Category Archives: Lens-Artists Photo Challenge

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #50 – Tree Stories

This week Ann-Christine gave us the theme for Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #50 – Trees. She wants us to post trees from every corner of the world! Anything about trees is free for us to explore in this theme – leaves, forests, fruits, stumps or saplings…maybe tree houses?

 

Here are some of my tree stories.

 

I’m thankful for having many trees in our front yard and the garden in the back of the house.

Our county is named Orange County known for the orange groves.  In 1948, a vast forest of five million Valencia orange trees grew on 67,000 acres. The postwar population boom triggered an almost wholesale conversation of farmland to suburbia.

Our home was built before 1948 with an orange tree planted in the backyard. The Valencia tree produces two crops a year yielding several hundreds of oranges each crop. The juice we squeeze and freeze from each crop lasts for four months.

 

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I planted two plum trees in my garden several years ago. The plum blossoms start earlier than any flowers. In 2017, when the trees were mature and started having full blossoms, I worried there were no bee attracting flowers to pollinate the plum blossoms. Well, I said there were no bee attracting flowers around, it was not entirely true. There were clovers with yellow flowers but yellow was not my favorite color of flowers. To one person is flower, to another person is weed. I consider clovers weed and always pulled them to give room for planting other flowers. That year, after I pulled two handful from the slope blanketed with clovers, I spotted bees. I was surprised and happy, but sorry for what I did. I quickly plugged the clovers back to the soil. Ever since then, I leave a large area on the slope for clovers.

 

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This year, with five months of winter rain, both plum blossoms and clovers grow wild. There are several hundreds of plums on each tree.

 

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Without giving too much thought on many kinds of apples, I planted a Granny Smith apple tree several years ago. It turned out that Granny Smith apples were too sour for me to eat. My friends recommended to use them to make apple pies. We don’t eat pies too much for health reason. I ended up chopping down the tree and planted a Red Delicious apple tree. The tree is three years old with thin branches, but with the help of heavy rain this year, there are a couple hundreds of apples. I had to use heavy sticks to pop up the weighed down branches.

 

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Cypress trees require little water to grow to a maximum of 100 feet tall and 20 feet wide. Many homes use them as natural fence for privacy or border of the property. We grow them for privacy reason. The home on the hill on the top of our slope has the backyard facing our second story. Even though people don’t purposely intrude other people’s homes, we wanted to have the added beauty of the trees and privacy.

 

 

 

There are three Hibiscus trees, two in the garden in the back of the house and one in the side yard. Hibiscus tree has gorgeous flowers without requiring too much water. I used to water them the same way I did for other trees and flowers. Then I noticed white flies growing from the back of the leaves. My gardener asked me to rinse the leaves with soapy water. I got rid of the white flies with soapy water, but I decided not to water the trees at all. Since the roots of the trees are deep and draw water from the deep soil, the trees grow beautifully with dark green leaves and bright color flowers.

 

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Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #50 – Tree Stories

 

 

 

 

Lens-Artists Challenge #48 – WILD

The challenge Tina gave us for Lens-Artists this week is: Wild

I love the quote Tina has for this post, “Wilderness is not a luxury but a necessity of the human spirit.” – Edward Abbey

When we went to Denali National Park, Alaska, we had a glimpse of the sheer beauty of wilderness.

There are two kinds of wilderness inside the National Park system. The original two million acres of Denali are designated wilderness. Designated wilderness has the highest level of protection offered by the Federal Government. Nearly all the other four million acres added by the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA) are eligible wilderness. According to National Park Service Wilderness Management Policies, eligible wilderness is managed as designated until it is either officially designated, or removed from consideration, both of which require an Act of Congress. Thus almost 6 million acres of Denali National Park and Preserve are protected as wilderness. Source

“The Denali Wilderness is a land of paradox. It is inviting and it is terrifying; accessible and remote. It is an essentially undeveloped wilderness with a road corridor through the middle that brings millions of people to its edge. It is untrammeled, yet managed. Some of the land within its boundaries is well known and studied, but much of it is full of mystery. It is a natural and intact ecosystem celebrated by scientists, writers, hunters, adventurers and artists alike.

As our world is beginning to experience dra­matic and widespread change, all wilderness is at a crossroads. Encroaching development and climate change threaten to dramatically alter these environments but also present a unique opportunity to preserve their excep­tional wilderness character and linkages to other conservation units in Alaska and Canada.” Source

Features of Denali Wilderness:

Natural – A variety of plants and animals thrive in their natural habitats.

Untrammeled – Denali strives to keep this wilderness free from intentional human intervention.

Undeveloped – Most of Denali’s wilderness lacks the imprint of man’s development.

Unconditioned Recreation – Visitors can experience the primitive recreation.

Source

 

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We were fortunate to spot several wild animals on the way to Denali from Anchorage. I took the photos through the window of the coach.

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Reindeer (Rangifer tarandus) – is also known as the caribou in North America.

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Willow Ptarmigan – its color will turn completely white in winter

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Snowshoe Hare is known for the large size of its hind feet to prevent it from sinking into the snow.

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A young moose – Bull moose loses the antlers in the winter and grows back next spring.

Lens-Artists Challenge #48 – WILD

 

 

 

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #47: Five Elements

The challenge Amy gave us this week is: Five elements.

Five Elements Theory is a Chinese philosophy which describes that the world changes according to the five elements’ generating or overcoming relationships.

Generating Interactions – The five generating interactions are fueling, forming, containing, carrying, and feeding:

  • Wood fuels fire
  • Fire forms earth
  • Earth contains metal
  • Metal carries water
  • Water feeds wood

Overcoming Interactions – The five overcoming interactions are melting, penetrating, separating, absorbing, and quenching:

  • Fire melts metal
  • Metal penetrates wood
  • Wood separates earth
  • Earth absorbs water
  • Water quenches fire

The interactions illustrate the relationship even though they are not necessarily in the exact order as listed above. Source

The Five Elements Theory is also related to the Chinese Zodiac and Fengshui, a system of laws considered to govern spatial arrangement and orientation in relation to the flow of energy. Source

 

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A ball of fire going down behind the silhouette of woods in my neighborhood, California

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Metal Bridge, Moulton Falls Regional Park, Washington

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Hollow wood in Silver Falls, Portland, Oregon

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One of the waterfalls in Silver Falls, Portland, Oregon

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Muddy earth after eruption in 1980, Mt St. Helen, Washington

 

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #47: Five Elements

 

 

 

Lens-Artists Weekly Photo Challenge #46 – Delicate

This week, Anne-Christine invited us to look at a delicate matter, may it be soft or light – like the scent of a rose…; having a thin, attractive shape – delicate hands for example…; fragile or easily damaged – like fine china…; pleasant but not easily noticed – like a delicate floral pattern on the walls…or just being ”a delicate matter.”

There are many bird egg stories in my garden. The incubation seems like a delicate situation for birds.

In the summer of 2018 when we came home from a trip, I found a nest hanging on the Date Palm branches with an abandoned egg. There were three different sizes of nests on the ground and one broken egg. My neighbor said there was windstorm while we were gone and caused the disasters for the birds’ motherhood.

The House Finches built a nest on the top layer of the trellis in my front porch in 2015. The three eggs disappeared after several days. I was sad and went online to ask an expert of what happened to the eggs. The answer was it happened all the time because animals could climb up to steal the eggs. I took a while to get over with the sadness.

A pair of House Finches rebuilt the nest in the same location in 2016. The female bird laid three eggs and hatched four birds. I watched and took photos during the entire incubation and hatching period. The female bird would fly away if I came close to the nest. I tried to be slow when walking in front of the nest until the babies were hatched, matured and flown away.

 

 

Similar stories happened to the Mourning Doves. In 2016, a female dove found a location in a tree and sat there. The male dove brought twigs to build a nest around her. She laid eggs but came down from the tree after a few days. The female dove was sitting on the grass, motionless for an hour as if she was mourning for the loss. The male dove was standing a couple feet away, also in a still position. He only adjusted his head when she stood up. I was hiding under the patio table watching and taking photos. I didn’t know what happened to the eggs.

Then the Mourning Doves built a nest under our eaves and laid two eggs in 2017. Male and female doves took turns to incubate the eggs. When the babies were hatched, they watched them close by until the babies flew away.

 

 

When I found three nests on the ground in the summer of 2018 after a windstorm, I saved a better shaped one. I placed it on the top layer of the trellis, supported it with chicken wire, hoping some birds might use it. I didn’t look at the nest a just a few days. On May 9 this year, I found a mourning dove occupied the nest. It looked like they built a nest with twigs on top of the existing nest.  I only saw one dove there and I worried that she might be hungry. I put some bird seeds on the ground a few feet from the trellis. At first, she didn’t seem to come down to eat. The last few days, she came down briefly to eat.

 

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May 2019

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May 2019

I did a research today and found out that, the male and female doves look alike. The male may incubate during daytime and the female does it at night. It takes 14-15 days for incubation and the young will leave the nest in 12-14 days.

I hope that the doves will be successful in hatching their babies this year.

 

Lens-Artists Weekly Photo Challenge #46 – Delicate

 

 

 

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #45 – Street Art

When I go places near my home or travel abroad, I’m attracted to the sculptures, wall paintings, and different art forms. I included samples of these art forms in this post.

 

The MGM Lion Statue is the largest bronze statue in the Western Hemisphere.  It is 45 feet tall and 50 feet long. It weighs 50 tons and is made up of 1660 pieces of bronze welded together. The sculptor was Snell Johnson, and the designer was M. Smeaton. The statue was installed on February 15, 1997. http://www.lionlamb.us/lion/lvlions.html

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The Walk of Fame was created by E.M. Stuart, its volunteer president of Hollywood Chamber of Commerce in 1953. By March 1956, the final design and coral-and-charcoal color scheme had been approved, and between the spring of 1956 and the fall of 1957, 1,558 honorees were selected by committees representing the four major branches of the entertainment industry at that time: motion pictures, television, audio recording, and radio. Official groundbreaking took place on February 8, 1960. As of 2018, the Walk of Fame comprises over 2,600 stars. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hollywood_Walk_of_Fame

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The Navy sailor kissing a nurse is 25 feet tall, weighs 6,000 pounds statue called “Unconditional Surrender,” by J. Seward Johnson, although the city of San Diego has officially labeled it the “Embracing Peace” statue. The original image of the moment was captured by photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt on August 14, 1945 at the end of WWII. https://www.roadsideamerica.com/story/20274

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This Marilyn Monroe life-like statue is in front of the Tropic Cinema in Key West, Florida. The famous picture of Marilyn Monroe laughing as her skirt is blown up by the blast from a subway vent was shot on September 15th, 1954 filming The Seven Year Itch. https://shoestringweekends.wordpress.com/2019/03/22/marilyn

 

The Berlin Wall was a guarded concrete barrier that physically and ideologically divided Berlin from 1961 to 1989.  The Wall cut off West Berlin from virtually all of surrounding  East Germany and East Berlin until government officials opened it in November 1989. After several weeks of civil unrest, the East German government announced on November 9, 1989 that all GDR citizens could visit West Germany and West Berlin. Crowds of East Germans crossed and climbed onto the Wall, joined by West Germans on the other side in a celebratory atmosphere. Over the next few weeks, euphoric people and souvenir hunters chipped away parts of the Wall.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Berlin_Wall

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The following two are the sculptures we saw in Sydney next to a park we passed by.

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The next two sculptures are among the sculptures, murals and other street art we see at Laguna Beach, California where we often go for a half day walk.

 

 

 

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #45 – Street Art

 

 

Lens-Artists Challenge #44 – Harmony in Nature

This week, Tina has for us as the theme of Lens-Artists Challenge is: Harmony

I focused on nature in this post. Whenever I’m in nature, I have a sense of being part of it, being blended into it. I think that’s a sense of harmony with nature. When we travel, I feel at awe of what I see and wish the images stay with me forever, or I could stay with nature forever. That’s one of the reason I came home from a trip with thousands of photos. Every single one was precious except the ones I moved the camera and took  photos of my feet or something else instead of the scene.

I searched for some quotes and was happy to find the ones regarding different aspects of harmony in nature.

“Conservation is a state of harmony between men and land.” – Aldo Leopold

My husband and I have been watching nature documentary every night before bedtime for more than two years. Conservation is a relatively new concept for only decades. We lost a big part of rain forest for new city development or agriculture.  Yet Rainforests are often called the lungs of the planet for their role in absorbing carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, and producing oxygen, upon which all animals depend for survival. Rainforests also stabilize climate, house incredible amounts of plants and wildlife, and produce nourishing rainfall all around the planet. When we traveled to Alaska, we heard so much about the climate change and global warming felt drastically in this region.

 

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Denali National Park, Alaska

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Denali National Park, Alaska

“He who is in harmony with nature hits the mark without effort and apprehends the truth without thinking.” – Confucius

This is such a great wisdom that when we are in harmony with nature, we just feel right and natural. When human being forces on nature to do what conceived as beneficial to us, we created discord against nature.

 

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Port Douglas, Australia

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Moulton Falls Regional Park, Washington

“The earth has music for those who listen.” – William Shakespeare

We can hear the wind, the running water of streams, the rain drops, the thunder, the sound of the ocean, the rustling of leaves, chirping of birds, howling of animals… to name just several. Together, they make great music.

 

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Moulton Falls Regional Park, Washington

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Rhododendron Garden, Oregon

“Art is a harmony parallel with nature.” – Paul Cezanne

Botanical gardens are just one form of art parallel with nature. I’m sure you can think of many art forms in perfect harmony with nature.

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The Huntington Library, Art Collection and Botanical Garden

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Rhododendron Garden, Oregon

Lens-Artists Challenge #44 – Harmony in Nature

 

 

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #43–Less is More

This week’s Lens-Artists Photo Challenge, the theme Amy gave us is:

“Less is More.”

 

We have heard of this phrase often. When I saw this theme, I was curious of the origin of the expression. The research took me to several places and I wanted to trace the origin. This is what I found out:

This is a 19th century proverbial phrase. It is first found in print in Andrea del Sarto, 1855, a poem by Robert Browning written to Lucrezia:

“Who strive – you don’t know how the others strive
To paint a little thing like that you smeared
Carelessly passing with your robes afloat,-
Yet do much less, so much less, Someone says,
(I know his name, no matter) – so much less!
Well, less is more, Lucrezia.”

 

The phrase is often associated with the architect and furniture designer Ludwig Mies Van Der Rohe (1886-1969), one of the founders of modern architecture and a proponent of simplicity of style.

Simple architecture in Kyoto, Japan.

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Kasugataisya Shrine

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