A Seven-Day Challenge

I’ve been invited to participate in various challenges over the years. A 365 where you take and post one picture every day of the year. A 52-week “workshop” where you are given a prompt for the week and you post as you wish. 365. 52. Both of those numbers are very large and intimidating.

But 7. I figured I could do 7. I admit that I got to day 6 and forgot and had to do 2 pictures on the final day.

The challenge was one black and white photo every day. No explanation. Seven Days. Nominate another person to play along.

1. I clicked this one while laying bed, just before turning off the lights.
2. Drinking coffee in the living room the next morning. (uh oh… feet… a theme?)
3. My Work From Home Office
4. The damn puzzle that took us a month to complete.
(We eventually found the last 3 pieces on the floor.)
5. Cocktail Hour
6. A Forest Meander
7. Forget-me-Nots (and Hiking boots)

I limited myself to cellphone pictures edited with Snapseed. It was a good challenge. I nominated a different person each day. Most of them picked up the challenge and are posting their own black and white photos.

It was fun. What should my next challenge be?

Willow

Willow IMG_1351

It’s been a while since I took my “big” camera for a walk. I wasn’t sure I remembered how to use it and how to edit the photos after. But it comes back to you.

Week 11 – Faces

Prompt:

Lucy offers “faces” as a theme for this week. Bearing in mind the contemplative theme of our group, be looking for what’s beneath the surface of each face you photograph.

I don’t often take pictures of faces as a photography exercise. In fact I tend to avoid people photography as much as possible. So I challenged myself to take one and only one selfie with my phone. Here it is after much editing in Snapseed:

Face

Week 10 – Hidden Gems

Prompt:

When Nancy was walking at Brookgreen Gardens, she had some ideas about photography topics for our group. This week we’re picking up one that’s perfect for the beauties of mid-autumn (or mid-spring Down Under): hidden gems.

IMG_0977 Poison Sumac and Winterberry Holly.jpg

I have walked by this mixture of plants hundreds, perhaps thousands of times in the last 20+ years. I never noticed the Poison Sumac intermixed with Winterberry Holly.

Week 9: Vulnerability

Prompt:

Susan Sontag poignantly observed that “To take a photograph is to participate in another person’s (or thing’s) mortality, vulnerability, mutability. Precisely by slicing out this moment and freezing it, all photographs testify to time’s relentless melt.”

What vulnerability do you see this week in which you and your camera can participate?

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I walked my friend’s dog along back roads. Fall is trying to come. There is some color, but there is still a lot of green.

There was a frost the night before. The Sensitive Fern, and some other species of ferns, too, succumbed. They are the first to be ready to let go and let fall and winter come.

Week 8: Confusion

Prompt:

This week we have an intriguing suggestion from Debbie D.: “How about confusion as a prompt. This could be a facial expression or through metaphor. For example a conglomeration of intertwined computer wires, or anything that looks chaotic.”

So often it is confusion and chaos that pulls us away from contemplation. This week gives you an opportunity, then, to put confusion at the center of your contemplative focus, more fully integrating what is an inescapable part of life.

The moment I read the prompt, I remembered two photographs from a few years ago.

Emulating Vivian Maier

September 2015. Jamestown, NY.

I called that one “Emulating Vivian Maier.” Take a look at her self portraits at http://www.vivianmaier.com/gallery/self-portraits/#slide-1.

And another I took on the same day, captivated by reflections in storefronts:

Store Front Reflection

September 2015. Jamestown, NY.

It was a busy week with few opportunities for a contemplative walk with my camera. but I was captivated by this image; I can’t even say why…

IMG_0943 Pine Needles.jpg

White Pine Needles, Lakewood, NY. October 2019.

Week 7: Equinox

Prompt: “Tomorrow is the Equinox, when our brothers and sisters in the southern hemisphere enter Spring and those of us in the northern hemisphere greet Autumn. We invite you to share your autumn or your spring photos — or both, a study in contrasts. Feel free to reach back into your files. If it seems like the new season has barely begun where you are, see what hints you can capture of its approach.”

This was a busy week. Each day was full. Yet that prompt caused me to pay attention to hints of coming autumn. Purple asters against goldenrod. A single cornstalk that escaped the harvester. Farm stands overflowing with pumpkins, apples, and squash.

I finally had time on Saturday to take my camera for a walk. Here is what the woods had to offer.

IMG_0915 Partridge Berry

Partridge Berry

IMG_0921 Yellowing Plant

I should recognize this plant, but I don’t.

IMG_0929 Herb Robert cropped

Herb Robert

IMG_0934 Chewed Leaf

Chewed Leaves

IMG_0935 Tree against green background

Tree

IMG_0938 Layered Leaves

Layered Maple Leaves

Protecting the Highlights

One of the Spirituality and Practice participants posted these links by Sean Tucker:

Embracing Your Shadows: A Lesson for Light and Life.

Protect Your Highlights: A Lesson for Light and Life.

 

Very inspiring. Here’s my first practice shot:

IMG_0906 living-dining.jpg

Week 6: Light and Shadows

Winter is Coming

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You may recognize the title of this post as a phrase echoed throughout the Game of Thrones story.

I recently binge-watched Game of Thrones from beginning to end. I found the characters fascinating. There is not much happiness or joy in the story. In fact there is much vengeance, violence, and torture.

When I mentioned to my very wise daughter how I felt almost ashamed over how enthusiastically I looked forward to each installment, she said something that put my mind at ease.

She said, “It’s a safe way to explore your dark side.”

She’s a good kid.

Week 6: Light and Shadows

Prompt: Nancy suggests light and shadow as a theme, and Robert adds: “It’s only at high noon on a mid-summer day — or it’s only on a completely overcast day or moonless night with no electric lights — that we don’t encounter shadow. Shadow always follows us. In terms of our inner worlds, thinkers like Carl Jung remind us that shadow contains the seeds of resurgent life. Can we produce some pictures that illustrate the vital place of outer or inner shadow?”

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It was a cloudy day in western New York for the first day of this prompt. So instead of a walk-about, I did a stroll through my Flickr photos using the search term “shadow.” This one is from October 2015.