Weekly Photo Challenge: Refraction

For this week’s photo challenge, Kevin asks us to show what refraction means to us.

One of the definitions of refraction in Merriam-Webster states that it could be a “deflection from a straight path …” Do the distorted shadows from these content ducks, taking an early-morning swim in the pool during our Wisconsin Dells vacation back in 2008, fit that description?

June 17, 2008 - refraction


Another Merriam-Webster definition is “… the action of distorting an image by viewing through a medium.” How about a window seen through a delicious liquid medium, pictured here on the enclosed porch of the Kafè Ole B during last year’s Julebord celebration?

November 9, 2013 - refraction


Or the distortion of the trees as seen through one of my glass window ornaments hanging in my home office window?

June 13, 2014 - refraction


Another of my glass ornaments seems to have an internal glow created by the sunlight passing through it, and the refracted combination of that light and the trees; it creates a warmth very appropriate for the heart shape!

June 13, 2014 - refraction


My last image is one I’ve shared before from a Viking and Medieval festival; it represents an example that Kevin gives in his challenge: “… an image taken in a reflective surface.”

June 2, 2012 - refraction


The physics of “refraction” fascinate me. It can change an ordinary, common object to something unique and artistic.

What refractions do you see in your environment right now?

Swans and the Pøyla inlet in Lysekloster

Twice this past week I explored a part of Lysekloster that I hadn’t been to yet. I discovered something peaceful and colorful that we’ve driven by often but hadn’t really stopped to savor other than one quick visit back in February to capture images of the local swan family. You saw a sneak peek of last week’s first visit a couple days ago, and on Thursday I went back to explore the trail that begins just past this Pøyla inlet further in anticipation of a future “paintings and photographs” post. But the vividness of the just-past-peak Fall Colors, and especially the swan family and ducks seeming to pose for their photo ops, almost demands its own post.

So here it is. (Click on an image to open the carousel gallery.)

October 13, 2014


October 15, 2014


I sat for quite a while watching the swan family; their grace is something I can’t get tired of, and the cygnets have grown so much they look like small gray adults. But if you listen at 0:33 in this video, you’ll hear a very tiny “peep” — these large children sound just like a tiny chick! And later I was focusing to take a photo of the ducks as they lazily swam in the colorful reflection and heard a loud noise — and looked over to see Papa Swan taking off for a brief flight, his heavy wings beating the water. I didn’t get much of it, but it’s at 1:23.


I’ll leave you with my favorite image from the set. It was going to be my next Wordless Wednesday photo … but I can’t wait that long to share it!

October 15, 2014 - swan in the Pøyla inlet

I’m glad I got out there when I did. We’re getting slammed with wind and rain over the next few days, and I’m sure all the leaves will be blown away and the color will be gone!

(Here is where Pøyla inlet is located on the map.)

Norwegian commercials: Tine goat cheese

(Commercials on TV can be considered a necessary evil. So many are annoying, but every now and then one comes along that is the perfect combination of product, marketing, humor, and local culture. In my seven years here in Norway there have been several that have captured my attention. I thought it would be fun to occasionally share some of my favorites.)

Today’s commercial, another one from Tine, combines the scenery and jubilation of Julie Andrews’ “The Hills are Alive” (from The Sound of Music), Tina Turner’s “Simply the Best” (including her video’s close-ups of stamping hooves and flowing tails), and a little Goat Attitude (the voice over translation is “It’s easy to think highly of yourself when you make such good cheese”) … and you have a perfectly humorous thirty seconds.

TINE Ekte Hvit Geitost

TINE Extra White Goat Cheese

Time for lunch; I think cheese will be on the menu! :)

Weekly Photo Challenge: Dreamy

When I think of the word dreamy I mentally picture a haze over a specific object. Since one of the definitions of dreamy is “pleasant, peaceful, and relaxing,” I thought I’d respond to this week’s photo challenge by sharing images with different aspects of that haze … and where I’ve also found peaceful relaxation.

In Modalen in 2007, watching the small clouds drift between the mountains and me as I was out throwing the ball for MacKenzie …

Weekly Photo Challenge: Dreamy


In the southern Bergen valley in 2009, when the low-lying clouds filled the valley and I watched the setting sun from my perspective above them …

Weekly Photo Challenge: Dreamy


Here in Lysekloster this past year, with the air and water temperatures creating interesting fog shapes that advanced and receded on the fjord …

Weekly Photo Challenge: Dreamy

… or the late spring or early fall temperatures and sun creating a haze in the sky.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Dreamy


And probably my favorite “dreamy” time, when the rising moon and setting sun mixed with the clouds and created something almost magical, captured both in Bergen and in Lysekloster …

Weekly Photo Challenge: Dreamy

Life is busy. It’s nice to stop and be dreamy for a while, isn’t it?

Bente Haarstad’s “Endangered cows and a mountain dairy”

I recently shared a commercial showing the farms of Norway. Yes, it was marketing and therefor a little suspect, but it was a fairly accurate overall representation of the dairy farming in this country — and wasn’t the scenery divine?!

But how about a real-life view? A Norwegian photographer I follow, Bente Haarstad, recently posted about a specific small dairy farm in the middle of Norway. One of the buildings is from 1765! Her photographs are always amazing and show facets of her part of this huge country that I can’t experience. Her words offer an insight that I understand but can’t intuitively express — I haven’t lived it.

Visit her post. You’ll see an important aspect of Norway through her lens and words: history, yet also present day reality. (While you’re there, explore her other posts to see many other views of Norway!)

Endangered cows and a mountain dairy
October 7, 2014
Bente Haarstad Photography

In the old days, that is untill 1950 or so, the Norwegian farmers were dependent on their summer mountain farms. In a country with so little land suitable for farming, every farmer had to send the livestock to the woods or the mountains during summer. All the grass near home had to be harvested to winter feed. Then came fertilizers, pesticides and modern remedies. The small farmhouses in the mountains were not needed anymore. Some of them just vanished, some are made into holiday cabins, and a few are still used in the old way. Some weeks ago I went to visit a milkmaid who really loves the old traditions: animals eating healthy grass and herbs, and processing by hand the milk into cheese, butter and sour cream.

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From my Archives: West Berlin

(Buried in my blog’s Archives are many emotions and experiences from my first years as an American living in another country. I’d like to let them see the light again! So, on occasional Fridays, I’ll share my favorites in a “Flashback Friday” type of reblog format.)

Recently I’ve enjoyed a comments conversation with aNa, “a language loving German with Colombian roots” who spent a year and a half as a study-abroad student in Izmir, Turkey. (Yes, it’s a very interesting blog!) She’d posted a night-time photo of the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church in Berlin that brought back powerful memories about my time living in Berlin. As I’ve shared earlier, I was only there for two years, 1982 – 1984. But what an intense time it was!

Because of our conversation, I thought this week’s “Flashback Friday” post should highlight another memory of that time. It includes just a few written thoughts, and three images that captured that experience as a member of the military, our reality behind the Wall, and (if you squint) me two days away from the birth of our oldest daughter.

West Berlin, Germany
(May and July, 1983)

… a few photos from that time “behind the Wall” …

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paintings and photographs – a Norwegian tree

It’s been three months since I’ve posted a Norwegian “paintings and photographs” combination for my Thursday thoughts; I’ve obviously been having too much fun with the commercials! But the autumn rainy and windy weather we’re experiencing — and watching our area trees bending and dancing in the wind, with the interplay of clouds and light coloring my Norwegian world in a now-familiar glow — has reminded me of the first painting I remember seeing during my visit to the Bergen Kunstmuseene (Art Museum) in 2006: Johan Christian Dahl’s “Bjerk i storm” (Birch in storm). I’d like to share that painting with you.

You’ve seen Dahl’s painting of Avaldsnes kirke before, as well as a print of one of his paintings of the Bergen harbor. I also have three other paintings of his to share in the future. But today’s is an example of the Norwegian sky’s light, the direction of that light, and the wind … and the affect they have on a tree and the autumn grass. It also shows the autumn colors, a dead branch or two, and how a tree adapts to this landscape — look at how it’s clinging to the side of the mountain rock, and the way the trunk twists to grow up towards the light!

trees - Johan Christian Dahl's Bjerk i storm

Johan Christian Dahl
Bjerk i storm

I like to think that perhaps Dahl took several real-life observations of Norway’s trees, weather, and nature — as I’ve done below with 21st century technology — and created that stunning and true representation of one tree in Norway. In going through my images I found so many photos that show aspects of this painting …

Norwegian tree, grasses, rocks, moutains, sky

… but of course, no one true capture. But perhaps that’s the whole point?

A modern Norwegian artist, Lars Korff Lofthus, painted this same tree perspective with a neon treatment. What do you think?