular fashion…

Hampton Beach, NH

However…perhaps nothing takes the place of well placed natural light streaming through a window…at the perfect moment…capturing a 5 year old’s uninhibited profile of joy….

It is indeed…all about the light.

Postcards

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #159: Postcards

...If you have some real postcards it would be great if you would like to share them with us, I’m sure they have a nice story behind them…

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Postcards? I still have every postcard I ever received. Musty, faded & bent corners …no matter. The connection forged with the actual written word is unique because it is so very personal. I also have postcards passed down to me – as the family archivist for better or worse (someday they will be passed down again). Such a fascinating peek into the past…both for the images on the front and messages on the back.

The “postal card” was used in 1913 as a form of advertising; probably because it was a cheaper way to communicate via the US mail. It seems similar to the junk mail of today, but it also doubles as a fascinating snapshot of history over 100 years later. I discovered this postcard in a box of photographs & letters from my grandparents. I looked closely at the photo for the first time. Hamilton Ave…1913…boats in the street?!? A few mouse clicks later, I solved the mystery: March 26th, 1913 – the “Great Miami River Flood” in Hamilton, Ohio (as well as other towns in the Miami Valley). The river crested at 44 feet, resulting in 467 deaths.

The Stanley L. Dornseifer Company used an image of the devastation 6 months later to let customers know they were still in business…their sign prominent in the photo… Postage? 1 cent.

Postcards were apparently also used to share class photos – in addition to advertising a photographer’s services. I found this example featuring my grandmother’s grammar school class in Cincinnati, Ohio. Not sure which grade…circa 1914 -1915.

My grandmother (Oma) always labeled everything (for which I am eternally grateful)…so here’s the back…

Fast forward 50 years or so and I began collecting postcards…mostly from my grandparents. They often sent me newsy notes when I was at Girl Scout camp (...I suppose you are having a good time playing games, singing and dancing…Do they play baseball? We both miss you very much...Love, Oma and Opa.). Or when they went on trips to let me know they were thinking of me. The handwritten cards are so precious to me, but I have to admit I wonder at the interesting (?) choice of images…

At the time I’m sure I was more focused on the messages…I was never a big fan of cats anyway.

Over the years, I’ve always checked out the postcard section in card or souvenir shops – both when traveling and shopping locally – and I have amassed quite the collection of humorous postcards. Some were mailed off to friends and some I have kept. Below is a tiny sample.

Memes before there were memes…

I hope postcards never go completely out of style.

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.