Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #67 – Candid

This week we have some candid shots from Inishmore of the Aran Islands.  Of course, no set of photos from Ireland would be complete without some cows.

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I don’t often post pictures of people here, because I don’t post family photos and I don’t often take pictures of strangers.  But here’s one guy who just really wanted to get the perfect shot, even if it meant getting close to a 100m high cliff edge.

I also spotted this couple that was holding hands the whole way heading down the long slope from the fort on the cliffs.  So sweet!

You can find more candids filled at the original Lens-Artist challenge.

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Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #66: Filling the Frame

On our brief visit to Rome in 2012, we took a bus trip around the city to see the most we could in the short time we had.  Of course, taking photos from a bus is always a dicey prospect, what with the window glare, other passengers, and no way to control the angle or distance of your shots.  But I still always do it anyways!

I took dozens of bad photos, but sometimes the closeness of the subjects, in this case the buildings of Rome, worked to my advantage.  We got to see the Colosseum both from a distance and also a little closer.

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I didn’t even know what this next building was at the time (the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore), but somehow I managed to fill the frame with it so nicely it became one of my favorite photos from this visit.

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You can find more frames filled at the original Lens-Artist challenge.

Fan Art Friday: Stormtrooper Calaveras

Welcome back to our Star Wars coloring book club, where Kiri from Star Wars Anonymous and I color the same image every month to compare and contrast.

This month I am welcoming fall with a Día de los Muertos themed picture.

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I had so much fun with this one! I decorated the stormtrooper heads as calaveras in the Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) tradition. This holiday is celebrated in Mexican communities on November 1, corresponding with All Saints’ Day. The Disney movie Coco is a good depiction of the Día de los Muertos traditions.

Calaveras are decorated skulls, often made of sugar, that are a symbol of the holiday. I love the idea of stormtrooper calaveras because the helmets look a bit like skulls. I had a lot of fun thinking up designs for the calaveras. The first one I did was the top right one, which started out a bit rough, but I got better as I went along. It was a nice change from the normal blocks of color that I do for these.

For the rest of the image, I wanted to represent the colorful spirit of the ofrendas, or altars, including the traditional marigold flowers. There is one spot that I colored blue and now I wish I had done red, but otherwise I like how it turned out.

Kiri also had the idea of using patterns in her image! I love the colors she chose this month, it came out great.

Here is the coloring in progress:

Lens-Artists Challenge #65 – Pick a Place: Skellig Michael

The highlight of my trip to Ireland in 2015 was a visit to the rugged island Skellig Michael.  I had wanted to visit for three reasons.

First, it is home to many species of birds, including Atlantic puffins, gannets, kittiwakes, and others.  I was able to add some cool species to my life list and get very close and personal with these birds that are not afraid of humans.  It was even puffin breeding season.

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Second, the island is historically and culturally important, being the home of ascetic Christian monks for several centuries.  They built the winding staircases up the rocks and also built stone dwellings.  It is now a UNESCO heritage site.

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Third, the island stood in for the Jedi refuge of Ahch-To in the new Star Wars films.  They had been filming there the year before I went, and even though the movie The Force Awakens hadn’t even come out yet, I was excited to visit a Star Wars filming location.  And I loved seeing and recognizing the footage of Skellig Michael on the big screen later.

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But in the end, the reason that Skellig Michael is most memorable to me is the mental journey I took to get there.  You can read the whole story of my trip here, but I will just say that I will always be proud that I was able to overcome my anxiety to enjoy this once-in-a-lifetime experience.

You can find more special places at the original Lens-Artist challenge.

Banned Books Week 2019

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It’s our yearly celebration of banned books!  Every September, the American Library Association sponsors Banned Books Week to focus on challenges to books, graphic novels, and other media in American libraries and schools.  I disagree with such attempts at censorship and am proud to read banned books, which often contain the most powerful and important ideas.

The Banned Books Week display at my local library

There were 347 challenges recorded by the ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom in 2018.  Here are the most frequently challenged books (infographic courtesy of the ALA).

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I have only read one book on this list, #4: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas.  I wrote about it last year for Banned Books week.  It is a wonderful book and I really feel that high schoolers could benefit from reading it.  It functions both as a commentary on current events and also as a portrait of contemporary American family life.  If you are concerned about its content, try using it to start a conversation, like Starr’s father does with Tupac’s music and “THUG LIFE” concept.

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Have you read any of the books from the list?  What banned books have impacted your life?