Category Archives: Challenges

Lens Artists Challenge – Art in the Park (and other places)

Oh boy, I have many photos that immediately came to mind as I read John’s post for this week’s challenge. I’m going to have to control myself! Check out his post as he’s got some delightful art and in the comments you can find other entries to peruse.

In any gallery below, click on any photo to see a larger image and to read captions.

My daughter is a violist and a couple of times a year her viola teacher puts together an ensemble of her current and prior students and they prepare pieces to perform. During the pandemic she found it difficult to find places to rehearse but she persisted and eventually found a parking ramp at my health clinic, as it happened. They also had their concert there. They had one other outdoor concert in 2020 which was a fund-raiser for a food shelf. They played in front of an elementary school near her house and the audience social-distanced in our folding chairs that we all brought. My daughter is best seen in the third photo. She’s the one on the left.

Here’s one of my husband’s many performances. He’s the bass player on the left singing his heart out :)

A mosaic at the Minnesota State Fair.

A Chihuly glass sculpture from Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden in Coral Gables, Florida.

Last month I created a post of urban art in Minneapolis and I’ll post some here. If you’re interested in seeing more of them, do check out my post.

From the Soho district in Málaga, España.

Urban art from the Lagunillas neighborhood in Málaga, España. If you’d like to see more, check out my post.

A painted old mailbox with scenes from northern Minnesota at Itasca State Park.

In my travels I’ve visited many sculpture gardens. Below are some of my favorites.


Filed under Challenges

Nature Photo Challenge – Trees

This week Denzil has asked us to find photos of trees in nature. I managed to find some from all four seasons. If you’d like to enter this challenge or to view other entries, click here. Denzil’s post and others that I’ve seen have some great photos of trees, many I had never seen before.

First up, some trees from places other than Minnesota.

From the Jardín Botánico Histórico La Concepción, Málaga. A palm tree with fruit.

I wasn’t sure if bougainvillea was a tree so I googled and the Google says yes so, here’s a photo of the largest bougainvillea I have ever seen. It was in full bloom in May that year. From the Real Alcazar in Sevilla, Spain.

From the Getty Center in Los Angeles, California. I googled “tropical tree with trumpet flowers” and learned that this is a brugmansia tree. Such interesting blossoms don’t you think?

Palm trees on Venice Beach, California.

Homage to a tree

Since the theme is trees, I’d like to pay homage to our crabapple tree that broke after a late winter storm on March 31st. After 8 inches of heavy, wet snow the crabapple tree that provided shade to our living room cracked from the weight of the snow and it did so shortly after I woke up on April 1st. And it sure startled me! We didn’t feel like joking on this April fool’s day. We had two arborists look at it and both said it needed to be removed. It’s been gone several weeks now and the front of our house looks so bare. But I’m trying to view this as a positive and we’ve been looking for a few places to give us a bid on planting a new tree. A friend suggested we plant our own tree and save that money. I’m not sure I have the energy and/or strength to do that but we’re considering that as well. She has tips she’s willing to share. It’s lovely to have friends with knowledge, isn’t it? Another positive thing, I’ll have nothing in my way when I clear the roof of snow next winter 😳 Yea, that’s not the best positive aspect is it? As you can likely tell from the first photo where the tree is in full bloom, it is much too close to the house for how big it got. We’ve had to prune it to prevent branches from laying on the roof. So we’re thinking of planting the new tree about 10 or so feet from where the old tree stood, so to the left of the truck in the yard and not right next to the house. The other photos are various views of the cracked tree. Click on any image to see larger photos.

And here’s the type of crabapple tree that I’d like to plant but maybe not right in front of the house. Oh, did I say that already? 🤓 This one appears to be planted far enough away from the house.

Another crabapple tree next door. It’s in full bloom right now and this photo is from yesterday. I now have crabapple tree envy. But at least there are many to view on my daily walks right now.

A tree with white blossoms, not sure what type of tree it is but it sure is pretty.

Continuing my with spring trees, here’s a weeping willow from last week that is just starting to fill out.

And a little gallery of other trees from this week’s walks. A neighbor has planted a magnolia which I don’t see too many of here so I wonder if it will make it. Then I saw another “baby” magnolia with yellow flowers at my local park next to the arboretum. I’ve never seen a yellow blossoming magnolia before. So if the arboretum has planted a magnolia, maybe they are hardy enough to survive our winters? And then to continue with my crabapple tree envy, there is also a Flowering Crabapple Collection at the arboretum in my local park. My feature photo is of most of the collection and it’s in this gallery too. Click on any image to see a larger version.

Luckily I still have my beautiful maple tree. Here it is at peak autumn color.

A group of trees at peak autumn color on the Mississippi River which was very calm that day.

This one is on the Minneapolis side of the Mississippi River Road. I love how this beautiful tree is framed by other trees.

One more autumnal tree. This one’s from the University of Minnesota St. Paul campus on one of my walks when I worked there.

A hike through the woods on the North Shore of Lake Superior.

Another hike through some pines along the North Shore at Tettegouche State Park.

Sunset through the trees at the cabin in northern Minnesota.


Filed under Challenges

Lens Artist Challenge – Mood

This week Sofia challenges us to find photos around the theme of mood. She has some great photos for the challenge and so do others! Do check them out if you get a chance. Here are some that I found.

Evoking a sense of calm with the nearly still water.

One more with a completely still lake, ah……I could sit there for hours.

Another that evokes calm, starting at sunrise. It could also give you an uneasy, ominous feeling with that yellow/orange hue.

Two totally different moods in the photo directly below. I’m completely enjoying my chocolate malt, whereas my daughter, not so much. Or so that was the emotion she was attempting. She decided she was not going to smile in every photo we took of her that day at the fair. And the one beneath the malt photo is yet another great expression of hers. This time she looked like she didn’t want to give her mother a bite of her brownie. Or perhaps she was anxious for me to be done with my bite?

Mom, are you done with your bite yet?

To me this photo evokes the eerie feeling. We were hiking at the North Shore where there was smoke from a forest fire. It made for some interesting photos!

I’d love to sit at that table and listen to the calming sounds of the lake splashing against the shore.

Not sure I want to venture across that bridge, you?

Doesn’t this make you want to grab a kazoo? Old friends having fun.

This sculpture always makes me feel relaxed.

Calm…….moonrise on the shores of Gitche Gumee.

One last one, a peaceful sunset at the lake.


Filed under Challenges

Nature Photo Challenge – Yellow

Oh, I’m liking this week’s theme! Denzil has asked us to find photos of yellow in nature and I have a lot of those! If you’d like to enter this challenge or to view other entries, click here. Here are some that I found. Below are goldenrod, day lily, arugula blossoms, cucumber blossom, yellow primrose, another day lily, coreopsis, black-eyed Susans, orchid. And my featured image are black-eyed Susans. Whew! Enjoy!!

I decided to edit and add a couple of sunsets that I totally forgot about when I compiled this.


Filed under Challenges

Lens Artist challenge – backlit

I always think I won’t find any photos for a particular challenge and this one was no different. However, after perusing others’ posts and finding inspiration among them, I’m happy to say I found many! So many that I had to stop looking and post my version of the challenge. This week’s challenge comes from Ann-Christine and her images are just stunning! Do check them out at this link or if you’d like to enter the challenge or to see other posts in the challenge.

From the Real Alcazar in Sevilla, Spain.

The Hartwell Memorial Window at The Art Institute in Chicago. There are lights behind this magnificent stained glass that brings out the beautiful colors.

The sun poking through the clouds on my descent into Chicago last summer.

From that same trip to Chicago and at The Art Institute, one of the many scenes in the Thorne Miniature Rooms. I love how the light from the outside brightens the two rooms.

One of the many stained glass sections of Sagrada Familia in Barcelona.

A close-up of a columbine bloom with the sun lighting up and enhancing the colors.

And of course I had to include sunsets from the cabin. Here is one of my all time favorites of father and daughter silhouettes when our daughter was still little.

Another great sunset at the lake

A sunrise from my backyard

A sunrise from the Target parking lot that I noticed from my rear view mirror. Of course I had to capture that gorgeous sky!

One last photo of a sunrise on the North Shore


Filed under Challenges

Lens Artist Challenge – Still Life

Like so many others have said, this is not something I focus on. But after viewing some other posts I’ve dug into my archives and found some that I think fits this theme. Check out Patti’s post if you’d like to join or just to peruse other entries.

First up from the Minnesota State Fair. We always go to the Agriculture building where there are lovely displays of flowers and other things. This is from the room full of gladiolas. The displays change every couple of days so it’s always fun to go back and see what else is on view.

Paddy pan squash anyone? From the St. Paul farmers market. I haven’t had these in a long time. It’s not quite time to see them in the market but I’m going to try and remember to look for them this year. They are great as kabobs with chicken and other veggies.

Urban art in Barcelona.

Nuts and confections from La Boquería in Barcelona.

From Málaga in southern Spain. That bougainvillea looks rather still don’t you think? One of my favorite photos of Málaga.

Wild black raspberries anyone? Found in my neighborhood on one of my walks. They turn red first and then black.

The best paella I’ve ever had, hands down! From Cafe Varela at the Preciados Hotel in Madrid, España.

Crema catalana in Barcelona for dessert. Oh my, so yummy! Very similar to crème brûlée but maybe a little sweeter and with a galleta (cookie).

And to complete my paella meal, a cafe con leche with my dessert. There is nothing quite like a cafe con leche in Spain.

I know I had a photo of a Spanish courtyard similar to the one in Patti’s post but darn it, I cannot find it! I think my photos here will suffice though. My cover image is from the traveling Van Gogh interactive exhibit.


Filed under Challenges

Nature Photo Challenge – Long-legged birds

This week’s challenge really suits me because I have many photos of long-legged birds! Mostly great blue herons and egrets that I see around my neighborhood when I take my nearly daily walks. I also managed to catch a great blue heron in flight and two egrets in flight and am including those videos below. Note that the great blue heron flies right past a stationary egret as it lands.

If you’d like to join the challenge, or to view other entries, check out Denzil’s post for more details.

Up first is an egret that I managed to catch in flight as well as its reflection.

The next photo is a HUGE great blue heron I saw at my local park. I don’t believe I had ever seen one this large before.

Next is a gallery of great blue herons. You will notice green muck in every photo in this gallery and some in the next gallery. I believe it’s the run-off of chemicals from lawns around this lake at my local park. I read about another lake nearby that cleaned up their muck last year. I keep hoping our town will clean up the muck on our lake but, so far, no luck on the muck cleaning.

A gallery of the “white bird” follows. We love the white bird in our house. So much so that whenever we see an egret one of us calls out “white bird!”. It’s sort of like a good luck thing, and seeing them always brightens my day. They are so beautiful and they spend spring through fall around here. I almost always see one on my walks.

This one deserves to be on its own as it’s one of my favorites of the white bird! He didn’t fly away as I approached which was really nice. Thank you white bird!

And one of a green heron who doesn’t really have long legs but I thought I’d include it anyway. I had never heard of this bird before and a fellow walker at the park saw me photographing a bird and volunteered to show me a green heron. And now I see these all the time.

To close I wanted to share two videos. Okay, these are not photos but seeing these majestic birds in flight is so fun! First is the great blue heron in flight that I mentioned above. The second video is of two egrets in flight. You will notice one egret is in a tree, as the two keep flying but I’m only focusing on one at that point. You see the second one that was also in flight just finish landing as the other one flies out of sight to the right. I count three egrets, wow.


Filed under Challenges