Monthly Photo Challenge: Urban Seasons/Cleveland — January 2016

Cleveland, OH: July, 2014 at dusk.


Welcome to a new year! As indicated in my last post, this year I will be focusing on urban photography. Besides expanding my skills by delving into new territory photographically speaking, I hope to learn more about this, my adopted city. I grew up in the south and am told I still speak with a bit of a southern drawl. Relocating to Cleveland, OH,  a city situated on the shores of one of our great lakes, Erie, is a culture shock to say the least.  I work in the city but at times still feel like a stranger. Choosing to focus on the seasonal changes in the city seemed like a no-brainer for me. Little did I know how very different nature photography is from photographing city sights!

Unlike the organic lines, lights, shadows and shapes found in nature, urban landscapes are a juxtaposition of straight lines, harsh angles, crisp shadows, and all things concrete and metal. As you will see, I found it difficult to frame shots that didn’t look wildly distorted, tilted, and/or contrasty. I intentionally shot some photos at angles to hide the fact that I couldn’t get a good perspective no matter how hard I tried.

Another challenge to me was simply where to begin. I quickly discovered that going out to shoot photos in the city bewilders me. There is simply too much of everything: buildings, interesting streets, storefronts, lights, automobiles, etc. This month’s post is a hodgepodge of photos from different areas of the city. The black and white photos of the bridges and tavern were shot in an area known as “The Flats.” The color photos (with b&w thrown in) were shot in “Little Italy” and “Cleveland Heights.” Going forward I will choose one area of focus and concentrate in that area or on one subject. Otherwise I will get flustered and too discouraged to see this through to the end. Yes, this year will be quite a challenge. I hope you will feel free to offer constructive criticism as the year progresses. This project is a work in progress and is truly a learning experience for me. In other words, HELP! 😉

The photo that heads this post was shot a couple of years ago from a lakeside park looking east toward Cleveland after the sun had set. My plan is to use this as the header of each post in this challenge throughout the year, unless of course I get something better.

I hope you enjoy this months photos. I have mixed feelings, but look forward to improving with each month’s post.

As indicated last month, with this 2016 challenge I will highlight one photograph to “play” with, try something new, or edit in some way that will help me grow as well as enhance the image. This month I chose to experiment with the image I shot looking through the front window of my car (while stopped at a traffic signal). The window was still frosted around the edges as I peered at the red car in front of me.

I downloaded Picassa, a free post-editing program that I think will enhance my post editing skills, experimented with it and the following photo is what I came up with. Of course I never wrote down the steps to achieving the following photo so can’t comment much on it. I just fiddled with a few settings and here you see the finished product. Next month I will take better notes. Let me know what you think.


My first post processed print using Picassa!

As you can see, I have a LOT to learn this year. I look forward to reading your comments and seeing your images, too. Have a great 2016!






Monthly Photo Challenge: North Chagrin Reservation — December

You will notice this month that the images look more like a chilly autumn day than a blustery December winter. I am told that the unseasonable weather is in part due to the El Nino phenomenon. I suspect that global warming plays a role in the changing weather patterns as well. Usually by this time of year Cleveland, a city that sits on the shores of one of the northern Great Lakes, has seen quite a bit of snow. But this year has been unseasonably warm with a mere dusting of snow here and there thus far. Despite the uncharacteristic weather, the reservation is as inviting and beautiful as ever. I hope you enjoy these images as I wrap up this 2015 challenge.




A final post with the best or most representative photo of each month was suggested as a way to wrap up this year’s challenge. While the suggestion is an excellent one and would be a fitting way to end this year’s challenge, I am choosing to pass on that. To be honest, my mind and imagination is already at work planning and plotting how to approach 2016’s challenge.

For the coming year I plan to do something drastically different! I am a nature photographer, however my work takes me into the city everyday, most often the “hood” or what we used to call the “slum” areas. I prefer the term “hood” because it suggests places where people live and go to school and raise their children. I have never attempted urban nor have any experience with street photography. But when I am in the city, even in the low income, dilapidated areas, I see beauty. Maybe it’s in the intersecting lines of bridges and architecture, or patterns of light and shadow, or contrast between shabby and opulent, or even the surprising abundance of nature that is found in places where concrete and asphalt appears to obliterate everything natural. At any rate I am looking forward to stretching myself by expanding into new areas of photography. I will use the same format as I have used this year with the exception that from each month’s carousel of photos, I will highlight one photo for experimenting a different processing technique, hopefully something I’ve not done before. I hope you will join me on this journey into a new year’s monthly challenge.

May you have a wonderful new year. I hope to see you here in 2016!

The Changing Seasons is a Monthly Photo Challenge started by



Monthly Photo Challenge: North Chagrin Reservation — August

It has been a wet, cool summer; the wettest on record I am told. Despite that however, the Reservation is lush and lazy as one would expect in the month of August. I found it more challenging to photograph this month. There were many other demands on my time. But I think these photos will give a sense of how the changing seasons continually transform this special place. And you will notice that the frogs are back! They are in a different location, but even so the kids love to crawl on the sculptures, frogs and snake. Enjoy!

The Changing Seasons is a Monthly Photo Challenge started by
The Changing Seasons is a Monthly Photo Challenge started by

Monthly Photo Challenge: North Chagrin Reservation — July

This month has been abnormally rainy and cool for this part of the world. It hasn’t felt much like July at all. Sunny days are few and far between. Although the days are dreary more often than not, the excessive rains created lush landscapes throughout the area as evidenced by the following photographs. These photos were taken this morning. I was pretty much alone as I walked through the meadow and along a paved trail to Sunset Pond. Although the sky was overcast I was able to get a few good shots. Regardless the weather, North Chagrin Reservation remains one of my favorite places to “get lost” in.

The Changing Seasons is a Monthly Photo Challenge started by
The Changing Seasons is a Monthly Photo Challenge started by

Monthly Photo Challenge: North Chagrin Reservation — May

This is the month when North Chagrin Reservation morphed into a lush garden. You will see in the early part of the month things have thawed but the trees are not yet in full foliage. But today, even though the clouds gathered and the rain fell, the splendor of this place was in full bloom! This month’s portfolio depicts the transformation from very early spring to the full-blown season. And by the way, I didn’t count the number of photos I am posting so forgive me if I exceed the suggested limit. It’s just that everything is so lively and beautiful now. 🙂

The Changing Seasons is a Monthly Photo Challenge started by
The Changing Seasons is a Monthly Photo Challenge started by

Monthly Photo Challenge: North Chagrin Reservation — April

It finally began to feel like spring this month! When I first began shooting photos for this post there was still thin ice on the ponds, which you will notice in these pics. But as the month progressed and the weather warmed, the ice melted, migratory birds returned, and spirits soared. My biggest excitement thus far was the return of the Great Blue Heron! There were also flowers that bloomed and buds on trees. Spring is finally HERE!


Monthly Photo Challenge: North Chagrin Reservation — March

Spring is just around the corner and most of us in this neck of the woods are anxious for its arrival. Winter on the Great Lakes is brutal and lasts too long for this southern gal’s liking! No matter how many winters I survive here in the north country, seeing snow–and lots of it–still on the ground in March (and sometimes April!) seems a cruel thing to endure. For the third month of this challenge, I have more snow pictures. Sigh . . .

But change is coming. In the midst of winter, walking on snow made crunching sounds. There was a silence in the woods broken occasionally by a distant bird calling its cohorts. A cold breeze would rustle the branches from time to time, but all was generally quiet. Meditative. Even though I complain about the seemingly never-ending winters here, in all honesty I love my weekly winter walks in the woods. I go there every chance I get. But too much of a good thing is still too much!

Now I am noticing significant changes as we reach the cusp of a new season, things I never noticed in earlier years. Despite all the snow you will see in the following photos, there was a change in March! I still have to wear winter coats and scarves, gloves and boots. But the sounds are quickly evolving suggesting transformation and renewed life. Crunching sounds of boots on snow have softened as the snow has softened and begun to melt. One hears running water everywhere. Snow is melting and forming small puddles that create rivulets that run down hills to larger creeks that are no longer covered in ice and hidden by snow. The cacophony of chirping birds would be annoying any other time of the year, but now signal the activities that precede nest-building, mating, laying eggs, and hatching chicks. For the first time I have seen deer on the reservation. They have always been here, but they, too, signal more activity as spring approaches. Yes, there is still snow at the reservation, but one also recognizes a change is about to occur!

Enjoy the following photos and see if you recognize differences from the previous two months of this challenge! They were taken over the course of the month since February’s posting so some look like they were shot in the dead of winter (they were) and others suggest emerging life!