2019 The Year of Pollen and Pretty Flowers: Week 13

If you’ve ever tried to complete a year-long photo project you know each week brings a new challenge and today’s post is my answer to the seasonally specific question “what do I share when the focus of my blog is an outdoor PNW lifestyle but the arrival of spring means I can’t be outside because of the sneezing?” This is the third time I’ve set myself up to share a year’s worth of daily photos and while I might want to say I’ll only take and share pics from indoors until allergy season passes the truth is I need better choices or you’ll all leave me for more interesting reading.  Plus, the inside of my house is boring and spring in the Pacific Northwest is really lovely.  It would be a shame to not share.

This year I decided to risk the pollen induced sneezing and in one fast-snapping tour of the yard collected 6 images of what’s blooming now to create a fresh post all about flowers.  Our late start to spring meant the morning I made my flower dash there weren’t 7 interesting plants blooming so the begonia close up is from last summer. I like to think of the final result as a digital, sneeze free, bouquet.

All images were taken with my iPhone and edited in VSCO.  If you’re interested in more detail please click through each image individually as I’ve captioned them with the specific filter presets used within the app.


Processed with VSCO with wwf preset

While local garden centers are filled with pretty displays of spring bulbs and primroses I’m starting to worry about the mostly dormant state of my own yard.  Plants that usually bud and flower in early February show no signs of growth and my weeds are the only green things that look truly happy but this one brave hellebore is giving me hope for a brighter season to come.

Taken with my iPhone 7+ and edited in Snapseed and VSCO.

For more examples of mobile macro photography please enjoy Sally’s latest post over at Lens and Pens by Sally.

A Surprise Every Day: Shaking Up January With Hipstamatic (week 4)

Today I’m going to jump right into my last “shake it up” recap so we can get to my final thoughts about this project and start talking about where I’m going for the next phase of my photo-a-day challenge.  Sunday was a little too cold and wet for my comfort but perfect for this pretty hellebore and Monday afternoon I rode an escalator that took me right past this shiny glass wall and a peek into this fancy bar.  Tuesday I walked past a cute sign in front of a wine store and Wednesday I was really happy our new car has heated seats.  Thursday I went shopping for a US map and stopped to admire this antique world map while Friday I stopped to watch these two men walking on a newly installed glass awning.  They’re braver than me!  Saturday I’d hoped my final picture would be of something special or at least a pretty sunset but my errands took longer than I’d planned and I was out picking up pizza for dinner when the sun went down.   Hipstamatic must have felt bad for me so it served up this lens/filter combination transforming my Tuscan Chicken pizza into a colorful little slice of the world.  All in all a good way to end my first full year in pictures.

Daily journal writing is something I’ve never been very good at.  I enjoy pretty notebooks and pens but after a few days of planned writing my creative spark fades and I get tired of recording the same old things.  My closet shelves hold stacks of slightly used notebooks so when I decided to try one last version of keeping a daily record I didn’t have high hopes for a successful outcome.  This time I came at it from a different angle though looking for something to shake me out of a stretch of boring photos and with a desire to move forward with new ideas instead of placing my creative focus on looking back.    Since another notebook project could be set aside too easily I thought posting my process in this public space might keep me more accountable and about six months into the project I was able to admit that I wasn’t going to stop until I’d reached a full year. Now that the initial year is complete I’m actually ready to start year two!

In order to keep myself on track I decided to start with a structure that was as simple as possible while still producing an interesting product.  Hipstamatic was my favorite app at the time so I challenged myself to explore everything it had to offer in a random fashion.  I activated the “shake to randomize” setting, agreed that I would avoid all post processing and placed my focus solely on composition by selecting small objects and moments to tell my daily stories.  Even though Hipstamatic went through a major upgrade part way through the year I stayed away from the shiny new features and continued to shoot using classic mode in order to maintain visual continuity from start to finish.  By the end of the year I amassed a collection of 365 photos and stories  that I hope will be a great reminder of this unique period in time.

The daily photo routine isn’t always fun, some days I just don’t feel like taking pictures, but apparently I’m not ready to walk away yet so this post is also an introduction the next phase of my photographic journal.  I’ve spent the past 12 months shooting daily images in a square format limiting myself to one iPhone app so for a change of pace the next 12 will be wide open, both literally and figuratively.  Square photos really lend themselves to small views of solitary objects or quiet moments in a busy environment and while I enjoy this style tremendously it’s time to stretch a little and try something new.  Going forward you’ll see a mix of everything ranging from traditional landscape and portrait orientations to circles, fish eye and panorama.  I’m sure there will be a few square images every month but it’s time to open up the point of view and show you a little more of what’s around me on a daily basis.  I’ll be experimenting with all the apps I’ve collected but not explored in depth as well as work through new themes for as long as they hold my interest.  There may be a week of daily dog photos, a week filled with black and white, a week of interesting signs I’ve passed or maybe even a week of new bottles of wine.  The point is to have fun and show some aspects of the Pacific Northwest that live outside of a small, square frame.

My final change, and what really will make this new project a challenge is how I’ve decided to share the new photos.  Instead of filing each photo away until it’s time to write a recap I’ve set a goal to post everyday on Instagram with a quick caption of where we were followed by a weekly recap here on the blog in a format that will be similar to what you’re used to reading in the shake-it-up posts.  If you’re a daily photo person I hope you’ll stop by Instagram to follow along but if this is too much to keep up with then don’t worry, you can still get your weekly recap right here. 🙂

Weekly Photo Challenge: Symmetry in Seasons

There is in all things a pattern that is part of our universe. It has symmetry, elegance, and grace – these qualities you find always in that the true artist captures. You can find it in the turning of the seasons, the way sand trails along a ridge, in the branch clusters of the creosote busy of the pattern of its leaves. We try to copy these patterns in our lives and in our society, seeking the rhythms, the dances, the forms that comfort. Yet, it is possible to see peril in the finding of ultimate perfection. It is clear that the ultimate pattern contains its own fixity. In such perfection, all things move towards death.

Frank Herbert, Dune


In our yard early Hellebore flowers are my first signal that winter has turned the corner and spring is on its way.  These blushing white blooms look a little worse for the wear after pushing their way through last summer’s leaves but in the words of Frank Hebert there is symmetry in nature’s pattern. Each season comes in time and while blooming summer perfection inevitably moves towards death it also gives life and nourishment for the new season’s beauty.

Posted as part of the Weekly Photo Challenge:  Symmetry.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Lost in the Details

Late Winter

Today’s photo challenge  is about getting lost in the details.  Late winter in my backyard can be dark, muddy and sometimes a little depressing. I love to garden but this time of year is tough for me to appreciate as the ground is covered with debris from winter storms and too wet and cold for most spring flowers.  After spending a chilly day clearing leaves and branches it is a treat to find the first hellebores blooming and the fine details of their simple, hardy flowers never fail to make me smile.

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