Finding Beauty in the Unexpected

Today I had planned to visit the Huntington Beach Art Center to see their Women of Surfing: History & Art exhibit. Upon arrival, discovered it ended three days ago. First lesson learned: If you really want to do something, don’t wait or the opportunity may be gone.

While I contemplated what my new activity could be today, I remembered I’d already done something unusual. This morning I had taken out my Nikon D7100 (DSLR) to take some photos of a giant spider who had made a two foot diameter web on our doorstep. It was not my usual subject of photos, but it took me by such surprise that I wanted to capture it.

Giant Spider
Spider completing his web on our front porch.

Then it hit me, what if I set out to find beauty in things that I don’t normally find interesting enough to photograph?

I once told my husband that I don’t want to take photos of anything I can’t envision wanting to print and hang up. I can and do appreciate new and different people, places, and objects. However, my philosophy has been that if I don’t find it beautiful enough to put up in my environment and relive on a regular basis, then I might as well just admire it in the moment and move on.

What if today I took a different approach and went exploring for the random or the unexpected beauty?

Open Reserve

There is a large open space near our community that I can walk to. From my doorstep to this nature reserve and back, I set out to photograph what I noticed and here’s what I saw:

Wasps who were buzzing through the air and landing along my path.

Snails that looked like knobs on a tree trunk.

An orange moth (though could have been a smaller butterfly) drinking nectar from a flower.

Orange Moth on Flower

A discarded cigarette lighter that a tree’s branches had begun to grow over.

Cigarette Lighter in Tree Trunk

Mushrooms popping up through a bed of ivy.

Mushrooms Growing in Ivy

Lizards the size of my pinky finger freezing just outside of burrows before scurrying inside. What surprised me about the moment on the right was that the lizard didn’t attempt to eat the fly on the straw next to him. I am guessing his tummy was not on his mind when staring at a giant human a few feet away.

Dragonflies of different colors. One had a reddish orange abdomen and the other a blue one. They were smaller in size than the ones I normally see in my neighborhood. The one on the right flew just ahead of me on my path for at least 25 paces. I wondered if he was as curious about me as I was about him.

Shells, which were surprising given how far I was from the beach. I couldn’t tell if the ones on the left were from garden snails, or whether they were from the ocean and a bird took them here to eat. They were bunched together with sea shells in the same area.

Furry carcass of a dead animals, which looked to be remnants from a recent coyote meal.

Fur Coat

The dove on a barbed wire fence struck me as a symbol of peace delicately balanced on a warning of “do not enter.”

Dove on Barbed Wire Fence

Feathers, which may have originally been a coyote snack.


As I stepped next to a hole the diameter of my fist, I thought to myself, “That looks like a snake hole.” No sooner did the thought flash through my mind and my eyes picked up on the snake skin a few feet away.

Burrows, which could belong to any number of animals though most likely rabbits, snakes or ground squirrels. Not wanting to catch the inhabitant by surprise, I stayed a cautious distance while I tried to see as far down as I could through my lens.

Vines growing up the inside of a street sign post.

Vines in a Street Post

What I noticed overall about the exercise was that I relied heavily on my senses and spent the majority of an hour in the present. I was on high alert for any rustling in the plants, anything I might spy or hear that could be my next photo subject. I heard chirping, buzzing, whizzing, crackling while my head was on a pivot and my eyes scanned for movement. I walked slower than I normally do, like I was a predator stalking prey.

It was as exhilarating as when I shoot more traditionally scenery or animals. I guess I love photography, no matter the subject. Thank you for indulging me with sharing.

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