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!

Playing with Black and White (Part II): A Touch of Color

Yesterday, I shared Part I of “Playing with Black and White” (Flowers).  Today, as promised, I bring you Part II.

The second swap in the “A Thousand Words” group’s B&W photography series, “Black and White with a Touch of Color,” invited photographers to stretch their skill just a little further by keeping just one color in the photo.

Mahlermail sent three photos that did not stay in my possession long; my little one requested them for his nature album moments after I opened the envelope.

“Leaf” by Mahlermail, October 2014

She captured the leaf in North Carolina while driving/riding the Blue Ridge Parkway.  It’s my favorite–an autumn leaf! 🙂

“Owl Eyes,” by Mahlermail

The owl picture was taken two years ago at a state park in the Houston, Texas area.  Its eyes are so striking, I can’t imagine them “losing” their color.

“Backyard Baby Love,” by Mahlermail

Mahlermail was fortunate enough to catch this one in her own backyard. She describes the photo as “totally cute”–a spring baby bird being fed by its mama.

I sent my partner four or five photos. Here’s one of them:

Melissa's Roses, Original Photo Taken August 2014

Melissa’s Roses, Original Photo Taken August 2014

I captured Melissa the Magnificent’s (the Program Coordinator in Academic Administration) beautiful red birthday roses on my iPad. They’ve gone through several different post-processes. I haven’t figured out which one I love the most, so I’m always looking for opportunities to use them in swaps. I’m a little proud of this shot since it shows a bit of improvement in my rose photography.

The quote is borrowed from the opening lines of John Keats’ poem, “Endymion.”

Here’s another of the shots I sent my partner–

My New Orleans, Original Photo, 2011

My New Orleans, Original Photo Taken July 2011

This photo is part of a “My New Orleans” collection of photos that I’ve been building for the last few years. I captured it while my sister, son, niece, and I strolled through the French Quarter one summer afternoon. I cheated a little by keeping more than one color, so I sent this one an extra.  Don’t you just l-o-v-e this dress?

I also played around with fish, flowers, leaves, stained glass, street art, and bird berries.

Some of these were a “miss”–they lost something they needed when most of the color was removed. But I enjoyed playing around with them.  The fun thing about keeping a little color in B&W photos is deciding which color helps the photo make a statement.

I’ll post the third part–“Buildings in Black and White“–tomorrow, or the next day.

Looking forward…

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!

There’s Something About B&W…

I received a beautiful package a couple of days ago that brought a genuine smile to my face even before I opened it.  Doesn’t this hand-decorated envelope make you smile?

Dee enclosed gorgeous handmade black and white photo notecards and a lovely letter that I will cherish.  She empathizes with the loss of a sister, as she lost her own beloved sister many years ago. Her letter was wrapped in hugs and hearts.  Here are the photos.  I’ve received photos from Dee before.  Whenever I discover she’s my partner in a swap, I delightfully–and a little impatiently–anticipate what I know will be a lovely package.  She never disappoints!

Wilting Tulips by Dee Stead

“Wilting Tulips” by Dee Stead

Dee added a little color to “Home by the Bay” below.  She also sent the color version of this photo.  The home has character and history.  I can just imagine the stories!

"Home by the Bay" by Dee Stead

“Home by the Bay” by Dee Stead

My partner will receive three photo notecards as well.  If you’ve been following my blog, you should recognize “Sweet Beloved” from the previous post.  I had little intention of sending it, but it really tugged at my heart.

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I had a little fun deciding which ones to send.  I solicited opinions from my hubby and son.  My hubby is partial to black and white photos, so he loves them.  My son, I learned, prefers color.  He doesn’t like any of these!  Oh well! I can’t please everyone.  Hopefully, my partner will enjoy them!

I can’t say I prefer one or the other, but there’s something about black and white photos that I really like.  They’re classic, appealing–stunning really.