Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #195 – Colorful Expressions


This week, Anne asks us to show our true colors in her Colorful Expressions challenge. She writes, “This week, show us how color affects your photography. What emotions does it bring to the surface? Which ones are you particularly drawn to?” You can read her entire challenge post and check out her colorful expressions here.

Soon after the beginning of the pandemic quarantine, I was checking out some photography blogs and YouTube videos and I came across some tutorials on how to create abstract art out of a standard photograph. A Twirl is created by a certain sequence of steps in manipulating an image. The more colorful the image, the more colorful the twirl. I have a blog post that tells how I did my collection of twirls here.

Colorful vending machines

In 2012, we went to an auction that sold memorabilia that had been restored. I was struck by this colorful collection of soda bottle dispensers.

“The fish are swimming toward the front of the ship.”

This colorful carpet was on the Norwegian Pearl when we were cruising in 2013. As we were walking down the long hallways, we got nearly to the end when we realized we were going in the wrong direction, something that happened a lot.

As we turned around and started in the opposite direction, another couple just coming out of their room heard me complaining about going the wrong way yet again. I heard the man say, “The fish are swimming toward the front of the ship.”

I didn’t know if the comment was directed to me or what it meant. He went on, “The fish on the carpet are all swimming toward the bow. If you are unsure of your direction, look at the fish.”

Black Hills Journey-13
A tree showing off its fall colors in the Black Hills of South Dakota.

In 2020, on our fall trip, we drove through South Dakota at the peak time of the season for fall colors. This beautiful tree was showing off, but as you can see by the image, they were all showing their colorful best.

Blue parrots-1
Blue and gold macaws

This pair of macaws shared a perch near the lagoon at the Wildlife World Zoo in Litchfield Park, Arizona. Their beautiful colors show up nicely against the dark background.

Nashville Rain
A rainy Nashville night.

Nashville’s Honky Tonk Row is colorful enough at night, but during heavy rain, those lights reflect off the street adding even more color to the night.

Blood Super Moon-1
Blood moon

On an autumn night in 2015, a total eclipse eerily darkened the full moon for us in Fargo, North Dakota. When the eclipse started, the bright full moon illuminated the earth with plenty of reflected light. At the moments of total eclipse, the moon appears to be orange-red. The popular term for this occurrence is a blood moon.

Sunflower portrait-2
A sunflower for Ukraine

I conclude this post with thoughts and prayers going out to the people of Ukraine who continue to suffer at the hands of a brutal regime. The sunflower is the national flower and is a symbol of strength and resistance against their oppressors.

Thanks to Anne for this week’s colorful challenge. I have put these images and more in my Flickr album for this post here. You can also click on any of the images above to pixel peep in 2K HD.

Next week, we have a guest host for the weekly challenge. You are welcome to join in the challenge each week. You can find instructions on joining in here.

John Steiner


  1. A wonderful collection, John. I love the fish carpet and your twirl and the blood moon. I’m going to check out how to do the swirling image. Great idea for the challenge.

  2. What a lovely post, John. I love the variety and quality of your photos and thank you for showing us how you created your first one. I’ll be giving that a go. Also a fitting homage to the people of Ukraine.

    • Thank you! I’d forgotten how much fun those twirls are to create. I’m glad I happened to spot them in searching for colorful images to share for the challenge.

  3. Love your variety and vivid colours, John. Also love that you used the sunflower for Ukraine. My thoughts are with them every day. Thank you.

  4. Fabulous selection of colourful images! I particularly love the twirl (reminds me that I should do some more one day soon!), the rainy Nashville shot, the blood moon and the sunflower 😀

  5. Great colors John. And I like “follow the fish.” It’s so easy to get lost aboard a ship. And thank’s for the link to your twirl technique. I’ve done it in PS using the twirl filter, but never with layers. I guess I’ll have to venture into learning how to layer. Great post!

    • Now you got me to wondering if the twirl filter is an automated version of the layer technique I learned. I don’t use photoshop, yet… just subscribed a couple of months ago to the Lightroom PS bundle, but haven’t yet downloaded PS.

      • You might as well download it since you’re paying for it. Let me know if it is the auto version. I don’t think it is. I think we’d have to do one twirl and then another layer twirl on top of it. Since I’m in the process of procrastinating I might try it.

      • It is on my list of things to do this summer. We are still trying to organize ourselves from our permanent move out of Arizona and cramming all our extra stuff back in our condo in Fargo. >grin<

      • OK, I was misreading other comments. I’ll have to download PS (since I now have the subscription) and give it a try.
        There is something, though, about doing the steps yourself. It’s a bit tedious the first time, but once you get the drill, it’s a step-by-step sequence that’s easy to repeat.

  6. We’ll John with all the news about Ukraine I’d never seen that about the sunflower. Love your closing image and thought. Also loved your twirl. Will revisit your instructions. This far have failed miserably on them😫. Laughed at the fish – how very clever!!!

  7. Beautiful series, John! I love your twirl. These two macaws are beautiful! The moon, wow!! Follow the fish is a clever one 🙂

  8. I’ve never been on a cruise ship so today I learned about the swimming fish navigational system! Great photos as always John!

    • Thanks, Mark. Well, on the latest Norwegian cruise ship I was on, they’ve abandoned the idea of fish on the floor.
      I always thought that was a cool idea, but I’ve learned you can tell the direction forward by watching the progression of cabin numbers. 🙂

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