Slice of Life: Looking for Winter Leaves

(This is for the Slice of Life challenge for March, hosted by Two Writing Teachers. We are writing each day about the small moments in the larger perspective … or is that the larger perspective in the smaller moments? You write, too.)

sol16Another Sunday. Another round of Manhunt for my son and friends. Another walk with my dog. Another day to look more closely at the neighborhood woods, and yesterday, I paid attention to the lingering leaves of winter. There was not a whole lot of variety out there — mostly pines and Mountain Laurel.

But at one point, I looked off the walking trail and saw this burst of white in the middle of green and brown. My dog and I bushwhacked our way through the undergrowth and some swampy soils to find this small tree, covered with dead white leaves. They had died, but they hung on through winter. Hardy things, these ghost leaves of New England.

Leaves of winter

I found enough variety anyway to create a small collage, which now joins my collage of tree barks from earlier in March, and found sculptures, and the flowers from a brightly-colored bulb show from last weekend. I guess Sunday is becoming my photo day.

Peace (in the lens),
Kevin

Slice of Life: Two Bugs Meet on a Bridge (Anatomy of a Shot)

(This is for the Slice of Life challenge for March, hosted by Two Writing Teachers. We are writing each day about the small moments in the larger perspective … or is that the larger perspective in the smaller moments? You write, too.)

sol16This is a different kind of Slice. I wanted to step back from a photo that I took in the woods and analyze the shot from an analytical viewpoint. I am no photographer (but I play one on my blog). However, I am interested in composition, and composing with images is always an intriguing topic. With so many camera lens available these days to so many of us on phones and mobile devices, we can do some interesting photography.

First, look at what I ended up with:

I saw these bugs (not ants, I don’t think) almost by accident. I was in the woods with my son and his friends, who were playing as I was walking our dog. I kept close because of the river and I was “the adult in charge.” (I recently wrote a slice about another day of them playing for another post. They like these woods. I like that they like those woods.)

I had my Android phone out because I was keeping track of a college basketball game (UConn!) as I was keeping an eye on the kids and watching the dog watching me. I was stopped at a new fence over a rebuilt foot bridge on the bike path when I looked down and saw these ant-like bugs scurrying over the handrail. They’d stop, run, stop, run, stop, run. Sometimes, they would run at each other and stop right before collision, like some strange teenagers on bicycles playing Chicken.

I wondered if I could get close enough to get a good shot of the bugs but the closer I got, the further they scurried. Finally, after many random shots that I hoped might yield something useful, I got a picture that did the trick: two bugs, mostly in focus, on the wood, seeming to meet. Actually, the closer bug is a little out of focus but it works as a compositional strategy. Our eyes move from that bug to the farther one, which has more detail.

The problem was that the bugs were too small on the shot itself, and the wood handrail took up most of the frame. I went into my photo folder, called up the shot and used “edit” to tinker. I cropped the shot down to focus the eye on the bugs (and the shadows of the bugs, which is something I did not notice when I was taking the shot).

I decided something more was needed, to keep the eye moving towards the two bugs, and the focused bug, in particular. I used a framing tool that provided some darkening edge — a light touch, not too obvious — that helps guide the eye inward, at the bugs. It also helped crop out more of the surroundings.

There’s something about the grain of the wood (you can tell is it rather fresh and not yet weathered by New England’s shifting seasons) and the bugs meeting, and the shadows, that just makes this a rather intriguing picture. Or, at least, I think so.

Peace (and process notes),
Kevin

 

Slice of Life: Flower Power

(This is for the Slice of Life challenge for March, hosted by Two Writing Teachers. We are writing each day about the small moments in the larger perspective … or is that the larger perspective in the smaller moments? You write, too.)

sol16My wife and I attended the annual Bulb Show at Smith College, in our small city, yesterday afternoon. It’s been a few years since we have ventured into the greenhouse and been awed by the powerful display of colors, smells and pure life on display. It’s a pretty amazing experience, to be walking down aisles of amazing flowers, and I was drawn to look inside the flowers themselves. So I pointed my camera down into the heart of the flower as much as I could, and created this collage.

Smith College

In another part of the greenhouse complex, there is a room of tropical plants, and this tree was dropping this seed pod, which looked like the furry tail of some strange creature. I could not resist a shot of it, and the way the sun filtered in the back of the photo gives it an interesting glow.

Odd tree

Peace (is beautiful),

Kevin

Slice of Life: Looking at Trees

(This is for the Slice of Life challenge for March, hosted by Two Writing Teachers. We are writing each day about the small moments in the larger perspective … or is that the larger perspective in the smaller moments? You write, too.)

sol16My youngest son asked if he could invite some friends over to go play in the neighborhood woods. Of course, we said yes, and I was tasked with being the ‘adult nearby’ during the nearly three hours they played Capture the Flag, and then Manhunt, and then various forms of Hide and Seek.

Three hours of fresh air in their lungs on a sort of cold day and lots of running and playing. Their clothes were all muddy when they were done. Not that they cared.

My dog was my companion, and as the kids were playing and needing no help from me (and I purposely kept myself aloof from their planning and playing), I started to notice the trees.

I dug out my phone camera and began to take shots of the various trees, moving closely in to get textures and slight colors, and I love how this collage captures the variety of tree trunks I examined.

Trees

Peace (in the observation),
Kevin

So, It Snowed

Winter arrives

This has not been a typical New England winter, and I am not complaining. But my boys have been. Where’s the snow? they want to know. Some arrived yesterday, so a day off school meant sledding and hot chocolate. I love this view from my back window, with the two side-by-side chairs, as if awaiting a conversation.

Peace (in the still beauty of winter),
Kevin

#DigiWriMo: Digging up the Past with Photographs

My own sixth grade

At Digital Writing Month, Michelle Pacansky-Brock wrote a wonderful post about the power of family and historical photographs that can tell our stories. Her piece had me digging through the top drawer of my clothes dresser — a pile of papers, bills, documents and a few photographs — to find my class picture from my sixth grade year.

I am now a sixth grade teacher, so these two photographs — one of the entire sixth grade, and one of my sixth grade class — are gentle reminders of what it is like to be that age. I decided to use these two photos for a digital story.

The app I used is the free Adobe Voice, which I continue to rave about for being a free, easy-to-use tool for making digital stories. Not a whole lot of bells and whistles, but when the heart of the composition is the story, what works best is simplicity.

I made this comic tutorial for another project:

Using Adobe Voice

Peace (in the years),
Kevin

#DigiWriMo Collaboration: Our Eyes on the Skies

This week, we move into Visual Literacies with Digital Writing Month. We continue to discover ways to engage people collaboratively, and the latest project is an inspiration by my friend, Kim Douillard, whose weekly photographic prompts are just a wonder in and of themselves.

As Kim is a guest contributor to the Digital Writing Month site this week, I asked if we could take her latest theme of “the sky” and turn it into something larger: a collaborative, global photo journal of people documenting the skies.

You are invited to join us, too. Head to the open Google Slide Presentation we are calling Our Eyes on the Skies, choose a slide, and upload an image of what you see when you look up. Add your geographic location, and name, if you are comfortable.

Peace (in the spirit of collaboration),
Kevin

 

The Beginning and the Ending: An Image

Start of fall, end of summer
Kim had us thinking of how to capture the start of something or the end of something via an image, as part of our Photo Fridays adventure. (Actually, she is gathering folks to do an image a day for September. I don’t think I can do it, but you might want to try. At least, follow along with her ideas for photos as literacy.)

I live in New England, and already, the trees are beginning to change. We know it’s coming, this thing we call Autumn, but to see it happening in a few select trees (the same trees, changing first every year, and those are the trees we think of the dreaded Harbinger of Winter on the Horizon.)

I found this leaf on a walk and it seemed to perfectly illustrate the start of something (Autumn) and the end of something (Summer) with its color pattern. The deep green, run through with golden brown. It is as if the leaf was resisting. Resistance is futile.

Autumn is coming … maybe it is here.

Peace (in the air),
Kevin

 

Looking Past the Screen

Screen timeA friend in the Making Learning Connected MOOC did an interesting art/media activity … her daughter had given her a nifty birthday card of a woman in a dress, but the dress was cut-out, allowing you to see the world through the folds of the dress. You hold up the card, and while the frame is the same — the woman, smiling — the layer beneath the flowing skirt is whatever you hold the card up against.

Check out Wendy’s post to see the images.

I saw that and thought: how simple and how amazingly cool, and then decided, I need to give that a try. So I did.

I made a drawing of a computer, and cut out the screen, and then decided to make a commentary on seeing the world beyond the screen. It’s a reminder of the beauty of the world all around us (ironic, I know, in that I am sharing the idea on your screen).  This is a collage of some of the images that I ended up taking.

Real screen collage

Give it a try. See what happens. The results are pretty interesting, I think.

Peace (in the view),
Kevin

Slice of Life: The Overlooked Moments

(This is a post for Slice of Life, a writing challenge throughout March, hosted by Two Writing Teachers. We notice the small moments. You write, too.)

Night outside

In another writing space with National Writing Project colleagues (including Bonnie), our good friend Kim Doullard hosts a Photo Fridays feature, where she shares photos on a theme and asks us to keep our lens open for possibilities. This week’s theme is all about “the overlooked” moments. Last night as I was taking the dog out, I looked at the sky from our driveway and saw a plethora of colors in the night. The tree provides a nice frame, as does the stars in the sky, and the street/house lights give off yet another color.

It’s the perfect image for a visual slice of life, and Kim’s advice to notice the overlooked dovetails so nicely with our writing activities, of noticing those things we see all the time but now we see them in a slightly different light. Turn your head a bit. Squint your eyes. Reframe what you see. Notice the overlooked.

LATE ADD: This morning, when I went outside after writing, I saw this:
Morning sky

Peace (in the visual),
Kevin