NaBloPoMo 2017: To Blog or Not to Blog? [Black and White Photo Challenge]

I spent the last few days trying to decide if I should participate in Na(tional) Blo(g) Po(st) Mo(nth) this year. I found no information about NaBloPoMo 2017–not even from Blogher, which normally hosts and offers prompts and support for participants–so I decided NaBloPoMo would be a no-go for me this year.

The blog goddesses had other plans.

Just a few moments ago, I received a message that someone added me to the NaBloPoMo support group on Facebook, so here I am…with an almost last minute post for the first day…because I can’t miss day one.

Have you seen the seven-day black and white photo challenge on Facebook? The challenge is simple: Someone tags you to post a black and white photo daily for seven days. You must tag a different person every day. There can be no people in the photos and there can be no explanation. Easy-peasy, right?

My brother, Dennis, tagged me, so of course, I had to do it. I completed the challenge yesterday, so I’m sharing the photos here with “brief explanation” (since I suppose the rules do not apply to blogs).  [With the exception of “The Birds,” the photos were shot with my iPhone].

Day 1:

Day 1: Look Toward the Light

I captured “Look Toward the Light” as I was leaving work one day, weary and ready for bed. The clouds were dark with promise of rain, but the sun burst forth and gave me the energy I needed to get through the evening.

Day 2:

Day 2: “Bearer of the Keys”

While waiting in the carpool line for my son to get out of school, my eyes locked on my favorite keyring. I bought the keyring almost two decades ago in England (which has the cutest teddy bear items). This bear has been carrying my keys ever since.

Day 3:

Day 3: “Out to Lunch”

The Instagram page “I Have This Thing with Bikes” (which features amazing bicycle photos from all over the world) has me hooked on photographing bikes whenever I see them. I caught this one on the way to pick up lunch from the Market on campus. Its owner was obviously “out to lunch” too.

Day 4:

Day 4: The Other Love

This camera and I are still getting to know each other. The shot is the result of my waiting for a program to end. I placed the camera on a chair next to me and we sat quietly studying each other.

Day 5:

Day 5: Love You Always

This is the top of a box filled with goodies from Aleta, one of my besties. She loves giving gifts and she takes so much care with presentation. Her signature style involves enclosing gifts in decorative boxes that can be used for storage and/or display.

Day 6:

Day 6: The Strength of an Elephant

This little baby elephant is part of my little one’s elephant collection. The day I shot the photo, I was feeling pretty overwhelmed and weak–my to-do list was exceptionally long and I was not feeling well. The elephant reminded me:

You were born into this life because you are strong enough to live it.

Day 7:

Day 7: The Birds

I stepped out of  my office yesterday to take a quick walk and get some fresh air. What I encountered felt like a scene straight out of Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds. There were hundreds of birds on the lawn a few feet away. When someone walked near the birds, they (all) took flight in a seemingly single move. The photos show they were not as uniform in movement as they appeared, even from a slight distance. But the sound of hundreds of birds suddenly moving “in unison” was a bit unnerving. After watching the birds for a few minutes and capturing a few photos, I decided to take cover in the safety of my office, just in case the birds had other ideas.

This is a fun challenge. If someone tags you, go for it. It’s a nice distraction from the everyday normal.

First day done, 29 more to go. Eek! Let’s see if we’ll make it to the end this year.

Following Wasps and Finding Hearts

I was sitting in my backyard an hour ago, clearing the clutter of the day from my mind, trying to feel human again–talking to God, listening for His voice, affirming His promise of peace.

As I was lost in thought, a wasp flew by and I absent-mindedly followed its path to a log I found interesting enough to photograph. As I poised to take the shot, the wasp changed its course and led me to this beautiful gift.

“Found Heart”

A found heart! The second one for the day!

My day started with a found heart my penfriend Christine posted on Instagram this morning.

Christine’s “Found Heart”

The hearts are reminders that no matter how utterly mired in the muck of life we find ourselves, love is the fundamental principle, the basis from which we should operate and the truth we must walk in. It is the thing we must cling to in the face of all the stuff tossed our way. It is what keeps us okay–sane and whole.

In the crazy rush of doing and getting it is easy to forget love, so I wish to remind you as I must remind myself from time to time:  You are indeed loved.  Be sure to take some time each day to bask in this knowledge and let it fill you to overflowing.

Hugs and hearts…

Animals in Monochrome

Can you believe January is o-v-e-r?! Didn’t the year just begin yesterday?

Now that the pesky start of the semester out of the way, maybe, I can make time for other important things, like blog posts, poetry, and photography.

It’s been months since I shared one of my monochrome swaps.  The latest–completed earlier this month–was ‘animals in monochrome” in the “A Thousand Words” group on swap-bot.  Grstamping, my partner, sent an envelope full of black and white goodies that someone quickly claimed for his collection of animal photos. Seriously. I was left with the note about the photos. I was “allowed” to scan them, at least.

Grstamping has been focusing on photographing animals lately, so she had a lot to share.  She sent a number of aquatic animals– [Click an image for a closer look]

And birds–

And cute rodents–

Squirrel

“Black Squirrel” by Grstamping

Chipmunk

“Chipmunk” by Grstamping

I’m torn between the chipmunk and the octopus tentacles as my favorite.  It’s hard not to love “cute,” but the tentacles are interesting.

I shared photos of our sweet-natured donkey and horse, Esau and Barnabas.  They’re always game for a photo opportunity.

Esau in Black and White

“Say Heehaw, Esau”

Barnabas in Black and White

“Smile Pretty for the Camera”

“Animals” was actually the seventh swap in the monochrome series hosted in our little group.  I’ll get around to posting “Trees in Monochrome” and “Clouds in Monochrome” eventually.

If you want to see the earlier monochrome posts, click the links below:

Happy Last Day of January!

Nature Photo Challenge: Fun with “The Fly”

The Mighty Mississippi, March 2012, New Orleans

“The Muddy Mississippi,” March 2012, New Orleans

Did you expect an up close and personal photo of an insect? Sorry to disappoint. 😀

I captured today’s nature photo at “The Fly” on a gorgeous Saturday afternoon just before the “official” beginning of spring–almost four years ago.

“The Fly,” formally known as “The Riverview,” is the waterfront part of Audubon Park in New Orleans, located behind the Audubon Zoo.  It’s a great place for small gatherings, hanging out, and casual walks.

I played with the photo a bit in PhotoShop and in various iPhone apps.

Here are some of my monochrome favorites:

Mississippi River

“The Muddy Mississippi in Black and White,” New Orleans, March 2012

Purple

“The Muddy Mississippi in Purple,” New Orleans, March 2012

The Fly Dark Sepia

“The Muddy Mississippi in Sepia,” New Orleans, March 2012

I love water and trees, so this nature scene was a given.

Interested in other photos I’ve shared for the nature photo challenge?  Click on the links below (or use the previous post button a few times):

Tune in tomorrow for Day 6’s post.

Ciao!

Fun with Teddy Bears in Monochrome!

I decided I should start June off with a post, and hopefully, set the stage for regular posts this month.  I slacked last month.  I needed the downtime–time to do no more than what was required of me.  I even let my camera have a bit of rest. Even though a longer hiatus would be fine with me, the things I want to share with my blog audience are beginning to pile up pretty high!

So I’m back with another monochrome photos post.  This time, teddy bears!  Way back in February, I organized a “Teddy Bears and Dolls in Monochrome” swap, part of the series of monochrome swaps I’d put together for the “A Thousand Words” group on swap-bot. This was a super fun swap for me (and my son).  At first, my son and I organized the Beanie Baby War, “The Bears vs. The Others” to be exact.   Not a very creative title, we know.  We have just as many bear beanie babies as we have “others” combined, so we were a bit challenged to come up with a name for the “non-bears.” They made a motley bunch of fish, fowl, furries, creepy crawlies and other winged creatures.  We also worked on a Beanie Bears Family Portrait.  That didn’t go so well.  The bears kept getting into tiffs over who should be seated on the front row.

But it was when Mr. Cuddly A. Bear got his hand on my camera that we knew we had a winner.  I’ll wait and tell you about that one.  Let me introduce you to some new teddy bear friends.

Camille Bear by Castlequeen

Camille Bear by Castlequeen

Meet Camille Bear. Her owner, “Castlequeen” on swap-bot, has had her for 18 years.  A dear friend gave it to her as a birthday gift.  This (above), obviously, is not the monochrome shot. These are:

Camille Bear in Monochrome Pose 1 by Castlequeen

“Camille Bear” in Monochrome, Pose 1 by Castlequeen

I like the antique look of this photo and how the crop brings the teddy bear up close and personal. Camille looks perfectly at home in color or in sepia.

Camille Bear in Monochrome Pose 2 by Castlequeen

“Camille Bear” in Monochrome, Pose 2 by Castlequeen

Adorable, isn’t she? This one reminds me of the teddy bear and doll displays I often see in antique shops.

Cakers, my “send-to” partner and photog friend, shared her beary goodness with me just because she knows how much joy teddy bears carry!  She got a little frustrated with the “creation” process and in her frustration tossed her bears aside with the hat, and voila! Behold the cuteness!

“Who? Bear,” Photo by Cakers

Cakers found this cuddly bear in a closet, and doesn’t remember who gave her this bear.  So I named him “Who?”  🙂

And now, look at this sweet little knit bear named George.

“George,” Photo by Cakers

George is named after Cakers’ maternal grandfather whom she loved fiercely.  She purchased “George” from Gregory Patrick of Mad Man Knitting.  If you’re interested in knitting bears or in connecting with another soul, check out his site.

Unfortunately, I’m not brave enough to post “The Beanie War”–it was pretty gruesome.  But I am willing to share Mr. Cuddly A. Bear’s story. Cuddly A. got a little bored with his “beary” existence the afternoon we were working with the beanie babies’ photo shoot.  My son and I set up the camera and tripod, but were using the iPad and iPhone for test shots.  While we were distracted, Cuddly A. decided to take control of the camera.

Here’s his story in pictures.

“Cuddly A. Bear Gets a Time-out”

As you can see, he used the camera without permission and “got busted.” Notice the look on his face when he realized he was caught. We placed him in “time-out” for eight minutes to mull over his naughty actions.  He listened carefully as I explained to him why he shouldn’t touch the camera without permission and promised he wouldn’t do that again.

As you can see, Cuddly A. was a willing participant in our bear shenanigans.  Converting him to “monochrome” was a fun exercise. Adding texture was bonus fun. Cuddly A. (not his real name) was actually my son’s first bear. He’s had him since “before he was born.”

Oh–remember this lovely doll and bear I found in a Nashville shop window? I converted them to black and white and sent him to Cakers too.

Honky Tonk Bear and Boy in Black and White

“A Boy and His Honky Tonk Bear” in Black and White

For more monochrome goodness, see my January 20, January 21, and January 22 posts.

I haven’t organized a monochrome swap in a while, but I think it’s time. Let’s see what we come up with next!

“Bearing” the Cross: Just for Laughs

A few days ago, I was “playing” around with an iPhone teddy bear photo and a cross photo I’d taken while the family and I walked a “new” trail just the day before (more on that later).  This is one result:

2015/02/img_2232.jpg

Hubby said “Weird.”  One friend said, “Different”–she was being kind.  Another said, “Creepy.”  Yet another friend missed the teddy bear completely. She saw the Virgin Mary with the Christ child.  She thought the message of the image was “From the Cradle to the Cross.”  Hilarious!

Since I was having so much fun, I sent it to Cakers and Dee, my wonderful swapping photog friends.  They missed the “LOL” at the end of my message and took it so seriously.  Cakers even suggested ways for improvement.  Maybe, I’ll try her tips and see if we can make something of this!

For the record, my little one liked it. 🙂

 

Playing with Black and White (Part III): Buildings

For the last couple of days, I’ve been sharing monochrome photography exchanged through swaps I hosted in “A Thousand Words,” a group of swap-bot.  You can see the first two posts here and here.

The third swap in the series focused on buildings–inside or outside, part or whole. My partner, Cakers, captured most of the images below while vacationing in Cancun, Mexico for the Christmas holiday. She sent four striking notecards that I can’t wait to write on with my white ink.  [Click an image for a closer look]

I love the interior of the one building (lower right), and the play of light and dark in all the shots.

I sent my partner three notecards. I can only remember two of the shots I sent. I’m thinking about using the B&W “version” of the photo below for Liberate Your Art 2015. The other is a modification of a 2012 photo.

“Abandoned,” Madison County, Alabama, 2014

I found this beauty one afternoon while my hubby, son, and I were on the hunt for great photo opportunities. Here it is in color–

“Abandoned”

And here’s the modification of an earlier photo–

Chapel of Peace, Whippoorwill Academy and Village, Ferguson, North Carolina, 2012

Chapel of Peace, Whippoorwill Academy and Village, Ferguson, North Carolina, 2012

You can see the color version of this photo in a December 2013 post.

Here’s a bonus shot from Midteacher sent for another swap.  Can I consider a stairway part of a building?

“Stairway in Traverse City,” Photo by Midteacher aka DBW

She loved the stonework and couldn’t resist taking a photo.  I see why!

I’m looking forward to more B&W/monochrome photo swaps in our little photo group. I just set up “Teddy Bears and Dolls” and “Trees.”  I’m excited to get started!

If you’re into monochrome photography, you should check out Leanne Cole’s blog. She hosts a series called Monochrome Madness. I haven’t gathered the courage to share any of my images there. Soon, though. Maybe.

Until next time…

Playing with Black and White: Flowers

I’ve been experimenting on and off with black and white photography for a few years now, but I was recently “inspired” by Amy Saab’s blog post “The Roses Had Spots” to set up a series of swaps in the “A Thousand Words” group on swap-bot.

There are a number of photography groups on swap-bot. I belong to three or four. This group is different in that it requires photographers to be at least “intermediate” level and capable of crafting more sophisticated or thoughtful swaps using photos–beyond the simple “snap a shot and send it.” We’re a small group by swap-bot standards, but many of the members are serious hobbyists who may have taken a class or two or who have sold their photographic work at craft shows or in online shops. The idea is to challenge each other to grow and provide constructive feedback when necessary.

In her post, Amy Saab shared “flawed” roses in black and white. She “removed the color to show their beautiful structure.” I’ve done the same thing with “flawed” photos of flowers, buildings, people, and other subjects.

Even without “imperfections,” black and white photography reveals beauty in ways that we often miss because of all the color. Don’t get me wrong. I love the brilliance of color photography, but an image composed in black and white can be breathtaking.

So far, I’ve hosted three “black and white” (or monochrome) swaps–in October, November, and December 2014.  Instead of showcasing the photographs in one blog post, I will share the photos in three separate posts.

The first swap in the series was “Flowers in Black and White.” Swappers were to alter photos of flowers already in their collections and select what they consider the best two and send the B&W photos to their partners. They were encouraged, but not required, to send the color photos as well.

My partner, “Midteacher,” sent four sets. I’m sharing two because the other two are either buried under my desk clutter or are sitting in the collection of notecards I keep at work just in case I get the urge to write a note or letter during a break.

Flower in Purple by DBW

“Balloon Flower” by DBW aka Midteacher

Midteacher writes that she loves B&W photography because of the details the photos expose. “By taking away the color,” she writes, “the eye focuses on the textures and details of the shot.”

Flower in Black and White by DBW

“Balloon Flower in Black and White” by DBW aka Midteacher

She writes that she “loves the veins in this shot.”

Purple is my favorite color and I love seeing purple in nature, but I’m having a difficult time staying loyal to purple in this instance.

Midteacher also sent my favorite flower, a sunflower. She loves the industrious bee who was too “busy to notice me standing away with my camera.”

The Bee and the Sunflower by DBW

“The Bee and the Sunflower” by DBW aka Midteacher

The sunflower is stunning in black and white, especially with the added texture that doesn’t show up so well in the scan below.

The Bee and the Sunflower in Black and White by Dee

“The Bee and the Sunflower in Black and White” by DBW aka Midteacher

I sent my partner four sets of flowers in B&W. Two that appear in earlier posts–dogwood blossoms and daisies–and one that will be featured in a future post, so I’ll share only one of them here.

Untitled 2 2I shot this one in color some time during Fall 2013. The original color image also appears in an earlier post. It was one of the images I used to make a postcard for International Women’s Day 2014. The B&W photo was a bit “blah,” so I used sepia instead.

Here are two I intended to send when I began planning the swap, but I completely forgot about them when I put the swap together.  (Sorry Newfie!)

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I captured the water lily while on a Mother’s Day visit to the New Orleans Botanical Gardens. The lavender flower was my favorite shot of the day.  I like the photo in B&W, but I love the color one.  I found the bright orange and yellow flower while taking a walk one summer day.

Here are two bonus postcards Beckra (RR) sent.

“Wild Alium” by Beckra (RR)

“Blackberry Blossom,” by Beckra (RR).

She writes, “In early autumn Arkansas seems to undergo a second spring of sorts.  Flowers that had lapsed during the heat of summer re-emerge.”

Beckra and I were on the same photographic page when I put the swap together. She had just ordered these B&W postcards when she read the swap description, so she decided to share them with me.  I always appreciate her photographic interpretation of her world.

I’ll post the second part, “Black and White with a Touch of Color,” tomorrow.

Oh, my hubby has finally joined the blogosphere here on WordPress. While you anxiously wait for my next post, head over to his page and show him some blog love. 🙂  Find him here:  Viewfinder.

See ya later!