Monday Morning Wisdom #300

Monday Morning Wisdom #300

Our culture is all about comparison, conformity, and control. Don’t give in to that pressure. Creativity isn’t meant to be a mouthpiece for what’s popular. It’s meant to be light—not a mirror. May your art be a voice in the wilderness. May it break through the matrix. Stay true.

~ Allen Arnold on Twitter (@TheStoryofWith)

Sunday Trees: Dead


From the Creator’s Heart #297


Weekly Photo Challenge: Sports

Mountain biker in South Mountain Park, Phoenix

More picsoftheweek.

12-Day Backyard Photography Challenge

12-Day Backyard Photography Challenge

I’d like to learn more about photography and take better pictures. I found the site Outdoor Photography Guide and signed up for their newsletters. They recently offered a backyard photography challenge, and I thought, why not.

The challenge is divided into prompts for 12 days. Being impatient, I decided to just go out in my front- and backyard on Tuesday afternoon and take a bunch of pictures, and see what I could apply to each prompt.

Day 1—Shoot at midday. You know about the “golden hours,” just after dawn and just before dusk, when the light is miraculous and it’s hard to take a bad picture. Midday is another option, when the light is most direct, and it’s also possible to get great shots. All of the photos I took for this article were taken between 3:00 and 3:30, so none of them really qualify. . .

Day 2—Natural patterns. Look for recurring shapes. 

Our lemon tree is really loaded this year.

Day 3—Subject in foreground. Create a composition that emphasizes the foreground in relation to the background.

Making the leaves the focus, rather than the lemons.
2 flowers

Day 4—Tell a story. Take multiple shots that suggest an adventure. Include story elements. Make the viewers want to go outside so they can experience your story. (I failed to do this.)

Day 5—Backlight effect. When you point your camera directly toward a source of light, causing the subject to be lit from behind.

Seed pods
I like that the backlighting actually makes it possible to see the seeds inside the seed pods.

Day 6—Simple subject. Use a telephoto lens to seclude subjects by placing them against negative spaces or solid colors, or using a wide aperture to make simple subjects in a scene stand out. (I didn’t.)

Day 7—Shoot at night. Use a long exposure and the widest aperture you can. (I didn’t do this either.)

Day 8—Natural designs. I had a hard time differentiating between natural patterns and natural designs. I randomly selected these cactus thorn shots to be examples of a natural design, but I think they could also be a natural pattern. Whatever.

Cactus thorns 1
Cactus thorns 2

Day 9—Shoot through. Try shooting through objects to frame your shot and create a stronger composition. (I didn’t get any good framing shots.)

Day 10—Black and white. Editing to black and white can make your contrast grow sharper and your photo richer looking.

Buds, color
Flower buds on my Mexican bird-of-paradise tree. Meh.
Buds, black/white
The same photo edited to black and white. I think the contrast makes the buds more prominent, resulting in a more interesting picture.

Day 11—Bokeh effect. Sometimes your focus on one part of the photo produces a pleasant “blur” in the other parts of the photo.


Day 12—Close up. In a close up, your camera must align with your subject for maximum sharpness.


This was a fun exercise, and I can see that if I’d had the patience to devote a photography session to each day’s prompt, I’d have learned much more about taking better pictures. (As it was, I only managed to address seven of the twelve prompts.) I invite you to try this yourself. And if you post your photos online, please put a link in the comments below so we all can see.

Which Way Photo Challenge: Hiking Trail

Hiking trail

More Which Way.


Creative Juice #232

Creative Juice #232

Beautiful things to look at. Creative solutions. Interesting journeys. And a possible assignment for you.

  • Free quilt block of the month patterns.
  • Awesome journal pages.
  • These abandoned buildings break my heart.
  • Artwork doesn’t have to be large to be impactful.
  • Searching for happiness in a book.
  • How one college is addressing systemic inequality in its curriculum.
  • Maybe more than you ever wanted to know about folk dancing’s fascinating history as a social movement. Keep scrolling down–there are a bunch of cool dance videos.
  • An artist’s watercolor journey.
  • Beautiful photography on this Instagram account.
  • It’s interesting to watch this sketch artist’s process.
  • When I was in college, I had a roommate who decorated envelopes. When I transferred to a different school, I was the recipient of letters from her in those beautiful envelopes. Who can you think of who would be blessed by a handwritten letter in a hand-decorated envelope? Maybe you could do that this weekend. . .
  • A photographer discusses a favorite photo.

Kammie’s Oddball Challenge: Olives in the Sky

Olives in the sky

More Oddballs.

Video of the Week #295: James Brown does his signature splits


Wordless Wednesday: Sunshade Shadows

Sunshade shadows 1