Weekly Photo Challenge: Summer Lovin’


Chardonnays from all over the world...

Chardonnays from all over the world…

One of the highlights of summer so far was attending the International Cool Climate Chardonnay Celebration (i4c) in Niagara.

Spending a weekend eating and drinking right in the vineyards of the region was the perfect way to love and appreciate summer!

This is what I FaceBooked right afterwards: “What a wonderful wine-soaked weekend in the Niagara region at the Cool Climate Chardonnay event! Can’t thank the organizers, winemakers, wineries, volunteers and all those involved enough for all their effort.
A new Chardonnay monster has been created.”

For those whose only experience of chardonnay is that cloying, overly oaky stuff, chardonnay made in cool climates is a revelation! I think I sampled chardonnays from most countries represented and my mind and palate were opened.

At the dinner for 800 under a massive tent on Saturday night we sat with the winemakers, who proudly poured their wines for us and shared fascinating details about how they were made.

Not only did I become a fan of cool climate chardonnay, but I also discovered how well oysters and champagne go together.

The celebration takes place every year. You can’t beat it as a fabulous summer experience for wine lovers.

See more pics here.

Thanks to the International Cool Climate Chardonnay Celebration for featuring this blog post!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Abandoned

…The secret is, it’s all love.
It’s all doorways to truth.
It’s all opportunity to merge with what is.
Most of us don’t step through the doorframe.
We stay on the known side.
We fight the door, we fight the frame, we scream and hang on.
On the other side, you are one with the earth, like the mountain.
You hum with life, like the moss.
On the other side, you are more beautiful:
wholeness in your bones, wisdom in your gaze,
the sage-self and the surrendered heart alive.
From Even in the Struggle by Tara Sophia Mohr

Weekly Photo Challenge: Object

abstract boat2

There’s a type of photography called contemplative photography that I first learned about from Kim Manley Ort that  makes me feel as though I’ve come home to myself.

Kim says this meditative form of photography is “about being present and open to life as it is, without judgment. It’s about being open to what the world offers up to me rather than looking for a particular shot.”

Today, for the Weekly Photo Challenge, I am offering such an image. In December I participated in a month focusing on the photography of simplicity, and many days I  chose to deliberately capture images following the principles of this type of photography.

Contemplative photography has been described as “a method for seeing and photographing the world in fresh ways, to reveal richness and beauty that is normally hidden from view. Instead of emphasizing subject matter or the technical aspects of photography, the contemplative approach teaches you to see clearly, and make images based on fresh perceptions.”

If any of this intrigues you, I urge you to have a look at the site Seeing Fresh: The Practice of Contemplative Photography. You can contribute to and receive inspiration from the amazing galleries there. And check out Kim’s site too to learn more.

When you see such an image, it is startling in its purity. For those who are used to seeing heavily processed and manipulated images, such an image can seem almost too simple. But really what it is is fresh and new and untainted.

These images suggest to me what is possible with photography when we are guided by our clearest visual perceptions and an open mind and heart…when we are able to leave our preconceived notions, judgments and expectations behind us.

Since I’m an eclectic photographer,  I plan to continue enjoying and practising many styles and schools of photography… But contemplative photography contains a treasure trove of insights and practices that can be used to improve and enliven our image-making.

For those who are still wondering what the object above is that I photographed, it’s part of a boat reflecting part of another boat.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Hue of you

abstract lichen1

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This week I was inspired to try some abstracts by my brother-in-law and by Kim Manley Ort, who is offering an online course in abstract photography that looks fabulous. (I have taken courses with her in the past and she is one of the best and most generous of photography instructors.)

I was visiting a cemetery recently and Leo pointed out the intriguing patterns of lichen growth on the marble and granite headstones. I was immediately drawn to the tones and designs in the lichen against the white, gray and black of the stones.

One of the sources I consulted about lichens on headstones said that they do not harm the stone and it is best not to try to remove them. They actually protect the stones from damage due to weather and radiation.

Now that the fiery colours on the  trees are receding, we are moving into months redolent of brown tones.  At first glance, it’s easy to dismiss these tones as drab and dull and boring — but take a closer look! There are nuances to these colour schemes that can only be appreciated when you move in closer to the earth.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Infinite

Thank you for EXPLORE on Flickr


hanging on3-1000

Continuing along the thread of poetry I started, I found (was given, actually, by my poetry troubadour friend) this simple poem about simplicity by a Palestinian poet named Taha Muhammad Ali.

Every since I started making images, I have been striving for simplicity. It’s what speaks to me most directly and powerfully and what resonates most deeply. Often it is a simple impression I want to convey, a feeling, a mood, even an idea…

This week’s photo challenge is about capturing moments of wonder “when the infinite catches us by surprise” stumbling “upon it in things both big and small.”  And for me, it is often the small things that I return to over and over — a silent leaf caught in the light can be every bit as glorious as the thumping thunder of Victoria Falls.


And so

it has taken me

all of sixty years

to understand

that water is the finest drink

and bread the most delicious food

and that art is worthless

unless it plants

a measure of splendor in people’s hearts.


I recently read a wonderful post by Leo Babauta of Zen Habits that touches beautifully on the essence of simple living. It’s about stripping down to the very basics — and revelling in them.

Sharing with Friday Finds.

Kim Klassen dot Com

Weekly Photo Challenge: Inside


On Biscayne Bay, facing Key Biscayne

I have to admit, I can be a bit contrary. Just as the weather is turning and making us think about being “inside” more, I start thinking more about being outside. But being outside, inside a sailboat, that is. One of the places that makes me feel most at home in the world.

These scenes are from Biscayne Bay near Miami in Florida a few years ago. As we start talking about getting ready to go south, I decided to scan through these old images and the great memories came flooding back.

Lately, I’ve been spending time getting familiar with my new Topaz bundle, which contains more presets than I will ever know what to do with. I’m thinking about the simplicity of life on a sailboat and what it feels like to be inside a small vessel on big open water under big open sky.  The feeling of all the dramatic contrasts really lends itself to black and white.

I haven’t been all that pleased with my black and white conversions in the past, but I am pleased with Topaz. It provides so many great options and allows you you to tweak to your heart’s content, to get exactly the look you want.

Topaz also came to the rescue in dealing with the noise in the images, which were made with my previous camera, which was a lot more noisy than my new one. So I also ran Topaz Denoise, which is absolutely wonderful for getting rid of that pesky noise.

I’m really just scratching the surface with Topaz so if you have any favorites or tips for using it, I’d love to hear about them.

big cloud b and w

Taken from our sailboat facing Coconut Grove.

Weekly photo challenge: The sea

Give up to grace. The ocean takes care of each wave until it gets to shore.



Last winter, when we were living on our sailboat, I became quite entranced with a section of the beach on Hutchinson Island, Florida called the Bathtub Reef. The contrast of the craggy coral reef and the smooth, long-exposure waves, really captivated me.

There’s a museum in this spot that is the last remaining House of Refuge along Florida’s Atlantic Coast. Called Gilbert’s Bar House of Refuge, it was a life-saving station staffed by a “keeper,” who, with their families, led solitary lives in order to find, rescue, and minister to those who fell victim to Florida’s treacherous reefs and shoals. It was damaged in two recent hurricanes but has since been fully rebuilt and is well worth a visit today.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Fresh

The beginning is always today.

Mary Shelley


In my part of the world, it’s pretty hot. Maybe you can splash in the ocean or a river or a pool. If you’re coping with a heat wave, there are also other ways to chill out…

a cool drink…

cool jazz…

a cool app for organizing your schedule and projects…

a cool coneflower from Beverly…

great resources for keeping your cool from Leo Babauta and more free articles here

Wishing everyone a great weekend, whatever your weather.