Weekly Photo Challenge: Mirror

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One of my favorite photographic reflections: the Maroon Bells near Aspen, Colorado. Shot this past May at sunrise, it is a testament to one of the few times I sacrificed sleep to get the picture!

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For more “Mirror” photos, click here.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Face

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I’d already posted one of my favorite faces in the world on my main blog this week when I remembered the wonderful faces I’d seen on my Bogota Graffiti Tour this past winter. So I’ll double up this week on the Weekly Photo Challenge to share a few photos that never made it onto this photos-only blog.

(If you are interested in reading about the street art in Bogota, click here.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Half-Light

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Today, while the blossoms still cling to the vine,

I’ll taste your strawberries, I’ll drink your sweet wine.

A million tomorrows shall all pass away,

‘ere I forget all the joy that is mine, today.

These are part of the lyrics of a song I first learned at camp in the mountains of North Carolina. Originally written by Randy Sparks, the song is better known as a John Denver hit, and it has stuck in my head since the day we learned it around a campfire in the woods. It not only carries a great message for me to remember – focus on today – but the lyrics’ image of blossoms allows me to use this photo collage of Washington, DC’s peak cherry blossom day yesterday!

Submitted as part of the Weekly Photo Challenge, which asks us to share a photo inspired by a poem, verse, song lyric or story.

Photo Challenge: Weight(less)

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A last-minute entry before the next photo challenge … these jellyfish I saw at the National Aquarium in Baltimore today hung in the water as if they were totally weightless. Their diaphanous bodies floated like silky film in their liquid home with no sign of gravity at work. We were transfixed by the exhibit.

Submitted as part of the Weekly Photo Challenge; click here for more entries.

Photo Challenge: Eye Spy

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An Eye on the World certainly has a few photos of eyes to share for this week’s photo challenge! There were so many wonderful human and animal eyes I could have used, but I’ve opted for some non-human alternatives in keeping with my blog’s header photo.

For other entries, click here.

Photo Challenge: Ornate

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I am not a lover of the ornate; it often strikes me as overly busy, fussy, and even messy. Nevertheless, I was strangely attracted to the Tibetan Buddhist paintings called thangkas that I saw all over Tibet. Is it the geometric nature of the design, the purpose behind the work, or the way they are created? I can’t explain why I like these somewhat garish compositions, but I do! I viewed hundreds of thangkas all over Tibet, in temples and shops, and at the end of my trip I took some time to pick one out to bring home.

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Thangkas are meant to be a guide for personal contemplation, a meditation tool to help lead adherents down the path to enlightenment, and many thangkas serve as teaching tools for monastic students by depicting the life and history of the Buddha, other deities, and important lamas. As I watched some artists at work in a spare, sunlit room, I saw that many seemed to be in a meditative trance as they moved their tiny brushes in regular, repetitive strokes to produce the ornate scenes.

As you can see, thangkas are very elaborate compositions that may include hundreds of very small figures. The design of a thangka is highly geometric and symmetrical, often with a central deity surrounded by other figures. Body parts like arms and legs, eyes and ears, as well as other ritual implements are all laid out on a systematic grid. While the process seems very methodical and prescribed, it requires training and a deep understanding of the underlying symbolism to create an accurate and meaningful thangka. Like them or not, most would agree they are quite ornate and intricate pieces of art.

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