Vision: Looking Ahead

I’m working on being more intentional about improving my photography skills this year, so I’m participating in Dogwood Photography’s 52 Week Photography Challenge 2018. I considered the challenge last year, but wanted to start fresh–at the beginning of the year. So this year, I’m “all in.” I think.

The goal of the challenge is to encourage photographers to push themselves in various ways. Each week we are presented with a prompt that falls under one of five categories–vision, composition, technical, creative, or wild card.

The Week 1 prompt, “Vision: Look Ahead,” falls under the “vision” category, which

is designed to push you to go beyond sight, to insight; to take inspiration and make it a reality. Vision exists in your imagination and is revealed your photographs; expressing something otherwise invisible. Developing a vision for your work is showing to others what you see in your mind’s eye.

The brief description for the prompt reads, “New year. New beginnings. New you. Look ahead. Interpret as you wish.”

Initially, I considered a straight road or path, but felt no connection to the idea. That is certainly not how I’m approaching 2018. The path I’m taking is not straight or sure. I may even have to find another path. I’m not even sure it I’m on a path!

I received some news a few days ago that underscored this reality, so when I was playing around and shooting “ice” last week, the patterns formed in the ice of one frozen fountain in particular provided the material I needed to illustrate my feelings as I consider–or envision–2018.

Ice Vision: Original (No Editing)

I know the ways in which I’d like to grow this year, but for me it’s not a “straight shoot” to December 31, 2018 and all will be well. It doesn’t involve checking a series of things off the to-do list, or taking one step forward right after another on my way to achieving goals.

Nothing is clear at the moment, but I expect to find grooves and curves and dips, and of course areas that are impenetrable (without the proper tools), along with some smooth areas. I also expect to take a few steps backward or to retrace my steps occasionally.

For now, though, I’m stuck or “frozen in place”and incapable of doing anything until I unravel some of my thoughts and figure out how to begin.

Growth is a meandering process, but with time and work, it is inevitable, just like it’s inevitable that the ice will melt–eventually, with the right amount of heat.

[^^^ An edit and some macro views–click an image to get a closer look]

I’m looking forward to the challenge and will often–if not always–share my photo responses to the prompts here on Pics and Posts.

Have a happy week!

 

Thrive…

Life has evolved to thrive in environments that are extreme only by our limited human standards: in the boiling battery acid of Yellowstone hot springs, in the cracks of permanent ice sheets, in the cooling waters of nuclear reactors, miles beneath the Earth’s crust, in pure salt crystals, and inside the rocks of the dry valleys of Antarctica. –Jill Tarter

My hubby and I visited a cute garden shop today and while waiting for him to complete his transaction, I explored the grounds–checked out the various fountains, marveled at the ice patterns formed in what was once flowing water. I was drawn to a fountain pouring water into a heart-shaped basin and was so pleased to find goldfish surviving and thriving in the frigid water.

There’s a lesson in there somewhere…

Ice Story: Too Cold! Too Cold!

Too Cold, Too Cold!

I grew up and spent more than half my life in the Deep, Deep South–in New Orleans–where the west bank of the Mississippi River meets rock. So when the temperature gauge reads 8 degrees, there’s no question about it. I plan to stay indoors until Sir Sun shows Jack Frost who’s boss. But life isn’t always convenient, and sometimes we have to do what we have to do.

I braved the coldest temperatures I’ve had to deal with in my life–minus 5°F (with wind chill factor) when dropping my son off at school yesterday. Gasp!

“What? There is school?!”

That was my reaction when I woke up yesterday and found no notification of cancellation–or at least a delayed start to the school day. I guess it says a lot about my relationship with “extremely cold” weather that I seriously expected schools to be closed because of the single digit temperatures. I was tempted to let my son stay home–warm and cozy by the fireplace–but, like responsible parents, we sent him to school.

After drop-off, with multiple layers and thick, bulky coats on all, a trip to Walmart for thermals gave me this gift of ice. [Click an image for a closer look]

My first shots of the year. iPhone pics. Meh.

Unfortunately, I ignored the inner prompting to grab my camera when we were heading out the door. Of course, the “real” camera would have required more fidgeting with settings and more time in the ice cold temps, so I’ll accept these–my only evidence that I went outdoors and survived way below freezing temperatures.

Kudos [and thanks] to the Walmart team member for leaving the sprinklers on! 😉

Baby, It’s Cold Outside: The Gifts of Winter

Visitor by Irina Garmashova

Brrrr…It’s cold outside.

The postcards from a couple of my love notes pals–received a couple of weeks ago–seem to predict the weather we’ve been having in Northern Alabama lately. I’m convinced this winter’s frigid temperatures (so far) are payback for last winter’s warmth.

It’s no secret. I’m not crazy about cold weather. But there are good things about winter, so I won’t complain too loudly. Interestingly, I just read the quote included with the holiday postcard from Suzette R., another Love Notes pal, that reminds us that winter has its gifts.

May you grow still enough to hear the small noises earth makes in preparing for the long sleep of winter, so that you yourself may grow calm and grounded deep within. May you grow still enough to hear the trickling of water seeping into the ground, so that your soul may be softened and healed, and guided in its flow. May you grow still enough to hear the splintering of starlight in the winter sky and the roar at earth’s fiery core. May you grow still enough to hear the stir of a single snowflake in the air, so that your inner silence may turn into hushed expectation.  –Br. David Steindl-Rast

Stillness. Silence. Hushed expectation. These are the gifts that winter offers as we await awakening in the spring.

Photo by Lisa C., Chasing the Sun 

[Notes on Postcards: From Eileen V., “The Visitor,”Artwork by Irina Garmashova-Cawton Fine Arts. From Lisa C., “Winter Bird,” Photography by Lisa Comperry].

Snow Day!

I know some of my friends in colder climates are suffering a bit of cabin fever along with other inconveniences because of the brutal winter weather.  I am sure they would probably scoff at the mere eight inches of snow that fell on the Tennessee Valley a couple of nights ago, but, for me, the two “snow days” provided much needed respite.  I actually had time to do some fun things–besides play in the snow! 

Of course, I captured shots as the snow started falling, at various times during the daylight hours, and late into the night.

"First Snow," February 2015.

“First Snow,” February 2015.

It was a treat to watch this little guy riding his bike through the snow.

"Snow Ride...Take It Easy," February 2015.

“Snow Ride…Take It Easy,” February 2015.

I forced myself out of bed at 6:30 a.m. the next morning to catch a view of the neighborhood before people started stirring about.

"Early Morning: Snow Blanket," February 2015.

“Early Morning: Snow Blanket,” February 2015.

I love this scene.  The neighborhood was so soft and serene. The quiet was almost sacred.  

Although I nabbed several (dozen) shots “for the record”–memory keeping and such–none of my shots compare to the winter shots my penfriend Dee sent to me earlier this month.

Canada by dee

“Winter Sunset at the Beach,” Harrison Lake, British Columbia. Photo Card by Dee

These were captured January 2014 at Harrison Hotsprings Resort in British Columbia.  The two cards here show the beach where she and her husband go many times throughout the year.

Canada

“Winter Sunset at the Beach,” Harrison Lake, British Columbia. Photo Card by Dee.

The area usually doesn’t get snow, and when they arrived the day these photos were taken, they were shocked to see that snow had just begun.  In true photographer fashion, Dee took advantage and shot these a few hours later.  She wrote that this was the first time she had seen snow at Harrison Lake in all the decades her family had gone there.  Hundreds of photos of the same area, she exclaimed, that only show the sandy beach all year long.

How exciting it must have been to be there for this rare treat!

Stay warm!

Fire and Ice

 

As we move toward the even hotter days of summer, I thought I’d share a photo that’s equally hot and cold. This was one of the photo-poems I shared on my Facebook page in April for National Poetry Month. The photo was shot in March one year when winter and spring were dueling fiercely for control. Things were blooming.  Temperatures were unpredictable–warm one day, cool the next, and then a dusting of snow.  The contrast of powdery ice and fiery red reminded me of Frost’s poem, “Fire and Ice.”

It’s as hot as “H-E-Double Hockey Sticks” this summer, and I just needed a little reminder that hell isn’t always hot, hot, hot.  Hatred and indifference are just as destructive as unrestrained passion.

Monte Sano: Trees, Hobbits, and Sunsets

"Father and Son Chat," Monte Sano State Park, Huntsville, Alabama

“Father and Son Chat,” Monte Sano State Park, Huntsville, Alabama

I trust your year is off to a grand start.  2014 has had a bit of a strange beginning for me, but after cramming some reflecting and planning into the last few days, I’m feeling a little more centered.  I’m engaging in a bit of avoidance behavior at the moment after taking full advantage of a bonus winter vacation day, thanks to the Polar Vortex.  I am not complaining.  Otherwise, I would not have time for this post I’d intended to write a week ago.

One of our favorite things to do as a family is to jump in one of the cars and drive/ride around, cameras in hand and snap shots from the car or park and take photos of the interesting things, places and people we find.  On New Year’s Day, the hubby, the little one and I took our photo-drive/walk to Monte Sano State Park.   Monte Sano, Spanish for “Mountain of Health,” is a 2,140-acre “mountaintop retreat” located in Huntsville, Alabama.  It rises 1,600 feet above sea level and has been attracting visitors since the early 1800s.

We walked quite a distance and took in so much beauty that we could hardly contain ourselves.  We only left because it was nearing sunset, the time the park closes.  It would have been great to see the wildlife in action during the evening hours.

I took dozens of shots, but I am mildly pleased with only a handful.

"Winter's Heart"

“Winter’s Heart”

If you look closely, or maybe with a bit of imagination, you can see the shape of a heart in this tree.  I have a “thing” for photographing trees, particularly the same tree through its seasonal changes.  This tree reminds me of a heart-shaped tree I shot last September.  That tree had lots of leaves, and the heart was a bit more obvious, but I imagine this is what “heart tree” looks like minus leaves.

“A ‘River’ Runs Through It”

"Fallen"

“Fallen”

The network of naked branches and limbs of the tall, thin, and fallen trees is intriguing enough to keep me occupied all day.

Hidden Cave

“Cozy Home”

Then, from another angle and with rock formations, nature tells a different story.

Hidden Cave

“Who Lives Here?”

My son and hubby had a nice long conversation about the possible tenant(s) of this tiny cave.  Raccoons? Possums? A fox?  [What does the fox say? Sorry.  I cannot say the word “fox” without singing that song].

Who goes there?

“Who Goes There?”

Who Goes There (up close)

“Who Goes There?” (up close)

I am also fascinated with tree stumps or tree “remains.”  Fueled by childhood stories of Hobbits, elves and fairies, I enjoy imagining tiny beings akin to humans living their lives beyond stumps and such, tiny hollowed tree communities thriving, undetected, right in the midst of us.  What stories await us?

Such Interesting

“Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night”

Note the twists and turns that must have occurred before this one (above) fell…as if it writhed and resisted the inevitable.

Pathway

“The Well-Worn Path”

Our tree-lined path.

"All Good Things Must Come to an End"

“All Good Things Must Come to an End”

Time to leave.

"Day Is Dying in the West"

“Happy New Year Sunset”

This sunset photo was actually taken outside the park, at a lookout a few miles away–the first sunset of 2014.

I’m looking forward to returning to Monte Sano soon and can hardly wait to capture its beauty in the full bloom of spring.

Happy New Year!