“Escape” to the Front Porch

A few days ago, the guys and I left home to hit one of the many nature trails in the area. As usual, I had my camera out ready to capture abandoned homes and scenes from rural life along the way. A couple of minutes into the drive, the gorgeous remains of a tree commanded our attention. I was ready to jump out of the car and snap a shot of the tree, when my hubby said, “I think this is your colleague’s home.” We weren’t sure. As we looked toward the house, which was set some distance from the road, we noticed a couple sitting on the porch. We couldn’t make out the faces, but I thought I recognized the SUV sitting in the driveway. We took our chances and drove up to say hello and ask permission to capture a few shots–even if we were wrong.

It was them! But the biggest surprise was the amazing view right outside their front door.

“Living the Pond Life”

The pond, built by my colleague’s husband, is beautiful and reminds me why I love living outside the city and in a place where a front yard can be a pond. It is well-maintained and serves as home to a lot of marine life–fish, turtles, and the occasional unwelcome water moccasin.

Back in May I accepted Books & Coffee’s challenge to share escape photos within our own cities and towns. I have to make good on my promise to share some of my (far too many) “happy place” photos, but what better way to “escape” life than by simply stepping outside one’s front door? I can’t claim my colleague’s home as my happy place, but it did provide the happy during our brief visit.

It’s clear that my colleague’s husband designed the pond to provide a bit of peace and beauty away from the daily hustle and bustle.  Water–in almost any form–has such a calming effect. Even though it was an unplanned stop along the way, visiting my colleague’s pond just about negated my desire for a nature walk.

As for the tree, I almost forgot about it, but I managed to snap a couple before we drove away. The knots and grooves give the tree such striking appeal! [Click an image for a closer view].

Don’t you think so?

Photography: Taking Shots and Finding the Right Challenge

Last month I attempted Fat Mum Slim’s Photo-a-Day.  I completed the challenge a few times and thought it would encourage me to get a little creativity in each day.  Unfortunately, the timing was wrong. The semester was beginning and the weather was strange.

I captured about nine days before the possibility of capturing a photo every day in January slipped away.  I gave up when I realized I was pretty much  just “taking shots” and not actually “crafting” or “creating” anything.  Here’s what I did capture as part of the challenge.

Day 1: Favorite ColorPurple, of course.  An ornament on my Aunt Elaine’s Christmas tree.

Day 1: Favorite Color

Day 1: Favorite Color

Day 2: Delicious–Avocado.  My favorite fruit. Yum!

Day 2: Delicious

Day 2: Delicious

Day 3: Circle–The circular ironwork on a mailbox.  I know it’s more a nautilus, but you get the point. 😀

Day 3: Circle

Day 3: Circle

Day 4: Animal–Ferret.  Say “hello” to Gnash! He’s kind of a ham–or maybe just curious about the camera.

Day 4: Animal

Day 4: Animal

Day 5: A Favorite Thing–Books! A tiny sneak peek at the books in our home library or the reason why I can’t be a minimalist.

Day 5: A Favorite Thing

Day 5: A Favorite Thing

Day 6: Me–A Selfie.  I’m not into selfies, so I played around with the pic.  A bit cheeky, eh?

Day 6: Me!

Day 6: Me!

This is me too!  Same photo. Different manipulation.

Day 6: Me!

Day 6: Me!

Day 7: Time–Quotes in my planner on time.  It was such a coincidence that the quotes in my planner coincided with the theme for the day! I had to capture it.

Day 7: Time

Day 7: Time

Day 8: A Wall–This is a part of the inspiration wall in my office on campus.  It has quotes, beautiful images from friends and students, photos of family members, sunflowers, cards, and so much more. Eye and soul candy to get me through the challenging days.

Day 8: A Wall

Day 8: A Wall

Day 9: Mail–Beautiful postage from Senegal that I’d planned to use in a project and postcards and a letter with vintage postage that were “adorning” my desk.

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Day 9: Mail

Day 12: Leaf–I captured the leaf photo late one windy evening.  Bronze leaves against the black sky.

Day 12: Leaf

Day 12: Leaf

I found it boring, so I altered it. This “shows” the wind.

Day 12: Leaf

Day 12: Leaf

I “failed” at photo-a-day, but some good came from this failure.  It freed me to have some photo fun at the New Orleans Botanical Gardens (I’ll share that adventure another time).  (And) through this exercise, I learned that I want a more intentional photo challenge, one that is about more than a photo and a theme.

Thanks to Alice’s Grand Adventures, I found The Dogwood 52 Week Challenge.  This challenge is manageable during the busy academic year: it removes the pressure to capture a photo every day based on a specific theme, and it’s about stretching and growing as a photographer.  The assignments are “in one of three categories: storytelling, technical, artistic impression.”  The good news is that even though we’re seven weeks into the year, I’m not late! The challenge is designed to begin at any time; it’s up to the individual photographer.

So…I’m in!

I’m looking forward to sharing the challenge with you each week.

Nature Photo Challenge: Pacific Sunset

We’ve reached the final day of the nature photo challenge.  I’m a bit proud of myself.  Seven blog posts in seven days! I applaud those of you who blog daily, but blogging every day for a week was quite a feat for me.

I had a little trouble deciding on today’s photo.  A moon shot?  A tree lined path? Another flower? A rainbow peeking out from the clouds? Far too many choices.

Today, I leave you with a sunset, an appropriate end to the challenge.

"Pacific Sunset," July 2005

“Pacific Sunset,” July 2005

This is another photo from Maui. Hubby and I were on a yacht (with others) on an evening tour around the islands of Maui and Oahu before ending at the Maui Ocean Center.  We were graced with this beautiful scene before everything became pitch black over the waters.

The weekend is mere hours away, and I’m dreaming of sunset Friday and a period of rest.

You can find other photos posted for the challenge by clicking the links below:

Until next time…

Nature Photo Challenge: Autumn, of Course

"Falling for Fall," Northern Alabama, November 2015, iPhone Photo

“Falling for Fall,” Northern Alabama, November 2015, iPhone Photo

What’s a nature photo challenge without a nod to my favorite season?  I didn’t shoot very much this past fall.  It rained constantly, it seemed, so I missed most of the brilliance.  This is one of the very few photos I captured.  The reds and browns against the blue sky reeled me in for a closer look.

Here’s an edit of the photo:

"Falling for Fall," Edited in Pixlr

“Falling for Fall,” Edited in Pixlr for iPhone

Click on the links below (or use the previous post button a few times):

Just one more day left for the challenge.  See you tomorrow!

Nature Photo Challenge: Tiny Pinecones

I woke up just after 2:00 a.m. this “first day back after a holiday” morning with a headache.  As usual, I couldn’t go back to sleep till about 10 minutes before the alarm.  Then, I was hit with nausea.  And one complication after another.  I took a deep breath and started praying.

I know how easy it is for a bad morning to turn into a bad day, and I am not up for a “terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.”  I can’t stop today; I need to smile and get things done.  The nature photo challenge is just the panacea I need.

Today, I share tiny pinecones. I think they’re from the hemlock tree.  These are the cutest! They’re about one half inch to one inch long.

"Miniature Hemlock Pinecones," June 2015

“Miniature Hemlock Pinecones,” Northern Alabama, June 2015

This photo was captured with my iPhone while on a campus walk.

If you want more information on the hemlock tree/pinecones, check out these sites:

To see the other photos I’ve shared for the nature photo challenge click on the links below:

Enjoy!

 

 

 

Nature Photo Challenge: From Everlasting to Everlasting

Today’s nature photo is brought to you by a far too brief vacation in Maui 10+ years ago.

"Thou Art God," Maui, Hawaii, July 2005

“Thou Art God,” Maui, Hawaii, July 2005

This one’s from an all-day exploration of the island.  It was difficult choosing from the hundreds of photos I shot.  The ocean. The mountains. The sunsets. The flora and fauna.  All breathtaking.  I added the scripture to this one some time ago, so decided to go with it.  I breathe Psalm 90:2 during almost every experience with nature.

I have three distinct happy memories (from) immediately BK (Before Hurricane Katrina): My one month in New York working on my research and hanging out with amazing scholar-friends, the week my hubby and I spent in Hawaii, and my oldest nephew’s wedding in Dallas.  All are wonderful reminders that there was indeed life and joy before that fateful moment.

During our time in Hawaii, my hubby and I seriously considered moving there.  We still think about it every now and then. Who knows? Maybe, next year this time, I’ll be blogging from Hawaii. 😉

Lego Adventures

“The Paleontologist-Photographer”

As I’m decluttering my desk again, I realize I still have quite a backlog of mail to share.  I thought I’d start with some fun shots.

Swap-bot Tynkerbelle and I enjoyed a few photo exchanges early spring. My favorite was “A Different Point of View,” a swap she coordinated.  For this challenge, we had to photograph from the perspective of a Lego minifigure.  Tinkerbelle sent three photos:

Here’s “Little Lego Man,” as she calls him, propped on a leaf photographing flowers.

Lego Man Propped on a Leaf by Zoey

“Flower Power” by Tynkerbelle/Peppie Selders

Here’s another minifigure on a beach.

“Beach Tourist” by Tynkerbelle/Peppie Selders

And again on a dinner date at Outback.

Dinner Date by Zoey

Dinner Date by Tynkerbelle/Peppie Selders

You can see more of Tynkerbelle’s work on her website, Captured Adventures.

This was a fun swap for my family.  I had to borrow one of my little one’s minifigures and he was super-protective of it.  I couldn’t leave with it and he had to supervise every effort.  I have since purchased my own–the paleontologist in the top photo–and my son purchased many more for his own Lego purposes. Here are the photos we chose to send.

“Posing in the Purple Weeds”

We were just warming up in this photo. “Blue” loved the purple weeds and just had to get a shot with them.

“Assessing the Challenge”

Then, with my hubby’s help, “Blue” and “Orange” joined forces to conquer “Big Rock.”  Can they do it?

“The Struggle Is Real”

They’re going to make it!

The last shot we sent her is my favorite, probably because it’s black and white.  Tynkerbelle noticed bunnies throughout the photo, and now it’s extra special to me.  😉 Can you see the bunnies?

Bunnies Everywhere

“Bunnies Everywhere”

This one wasn’t included in the exchange, but my son’s Spiderman minifigure came in handy for Spidey’s “selfie.”

“Say Cheese!”

Shooting from the perspective of a minifigure requires getting down low and getting close.  For me these were easier to shoot with my iPhone and my son’s Canon point-and-shoot than with a Canon DSLR, but I’m still experimenting.

As you can see from the top photo, I found a smart-girl Lego minifigure to take on adventures. She now has a permanent spot in my camera bag.   Tynk’s photos motivated me to get her a camera.  If memory serves me well, I found a pack of five on eBay for $2 or $3.

If you’re interested in more Lego Adventures, check out these sites:

Maybe, you’ll be inspired to go on a Lego adventure!

Where IS Waldo?

Thanks to his subscriptions to High Five and Highlights magazines since he was a wee tot, my little one loves “hidden pictures” activities, so it’s always an extra treat when we receive Where’s Waldo? postcards.  Happy mail and a fun activity all in one!

Where’s Waldo is the series of children’s books by British illustrator Martin Handford.  Because “before child” I really wasn’t into “Waldo,” I learned from the postcards that Waldo is Wally outside of the United States and Canada.  I can’t figure out, though, why marketers (I assume) thought the moniker “Waldo” would be more acceptable to U.S. and Canadian readers than “Wally.” They’re about the same to me!

I received these postcards through various swaps–Postcrossing, “Postcards from a Book,” “5 Partners,” and most recently a “Children’s Book Illustration” swap. So I’m sharing them with you–not just so you can envy my mail but so you can have a little fun to break the monotony or tedium of a long day.  If you happen to have kids nearby, let them join the fun! 🙂

"The Deep Sea Divers" scene from Where's Waldo? The Fantastic Journey, Martin Handford

“On Tour With the Vikings,” scene from Where’s Wally Now? by Martin Handford. Postcard from Natasa (Australia).

Click the image to view larger and find:

  • Three tongues sticking out
  • Eight red shields
  • Four Vikings wearing cloaks

“Once Upon a Page,” scene from Where’s Waldo? The Wonder Book by Martin Handford. Postcard from Andie (Texas, USA).

Click the image to view larger and find:

  • A dragon with a scarf
  • Henry VIII and his wives
  • George Washington
"The Deep-Sear Divers," scene from Where's Waldo? The Fantastic Journey by Martin Handford

“The Deep-Sear Divers,” scene from Where’s Waldo? The Fantastic Journey by Martin Handford. Postcard from Kate (Portland, USA)

Click the image to view larger and find:

  • A false shark fin
  • A bottle in a message
  • Fifteen fishing rods
"The Battle of the Bands," scene from Where's Wally The Wonder Book by Martin Handford

“The Battle of the Bands,” scene from Where’s Wally? The Wonder Book by Martin Handford.  Postcard from Martin (Germany).

Click the image to view larger and find:

  • A steel band
  • A one-man band
  • Saxophones and a sack of phones
"Ski Slopes," scene from Where's Waldo? Illustration by Martin Handford

“Ski Slopes,” scene from Where’s Waldo? Illustration by Martin Handford.  Postcard from Keri (USA).

Click the image to view larger and find:

  • A snowman on skis
  • Someone taking a photo
  • A young girl without her skates

Haven’t had enough Wally/Waldo fun? Check out the Where’s Waldo website  for more search adventures!

Leave a comment below and I’ll send you a Waldo postcard! (Offer good while supplies last, of course).