What a happy coincidence that the theme for this month’s photo blogging challenge is simple. Several times this month, I’ve caught myself mumbling, “Why doesn’t anything seem simple (or easy) any more?” And I’ve heard Mr GeoK doing the same thing. So this installment of the PBC is a good reminder that the universe is not conspiring against us. Simple, good things are all around. Tuning in to those basic, natural positives helps curb the inclination to turn a molehill into a mountain.

One simple pleasure this month was apple pie. I used September Ruby apples harvested from our backyard tree. I gave away a bunch of that harvest to friends and family. And I made a few batches of apples sauce, too.

Another example? Fostering a simple sense of curiosity, specifically about the foam and bubbles we’ve been seeing on local creeks and lakes. I took a few photographs (they didn’t make the cut for this blog post). And then I did some research. Apparently it’s the result of natural compounds with surfactant qualities, stirred up by currents and winds. Those natural compounds can build up in the fall, as organic matter dies off and decomposes. Who knew?

Anyhow, enough about some of the simple pleasures that I didn’t photograph. Or the ones I chose to exclude for the simple reason that they’re not photogenic. Instead, it’s time for my five photos that did make the cut…

1. Simple Way to Improve a Photographic Composition

One way to strengthen a photograph is to frame the scene to include foreground interest. For example, this agglomeration of golden larch needles in a little inlet at one end of a mountain tarn takes the scene from okay to oh-yay! Watch Mr GeoK’s Relive video recap for more photos from the Lake O’Hara region of Yoho National Park. IMO, Lake O’Hara is the jewel in the crown of Canada’s Rocky Mountain National Parks. That’s why Parks Canada restricts access via a very limited shuttle bus service to the trailhead.

an aggregation of fallen golden larch needles in a little inlet along a lake shoreline with the lake surrounded by larch trees in the background

2. Simplify Techniques Using Computational Photography

For this image, I used in-camera focus stacking to make sure all five members of our Lego minifig family are in focus. Without using focus stacking, only one or two would be sharply in focus. Or I would have had to take several exposures using slightly different focal depths, merging them using software afterwards. With the push of a button, my camera will look after blending the different focal lengths. Much simpler!

Another way this photo embodies “simple” is that it’s much easier to bring Lego minifig versions of our kids along on hikes than it is to coordinate everyone being physically present. They are grown up now, with their own lives, and while they’re willing to bike and hike with us when they visit, that’s much harder to coordinate.

a family of Lego minifigs posed on a rock with an alpine tarn and larch trees in the background

3. Simple Composition

One of the most foundational techniques for strong photographs is simple composition. By this I mean eliminating the unnecessary, optimizing your viewing angle and patience. I took quite a few photos of this spruce grouse while thinking about composition. At first, I was standing up, and the bird was in shrubs beside the trail. By dropping down into a crouch and waiting for it to cross the path, I came away with a much stronger image.

Another simple aid when photographing birds? The Merlin Bird ID app. My favourite feature = sound ID. Click the “sound id” button and your phone starts recording the birdsong around you. Most times, after 10 or 15 seconds, it tells you what bird(s) you’re hearing. More than once, I’ve used the app to ID a bird, noted that it’s new to me, and then searched really hard to be able to come away with a photo for my “lifer list.”

a bird's eye view of an immature male spruce grouse walking across a forest trail

4. Abstraction as a Form of Simplification

I like to play around with abstract photography. Sometimes it’s a matter of specific techniques, such as using neutral density filters to facilitate long exposures. Intentional camera movement is another tool for abstracted photography. Some subjects are naturally abstract. And other times, it’s a matter of framing. In this shot, for example, I left the fall-coloured shoreline shrubbery just outside the frame. Ripples from our kayak paddles created gradations of colour instead of a mirror-like reflection. The result is an impression of fall, rather than a direct representation of the season.

vivid orange and yellow abstract lines anchored by dark green convey an impression of autumn

5. The Right Tool for the Job

The right tool makes it simpler to do a good job. When it comes to photography, that can mean choosing the right lens to mount on an interchangeable lens camera. If using your phone camera, it’s a matter of choosing the right feature. I still haven’t entirely figured out the best situations for doing a 360-degree photo. But the “pano” feature is often very helpful. Again, creating a panorama is something you can do with software, stitching multiple images. But it’s much simpler to do it in the field.

This phone camera panorama is from our Healy Pass hike on September 27. It’s known for it’s golden larches at this time of year. But after a bit of freezing rain and snow overnight, the gold was muted. Still, it was a great hike – our longest of the year. For more photos from this hike, check out Mr GeoK’s Relive video recap.

mountain panorama of snow-covered golden larch trees under a cloudy sky, being photographed by a man

Those are my five images that represent simple. Now it’s time to check out host PJ’s post AND the link-up list at the bottom to see how the other challenge participants captured the concept of simple.

You’re welcome to join the challenge at any time. The theme for the next month is Experiences. All you need are 5 photos and a blog (which you can set up for free on several platforms). The amount of accompanying text, if any, is entirely up to you. Hope to see you next month!

3 thoughts on “Simple

  1. So the Merlin Bird ID app is basically Shazam for animal sounds 😉 Very cool!
    It makes me smile to learn that you carry around your kids as Lego minifig characters. I have to remember that when Colin leaves the nest, that is such an adorable idea! ❤️
    Larches in fall are so beautiful, even when there’s covered in a dusting of snow – which is unbelievable. This year, up until October 13 it was “late summer” around here. 25°C, T-Shirt, shorts. The weather channel posted a picture of an apple tree in blossom!

  2. Cool take on the theme. And a lot of it is so true. Why do we have to overcomplicate so many things?

    Life is so much more complicated that it needs to be. I’ve tried, over the past few years, to simplify life more. To enjoy the little things. We’re not here forever — so it’s best to enjoy what we can. 

    It’s funny… on the recent trip to Maine. The person (and fellow geocacher) who went along with me noted he came back so relaxed. And I think it’s because this annual trip we take we usually go all over and are on the run. This year, we stayed in one spot and it was nice and relaxing. 

    Though politics and other hot topics can make life stressful and hard at times, the reality is we can definitely all get simple when needed. 

  3. What a fabulous take on the prompt! And a wonderful reminder for all of us shutter bugs. I agree…apple pie is definitely one of life’s simple pleasures! 

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