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.

Fandango’s Friday Flashback: September 18

Inspired by Fandango’s Friday Flashback: September 18

Wouldn’t you like to expose your newer readers to some of your earlier posts that they might never have seen? Or remind your long term followers of posts that they might not remember? Each Friday I will publish a post I wrote on this exact date in a previous year…How about you? Why don’t you reach back into your own archives and highlight a post that you wrote on this very date in a previous year?

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The following post was published September 18, 2018
This surely feels like a lifetime – not just two years – ago.

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Tuesday Photo Challenge – Light and Dark

Here is my entry for this week’s challenge hosted by “Dutch goes the Photo”

The theme this week is “Light and Dark”

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A few years ago…for a brief 3 months, we rented a very small condo across the street from a stretch of Hampton Beach in NH.

It was a temporary home while we waited for our new condo to be finished…after  downsizing from almost 37 years in a 3 bedroom house.  In the interim, we stored most of our belongings and essentially moved twice. First to this rental! It was a stressful time of uncertainty, planning, paperwork, scheduling, packing, unpacking, working…oh and hosting Christmas with 3 more adults and a sweet baby.

However, this cozy oasis on the coast proved to be just that…an oasis in the midst of life’s chaos. Breakfast watching the sun rise. The stunning late afternoon light as the day ended. From dark to light and back again.

The view from any window had been more than enough to calm and restore my rattled self during that mini-chapter of life.

I took this photo the day we left.
One last look.

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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

Poking Through a Human Made Mess

SixWordSaturday

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I am usually rewarded when “looking down” during walks in the woods. I often spy a tiny flower or encrusted leaves or moss or even random fungi on a log. Followed by inspiration to crouch down and capture my discovery on camera.

These small treasures belong in the woods I love so much. The place where I – a mere visitor – go to clear my head (despite the roaring of cars and trucks from the nearby highway) and enjoy total solitude surrounded by nature at its finest…whatever stage it’s in.

I follow a path cut through the woods for the utility company to access. It is also used by ATV riders in the warm months and snowmobile riders in the winter. As well as dog walkers and walkers like me with camera in hand.

The path eventually leads out of the woods to parking lots of two local businesses.

During a walk last month I recently looked down and was horrified to see evidence of bulldozed trash. A whole growing mountain of trash. It wasn’t just a few dropped beer bottles leftover from a party in the woods (which is bad enough), but piles of household trash, construction debris and rusted metal pushed back into a huge mound.

I have no idea who owns this land or if this is technically illegal.

I do know it is just plain wrong.

Fandango’s Friday Flashback: September 11

Inspired by Fandango’s Friday Flashback: September 11

Wouldn’t you like to expose your newer readers to some of your earlier posts that they might never have seen? Or remind your long term followers of posts that they might not remember? Each Friday I will publish a post I wrote on this exact date in a previous year…How about you? Why don’t you reach back into your own archives and highlight a post that you wrote on this very date in a previous year?

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The following are two posts from September 11 published during the 2 years I’ve been writing this blog.

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September 11, 2019

Wordless Wednesday

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September 11, 2018

The Day Everything Changed

September 11, 2001

In my lifetime, this is the day everything changed.

We are being attacked!
I heard my coworker yelling as she ran down the hall past my office. I worked in a hospital at the time and yelling in the halls was unusual. And disturbing.
Planes are hitting buildings in New York City!

It has become one of those awful “where were you?” moments. The horrific alteration of reality that gets seared in memory.

Must call family. Must connect. My daughter – a college sophomore on the east coast. My son in the 8th grade. My husband at home. My parents called him. My siblings. My friend in DC. My friend in NYC. The need to wrap oneself around loved ones as we watched the horror, the fires, the smoke, the pain unfold on television – over and over and over and over.  Hope draining away as the hours dragged on.

Emails flew through cyberspace.  Are you okay? Are you okay? My good friend who lived close to NYC frantic to help in some way. A doctor, she made ready to go to Ground Zero. But there was nobody to save. Was on call for helping at hospitals but no living to care for…she wrote to me.

Such profound loss.
Since then life has been divided: Before 9/11 and After 9/11.
A whole generation of children are now growing up under the cloud of what happened that bright sunny day in 2001. Its aftermath. Its fallout.

My heart breaks, still, for those thousands of innocents who died that day. And for their families. And for the first responders. And their families.

Soon after that day in 2001, the nation was called upon to light candles together in remembrance and solidarity. It was a time of unspeakable tragedy and for a brief time…there was unity. We stood on our small deck with a candle. A moment of silence.

I drove to work a few days later and saw a big American flag newly attached to the top of a huge crane – at the construction site for the hospital’s addition project. Similar to the ones at the WTC.

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As a child, I hid under my school desk. Practice drills. Crouched low with head down. In case we were attacked. Then we weren’t. And life went on much as before.

That won’t work anymore.

This morning, the news networks held a moment of silence at 8:46 am to mark when the first plane hit.

Today is a Tuesday, as it was in 2001.

We must never forget.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: A Labor of Love

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #113: A Labor of Love

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When you are only 13 years old and decide to sew a patchwork quilt for your parents, it’s a labor of love. That’s what my daughter did 25 years ago amidst her very busy life as a middle school student.

She sewed our Christmas gift that year (and I think it took all year!)…by machine and by hand and presented her father and me with a quilted king sized bedspread, which has lasted to this day.

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Christmas Day 1995