Category Archives: Photography

The Milky Way from El Teide Mountain in Spain

 

Did you enjoy watching any fireworks last night? Here in America, most of us try to find some place where we can celebrate our Independence Day with a display of color and light bursting through the night sky. However, today I want to share something so glorious that it makes man’s handiwork seem like child play. If you have three minutes to invest in transcendent beauty, here’s a link to one of the most majestic and soothing videos on stars I’ve ever seen. It’s called “The Mountain,” by TSO photography, and it was filmed in April, 2011, although I just saw it recently. The photographer was visiting El Teide, Spain’s highest mountain, which is one of the world’s best spots for filming stars (real stars!). On the website, he gives more details on how and what he did during that week of filming. Hope it thrills your soul as it has mine!

PS—You might want to shut it off as soon as it ends, because the one that started on my feed after this one ended was as bad as this one is wonderful. 😦  Sorry. I wish the internet was safe and pure, but it is not!

(First photo with Psalm 19:1 inscribed is the handiwork of Bob Hardee.)

The Wild Bergamot and The Bees: a Lesson in Unintentional Consequences

bergamot-and-black-eyed-susans-charylene-powersEven though many of the wildflowers have gone to seed in August, the wild bergamot plants are thriving. As I walk the trails at the John Luton Prairie Restoration Park, I immediately notice a great number of black and yellow bees. The buzzing bees traverse from flower to flower gathering the nectar they need to survive. My desire is to take advantage of the afternoon sun; photographing this beautiful prairie and all the inhabits that call it home.bergamot-by-charylene-powersThe Flower  – Wild Bergamot
The soft lavender flower heads of the wild bergamot plants look like a little fireworks display.  The unending historical medical uses for this plant include; poultices for boils and lacerations, as well as minty tea infusions for headaches, indigestion and colds.  The Ojibwe tribe placed these leaves in warm water baths for their babies. In addition to medical uses, the Indigo Buntings build their nests using the strong square wood stems. charylene-powers-birdThe Pollinators – Bees
It is estimated that a third of the food we eat is dependent on bee pollination.  Bees pollinate by carrying pollen on their bodies from the male part of the flower to the female part of the same kind of flower. The stiff hairs all over the bees’s bodies attract the pollen. The bees gather nectar from the flowers to eat. As the bees feed themselves, they provide a service that feeds all of us.bee-on-bergamot-charylene-powersObservations
Focusing on the task of gathering nectar, seems to be all consuming for the bees. When I move in to take my shot, the bees do not notice me, even though I am inches from them. I’m sure  my desire to get a close up of flower and bee will result in a stinging retort from the bees. However, they just keep doing what God has intended them to do. I need to be this focused with my assignments from God.

“So be careful to do what the Lord you God has commanded you; do not turn aside to the right or to the left.” (Deuteronomy 5:32, NIV)

Thoughts to Ponder
I think of the work of the bees and what they actually accomplish. They gather nectar to sustain themselves and pollinate our food source for us.  The work of pollination is really an unintentional consequence on their part. God has a bigger plan in mind for the work He has given to the bees. A plan that the bees cannot even imagine nor will they ever know. What about my assignments from God?  Am I as focused as the bees? Does God have a bigger plan in mind for the assignments He has given to me?  A plan that I – like the bees – cannot even imagine nor will I ever know.

bergamot-field-charylene-powers“As the heavens are higher than the earth so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:9, NIV)

(Guest author: Charylene Powers. Thank you, Charylene. This is just beautiful!)

Trip Notes on an ArtPrize Journey

from-the-rising-of-the-sun-lots-of-kids-visit      If you’re thinking about ArtPrize 9, I’d like to encourage you to go for it, early-visitors-to-artprizeeven though last Friday marked the end of this year’s ArtPrize 8 adventure for me, and I feel a bit like my husband used to after a camping trip to Disney with our kids when they were young.hanging-the-mural-for-artprize For about the first week, he’d say, “NEVER AGAIN!” But, slowly he’d regain his energy, forget the problems, and remember all the joys on the journey. Within a month or two, he’d be daydreaming about our next big adventure. artprize-8-mural-installed-in-back-lobby-of-holiday-innThis has been my reaction to ArtPrize also. My mural didn’t win any awards, nor did anybody find it an indispensable addition to the decor of their institution.silvio-reinstalling-collagesSo, my trusty builder friend, Silvio, helped me bring all twenty collages home, and he’s hung them up to brighten Tanglewood Cottage. hanging-collages-at-homeThe last time our home decor was updated was twenty-three years ago when we moved to GR…so it’s about time for a facelift anyway.

variegated-rose-copy    Also…I’m already dreaming about a next possible project for ArtPrize 9!   🙂  artzprize-8-kathryn-w-armstrongs-mural-being-installed-at-the-holiday-inn        Am I discouraged? No. Wouldn’t it have been great to win? Of course. artprize-8-installation Was it worth all the effort? You bet!
trump-visits-artprizeAll sorts of people come to ArtPrize from everywhere!
larry-and-kari-visitingI talked to literally hundreds of people, including lots of friends.groups-of-school-children-visit-artprize-8and dozens of groups of school children.friends-stopping-by-kathryn-w-armstrongs-mural-for-artprize-8 Friends stopped by to encourage me, lisas-family-visits-artprizemany bringing members of their family whom I’d never met before.bonnie-visits-artprize-8Some friends brought friends while I was gone and left me sweet pictures! young-friends-visiting-artprizeChildren of friends stopped by with their school groups, kathi-with-old-and-new-friendssome bringing new young friends to meet me!julie-and-melissa-at-artprize I even had cousins from out of town visit, childhood-friend-at-artprize-8and I reconnected with some folks that I hadn’t seen since childhood! artprize-8Visitors took about 1,500 business cards (with John 3:16-17 on the back)joel-and-trevor-at-artprize-8 and over a thousand flyers.

from-the-rising-of-the-sun-artprize-8So, if you’ve got artistic creativity bubbling up inside, may I encourage you to go for it? Even if you don’t win a prize, you “win” in friendships, and you might be able to invest in the happiness of others. Besides all that, who knows? You could possibly end up with something you’ll treasure for your own home. 🙂

Want to know what my flyers said? Here it is:from-the-rising-of-the-sun“From the Rising of the Sun”

Einstein put it this way: “I’m not an atheist, and I don’t think I can call myself a pantheist. We are in the position of a little child entering a huge library filled with books in many languages. The child knows someone must have written those books. It does not know how. It does not understand the languages in which they are written. The child dimly suspects a mysterious order in the arrangement of the books but doesn’t know what it is. That, it seems to me, is the attitude of even the most intelligent human being toward God. We see the universe marvelously arranged and obeying certain laws but only dimly understand these laws.”

My mural is one such tiny library of God’s works, initially inspired by the most glorious sunrise I’ve ever seen over my cozy lake home here in Grand Rapids. It was September 18, 2013, the first day of ArtPrize 5. Deep pinks reflected from the sky, shimmering across the lily pads and setting our lake ablaze with color. I ran outside and took dozens of photographs, thinking to myself, “This sunrise is God’s ArtPrize entry! He is the most magnificent artist of all, and nothing will compare with what He’s done.” Later, while enjoying all the creativity at ArtPrize with two of my closest friends, one of them asked spontaneously, “If you ever entered ArtPrize, what would you do?” None of the three of us had ever talked (or thought) about entering ArtPrize before, but it struck a chord in me. I answered without even thinking: “I’d make a collage of photographs trying to capture the rapture I felt this morning. I wish I could bring ‘God’s ArtPrize entry’ to ArtPrize!”

It’s taken three years of dreaming, praying, sorting, developing, and anguishing to bring to birth what eventually became a deep passion: to share the best of my photographed visual experiences as a gift to you. I searched my 180,000-photo collection, gathered from around the world over the past thirty years, and made a mural that I hope will fill you with the same warmth and wonder I’ve felt while drinking in the beauty of our great earth.

The title of the mural comes from Psalm 113:3, “From the rising of the sun unto the going down of the same, the Lord’s name is to be praised.” I’ve read that 99 percent of Americans report feeling some spiritual awareness and 84 percent claim religious affiliation worldwide, but if you came from a background anything like mine (with an atheistic father and an agnostic mother), you may not immediately go from experiencing the transcendence of beauty to worshiping the Creator.

The transition from believing in a Creator to worshiping the Lord came to me in a flash when I heard the gospel for the first time. The gospel is the good news that God is Light, Love, and Life. I’d never heard John 3:16–17 before: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.” I was overwhelmed by the thought that God loved me personally, sinful and imperfect as I was (and still am) . . . that He loved me so much He sent his uniquely begotten, holy Son to earth to live a perfect, sinless life and die in my place to pay the price for my sins. This same Son, Jesus Christ, not only died, He rose again after three days, proving to the world that He has the power to give everlasting life to all who will believe in him and accept his gift of salvation, freely given to us but paid for by the precious blood of Jesus, the “Lamb of God.”

God makes this offer to each of us! If you’d like to know more, please ask me or visit my blog, “Summer Setting,” at kathrynwarmstrong.wordpress.com. I pray that you experience all of God’s best at ArtPrize 8!

 

ArtPrize 8: Just Where is the Rising of the Sun?

the-more-you-sweat-in-practice-the-less-you-bleed-in-battle-artprize-8-kathryn-w-armstrongArtPrize 8 is off and running! I’ve had several friends wander into the Holiday Inn without realizing that my mural is there, so let me give you the details in case you’re in GR and planning to go to ArtPrize, because I’d love to see you and I’d hate to miss you! My entry is titled “From the Rising of the Sun” and is being displayed at the Holiday Inn at 310 Pearl St NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49504.

gerald-r-ford-museumIt’s opposite the Gerald Ford Museum, van-andel-museum-center-jpgacross the street from the Van Andel (Grand Rapids Public Museum), devos-learning-centerand kitty corner from Ah-Nab-Awen Park.

grand-riverIt’s just across the river (0.2 miles) from the Amway Grand, so it’s at the cross roads to some of the best art in town. It’s also just 0.4 miles from Grand Rapids Art Museum, 0.5 miles from the B.O.B. (Grand Rapids’ “Big Old Building), and 0.6 miles from DeVos Place, so it’s super convenient for the most popular venues! arriving-at-the-holiday-inn     Whether you go in the front or back entrance,  you’ll see half the mural.artprize-8-front-lobby-mural-at-holiday-inn “January through June” is at the front entrance, and “June through December” is at the back entrance. Using 400 of my favorite  photographs from around the world, I’ve created a collage trying to tell the story of life on Planet Earth through the seasons of one year and one lifetime. artprize-mural-summer-to-winterHere’s my “Artist Statement: “The top row reminds us of the universal constants we all experience: the glorious sun and moon, rising and setting with comforting precision. Row two showcases another global experience, the beauty of flowers, which can be found everywhere around the globe. Row three highlights the experience of fauna through the seasons. Row four looks more closely at how the flora and individual homes are affected by seasonal changes, using photographs from our cozy “Tanglewood Cottage” here in Grand Rapids. Row five takes an intimate look into one person and one family (mine) through the seasons of one year and one lifetime, but my hope is that it resonates with the emotions and cultural experiences of everyone who views it: birth, growth, adulthood, marriage (or family life; I know some never marry), new life and enjoying grandchildren, growing older, and finally, in the December of life, walking into a sea of clouds on the mountain top, looking hopefully to a glorious future life after we leave Planet Earth.january-of-the-year-artprize-8The lower half of the mural is arranged in ten collages, each comprised of twenty photographs from around the world on a particular theme that compliments the season above.”   artprize-8-from-the-rising-of-the-sunThis is my hope and prayer for the mural: “From the rising of the sun on the day we take our first breath until we walk into life’s sunset, I hope the beauty of our world lifts our hearts to praise the One who created us and provided such a glorious home.” friends-stopping-by-to-see-from-the-rising-of-the-sun-mural-artprize-8I have a booklet with notes on each photograph for anybody who comes and would like to know more detail, although if I’m there when you come, I can answer questions! I’d really love to see you if you come, and if you leave me a message in the comment box or on Facebook (message works too), I’ll try to make sure I’m there when you come! I’ve been going about 10:00-5:00 Monday-Friday every day, but I’ll be less regular on weekends due to family responsibilities and fun, although I’ll still be there at times, so please don’t be shy! It’s a real highlight of my day when friends drop by!

from-the-rising-of-the-sun-mural-artprize-8“From the rising of the sun unto the going down of the same,
the Lord’s name is to be praised” (Psalm 113:3).

ArtFeast: Please Come in 2017!

Pamela Alderman Painting 3Last week was the fourth annual “ArtFeast,” H.I.S. informationa fundraiser for H.I.S. (Health Intervention Services), Registration for ArtFeast 2016which is an outreach ministry to the un-insured in Grand Rapids,Daniel and Ken at ArtFeastwhere my son Daniel works as the director of dentistry. Hors d'oeuvers at ArtFeast 3If you enjoy good causes, good art, and good food, ArtFeast Auctionthen please join us for ArtFeast 2017 if you can!ArtFeast 4In fact, if you’re an artist, please consider donating some art while you’re at it! Caterers at ArtFeastJust let me know if you’re interested.  🙂Tarts at ArtFeast 4Of course, I’m only able to tell you about what happened at ArtFeast 2016, Yummy Food at ArtFeastbut maybe this will whet your appetite for good things to come! Bacon-wrapped chestnjutsWe met at the Harris Building downtown from 5:30-8:30 pm (free valet parking if you’re nervous about big city main streets, although it ended before dusk).Hors d'oeuvers at ArtFeast 2 There were tables mounded with great hors d’oeuvres,The Mood Swings at ArtFeast lovely background music provided by “Mood Swings,” Former President of H.I.S.and lots of interesting people to meet and greet, including the past president, President Bill Paxton and his wife at ArtFeastand the present president, Bill Paxton, and his wife, Ken Kraft Director of DevelopmentJane Renrick, the board chair…and Ken Kraft, the development director. Brianna served as PhotographerBrianna (Daniel’s wife) was the official photographer,
and I think next year she may offer portrait service. Anna Donahue Clay PotsMy long-time friend, Anna Donahue,
contributed a beautiful acrylic on canvas, “Clay Pots.” Friends at ArtFeastMy prayer partner for the past 15 years+, Cindi, and her husband
brought two of their neighbors and good friends along,Alan with Bob Evans from Guiding Light Mission at ArtFeast but even if you didn’t come with friends, it was fun to meet people! ArtFeast 4.1Alan and I shared a table with a couple who live in the neighborhood
and said they just like art and food, so they thought they’d join in! Hors d'oeuvers at ArtFeastWhile visiting with them, we realized that we all go to Calvary Church together. Pamela Alderman Painting being auctioned at ArtFeastHow fun is that? ArtFeast 4 in GRBeyond the excellent food and fellowship, there’s some mighty fine art available.Auction at ArtFeast. 2 Each artist contributes one piece for a silent auction, but they can additionally sell whatever else they want, with a percentage of the proceeds going to H.I.S. Auctioning Painting at ArtPrize 4There were some well known artists there, and some really beautiful works. Day Break on Lake Huron by Randy Brewer at ArtFeastMy personal favorite was a gorgeous oil on canvas by Randy Brewer,
titled “Day Break on Lake Huron,” but there were all sorts of great options, Reyna Garcia at ArtFeastincluding such diverse projects as pottery, prints, pastels, Quilt for saleknitting, photography, quilts, etc. Painter at ArtFeastThere were also a number of artists who created pieces for the auction
that evening so we could watch them at work.Pamela Alderman PaintingPamela Alderman, who paints with her hands,Pamela Alderman Painting 2 created a really lovely oil on canvas of the waves along the Great Lakes,Mark Kozar. Makeup Live Artist and  Mark Kozar, who’s a makeup artist, offered time, talent, and makeup Mark Kozar. Makeup Live Artist 2for a class, party, or personal use as his contribution. Floral Arrangement at ArtFeastReuben Antonio made a beautiful floral arrangement,
and Shirley Shuman painted watercolors. Kathi Armstrong with son Daniel Armstrong at ArtFeastI contributed a set of framed photos
but also offered several of my favorite photos from far and near.Daniel and Brianna with President's wife at ArtFeast There was even a raffle for a diamond necklace, which the president’s wife won (but graciously turned down so someone else could take home the prize)! Enjoying Food at ArtFeastIn all it was a great evening, and I even got a lead for a possible ArtPrize venue, Registration for ArtFeastso it was one of those occasions where I understood anew ArtFeast Deborah Hooverwhat the Apostle Paul said in Acts 20:35, Auction at ArtFeast. 3I have shewed you all things, how that so laboring ye ought to support the weak,Volunteer and worker at H.I.S. and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, Auction at ArtFeastIt is more blessed to give than to receive.”  Kathryn W. Armstrong at ArtFeastCast your bread upon the waters, for you will find it after many days.” (Ecclesiastes 11:1, ESV)

A Great Course from The Great Courses: Fundamentals of Photography


Cherry Blossom Time at Meijer GardenAfter 40 years of point-and-shoot photography while herding butterflies (my kids) or chasing Alan (my husband), as his frame slowly disappeared over the horizon of the photo I was trying to frame, I’ve finally reached the stage of life where I can start to think about what it is I’m trying to accomplish beyond capturing precious memories and creating chronicles of beauty. Well, that’s probably all I’ll ever try to do, but I finally have some time for study and practice. However, have you noticed how taking classes is generally the privilege of the young or else the socially unencumbered? Being neither, it seemed impossible to find a class where I wouldn’t miss at least every other session…until. Joe Sartore's Fundamentals of PhotographyUntil I discovered Great Courses through a friend who lent us a bunch of classes he’d absorbed while commuting as an E.R. doctor. Long story short, I’m now happily immersed in a video course by Joel Sartore, who’s an award-winning photographer and National Geographic fellow. His Fundamentals in Photography through “The Great Courses” is a perfect fit for me, because I can watch the half-hour sessions while working out on my elliptical, and I can read the short texts either before or after (or both, in my case, now that my memory isn’t so sharp).  If you’re not interested in photography but have wished for expertise in some other field, you might consider looking online to see what’s available. One of The Great Courses only costs a fraction of a college class, and they’re flexible enough to fit even the oddest schedules! No matter what, continuing to learn is good for the mind and soul, and I hope we’re all lifelong learners.  🙂
Lessons on the Fundamentals of Photography by Joe SartoreFor any fellow photographers, here are a few of my favorite quotes from Joe Sartore’s book:

  • “Sometimes, you’ve just got to pet the whale.” (Don’t be so intent on your photography that you miss out on life’s great experiences and don’t feel their emotional impact.)
  • “What makes a photo iconic is that it surpasses the original situation in which it was taken.”
  • “Train the eyes and the brain to look for three elements: great light, good composition, and an interesting subject.”
  • “Quite literally, light makes a photograph.”
  • “The ultimate use of photography is to tell a great story—one that moves people, perhaps simply to smile or to do something significant, such as save the planet.”

Tips on Photography from Joe Sartore's Fundamentals of Photography. The Great CoursesThere’s more, lots more! Sartore’s illustrations are all top quality, G-rated, and family friendly. I sit smiling through each session! Happy learning, ya’ll!

“The heart of the prudent getteth knowledge; and the ear of the wise seeketh knowledge” Proverbs 18:15.

“Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding” Proverbs 4:7.

“But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ” 2 Peter 3:18.The Great Courses. Fundamentals of Photography

Leep Art Gallery ala Birthday Club

 

Leep Art Gallery 2“From the Rising of the Sun,” my 400-photo collage project
contemplating the glory of God’s creation, Leep Art Galleryis now on display at Leep Art Gallery until July 1, 2016. sunrise-9-13It wouldn’t exist were it not for God sending the most gorgeous sunrise I’ve ever seen floating above Grand Rapids on the first day of ArtPrize back on 09/18/13.sunrise-reflected-in-lakeThat morning, our lake was awash in color, and I felt like God was pointing out that his handiwork is more glorious than anything I could create or imagine. Birthday Club partyCindi and Susan took me to ArtPrize for my birthday celebration that October, and we mused over what we’d make if we wanted to enter ArtPrize. Leep Art Gallery 5I thought I’d like to make a huge mural of the sunrise over our lake, Mural Pictures 400 copy 2but one thing led to another,
and eventually the project evolved into a 40X80″ collageLeep Art Gallery 7 of “a few of my favorite things,” mostly from around our lake home,
but also from around the world. Leep Art Gallery 1I definitely plan to enter ArtPrize 2016 if I can, but for the next three months, Leep Art Gallery 8the collages will be on display at the Leep Art Gallery in the Postma Center
(at Pine Rest, 300 68th Street SE Grand Rapids, MI 49548). SharonMany thanks to Sharon Rogers, who manages the Postma Center, Putting up collagesMorgan, who hosts and helps with everything, Getting ready to do the heavy lifting!and especially my beloved hubby, who really carried the load—quite literally—
to help me bring the artwork to Leep Art Gallery and get it all set up. Pine Rest Christian Mental Health ServicesWhat a joy it was to bring Cindi and Susan to Pine Rest Leep Art Gallery 2so they could enjoy the collages with me as part of our Birthday Club outing. (The gallery is free and open to the public Monday-Friday, 9:00 am-4:00 pm.)Fire Rock GrillOf course, we had several other items on the agenda as well,Shrimp on Hot Rock at Fire Rock Grilllike lunch at the Fire Rock Grill, where they serve delicious food on “fire rocks,”Buying pastries at Paris Cafe and dessert later at the Paris Cafe, where this Bosnian lady’s husband French pastries makes all their delectable desserts from scratch. Blue Dick in Sierra Nevadas. CAFinally, we ended up at my house for our monthly prayer time. Leep Art GalleryYet another day of sweet fellowship,
“spoiling” the birthday girl and encouraging each other in our walks of faith.

Bird's Eye Gilia. Buttermilk Bend Trail. South Yuba River State Park CA“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”                                                          (Hebrews 10:23-25, ESV)