Lots of Reflection

via Photo Challenge: Reflecting

Featured Image above is Cloud Gate, Millennium Park, Chicago

Sitting on the curb in New Orleans

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Water Lilies at Monet’s Garden, Giverny, France

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Arc de Triomphe, rainy Spring evening

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The Thinker

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Round Tangle Lake, near Paxson, Alaska

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Dark Tunnel, Part 3

via Daily Prompt: Exposed

This is a continuation of Dark Tunnel and Dark Tunnel (continued). My apologies to readers who prefer shorter self-contained pieces. If you care to read Parts 1 and 2, please follow the links. If not, the setup is that, in Dark Tunnel, the main characters (a man and woman) are crawling through a tunnel attempting to elude pursuers. In Dark Tunnel (continued), as he crawls, the man thinks back to his first meeting with the woman on a warm evening at Les Deux Magots café in Paris, and how it was interrupted by something she saw. At the end of that part, they have jumped up, leaving their friend Alex at the table, and run, with her in the lead. In what follows, Part 3, still in the tunnel, his reflections on that fateful night continue…

… I catch up to her, gripping her hand as we dart across all four lanes of Boulevard Saint-Germain, just ahead of the changing light. Daring a quick look back, I see the steady flow of Parisian drivers where we’ve just crossed, and the agitated man in red shorts temporarily blocked from following us. We bolt along Rue de Rennes and through the open doors of the first bus we see. As it lurches forward we tumble into seats. I glance out the window, eyes immediately drawn to those red shorts again. The same tall stranger who had tried to follow us across the busy lanes of the Boulevard. I feel exposed as his eyes dart from Stéphanie to me, but we are moving and, for now, safe.

“Who is he is? What’s going on?” I blurt between gasps for breath. Our eyes meet again, and I notice my pulse. Crazily, I’m reminded of a lecture I give on self-perception theory. How we infer our feelings from what our bodies tell us. How people in contrived experiments judge faces as more attractive if they’re fed false information about their heart rates being faster. Now here it is, literally, staring me in the face. Have I fallen for her so quickly, or am I just pumped up from the running and the alarm. I make a mental note to use this example if I ever teach self-perception theory again. I also make a mental note that it doesn’t matter. In spite of the apparent danger, I am happy to be with her, sharing whatever this adventure is. I would not trade it for security and quietude of any kind. “Je ne sais pas,” she says, then mistaking my crooked smile for confusion, adding quickly “I don’t know, but we must find a place to go. To think. To…” her voice trailing off.

I realize that we have boarded Bus 95, on a route I’ve followed many times since beginning my sabbatical here. “We can go to my place” I offer. “It’s just a few stops down.” She leans against me, relaxing for the first time since her startled reaction at Les Deux Magots, hand enfolding with mine. She tells me how she was taking photos of traffic at night with her phone, capturing the blur of movement, not realizing that she was also getting people in the pictures. She shows me two pictures, with blurred images of the man in red shorts taking a backpack from a woman and walking off. “What’s in the back pack?,” I ask softly. “Je ne – I don’t know, but they think it matters that I saw. That I have the picture” she sighs. “He and the woman came toward me asking for the phone. I ran. I don’t know why. I thought I had lost them, but there he was, tonight, by the café.”

eiffel tower 2We finish the ride in silence, each lost in contemplation, then get off at Armorique – Musée Postal and head to my apartment on Rue de l’Armorique. I text Alex to let him know we’re safe, but do not get a reply. Stéphanie and I sit on the small balcony, sharing a bottle of red wine, pretending the man in red shorts does not exist and looking at the glow of the Eiffel Tower in the distance.

It is late and we both stifle yawns. I point her to the bed in the tiny efficiency apartment, saying I will sleep in the nearby chair. “Non – no” she says, looking searchingly into my eyes, “I need you to hold me.” There goes my pulse again. Can’t blame it on running or fear this time…

Copyright © Thomas Ward 2017

Scorpion and Signs

via Photo Challenge: Danger!

Scorpion in the urinal at Lake Lurleen State Park, Alabama. Sorry about the blur. I guess I didn’t get close and take enough time to focus well.

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Funny little airport in Talkeetna, Alaska

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Beware of Earthquakes! I loved the “How much time do I have” part.

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Same spot as the Earthquake warning.

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Glaciers in Retreat

via Photo Challenge: Earth

One hundred years of change in Exit Glacier, Alaska. Year markers show where the glacier was at that time. A huge amount of retreat in 100 years. Whether you believe this is based on global warming or not, I think we can all agree it’s time for us to care more about how we treat our home.

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A Couple Surprises

via Photo Challenge: Surprise

This was a different sort of surprise. I was experimenting with my iPhone, trying to capture blurred motion of cars at night. These ghostly figures walked past just as I clicked the shot.

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Again with iPhone, now in macro mode. I liked the bits of pollen scattered about the flower and the tiny speck on the the bee’s front left leg.

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If you’re interested using your iPhone for photography, here’s a great site with lots of tips about using it more creatively.

Another good source is Art with an iPhone, by Kat Sloma that can help you get the most out of your phone.

And here are just some general thoughts about Photography as Creative Expression.

Copyright  © Thomas Ward 2017

 

 

 

Security for Both

via Photo Challenge: Security

a man and his dog
Not sure who is getting more security. Looks like both

Copyright  © Thomas Ward 2017

A Prudent Ride on the Tail of the Dragon

via Daily Prompt: Prudent

“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming “Wow! What a Ride!”

— Hunter S. Thompson

At the North Carolina end of the Tail of the Dragon stands the Tree of Shame, a tribute of sorts to the bikers who have been bested by the beast. The Dragon: a stretch of US Highway 129 with 318 curves in 11 miles, running from Tabcat Bridge in Tennessee to Deals Gap, NC. The Tree: adorned with fragments of bikes that missed one of those curves, a fender here, a shard of windshield there, poignant words about bikers who sustained more damage than their bikes.


This photo of Tail of the Dragon is courtesy of TripAdvisor

Is it wise to ride The Dragon? It is not really as scary as as The Tree might have you believe. It merely likes to taunt. I won’t let it dissuade me. The better question is “Can I not ride The Dragon?” The sensation of going into a curve on a motorcycle is unique. It can’t be had in a car. And with its 318 curves, The Dragon periodically beckons me to come glide down its twisting form. tandv And I heed its call. Plus, I guess I’d be described as a prudent rider. No aspirations to break the 9-minute one way record. Not going to literally “skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke” as I ride it. And certainly no interest in adding parts of my beloved S 50 to the tree. Just a steady push to the comfortable edge…oooh those curves!

Copyright  © Thomas Ward 2017