Today at Shutter Sisters they ask how we typically view the world through our lens; what we are most comfortable shooting. I love my macro lens and I'm definitely more comfortable with shooting close up, trying to capture the small details. My husband is better at landscapes. I want to learn to expand my photographic vision.
Of course, to me this topic is more than just about how I see the world through my lens. It's also about what my vision of the world itself is, how I see myself and others, how I see God, how I make sense of my life. There have been times in my life when my vision has shifted for the better, usually through opportunities for growth that have come my way through friendships, nurturing spiritual environments, or travel. And then there have been times when my vision has shifted back to a smaller view. Like a camera lens, my vision of reality is sometimes adjusted to focus on different things depending upon the balance of influences in my life at the time. I pray for a steady focus, a wide angle view, while also being able to catch the small things that matter.
What is your focus on these days?
ps - We'll have a houseguest this week and I may not be back until next week! See you then.


Black Hills in Autumn #6

A few more Black Hills shots to share with you, taken along Spring Creek below the Sheridan Lake dam. This is another path that we've walked since childhood, another lovely amble near a creek. I was especially struck by the many types of grass growing and how beautiful it was as the sun shone on it. Photographing grass can be a challenge, and is certainly one I am still working on. What a beautiful walk on that cool autumn day!
We have been sorting and thinning out, hauling quite a few loads to Goodwill. (I love the idea of having a garage sale but I think it's more important for me to get rid of it immediately - otherwise I'm tempted to look through it again and start pulling stuff out to keep.) There is still a lot to go through, but clearing up more space in the house brings a sense of relief, a sense of being able to breathe a bit easier. My hope is that it will help make more room for what really matters in life.
What matters to you these days? What are you making room for?


Wordless Wednesday: Black Hills in Autumn #5

Cement Ridge is a place in the Black Hills that I have only been to a few times. It requires a bit of a drive on gravel roads, and then on very rocky dirt roads, to reach the summit. And it's actually over the border into Wyoming. I had a fun adventure getting to and from there with my uncle, aunt, cousin, and her wee ones this October. The minivan wasn't quite the best vehicle for the very rocky, rutted road we choose to come down on. We made another wrong turn at the bottom and I saw even more of the Hills that I rarely get to see! It was quite a beautiful, silly afternoon.


Kitchen Counter Shots

Today's Superhero Challenge on Shutter Sisters is the kitchen counter shot - essentially, looking for and capturing the beauty in the small details that make up our daily lives. I tend to take a lot of food photos in the late afternoons when I'm preparing dinner. (See these posts:soup, peas, strawberries, slice of life, summer sunshine, blueberries, for a few other examples.) I've mentioned before how I love the peaceful angle of the late day sun as I chop and put together meals. Cooking is enjoyable to me and a creative outlet; even if I don't manage to write, scrapbook, bead, etc., I still find creative fulfillment in handling food. And there's also the relational aspect of food: eating together with family and friends, special celebrations, physical and emotional sustenance.

What routines in your day bring peace to you?


Black Hills Paths

Inspired by The Glass Doorknob, who is featuring a 'week of paths,' I thought I'd pull out some photos of paths from the Black Hills to share with you. As many forests are, the Hills are zig-zagged with many paths, some small, some wide, some rather secret. Put me on a path in the Black Hills, and I'll probably be happy.

In Spearfish Canyon, one of the rare deciduous ecozones in the Hills:

The path that follows Rapid Creek, up behind Silver City. One of the most peaceful places I can think of - quiet, high canyon walls, birches and spruce, the lovely stream.

The path out to the Bighorn Sheep Preserve, which leads to a very windy overlook and a glimpse of the sheep, if you're lucky.

Another lovely path, this one behind Camp Judson, not far from Mt. Rushmore. It follows a tiny stream, with lots of big granite boulders and patches of ferns.

Lastly, a dirt track out on the prairie near the Badlands.

Thanks to DH for photos #2, 4, & 5.

What paths are you following these days?

Love Thursday: Engagement Party

During my recent time at home, we threw a little India-themed engagement party for an old friend. Now, this being Love Thursday, and knowing it was an engagement party, you might think the evening was just to celebrate romantic love and an impending marriage. And, in a way, it was. But looking back at these photos, I think it was more about the love between old friends (and sisters). There is such love and comfort in the traditions of our friendship, having little dress-up parties such as this one (and this one in May), where we all wore saris, which require hands-on help for those of us who don’t wear them more than once a year. We also celebrate with special food during these get-togethers, enjoying each other’s company and old jokes.

And this time, I was appointed henna master, doing something I’d never tried before. There was something touching in the way eight women trustingly held their hands out to me, allowing me to trace designs on their skin that would remain for at least a week or two. And this is perhaps the heart of the matter: we’ve already traced designs on each other’s hearts and lives in the years we’ve known each other, designs that perhaps are a bit wobbly or uneven in places, but that remain forever nonetheless.
Thanks for my sister's help with two of these photos, since my hands were a little busy!


Wordless Wednesday: Black Hills in Autumn #4

I love to consider stories about this little ladybug's life. Do you see her there? What a beautiful place she has to hang out in.


Black Hills in Autumn #3

I'm so enjoying my memories and photos of this latest trip to South Dakota and wanted to share a bit more of it with you.

I tend to focus on the small details in my photos; my husband is better at landscape photos. Using the TV setting on my camera, I tried to capture some of the waterfalls in Spearfish Canyon this trip. Below is part of Roughlock Falls; visiting them in the autumn has been a tradition of autumn since my toddler days. It was so exciting to see them again in the fall after seven years. I will share more about the Canyon in a later post.

I love the unexpected treasures of autumn, finding new things where we don't expect it, such as berries and seedheads that we don't recall ever seeing before, even in familiar territory. Does this ever happen to you?

The green moss that grows down in this canyon and other ones is so striking to me these days. I love the way it looks when the sun hits it and crackly leaves are scattered on it.

A wildrose bush hanging over Spearfish Creek. Many years ago, I collected such rosehips and tried to make tea out of them. I don't remember having terribly great results, however!

Have you stumbled across any small surprises lately, whether in nature or elsewhere?


Love Thursday: I {heart} the Black Hills

I couldn’t have found a better image than this one to represent my recent trip home if I had tried: a heart-shaped leaf, autumn yellow, resting so perfectly on the mossy forest floor. Yes, I love the Black Hills and everything that comes with them! I’m still catching my breath after my trip, but these are a few highlights: short hikes in the aspen-dotted gullies, many meals with family and friends, an engagement party for an old friend, trips to the farmer’s market (I even brought green tomatoes all the way back to Texas), cooking with my sister, laughing at my little nephew, fun with my cousins and relatives, afternoons in the lovely parks taking photos of the flowers before they fade. Trips like this nourish my soul and center me again, reminding me of who I am and of what is important in life.

What nourishes your soul these days?


Black Hills in Autumn #2

The flowers in the public gardens were still beautiful up in South Dakota, but autumn was certainly apparent in places. Besides autumn leaves, what are your favorite signs of fall?

Black Hills in Autumn #1

Today I am thankful for so many things:

The chance to go home again, back in the autumn season for the first time in seven years.
A refreshing, delightful eleven days with family and old friends.
Surviving another plane trip (this time on my own) with the help of a sedative, lots of prayer, and helpful flight attendants.
Hours and hours outdoors enjoying the Black Hills in autumn.
Fun gatherings and excursions with family and friends.
Having roots in such an exceptional part of the country.
Getting to see my nephew at the cute age of 18 months.
And so much more!

What are you thankful for?