Category Archives: Lens-Artists Photo Challenge

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #165: Going Wide

This week for Lens-Artists Photo Challenge, Patti invited us to look at the photos with wide angle images. The wide-angle view is perfect for capturing a broad vista like a landscape, seascape, or cityscape.

Well, I have a small camera and I haven’t made any investment on camera equipment. When taking photos of landscape, seascape, or cityscape, I take them at different angles to capture the wide views.

I included two sets of photos from my travel archives, one set from Spain and another set from Germany. In Spain, we arrived in Madrid and took the tour bus to Toledo, Seville, Granada, and Barcelona. In Germany, we arrived in Frankfurt and took a boat to Cologne. We took a high-speed train from Cologne to Berlin. Then we were on the tour bus from Berlin to Würzburg, Bavaria, Munich, and Schwangau.

Here are the highlights of our travel.

Fountain in front of the Royal Theater

Teatro Real (Royal Theatre) is a major opera house in Madrid. Founded in 1818 and inaugurated on November 19,1850, it closed in 1925 and reopened in 1966. Beginning in 1988, it underwent major refurbishing and renovation works and finally reopened in 1997 with a capacity of 1,746 seats.

Royal Theater

Toledo is known as the Imperial City because it was the primary venue of the court of Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor in Spain.

Old City of Toledo and River Tajo

The Roman bridge of Córdoba is a bridge in the Historic center of Córdoba, Andalusia, southern Spain, built in the early 1st century BC across the Guadalquivir River. The bridge was built by the Romans in the early 1st century BC, perhaps replacing a previous wooden one.

The Roman bridge of Córdoba

The City of Arts and Sciences is a cultural and architectural complex in the city of Valencia, Spain. It is the most important modern tourist destination in the city of Valencia and one of the 12 Treasures of Spain. It was designed by Santiago Calatrava and Félix Candela. The project began the first stages of construction in July 1996 and was inaugurated on April 16, 1998. The following structure L’Umbracle is an open structure enveloping a landscaped walk with plant species indigenous to Valencia 

L’Umbracle

We took the high-speed train from Cologne to Berlin. At one point the train was going 220 mph.

Cologne Train Station

The Berlin Wall, once known as ‘The Wall of Shame’ that separated the east and west Germany. In 1989, the wall finally came down. The 1,316 meter (4,317 feet) long remnant of The Berlin Wall was kept as a heritage protected landmark. The Wall was decorated by many international and German artists with graffiti and street art, expressing their hopes and reflecting their feelings on this momentous occasion.

Berlin Wall

The Würzburg Residence is a palace in Würzburg, Southern Germany. The Würzburg Residence was commissioned by the Prince-Bishop of Würzburg Johann Philipp Franz von Schönborn and his brother Friedrich Carl von Schönborn. It was built and decorated in the 18th century. The Residence was constructed between 1720 and 1744, decorated in the interior from 1740 to 1770 and landscaped with magnificent gardens from 1765 to 1780. 

The Würzburg Residence Garden
The Würzburg Residence Garden

Bavarian Alps is a summarizing term for several mountain ranges of the Northern Limestone Alps in the Germany state of Bavaria. Like the Alps as a whole, the Bavarian Alps were heavily influenced by the last ice age. Depositions by the ice age rivers and glaciers left behind a gently rolling landscape in the Alpine Foreland with lakes and bogs.

Germany Bavarian Alps

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Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #165: Going Wide

Thank you for reading.

Have a Wonderful Week!

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Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #155 – On the Water

John Steiner is the guest host for Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #155. He says throughout history, people have gravitated to water for trade and for relaxation and he invited us to share the photos on the water.

This week, I have fun reflecting and finding the quotes and sayings about water and ocean. Please enjoy the scenes and the wisdom about Water throughout history.

“Nothing is softer or more flexible than water, yet nothing can resist it.” – Lao Tzu 

Toledo, Spain

“Water is soft and humble, but it is the most powerful and is the most endurable.”Debasish Mridha

Huntington Library, California

“There’s nothing more beautiful than the way the ocean refuses to stop kissing the shoreline, no matter how many times it’s sent away.” – Sarah Kay

Newport Beach, California

“Dance with the waves, move with the sea, let the rhythm of the water set your soul free.” – Christy Ann Martine

Maui, Hawaii

“Water always goes where it wants to go, and nothing, in the end, can stand against it. Water is patient. Dripping water wears away a stone.” – Margaret Atwood

“Water is the driving force of all nature.” — Leonardo da Vinci

Moulton Falls, Washington

“Life is like the ocean; it goes up and down.” ― Vanessa Paradis

Bondi Beach, Australia

“To reach a port we must set sail. Sail, not tie at anchor. Sail, not drift.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

Pacific Ocean, Ensenada Cruise, Mexico

“We ourselves feel what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop.” – Mother Teresa

 “Individually, we are one drop. Together, we are an ocean.” ― Ryunosuke Satoro

Sunset, Ensenada Cruise, Mexico

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Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #155 – On the Water

Thank you for your visit. I welcome your generous comment.

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Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #154 One Photo Two Ways

This week, Tina would like us to think about the various ways we create the images and show the same subject captured using different approaches.

I love visiting my daughter’s family in Portland, Oregon, especially during spring and autumn seasons. During my previous visit in May, my daughter and I went on walks once or twice a day. It was amazing to see the beautiful blooms in the neighborhood. I especially admired the rhododendrons and irises. The rhododendrons in my California neighborhood are bushes, whereas in Portland, they grow into trees as high as a two-story home.

The first photo is a close-up of the flower. As we walked further away from the plant, I took the view of the entire plant.

My other favorite flowers are irises of all kinds of colors. I gravitated toward darker purple and lilac colors. The name of this purple iris is Eleanor Roosevelt. The first photo is a single flower and the second shot is the patch of irises.

In my teaching days, I only went to the zoo on field trips for the students. My daughter and her friends have annual passes and take their kids to the zoo often. One of my favorite animals is giraffe. I took several shots following the giraffes as the three of them roamed around in their areas. I only captured the two that seemed to stay together.

There is an elementary school with a playground right across from my daughter’s house. Playgrounds are open to the public after school hours. Autumn’s favorite is climbing the net climber. It’s interesting to watch her trying to climb to the top and down when some ropes are close and some further apart. Autumn is an enthusiastic climber.

Nora is a good helper to her dad in gardening and mowing the lawn. She mowed the entire lawn by herself!

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Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #154 – One Photo Two Ways

Thank you for reading. I always appreciate your generous comments. Please click HERE if you would like to participate.

Have a wonderful Day!

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Lens-Artists Challenge #149 – Blue and Green Peacocks

This week Tina is returning to the color wheel and its cooler members, which include blue (primary) green (secondary) and blue-green or blue-violet aka purple (tertiary). 

When I think of this group of colors, my first thought took me to the post last week in which I included one photo of the peacock. This week I wanted to return to the Los Angeles County Arboretum to share with you what I learned about the history of the Arboretum, the original owner of the land, and the origin of the peacocks in the United States.

Elias Jackson “Lucky” Baldwin (April 3, 1828 – March 1, 1909) was one of the greatest pioneers of California business, an investor, and real estate speculator during the second half of the 19th century. He earned the nickname “Lucky” Baldwin due to his extraordinary good fortune in a number of business deals.

Baldwin was born in Hamilton, Ohio in 1828, the fourth of 14 children. At age 18, he married a neighbor girl named Sarah Ann Unruh and started to farm and train horses. In 1853, at the height of the California Gold Rush, he decided to relocate to California. He joined a large wagon train in Iowa. During the five-month journey, he got lost and save by friendly Native Americans who brought him back to the wagon train. He made a fortune during his remaining wagon journey and became a key player in the San Francisco Stock Exchange. His building materials were used to construct the U.S. Mint, Fort Point and the fort of Alcatraz Island.

In 1875, Baldwin moved to Southern California, purchased Rancho Santa Anita and constructed its buildings and grounds. With cash in hand, he opened the original Santa Anita Park racetrack, a few blocks east of its current location, in what is now Arcadia Park.

Baldwin was married four times. When he married his fourth wife, Lillie Bennett, the Queen Anne Cottage was built at the location where the Arboretum is as a honeymoon present by Lillie’s father.

During the 1890s, his wealth diminished, but Baldwin maintained an interest in horse racing and poker. His wife Lillie and his daughters Anita Baldwin McClaughry and Clara Baldwin Stocker were among many relatives and friends at his side when he died at the Arcadia ranch on March 1, 1909.

The Arboretum began in 1947 with California and Los Angeles jointly purchasing 111 acres to create an arboretum around the Baldwin site. The first greenhouse was constructed, and the first 1,000 trees were planted. In 1956 the Arboretum was open to the public. Construction and renovation of both greenhouses and gardens continued.

In addition to the gardens, the arboretum is home to a flock of some 200 peacocks, which are descendants of original birds imported by Baldwin from India. The peacock is a symbol of the city of Arcadia. The first record of peacock in what is now the United States was the introduction by Frances Sinclair on Kauai, Hawaii, in 1860. However, the first reported introduction into the continental United States occurred in 1879, when Elias J. Baldwin brought 3 pairs to his vast ranch in the San Gabriel Valley of California. Currently, peacocks can be found throughout neighborhoods surrounding the arboretum.

Queen Anne Cottage

The cottage was constructed in 1885-1886 for Baldwin and his third wife, Lillie Bennett, the daughter of the cottage’s architect Albert A. Bennett. Upon Elias J. Baldwin’s death in 1909, his daughter Anita closed the cottage and disposed of all furnishings. Some of the architectural elements of the cottage, such as the stained-glass windows, black walnut doors, and marble fireplace mantels, were stored in the coach barn. The stored items were reinstalled in the cottage during the 1951-1953 restoration.

The cottage has been used for many films and television shows, most famous for the opening of Fantasy Island where the character of Tattoo is ringing the bell in the cottage’s tower and Mr. Roarke is exiting from it.

Sources: Elias J. Baldwin, Los Angeles County Arboretum, Queen Anne Cottage

Peacocks in Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden- Arcadia (CA)

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Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #149 – Blue and Green Peacocks

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Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #148 – Spots and Dots

Ann-Christine’s Photo Challenge this week is Spots and Dots. She wants us to have fun with it! But, also recognize and enjoy the different interpretations, meanings and importance of these two little words. Spots and Dots. Because even if they are small…they can make a big difference.

I came back from a delightful Mother’s Day week visiting my daughter and the grandkids. My daughter Mercy talked with Autumn about Mother’s Day celebration and Autumn understood the relationship of mothers. She said, “My mommy is a mommy. You’re a mommy and you’re my mommy’s mommy. I’m not a mommy.”

Autumn loves to have the undivided attention of grandma. She has a huge appetite for books. On the days when she didn’t go to school, I read about ten books to her after breakfast. Then she played for a little while. Her latest favorite was building a fort with tunnels. She took out all the cushions from the couches to build the formation and covered them with blankets. She didn’t want my help but wanted me to watch (with attention).

Apparently, she has nap time at school, but she doesn’t take naps at home. Mercy wants her to have quiet time when Nora takes a nap. It’s also the time when Mercy takes a nap. It takes a lot of energy to care for a toddler and a baby.

There are boxes of books from my teaching days. I pick the age-appropriate books with me on each trip.

After the quiet time, I read another ten books to Autumn. She likes to listen to the same books over and over again, especially the books with longer text. She picks up more details of the stories from each repetition of reading.

The day is getting longer, and the sun doesn’t go down until about 8:00 p.m. We take the kids to a school playground across the street from the house. The neighbor next to the school has a home farm with chickens and six or seven goats. Many kids love to feed the goats.

After the walk or playground time, we read several more bedtime books to Autumn. She would ask to read “one more,” but we must be firm, otherwise, we’d be reading all night long.

In the afternoon on Mother’s Day, my daughter’s family, joined by another family went to the zoo. Autumn wanted to see the Polar Bear and carried the white stuffed bear with her. The Polar Bear was in the water under the cave for a long time but swam outside for a little while. I was glad that Autumn was not disappointed.

Nora turned one-year-old in March, so she is learning to climb the stairs and playing with different toys. She loves to follow her big sister and does the same thing. During the several days of my visit, she learned to do new things. It’s amazing to see the kids making so much progress at these ages.

There are many small dots of progress in the child development but in a long run there’s a huge impact in one’s life these small dots make. Research shows the first two years of a human life make the fastest and most growth within the shortest period compared to the remaining life span. As parents and careers, we could facilitate and make the small dots and spots colorful ones in the kids’ lives.

Mercy’s orchid plant
Spots at the zoo
More spots at the zoo
This gorgeous guy was in another garden showing off his spots and dots

This is Autumn at the zoo. How many dots and spots can you see?

Nora was fascinating to watch all the spots and dots flowing in different directions. She was trying to catch some of them.

Thank you for reading! Have a wonderful week ahead!

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Lens-Artists Challenge #144 – Baby Birds Taking Flight

This week, Tina would like us to think of the idea of flying. It could be any flying objects such as birds, butterflies, bees, insects, airplanes, balloons, or kites. I have many bird stories to tell, so I chose to share about the baby birds in my garden taking flights.

I started watching and feeding birds in 2014. Over the years, there were mourning doves, house finches and hummingbird gave birth to their babies. I was fortunate to watch these amazing creatures laid eggs, nurtured their young, guarded them until they took flight.

In 2016, I noticed two mourning doves were courting and mating. This pair built their nest in a tree, but the eggs were stolen. I suspected it was the naughty squirrel. The female dove seemed depressed and was motionless, sitting in the grass for over 20 minutes. The male dove was sitting still two feet from her. Only after she got up and stretched that he also stood up. I was sad for them, but it was beautiful watching these doves mourned for their loss.

In 2017, the same pair of doves built a nest on the top of the stone windowsill under the eaves in the front yard. I thought it was the same pair because the male dove had a ring around one leg, same as the dove in the previous year. Probably someone tried to track him. They built the nest together. She laid two eggs. They took turns incubating the eggs. My research showed that mourning doves are monogamous. The male and female look so much alike, and it seems only the female incubates but in fact they switch shifts. In 2020 I noticed them switching shifts.

The mourning doves used the nest the house finches built on the trellis in 2015 and have used that in 2017, 2018, twice in 2019, and 2020. When the baby doves were ready to fly, they were as big as mature doves.

In 2015, the house finches built a nest on the top tier of the trellis at the front porch. The female bird laid four eggs but sadly the eggs were gone. I had no idea what happened. I have kept the nest clean and strapped a piece of chicken wire to hold the bottom of the nest. The house finches returned to the same nest in 2016, she laid three eggs and four baby birds were hatched. I didn’t see the baby birds flying away. The house finches didn’t use the nest after that.

I’m fortunate to have a baby ruby-throated hummingbird born in my garden in 2018. The nest is like a cheese ball the size of a golf ball. When my husband trimmed the orange tree, without knowing it, he barely missed that branch. When I noticed that cheese ball, I climbed up the ladder to look. Somehow, I touched the nest and scared the baby to fall on the ground. I was more scared than he and quickly picked him up to put him back in the nest. When the baby was ready to leave the nest, he flew to the next tree, clung on to it for a little while before he took off.

All these amazing birds, by the time the babies are ready to leave the nests, they are ready to fly. I wonder if they’ll see their parents again. Amazingly, the baby hummingbird stays. He has been living in my garden since he was born. I’m sorry to say the papa bird died last year. My husband found him on the grass. He was at least four years old. Mama bird doesn’t live here, but she comes by to play with the baby. I think he has a brother that comes by occasionally.

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Lens-Artists Challenge #144 – Baby Birds Taking Flight

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Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #143 – Colorful April, National Poetry Month

This week, for Lens-Artists Photo Challenge, Amy invited us to look at the colorful April that spring brings us. Every year, the cold of winter melts away and spring brings a new beginning.

April is National Poetry Month. I’ll include a poem “A Light Exists in Spring” by Emily Dickinson.

Every year, the cold of winter melts away and spring brings a new beginning. The nature and the creatures wake up from their hibernation, stretch the limbs and pop the heads up to give us a big smile.

The flowers in my garden invited me to give them a visit.

When I take my afternoon walk, the vibrant colors stopped me more and more frequently to capture their beauty.

I’m grateful for living in a community with the walking/hiking/horse trails snake through the cities. These trails are in the neighborhood yet they seem to be away from the distractions of voices and noises.

A Light exists in Spring
by Emily Dickinson

A Light exists in Spring
Not present on the Year
At any other period —
When March is scarcely here

A Color stands abroad
On Solitary Fields
That Science cannot overtake
But Human Nature feels.

It waits upon the Lawn,
It shows the furthest Tree
Upon the furthest Slope you know
It almost speaks to you.

Then as Horizons step
Or Noons report away
Without the Formula of sound
It passes and we stay —

A quality of loss
Affecting our Content
As Trade had suddenly encroached
Upon a Sacrament.

Written in around 1864 but not published until 1896 (as with many of Dickinson’s poems), ‘A Light Exists in Spring’ beautifully captures the way that spring slowly appears in our consciousness, like a light in the distance. The final stanza of Dickinson’s poem also seems to acknowledge what we now call ‘SAD’ or Seasonal Affective Disorder, with the passing of spring affecting our contentedness.

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Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #143 – Colorful April

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Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #140 – A Change of Scenery

The host for this week’s Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #140 is Beth at https://wanderingdawgs.com and the theme is A Change of Scenery. We want to thank you, Beth.

A change of scenery can happen in a short distance such as from room to room, from outdoor to indoor or from indoor to around the neighborhood. But last week we changed a scenery from state to state.

Before leaving town, I took a few photos of the spring blossom in my garden. The Freesia was in full bloom. The plum trees just started blooming. It looks like we’d have a promising harvest this summer.


The scenery changed from sunny to rainy in the weather but our hearts are warmer.

My husband and I landed in Portland, Oregon last Thursday from California. We came for a week to spend time with our granddaughters. Our younger granddaughter Nora’s first birthday was Sunday, March 22. My daughter Mercy planned a party on Saturday in a park close to home. We had a wonderful time warming up with our granddaughters Autumn and Nora on the first two days. We had not seen them since October 2020. We canceled our trips for Thanksgiving and Christmas because of Covid.

It was pouring on Saturday early morning. Mercy changed the location to a school site with a covered area. We didn’t know how many people would show up. An hour before we left the house, the rain stopped.

Many families with kids came to the party. The school has a large playground for the kids. It was the first time some friends got together since Covid started. Both the grown-ups and kids had a wonderful time.

Later in the afternoon, the sky turned dark and it was pouring again. We were thankful that the rain stopped for a few hours so we could have a great party.


A friend made three dozen cupcakes for everyone. Mercy bought a small birthday cake for Nora. It was Nora’s first time to have cakes, and she sure loved it.

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Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #140 – A Change of Scenery

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Lens-Artists Challenge #139 – Special Moments

This week for Lens-Artist Challenge #139, Tina invited us to visit our special moments. While there are so many, I would included three events.

Mount St. Helens in Washington state was erupted on May 18, 1980. I was a student at Seattle Pacific University. The 5.1 magnitude earthquake caused a lateral eruption that reduced St. Helens’ height by about 1,300 feet (400 m) and left a crater 1 mile (1.6 km) to 2 miles (3.2 km) wide and 0.5 miles (800 m) deep. It was a major eruption among the 48 states since 1915. The ash drifted over many states and could be seen as far as Chicago. The evacuation was announced before the eruption. Mr. Harry Truman, a caretaker of a resort lodge, refused to leave. He said he belonged to the mountain and would die with the mountain. He, along with fifty-six people were killed.

My family and I went back to visit on September 10, 2016. The mud and debris still filled the river, and the crater was still very much alive. It seemed like nothing or few things would survive. I was in awe to see miles of century-old forests destroyed by the eruption have come back, richer and different from before. There were many beautiful wildflowers. Life overcomes!

I came to the US as a student in 1977. In all the years I was in Hong Kong, I had never visited the Great Wall. In 2012, some family member expressed the interest to take a family vacation in China. I got some tour information from the Chinese Newspaper and made contacts. One tour company offered a private tour with a van and a driver for ten people. After I got the commitment of eight members, I started planning. By the time we set the itinerary, made reservations for air and hotel, three members couldn’t make it. I was a little disappointed. The tour company contacted the tour in China they agreed to accommodate the seven of us. It was a special vacation because I have other countries on my visiting list and may not return to see the Great Wall.

We rarely get to celebrate the birthdays or anniversaries on the day of the event. In 2016, I could plan a trip to Spain in August during our anniversary. When we visited the Mosque of Córdoba, the architecture fascinated me, and I was busy taking photos. The tour moved on without me. It panicked me. Fortunately, my husband is tall, and I spotted him, and quickly merged back to the tour saying nothing.

We were in Barcelona to celebrate our anniversary. I wish to tour inside of Basilica de la Sagrada Familia but the tour didn’t not schedule it. We only had time to take photos. I literally was lying flat on the ground to get the view from the bottom to the top. Of course, my husband was on guard so people wouldn’t step on me and kill me.

The Magic Fountain of Montjuïc (Font màgica de Montjuïc) in Barcelona.

Lens-Artists Challenge #139 – Special Moments

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Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #138 – Natural Light

This week, the theme from Amy for Lens-Artists Photo Challenge is Natural Light. She invited us to look at photography uses the sun as a light source and share photos of changing light throughout the day.

I took this opportunity to study the phenomena of changing light.

In photography

The different colors of the natural light determined by the sun’s rays during the light phases of the day. They depend on the elevation of the sun. The phases are the nighttime, morning twilights, morning magic hours, daytime, evening magic hours, evening twilights, and nighttime. The dramatic colors of blue, red, orange and yellow are in the golden hour and blue hour when the sun is lower in the sky during the morning magic hours and evening magic hours shortly before and after the appearance of the sun.

In science

Steven Ackerman, professor of meteorology at UW-Madison said, “Molecules and small particles in the atmosphere change the direction of light rays, causing them to scatter. Scattering affects the color of light coming from the sky, but the details are determined by the wavelength of the light and the size of the particle. The short-wavelength blue and violet are scattered by molecules in the air much more than other colors of the spectrum. This is why blue and violet light reaches our eyes from all directions on a clear day. But because we can’t see violet very well, the sky appears blue.”

Brian Resnick at the Vox.com further explained, “At sunset, light has to travel through a greater distance of atmosphere to reach our eyes — so even more blue light, and even some green and yellow light, gets filtered out. That leaves us with the warmer hues of the visible light, the reds and oranges, and it’s why many sunsets look like fire.

As we approach the winter solstice, the time the sun takes to set lengthens, due to the angle the sun takes in setting into the ground. During the equinoxes, the sun pretty much sinks into the ground at a 90-degree angle. Nearer the winter solstice, the sun sets on more of an angle, drawing out the time it takes to set. Which is to say: Sunset colors linger closer to the winter solstice, which allows us to enjoy them for longer.”

Here are some examples of my photography showing the colors of light shortly before sunset in different months.

These two photos were taken on my walk in the neighborhood in July. They were taken in a less than one minute apart.

These two photos were taken during a Columbia River Gorge Cruise, Washington in September. The two photos were taken in just minutes apart while the cruise ship traveled.

These two photos were also taken in my neighborhood. They sky was clear with spots of scattered clouds in this December early evening before the sun disappeared. Again, the photos were taken in a few seconds apart.

I love taking sunset photos because of the dramatic change of light.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #138 – Natural Light

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