Lens Artists Challenge: Surprise

Lens Artists Challenge #103: Surprise

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I am often surprised when I transfer the photos from my camera card to my laptop. The images I remember from clicking away do not always coincide with the actual results. Sometimes this is disappointing, but often I am pleasantly surprised…sort of like that excitement on Christmas morning as a child. Or opening the mystery treasure box with a special key in the gift shop at a local restaurant after dinner.

When I took the following photo, I focused on the lamp’s reflection in the window, but the resulting image morphed into the trees instead.

I actually like this one better than what I originally had in mind.

lamp in the trees
Then there was the rain pounding on our living room windows early one evening last week.

Raindrops! Photo!

I thought I was standing far enough to the side to avoid my own reflection. In the camera’s viewfinder it looked like I was. However…

Surprise!

I had to look twice, but…there it was. Do you see it?

screen drops silhouette
And last but not least…

During a quick dash down the frozen food aisle of a local grocery store, I glanced up…and ahead of me…on display at the end of an extensive beer display…

Surprise!

beer bear
Bear Selling Beer

Since this discovery, I have seen the beer bear (now wearing a mask) also promoting chips, crackers and boxes of cookies.

Yogi would have been jealous.

Lens-Artists Challenge: A Quiet Moment

Lens-Artists Challenge #102: A Quiet Moment

This week, we are challenging you to capture “A Quiet Moment.”  Maybe it’s a walk early in the morning or the time you sit down with a book and a cup of coffee.  Include shots captured at home or in your neighborhood, or from a trip to a faraway place months or years ago. It’s totally up to you.

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There have been many quiet moments in the last 3 months. More than usual.

Much of the time those moments were also peaceful, particularly during solitary walks around the neighborhood next to mine. The winding street was usually empty. Cars remained parked in garages or driveways. People staying-at-home indoors, except for a few dog walkers.

There is a pond tucked in a bend in the road – which (I assume) holds water for irrigation and firefighting purposes. I usually pause for a moment when I pass by and captured this moment a few weeks ago.

cupalo and bench
June 2020

However…6 months ago…quiet moments were few and far between at my daughter’s house during the hectic holiday season. What with a talkative 3 year old whirlwind, parents and grandparents everywhere you’d turn, it was a home filled with happy noise. Music! Making cookies! Telling stories! Playing games! Time to eat! Grandma come!

There were also two sweet family dogs trying to adapt to all this fun craziness. At least that’s what I sensed. One was a friendly brown and white rescue named Taco, who was visiting for several weeks. He actually belongs to my son and his girlfriend, who traveled to Europe for the holidays. And there was Lutra (the resident pet!), a friendly black rescue dog, who belongs to my daughter and her family.

I was fascinated by the dynamic between the two pups. Taco made himself at home immediately. Lying on the couch. Napping in Lutra’s bed. Chewing on her toys. Lutra would immediately leave the area when Taco entered…and then stare at him from under the kitchen table in the next room.

However, something was apparently resolved during a loud barking session between the two in the backyard shortly after my husband and I arrived for our visit. Lutra was (I assume) communicating an important dog message. Perhaps establishing something along the lines of packs and boundaries and this is my house. I’m obviously just guessing here. But after their noisy discussion they came back into the house…entered the living room and chose seats. And that was that.

Thankfully, the Singing Santa had mercifully stopped its journey across the rug.

Neither one of them moved during the many shots I took.

A Quiet Moment of Dog Detente.

quiet dog moment
December 2019

Lens-Artists Challenge: One Single Flower

Lens-Artists Challenge #101: One Single Flower

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: One Single Flower

V.J.’s Weekly Challenge #100: Pause (...long enough to quiet the noise…)

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purple iris

I find this to be a congruous set of challenges happening in the same week. In particular, V.J.’s subtext to the topic of Pause…about quieting the noise. There has been way too much noise for me lately – on a personal level – more than I can often handle and process like I did “before.” To focus during the day. To sleep at night.

At the same time, I recognize the need for information, education – and change. All the noise urgently and justifiably vies for our collective public attention simultaneously. Ignited by fear. Anger. Not being heard. Not being properly informed.

I have no answers for any of this. I am just one single person among millions who are worried, tired and anxious. Many have more concerns than I do. Many have less.

raindrop flower

Let’s try to get out of our own heads and pause. Take time to listen and hear and read what others have to say. With open minds. Whether it be the scientists with news about the pandemic and what to do next. Or our fellow citizens protesting for justice and racial equality. Or even the politicians who will shape policy – one way or the other. Let’s reflect. Reach within for empathy. And…again…listen.

And…make a commitment to get out and vote when the time comes.

What does this have to do with One Single Flower?

A mass of flowers draws my attention briefly. After a while they blend in together. In the relative quiet of the walking path.

But the single flower…the one tiny flower among many? That’s what stops me.

yellow flower

The one all alone “out standing in its field” as if to say Look at me! I’m important too!

lone daisy

The one single flower…making itself known.

 

Lens-Artists Challenge: The Long and Winding Road

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

…share your images and thoughts about the long and winding road. Feel free to be literal or metaphorical in your approach.

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My long and winding road entries (one begins as a path) for this week’s challenge are close to home…seeing as that’s where I’ve been for 3 months. The photos, however, are from last fall. One could argue they aren’t very long and winding, but the roads themselves eventually are just that.

The first photo is where I turn right into my street. The trees light up with color in the fall and the road does eventually wind – snake like – past 7 almost identical condo buildings to where I live.

road in fall
The second photo is the “road” more traveled and is located in back of my building. At first a well worn path, it eventually joins a dirt road used by runners, dog walkers, dirt bike riders…and sometimes snowmobilers in the winter. Every so often the utility company powers a massive truck past the “no trespassing” sign when it needs to do its thing. Often leaving deep muddy tire tracks in its wake. After fiddling with the massive power boxes or clear cutting trees.

But I like this road for its discovery potential. And the deer I sometimes meet for brief staring contests. Fearless chipmunks and squirrels pay me no mind. The woodchuck, however, always makes a quick getaway at my approach. It’s their home after all. I guess this road was made for them and me. 🙂

As far as I’m concerned…this road is mostly made for walking. And that’s just what I do.

Except to pause when it’s time for play…you never know how many acorns you’ll find along the way.

road path fall

 

Lens-Artists Challenge: Old and New

Lens-Artists Challenge #99: Old and New

We look forwarding to seeing your “Old and New” interpretation. It can be the contrast of architecture, fashion, collections, treasures…in one photo or multiple photos.

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My first “old and new” image is a “view from beach towel on sand” photo taken during a solo 7 day vacation in Coronado, California. I was feeling most grateful for the chance to enjoy precious peaceful time away. As I often do, I captured the moment on “film” and one photo highlighted the odd contrast between two very different buildings from very different times.

On the left: the old upscale for-the-tourists (and movie stars and all around famous people) Hotel Del Coronado with its signature red roof. Built in 1887, it has since been designated as a National Historic Landmark. I didn’t stay at the “Del” but enjoyed a meal and a drink at its restaurant. And, of course, I had to check out the gift shop.

To the right – and actually farther off in the distance than it looks – the more modern day high rise apartment buildings. Home to residents and, I imagine, not-so-famous people.

Worlds apart in more ways than one.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Coronado Beach, California 2006

My second “old and new” photo originates much closer to home. Once spring appears, my trusty path in the woods…which I have gotten to know well…always reveals a combination of the old and new. But only when I remember to pause and look down.

During a walk last month…I stopped next to these fallen leaves, now old and brown, which had covered the ground with thick layers of crunch. However…they were obviously no match for a glimmer of new growth forcing its way up towards the sun.

old and new leaves
Spring in New Hampshire 2020

Lens-Artists Challenge: Delicate Colors

Lens-Artists Challenge #98: Delicate Colors

As many countries are opening up a bit from lock-down, and I was inspired by the soft glory of spring nature in my part of the world, I thought we would indulge in some Delicate Colours!

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Delicate colors bring to mind a few old favorites. As well as some new discoveries.

A uniquely shaded rose. A painter’s palette of sorts. It was part of a birthday bouquet several years ago.

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A walk on the beach in 2016 – right before sunset – showcased nature’s delicate balance of colors. I can’t wait to get back to visit.

hampton beach
During a recent walk I stopped to admire a neighbor’s extensive front yard garden. It is expertly planted so flowers bloom constantly throughout spring. Much appreciated and admired.

IMG_3044
I spotted crocuses during a walk downtown along the river in April. They appeared to be hiding next to a concrete wall. Bent over in the wind.

delicate crocus

A few days later they were gone.

Lens-Artists Challenge: Pastimes

Lens-Artists Challenge #97: Pastimes

With so much time being spent at home, many of us have been looking for new pastimes or taking up old ones in order stay occupied or even sane. So that is my theme for this challenge – Pastimes. It could be something that you are trying for the first time or a hobby or interest that you have enjoyed for many years. Feel free to dig into the archives or take a picture to illustrate a current pastime.

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Trying to stay sane…that can be a challenge all on its own.

However…

The days begin with one of my favorite pastimes since I’ve been retired and empty nested. Coffee and the local newspaper. The paper itself is getting thinner by the day. Less ads with businesses shut down. No current sports to cover.

“Letters to the Editor” are ramping up though. Almost as much as during the presidential primary. I find them entertaining but I am also intrigued at the drama people thrive on and perpetuate.

I also read the obituaries. I always have. Some may think that’s odd or morbid or depressing. However, the obits often tell the fascinating – and often inspiring – stories of lives well lived…details of places visited, accomplishments and family. My favorite discoveries are the glimpses into sweet memories or personal quirks that make me think…I would have enjoyed meeting this person…

Of course not everyone’s obituary is like that. Some (probably due to the expense of listing) are brief and sum up the life of a 90 year old citizen with no details whatsoever. I wonder about them.

My late mother-in-law used to claim she read the obits faithfully every day to make sure she wasn’t in there. Sounds like reason enough for me.

The paper may still take half the morning to read while I sip and enjoy. Who knows…maybe eventually I’ll find some positive news.

morning coffee

 

A new pastime due to the pandemic has been a work-in-progress jigsaw puzzle. It waits for completion on the end of the dining table near the window…helping take my mind off the latest crisis. Perhaps fueled by my return to watching the evening news…just in case there is a breakthrough in testing or research or something hopeful.

We just finished our second puzzle (this one full of dogs looking very relaxed). We will admire it for a few days and then plan to move on to the next one.

puzzle

There is a patch of woods behind our condo building, which I have mentioned before in this blog. Many of my macro shots originated there. It has a few paths as well as an unpaved access road for the utility company. It borders a state highway, so it is not as quiet as I would like.

However it’s still a place of refuge during these days.

woods path

When all else fails – go outside! Walk! Sometimes I plug my white earbuds into iTunes and listen to one of my many playlists. Perhaps “Energy Dance Mix” or “Motown Choices.” There’s nothing like Aretha belting out R E S P E C T or Diana’s soaring Ain’t No Mountain High Enough to lift your spirits or quicken your step.

With my camera close at hand, I keep an eye out for potential Eureka moments when the sun is at the perfect angle in the afternoon. The golden hour that photographers get excited about.

And then at the end of the day…

I find that I have returned to a pastime that originated a very long time ago. When writing was my default – especially in troubling times. During my childhood I wrote feverishly in diaries (I say “feverishly” because the handwriting often had that look to it) about everything I did…down to the most mundane listings of television shows I watched. Emotions and opinions jumped out every so often too. Much of it is boring as sin to read now, but it served its purpose back then.

When the pandemic hit, I started writing at night again. Usually in bed before turning out the light. Just summarizing the day…and eventually the statistics. At first I thought…this is silly…but then did it anyway as it felt like the most natural thing to do. Perhaps to make sense of what was going on…or something.

I feel like I sleep a little better too.

I dug out a diary from 1965 to show here with my current one.

I wonder what the children of today are writing in their diaries…about how they are passing the time.

Time will tell.

Lens-Artists Challenge: Cropping the Shot

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #96: Cropping the Shot

This week’s challenge is a chance to explore a photo editing technique and the benefits of cropping the shot.  Show us how cropping helped to improve an image and create a desired effect.  Include the shot “before” and “after” so we can see the difference.

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I often call this time of year “fun with flowers” since I am always gifted with beautiful bouquets on Mother’s Day and my birthday. Yellow blossoms…my favorite flower color…are usually in the mix.

This year was no exception. A bouquet of tulips arrived from my son…and I had a great adventure yesterday chasing the sun as it crept around the room streaming through the windows in our corner condo unit. I moved the vase from window to window as the afternoon wore on. Crouching…bending…balancing…catching the light from as many angles as I could.

Fifty four shots later, I happened to glance at the clock…oh wait I should make dinner....

Here are a few samples from “Fun with Flowers 2020″…

For this shot I stood above the bouquet, but wanted to highlight the yellow tulip.

yellow tulip orig
Tulip – full frame

Which I did…after the crop.

yellow tulip crop
Tulip – cropped

I captured another shot crouched on the floor looking up. Unfortunately it also included the corner of the window…

tulip full
Tulip – looking up, full frame

I still wanted to salvage the image, but obviously without the distraction of the window frame in the corner.

Cropping proved to be more of a challenge than usual.

These are two different cropped versions. Each emphasizing different aspects of how the light plays with the petals. As much as I enjoy cropping as a way to create, I really didn’t want to eliminate too much in this case.

Which do you like better?

tulip crop 1
Tulip Crop #1

 

tulip crop 2
Tulip Crop #2

Any ideas and suggestions welcome!

Sprinkled

Double inspiration this week…

Lens-Artists Challenge #95: All Wet

I hope you’ve enjoyed my departure from the everyday challenges of our COVID-19 world, and that you too have some archived wet images to share.

V.J.’s Weekly Challenge #95: What a Child Knows

This week, let’s tune into the wisdom of children, or look inside to reconnect with our inner child and innate wisdom.

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If you own a home…with a yard…you often end up with a lawn that gets a bit finicky every now and then, especially in the summer.

In other words it gets crunchy in places.

Back in the days of such situations…when rain became elusive, we dragged out the green 25 foot garden hose and attached our sturdy “oscillating” lawn sprinkler. It needed to be positioned just right – in order to direct the much needed drink of water to the thirsty spots on our lawn. This took patience.

You also had to calculate exactly when to dash out of the way to re-position the sprinkler when necessary.

No sense in soaking yourself, the driveway or creating a river into the street.

Just the grass needed to get…All Wet…

With special attention paid to the Brown Spots.

sprinkler

 

Children meet up with a lawn sprinkler…and it’s a whole different story.

Never mind the grass. Or crunchiness. Who cares about brown spots? They sure don’t.

Water shooting high into the air out of a rotating metal bar with holes in it…is not about soaking the grass. Not at all.

It is really just a mechanism designed to get them all wet and cooled off in the hot summer sun.

Including a variety of delightful shenanigans…

Enjoying every sunlit moment.

They know.

backyard001

Lens-Artists Challenge: At Home

Lens-Artists Challenge #94: At Home

Due to the lockdown, we are spending more time at home. But, hopefully this isn’t limiting our interest in photographing. This week, we invite you to share photos taken at home.

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I am still getting used to “home” as it exists today. Although…after 3 years, I should be well on my way.

But when you’ve lived in one house for over 36 years – the greater part of your adult life – I’ve discovered it’s an ongoing adjustment after you pack up and downsize to a condo.

These long stretched out days…sitting at the kitchen table with my humongous mug of coffee every morning…I am comforted to notice bits from my old life still close by…

The vinyl records from way back (and that’s just half of the collection). The lamp that was a wedding present from dear family friends. The 42 year old philodendron – originally a wedding gift from my college roommate…a botany major.

Family pictures. Always family pictures. Oh…and a Lego character saved and resurrected from my son’s collection. Our grandson fell in love with “Astronaut” during his last visit, so we leave it on display for FaceTime. Ready and waiting to see him again.

IMG_1791 copy

Glancing behind me, the door to my “office” is open – my late mother-in-law’s antique chair tucked in the corner.

IMG_1792 copy 2

At the far end of the table… my mind clearing puzzle remains stretched out waiting to be finished.

partial puzzle

All here at home.