WPC: Going Up & Looking Up

Sue W. sponsors the WP Weekly Photo Challenge prompt and this week the word is Up.

Up makes me think of stairs or other means of ascending. These are photos from our most recent trip to Egypt and Israel, Dec. 2018-Jan. 2019.


This stairway looks a little scary! At a mall in Tel Aviv, Israel


We went up this narrow street in Jerusalem, but had to move aside while a vehicle came down – on the stairs!


Take your pick: stairs on the left or right, or ramp in the middle (Old Jerusalem)


Stairway at the Church of Virgin Mary (Hanging Church), Cairo, Egypt

One of the women in my Egypt tour group confided to me (partly in jest!) that, “If I’d known there would be so many stairs, I wouldn’t have come!”

Of course, when you are touring a place you’ve never been, especially if you’re a photographer, you also do a lot of looking up.

We looked up at:
Ceilings (Hanging Church, Cairo, Egypt)
Tops of buildings (Cairo)
Tops of columns and ceiling carvings (Temple of Khnum, Esna, Egypt)
Church domes (Church of the Flagellation, Jerusalem, Israel)
Windows (Old Jerusalem)
Murals high on a church wall (Peter of Gallicantu Church, Jerusalem)

Climbing and looking up give you a view of the world that you would otherwise not observe!




RDP #41: Vintage on Route 66

The Ragtag Daily Prompt for today is vintage. There is a lot of “vintage” everything on Route 66!

Vintage chairs, Seligman, AZ
Vintage trailer outside Bagdad Café, Newberry Springs, CA
Vintage jukebox, Bagdad Café
Vintage heater (?), Elmer’s Bottle Ranch, north of Victorville, CA
Vintage Marines poster, Elmer’s Bottle Ranch
DSC_0485 (2)
Vintage Texaco gas pump, Elmer’s Bottle RanchSONY DSC
Vintage hub caps & Livery, Seligman, AZ
Vintage donation receptacle, Kingman Powerhouse Visitors Center, Kingman, AZ
Vintage phone booth, Kingman Powerhouse Visitors Center
Vintage refrigerator, Bob Waldmire’s trailer, Pontiac, IL
Vintage car, Best Western Hotel, Springfield, MO
Vintage vacuum cleaners (1900-1910), Vacuum Cleaner Museum & Factory, St. James, MO






Under a Bridge

Jenn at Traveling at Wits End has a weekly photo challenge. This week’s challenge is to “photograph under a bridge.”

From a cruise ship on the St. Lawrence River, Quebec Province, Canada


SONY DSCFrom a cruise ship, Panama Canal
KODAK Digital Still Camera

KODAK Digital Still CameraWhile cruising on an electric boat on the Chicago River20160626_160307

I end with an appropriate song, one of my favorites, from my favorite music duo, Simon and Garfunkel’s Bridge Over Troubled Water.

WPC: I Hate Winter!

We have been experiencing Arctic cold temperatures here in the upper Midwest since just after Christmas. Yesterday, I was commiserating about the cold with my dentist, who feels the same way about winter that I do.  Once Christmas is over, we are in for short, cold days and long nights.

“I don’t like anything about winter,” she said.

“Me either,” I replied.

But I was wrong: there is ONE thing I like about winter (OK, two things!). First, the landscape just after a snowfall, when snow laces each tree branch and the ground is pristine and white. (Best if admired from INSIDE the house!) Admittedly, it is a very photogenic time, though lacking much color.

New fallen snow at sunrise - from front of the house

New fallen snow at sunrise – from our driveway before I went to work (2014).


The second thing I like about winter is the END of winter – perhaps a little before the official end on March 21-22, when new growth appears, in my garden and around the neighborhood. And I wouldn’t appreciate this so much if we hadn’t gone through the winter months first. It’s amazing how perennials hibernate under the ground all winter and still survive to poke their way out into the sunshine.

New life in a new season of growth. Springtime!

First flowers: snowdrops – how I long to see them!


A patch of violets in my backyard

Violets last March


Growing things in my garden: tulips & daffodils

My garden in early spring


We are subject to the whims of the weather. The first photo was taken at about the same time (mid-March) as the others, but in different years!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Growth  

(I know – I’m submitting twice for this challenge – is that cheating??)




WPC: Journaling for Growth

WordPress’s Daily Post Weekly Photo Challenge this week is about Growth: In this first week of the year, many people anticipate beginnings, changes, and opportunities for growth. Share with us an image that evokes this spirit of change and newness — [such as] an empty journal waiting to be filled. Growth is very personal, and I encourage you to interpret this as literally or as broadly as you like.

Jen H., who is hosting the WPC this week, also includes this quote in her post about growth:
“Our growth depends not on how many experiences we devour, but on how many we digest.” — Ralph W. Sockman

Thinking about growth this way reminds me of my favorite Christmas present this year, which was a new travel journal!

20180103_134941Our daughter gave it to me in anticipation of our upcoming trip to Tanzania at the beginning of February. She knows I always keep a journal when I travel (and use as the basis for my travel blog posts), but this one has a different focus entirely. I usually do my journal chronologically, but this journal encourages an entirely new set of parameters. There are pages for me to write, or draw, or tape something, on every conceivable topic. Here’s a sample page:travel journal page

There are pages to write or draw, etc., impressions to record using all five senses, as well as pages about the people, culture, etc., but all in a state of mindfulness. The first several pages gives some instruction on how to practice mindfulness, especially through meditation. I plan to use this as a vehicle for growth this year.

Experiences are great opportunities for growth, and working on this journal in a unique and mindful  way will allow my travel experience to be richer.

After I come back, maybe I will post some of the completed pages from this journal!





WPC: Favorites of 2017

20170527_200455This brilliant rainbow appeared after a rainstorm and close to sunset on a May evening, on our way back to South Dakota after visiting Devils’ Tower. It’s my favorite because the rainbow was so nearby, that I could see it “touch” the ground.

20170920_191538I took this photo from inside Shakespeare Theatre on Navy Pier in Chicago last September. It was just past sunset. I love the different hues of blue with the silhouettes of skyscrapers in the background.

20171117_123431 (2)This is sort of an oddball photo, but it’s one of my favorites because of the subject matter. Leaving a lecture at a local community college in November, I passed a room with all these microphones sticking out of the wall. I’d never seen anything like that before and it just struck me, particularly the different bends in each of the cables, creating a sort of chaotic group of curvy black shapes. Then I played around with the light and special effects on the photo to create this result. The closest microphone has a sort of light aura around it, which I tried to enhance further, but couldn’t with my limited photo software. Anyway, I think it’s kind of cool and would like to take more photos of unusual subjects like this.

20170821_122819.jpgThis is probably my favorite picture of flowers this year. I took it at the Chicago Botanic Garden in August. The purple and blue combination on the flowers is so vibrant.

20170713_165802Finally, I was excited to get so close to a pair of loons while on a pontoon boat ride on Lower Kaubashine Lake in Wisconsin with my family last July. I had seen them earlier in the week and knew they had a chick, which was fishing with them on that earlier day. On the pontoon ride, we somehow ended up coming between the loon parents and their baby! The pair approached the boat cautiously and we watched them so quietly, until they began to make distress calls (this is a sort of up and down trill and denotes a warning or danger). Everyone on the boat was trying to get Dale to speed up so we wouldn’t be blocking the pair from their offspring, who had begun to make a distress call back to its parents. Although it was exciting to see them up close and snap several pictures of them, we also wanted to leave them alone. Over the years we have been spending some summer weeks in northern Wisconsin, I’ve gotten to really love these beautiful water birds and the variety of vocalizations they make. Loons are very shy birds, even though they have, by necessity, become used to sharing their habitat with humans. This is a fairly recent phenomenon and so it is still special to be able to observe a loon family at such close range.

Weekly Photo Challenge, 12/20/17

WPC: Going Up?

The Daily Post Weekly Photo Challenge this week is ascend.  If I were a bird, I would spread my wings and fly! Since humans have no wings, we have created other ways to go up…

Escalators at Ogilvie Transportation Center in Chicago (two of these go down, one goes up)20171211_175047

Circular stairways at Grand Ave. Mall in MilwaukeeSONY DSC
The funicular and the stairs connecting Upper and Lower Old Town, Quebec City, Canada

Want to see the view? Try Chicago’s Ferris Wheel on Navy Pier!

Circular stairway at Museu da Arte Moderna (MAM) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

I did a long post several months ago about going up Sugarloaf Mountain (Pão de Açúcar) in Rio de Janeiro, including a video of our cable car ascending. Here it is again:


KODAK Digital Still Camera

Some are getting ready to descend, or are disembarking after ascending!

Winding staircase and marble staircase at State Capitol, St. Paul, MinnesotaKODAK Digital Still Camera


Elevator door, State Capitol, Bismarck, North Dakota20170526_133446




Serene Blue Sky Days

Who doesn’t love a blue sky accenting colors of the objects below, the sun shining down on us and feeling the warmth? When I think of Serene, I think of nature, and when I think of nature, I usually prefer Blue Sky Days!

KODAK Digital Still Camera

On the Baltic Sea near Helsinki, Finland



Sunset on a clear night over serene waters (near Finland)


Amazing clouds streak the blue sky on Upper Kaubashine Lake, Hazelhurst, Wisconsin


Summer day on the lake, Sigtuna, Sweden


Sunset over Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, as seen from Sugarloaf Mountain

KODAK Digital Still Camera

Sabino Canyon, Tucson, Arizona


Pink clouds at sunset with rising moon, Upper Kaubashine Lake, Hazelhurst, Wisconsin

Join the fun at WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge and Nancy Merrill’s a Photo a Week Challenge!

WPC: Black Cat Alley – Transformation from Mundane to Beauty

Black Cat Alley was, until September 2016, just a non-descript and rather dark alley on Milwaukee’s north side.


I downloaded this photo in order to show how the alley looked before it was painted.

I probably would have been scared to traverse that alley, until it was transformed into a gallery of murals by 15 Milwaukee street artists! On a recent visit to Milwaukee, Dale and I visited Black Cat Alley, a one-block space starting at Kenilworth St. and ending at Ivanhoe, between Farwell and Prospect Avenues, to see this transformation from “a dark and quiet space” into a “beautiful, cultural destination for the public.”


Dale climbs the stairs leading into the alley.



The alley as seen from the opposite end.



The iconic frog that one sees from the street before entering Black Cat Alley. (I downloaded this image because my photo didn’t come out well. It can be found on their web site – link near end of post.)









There were several of these groups of fish painted on the sidewalk.












Another downloaded image – this beautiful mural in red, white and black, Inmate, was vandalized, so  the wall has been painted over in solid red.  (It is visible in my second photo, above.)

I found information about Black Cat Alley from this web site before we went to Milwaukee. I would love to visit again in the summertime, and see the other street art scattered throughout the city.  It has definitely undergone tremendous transformation since my seven years’ residence there in the 1980s!


Weekly Photo Challenge, 11/22/17 with the theme of Transformation.


WPC: Experimental Photography and Drawing

When I got my new computer last spring, I was chagrined to find out that not only Photo Gallery wasn’t included, but that I could no longer download it!!

Apparently, many of the features of that program have been incorporated into the Photos program that comes with Windows 10 – not all, by any means, but some at least! (I don’t have Photoshop, but am thinking of buying it.)

I looked for pictures to experiment with. Through cropping and enhancing, I put the focus on a bench on a rocky shore in Monterey Peninsula, CA, which I think is a lot better than the original.

The original:

After cropping/enhancing and experimenting with contrast:
20151223_163346 (2)

Some other experiments had less interesting results – this sunburst came out quite dark originally:
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The experimentals:

Actually, just lightening the contrast actually improved the picture (last of the four).

On my cell phone, I also have done some experimenting with color, filters and contrast. Here’s one that I like of my husband fishing off the pier at our cottage in northern Wisconsin in 2013 (first picture is original, second is experimental):

I have also done some experimental drawing (admittedly for a summer art class) – using various bones of a skeleton. Here are collages I made using a vertebra (the first is using colored pencil only, the second incorporates colored pencils and watercolor):

I also used a full skeleton model to draw using color pencils and with charcoal only:

Weekly Photo Challenge: Experimental