Lens-Artists Challenge #114-Negative Space

As I understand it, Negative Space in a photograph is the space around the subject, not the subject.  The Wide Open Spaces of Montana and North Dakota supplied some excellent subjects on our recent trip across country.

They don’t call Montana Big Sky Country for nothing.

Montana Big Sky

The white barn almost disappears in the Big Sky, under the Big Cloud.  This picture was taken from a moving car, from the passenger-side window.

Then, on our way home, we stopped at the Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota.  The park is little-known, but definitely worth a visit if you are in the Northwest part of the state.  In encompasses multiple terrains, from tall bluffs to the winding Little Missouri River Valley.  Many of the structures in the Park date from the 1930s Works Progress Administration.  On a plateau above the meandering river, there is an observation platform/shelter, that forms a perfect frame for a view of the opposite bluffs.

The Little Missouri River wore away the sedimentary rock, leaving the bluffs with their many-colored layers for geologists and photographers to appreciate.  The Negative Space sets off the terrain beautifully.

In another part of the park, the worn-away bluffs have exposed some very intriguing features.  They are aptly-named “Cannonballs”, though not all are spherical like their namesake.  In the photo below, multiple cannonballs emerge from their substrate, and the surface looks like someone poured concrete down the face of the bluff.  What is the subject, and what is the negative space?

What do you think?  Mother Nature is the artist here.  The so-called Cannonballs are accretions of chemicals, assembled by Nature from dripping liquid that is different from the surrounding material.  They are harder than the bluff itself, and appear gradually as the bluff erodes around them.  Below this face, many cannonballs litter the ground, and some are quite large.

Sometimes, negative space can actually be positive, setting off the subjects.

Link to original post.

 

 

Lens-Artists Challenge #112, Pick a Word

For this week, bloggers pick one or more of the following words, to illustrate with their photos.  The words are: Growing, Crowded, Tangled, Exuberant, and Comfortable.

I think I can find at least one photo that illustrates each word for the week.

Let’s start with Comfortable.

People who are owned by a cat know that most household pet cats spent the majority of their day sleeping.  Or relaxing.  Or peering out the window.  Cats are the world’s best seekers of comfort, and my owner, Kikyo, is no exception.  Here she is, curled up on the unmade bed.

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On the path next to Snoqualmie Falls, I found this pretty bush,  growing near a stand of trees.

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And, now that I look at it closer, more than one kind of plant is tangled together!  And here’s another visualization of Tangled.  In this case, cactus plants are tangled in the branches of the tree that grows in the same plot at the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix.

Cacti attacking the tree

 

On a trip to Colorado, we took a tour through the Garden of the Gods park, with its winding trails among the red rock cliffs.  This climber looked pretty exuberant to me!

Rock climber’s elation

As for Crowded, at the Leavenworth International Accordion Celebration, there are vendors’ tables outside the Festhalle, where the shows and competitions take place.  Those tables can get pretty crowded with accordions for sale.

And, in my back yard one year, our suet feeder was crowded with Common Bushtits looking for lunch.

Thirteen Common Bushtits on our Suet Feeder, January 2012

You know how they say that one reason real estate is so valuable is “they’re not making any more land”?  Well, actually, Mother Nature IS making more land.  Due to the lava flowing from the Kilauea Volcano on the Big Island of Hawaii, more land is being created, and we got to watch it off the deck of the Crystal Symphony cruise ship in 2018.  So you can say that Hawaii is Growing more landmass.

Link

 

Lens-Artists Challenge #111 Everyday Objects

When I saw the topic for this week’s challenge, the first thought I had was “Ooh, this one is going to be fun!”.  And I think it will be.  I hope my readers think my choice of said objects is fun.

My first two everyday objects are items that are precious to me.  The first one, I have had since October of 2003, when I got married.  My boyfriend and I had been looking around for suitable wedding rings (not matching, since our tastes are different).  We happened to be in one of our favorite places, Leavenworth, Washington, and walked into a little jewelry store on a side street, away from the tourist-trap main drag.  And there I found exactly what I had been looking for.  It was made by Margaret Ostling, and it’s called a “Mini Moebius”.  She made them in both white and yellow gold, with and without diamonds.

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Such a simple concept, beautifully made, it is a continual source of wonder, and feels so good on my finger.  And it’s unusual enough that I have never seen anyone else wearing one.

The other most precious object is my violin.  It’s a bit older than the ring, having been made in New York in 1987.  I bought it from its maker, who moved to Seattle just before I bought it.  I took my violin teacher along when I first went to play and see if I wanted it, and she was quite impressed by its sound, saying that it sounded almost as good as her 18th-Century Italian instrument.

Not only is it beautiful to look at, it sounds wondrous, and I love playing it.  When I bought it new from its maker, I had the idea that even Antonio Stradivari must have had to start somewhere, and was a young violin-maker just starting out, hoping people would like, buy, and play his instruments.  Well, we know how that turned out!  I just hope that David VanZandt of Seattle will become as famous.

Now, for something a bit more “everyday”.  I took this picture of a very every-day kind of object, for a post that was based on a pun.  But, now that I look at it, it’s quite a contrast between the object, and the pretty placemat that I used as a background for it.  How best to show off your “tuber”?

Tater

A friend at work is a quilter, and I bought a set of six placemats in this ornate pattern from her at our holiday bazaar a few years ago.

Last but not least is an item that is not everyday for me, but is everyday for my dentist, and I thought it was so beautiful a tool that I just had to get a picture.  Can you guess what it might be?

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Actually, it’s a little precision dental instrument, a very tiny torque-wrench, used to tighten down a crown onto the dental implant underneath.  My dentist loves it because it feels so good in his hand.  In my opinion, it’s a piece of industrial art, too.

Well, thanks for accompanying me on this tour of Everyday Objects in my little world.

Here’s the Link to Patti’s Original Post.

 

Lens-Artists Challenge #110..Creativity in the time of Covid

First of all, let me say that the Government-required “lockdown”, mandating that free citizens of the United States remain at home under modified “house arrest” has affected me, personally, only minimally.  I am employed in an Essential Industry, Aerospace, and I have been going to my job at my company’s factory every single workday, except for the one day of vacation I took, and the two-week plant shutdown that everyone took.  I actually enjoyed the lack of traffic on my daily commute to and from work.  I have also been enjoying the nearly-empty parking lot at work.  I never have to worry about finding a good parking space!

It was a major inconvenience not being able to get a haircut or a pedicure, but I managed  to work around those issues (a friend whose hairdresser works out of his home was able to wangle me a haircut, and I just had to re-learn how to cut my own toenails).  When the  state lockdown was announced, I thumbed my nose at “Dimslee” in Olympia, got in my car, and drove up to the Skagit Valley to look at the scenery.

I have been able to do some photography in the last six months-my creativity was not really impacted at all.

In June, we took a day trip over the Cascades to Leavenworth.  I wanted to see if the entire town was shut down.  It wasn’t.  There were people walking the streets, and some of the shops were open.  And on the way back to the car…

Rainbow-Leavenworth

That’s the Festhalle, where they have the competitions and concerts at the Leavenworth International Accordion Celebration.  It was cancelled this year.

On my way home from work every day, I drive the perimeter of Paine Field, the Snohomish County Airport.  I have been dying to take these pictures, and finally I had the time.

Trees on horizon

Horizon

Creativity in the time of Covid does not have to differ from creativity at any other time.  Do not fear going outdoors, because Nature is not your enemy.  Neither is your fellow man or woman.  Get in your car and take a drive.  And don’t forget your camera!

Link

Lens-Artists Challenge #109 Under the Sun…Around the West

The same Sun shines on us all.  Everyone on Planet Earth gets their sustenance from the same Sun.  That Sun shines over Alaska, as well as over the Hawaiian Islands.  I spent two years in Minneapolis in grad school, and I especially appreciated that sunshine in Winter, when it was bitter cold.

In 2016, Hubby and I went on a cruise to Alaska with Hillsdale College.  The sun shone on our ship, the Crystal Serenity.

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That pool looks pretty inviting, doesn’t it?

When we got to Skagway, the sun was shining, and it was about 70 degrees out.  A beautiful day, surrounded by mountains.

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Now that I look at this photo, it looks like the ship is about to run right over all those vans in front of it.

And on the way home, among the Gulf Islands of Canada…

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This is actually an intersection of two perpendicular streams of water, and that makes for some treacherous cross-currents.

Farther West, in Hawaii-

The sun shines a lot in tropical Hawaii, and it was pretty nice while we were there.  But it’s often prudent to have shade available.  These beautiful ladies were doing their traditional hula dance for us.  They just looked so happy!

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Yeah, it’s almost a cliche, but they were delightful to watch.

In 2014 we went to Arizona for another Hillsdale function.  Arizona is even hotter than Hawaii in the summer, and the sun shines most of the time.  When you think of Arizona, does cactus come to mind?

Forest of Cacti!
Forest of Cacti

When you think of the Pacific Northwest, does “rain” come to mind?  Yes, but the sun does shine too around here.

Mount Baker, seen from San Juan Ferry
Mount Baker, seen from San Juan Ferry, Puget Sound, WA

There may be “nothing new under the Sun”, but when it shines, we go outside to enjoy it.

 

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Lens-Artists Challenge #108 Sanctuary

A sanctuary is someplace you want to be.  It’s often a quiet place, or a less-quiet place with no one else around.  It’s a place to retreat to, when you have had your fill of the honking horns, boomy bass coming from someone’s hot-rod, or just backups in traffic.

Not far from my home is the Narbeck Wetland, a real sanctuary, designed to preserve a tiny portion of wilderness in the city.  Actually, it’s right across the street from the world’s largest factory building, which is remarkable in itself.  Just last week, I packed up my big camera (well, bigger than my phone), and headed over there for a nice taste of nature.  There are two separate paths around the wetland, one with alternating forest path and boardwalk, and one along the perimeter closer to the street.

This time, I took the inner path.  Just at the edge of the parking lot at the start of the path, there is a pool, with trees overhanging, and I started there.  Boy, was I glad that I had brought my phone, which I have found takes just excellent video.  This particular pool was very pretty, but I felt it really needed video to capture its real beauty.

 

The water was just shimmering so enchantingly, I had to capture that.  But only later when I got home and uploaded this to my computer, did I really hear the background noise.  I guess when you’re across the street from an airplane assembly factory, and just a short distance from the county airport, you can expect to hear overhead aircraft!

On I walked, down the path.

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During that entire walk, I met just one other person.  The air was cool, the breeze welcome, and the path inviting.  Just a bit farther on, I reached the boardwalk over the water.

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Just down from here, I stopped and spent a few minutes just leaning on the railing over this pool, just listening to the wind in the trees, and the trickling of the water-it was mesmerizing, and hard to come back to reality.

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A few yards on down the boardwalk, my eye was caught by something on the railing itself.  I looked a bit closer, and was treated to an almost artistic arrangement.  If you pay attention to the little things, you might see something extraordinary.

Lacework

Lichens, lacework on the half-decomposed leaf, and a dead leaf almost as pretty as the live one must have been.  Ah, the details!

Right at the end of the boardwalk, I found a pool that looked like a piece of abstract art.

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And so ended my walk in the wilderness, only a short drive from home.

Speaking of home, my little sanctuary at home is my bedroom.  I do spend an inordinate amount of time sitting on my bed reading.  Today, as many days, I was joined by my cat, Kikyo.  She just loves to sit on me.

Me-n-kitty

I think I am her sanctuary.  That is one relaxed, happy kitty.

Link to Xenia’s Original Post

 

Lens-Artists Challenge #107 Winter

Lens-Artists Challenge #107 Winter

I like Winter.  I went to Minnesota to grad school in the early 1970s, and I quickly decided I much preferred winter to summer (98 degrees, 98% humidity-ugh!).  In Minnesota, winter is bitter cold, with temperatures as low as -45 at night, but the sun is shining most days.  There’s no more beautiful sight than the sun making the snowy scene sparkle like diamonds.  I regret that I have no photos from that time, but the memories linger.

In the Pacific Northwest, where I was born and raised, and live now, winters can be predictable-gray clouds, rain, and gloom most of the time.  But, as I heard somewhere, no one ever died shoveling two feet of “partly cloudy” off their doorstep!  In Minneapolis, we would hear regularly about people coming home, drunk, at 2AM, and falling asleep on their porch and freezing to death.

We do, however, get snow sometimes, and when we do, it turns our neighborhood, and our city, into a winter wonderland (and a driving nightmare).  I tend to go outside with my camera, starting with my own backyard.  2019 was actually a good year for snow.

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This avian visitor is a Varied Thrush, and he has an insect in his beak.  We have two pairs who visit the yard pretty much year-round, as they live in the mini-forest to the west of our house.

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Our Song Sparrows are also frequent visitors.  I end up refilling our bird feeder often in winter.

We can tell how much snow we get by checking out the stationary objects in the yard, and measuring the snowcaps.  We got the concrete pagoda for a wedding present, and it does hold quite a bit of snow.

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That’s a bird-bath in front, and our Japanese Maple on the right.  And out the front door:

Icicles

Those icicles are pretty, but an indication of trouble with the gutters.  We got that fixed earlier this year.  You can see that when it snows here, the sky stays normal, Pacific Northwest gray.  We natives are used to it, but our local university was a pioneer in the diagnosis and treatment of Seasonal Affective Disorder, or Seattle Depression.

At least once a year, we try to get up to Leavenworth, just on the East side of the Cascades, for their weekend Tree Lighting ceremony.  Now Leavenworth, a “tourist trap” that made itself into Washington’s Bavarian Village, does things up proud in the winter, with all the buildings, and trees downtown, strung with colorful lights.  To get there, you head east on US Highway 2.

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And when you get there…

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Leavenworth Tree Lighting-Before

 

I also have my little camera in my work bag, just to capture unexpected beauty in mundane things.  On my way to work, I drive around the perimeter of Paine Field, the county airport.  Who would have thought that a simple concrete-block wall would look this interesting?

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And when I got to work, it was still snowing.  When I went out for lunch…

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In October of 2013, we drove to Las Vegas and back for a Ricochet meetup.  On the way back, we drove by the Grand Canyon, and Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks.  It was just gorgeous at Bryce.  Those red-rock features look majestic with their snow caps.

Rainbow Point, Bryce Canyon NP
View from Rainbow Point, Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah.

Natural Bridge, Bryce
“Natural Bridge”, Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah

Mother Nature likes winter, too, and makes such beautiful landscapes for us to see and appreciate.

 

 

Link

Lens-Artists Challenge #106-Autumn

Autumn has always been my favorite season.  Warm weather does not agree with me, and I prefer the crisp air of autumn to heat and humidity.  Here on the West Coast, we don’t have the hardwood forests found on the East Coast, but we do get some of the fall colors.

We went to Victoria, BC for our honeymoon in October of 2003, and a friend gave us an idea of where to stay.  We booked a room at the Inn at Laurel Point, where we had a wonderful view of the famed Inner Harbour.  We could watch the little harbor-taxi boats plying their way across the water.

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Water taxi, and tall ship. Victoria Inner Harbour

And we were fortunate to be right over the pretty Japanese-style garden.

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Pond and Garden, Inn at Laurel Point

Dusk is a particularly peaceful time of day in this autumn environment.  We had the special treat of watching the float-planes land, right opposite our balcony.  That’s the only route from our Washington State home to Victoria that we haven’t taken yet.

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Harbour Air Plane landing at Sunset, Victoria Inner Harbour

Seattle’s Kenmore Air has regular service to Victoria, and we might just take it someday, if the border opens again.

In the morning, we often take a walk around the neighborhood of the hotel.  Not too far away is the Inner Harbour Marina, where there are all kinds of boats docked.  Some are day-sailers and power boats, and there ere even some houseboats. That wooden boat with the square stern is a houseboat.

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Boats at Marina, Victoria

On our honeymoon, part of our package tour was a trip to the famous Butchart Gardens.  The gorgeous fall colors are at their best, and we try to go there whenever we celebrate our anniversary in Victoria.  The gardens never fail to display their showy colors, and inspired design.

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Valley Garden

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Japanese Garden Path

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Fountain

Literally, beauty wherever you look.

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Walls of Garden

In our own Cascade Mountains, we get some fall colors, even with our preponderance of evergreen trees (not for nothing is Washington called the Evergreen State).  Just over Stevens Pass, in Chelan County, is the Tumwater Canyon, on US Highway 2.  We drive this way many times during the year, because we love to go to Leavenworth on a day trip.  Along the Wenatchee River, if you get there at exactly the right time, you can see the brightly-colored trees reflected in the water.

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Fall Colors on the Wenatchee River, west of Leavenworth, WA

I am happiest when the autumn air is crisp, the leaves on the trees turn yellow and red, and I can be out in the beautiful Pacific Northwest.

Even right near my home, autumn makes its appearance.  This beautiful red-leafed tree was found in the parking lot of our local Costco store!

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And every year, I notice this line of trees right behind our house, on the property of the Silver Lake Water District.

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Autumn-I can hardly wait until it gets here again.  Simple pleasures, close to home.

 

Link.

Lens-Artists Challenge #105-Spring

Spring.  The first sign is the gradually, gradually, lengthening days.  Still awaking in the dark, but driving home from work in daylight.  Here in the Pacific Northwest, Spring is normally pretty rainy (yeah, the  cliche about April showers bringing May flowers that we all know and love).  But we actually love the rain here, because that means Mother Nature waters our yards instead of us doing it.

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Our Japanese Maple trees leaf out, and the grasses are green again.  The rain fills the bird-bath, and sometimes our resident squirrel comes in for a drink.

On my drive to work in the morning, I travel the roads on the perimeter of Paine Field, the Snohomish County Airport.  There are five of these flowering cherry trees, which are actually pretty old.  This year, the flowers were so heavy, the branches were dipping almost to the ground.

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This year, to spite the Government lockdown, I got in the car and drove up to the Skagit Valley in March to take a look at the tulip fields.  It was too early for tulips, but the blueberry vines were just about to start budding.

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Last year, the tulips were in full bloom in April.  It’s a wonder, being able to get out of your car, and walk through the fields of brightly-colored flowers.  Tiptoe through the Tulips, indeed!

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A bit farther west of the tulip fields is the town of LaConner, on the Swinomish Slough.  Salmon swim up the channel, and local sculptors have captured some.

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And Life flows on, within you and without you…  George Harrison

Link

Lens-Artists Challenge #104-Summer

First, a little musical introduction.

For some reason, this song plays pretty often on my internal tape.

In the summer of 2010, Hubby and I took a three-week vacation, and drove from our home in Washington State to Michigan and back, for a Hillsdale Hostel.  We took the Southern Route to get there, through Montana, Wyoming, South Dakota, and Iowa, to get to Hillsdale. and we took the Northers route home, through Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, northern Montana, and Idaho.

The trip to Hillsdale took us by some very beautiful scenery, and the weather was excellent. Well, most of the time it was excellent.  On the first day of driving, we crossed Eastern Washington, Northern Idaho, and Montana, and spent the night in Missoula.  The next day, we drove through a corner of Yellowstone National Park.

This formation is called “Devil’s Slide”, for obvious reasons!  Sometimes I wished I had a geologist along to explain how those layers of rock, which start out horizontal, got tilted to be vertical!  We do know that those rocks started out as layers of sand at the bottom of an ancient body of water.  That’s the Yellowstone River just visible in the foreground.

Next, our journey took us through Wyoming.  On another hot day, we visited another “devil”, the Devil’s Tower National Monument.

Devil’s Tower National Monument, Wyoming

Boy, that Devil sure gets around!  I have always loved that columnar basalt, created when layers of hot volcanic rock cool quickly, into lengths of hexagonal rock.  Washington State has extensive bluffs of that same rock, along the Columbia River.

Next, we drove across South Dakota.  2010 was a pretty wet year, and we saw fields of tall green grass, and cows belly-deep in it.  We stopped at the South Dakota Air and Space Museum, which has a number of old warplanes on the field outside.  I captured this pair of house-finches enjoying the sunshine.

When we crossed the Missouri River into Iowa, the weather changed.  Dramatically. We did our best to outrun a big thunderstorm across much of the state.  This picture was taken through the windshield of the car barreling down the highway.  It was pretty spectacular, and the outside temperature was in the 80s.

We made it to DesMoines just in time!

On the last day before we got to Hillsdale, we drove through Indiana, and made a pleasant stop in the town of Elkhart.  Now, some of you might know what Elkhart was famous for many years ago, and that is brass band instruments.  More than one manufacturer of horns was based in Elkhart, and we found a really fun outdoor art exhibit that celebrates that history.

My internal tape was playing 76 Trombones all afternoon!

We had a great time at Hillsdale, taking classes taught by Hillsdale faculty, meeting people from all over the country, and sightseeing around the area.

On our way home, we took the Northern Route.  We knew we were back in Eastern Washington, when we saw this.  That Devil must have been following us all the way!

Dust devil, wheat field in Eastern Washington

In the Good Old Summertime