Category Archives: photography

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 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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Lens Artists Photo Challenge #137 – Soft

This week for the Lens Artists Photo Challenge #137, Ann-Christine wanted to continue with another S – Soft. This is all about how we interpret Soft.

I see soft Physical appearances, softness of characteristics, and hear soft sounds everywhere. The photos included here represent the several things that are soft in sight and in touch.

“Perfect happiness is a beautiful sunset, the giggle of a grandchild, the first snowfall. It’s the little things that make happy moments, not the grand events.” – Sharon Draper

This photo was taken from the ship of the Ensenada Cruise. It was my first time watching the soft glow of sunset in the middle of the ocean, even though we were not too far from land.

“Nature is a mutable cloud which is always and never the same.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

We saw the fluffy clouds all the time when we were in Maui, Hawaii. They don’t seem to bring any rain except on one trip among our multiple trips.

“Water is the softest thing, yet it can penetrate mountains and earth. This clearly shows the principle of softness overcoming hardness. ” Lao Tzu

Water is soft, but when it combines with other natural phenomena, it can be powerful. The tide was coming in this sunny afternoon on the Makena Beach, Maui.

“The red rose whispers of passion, and the white rose breathes of love; O, the red rose is a falcon, and the white rose is a dove. ” – John Boyle O’Reilly

I love the softness of the Iceberg Roses. The innocent color brings me refreshing calmness.

“The only escape from the miseries of life are music and cats…” – Albert Einstein

This was my daughter’s neighbor’s cat. She had such an unusual combination of soft fur colors and soft blue eyes, and I wondered if it was a kitten. I would love to have a kitten like this one.

“A wee bit of Heaven drifted down from above, a handful of happiness, a heartful of love.​When the baby laughed for the first time, the laugh broke into thousands of pieces and they all went skipping about, and that was the beginning of fairies.” From Peter Pan

Thank you for Balroop Singh‘s comment on the softness of a newborn baby. I added this photo of my younger granddaughter Nora. My daughter Mercy did a photoshoot of her when she was three weeks’ old. Nora will be one-year-old on March 22! I look forward to going to her birthday party.

Lens Artists Photo Challenge #137 – Soft

Weekend Sky #19 – March 6th

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Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #136: Subjects Starting with the Letter–S

For this week’s Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #136, we’re circling back to the alphabet. This time, Patti invited us to focus on the letter S. She quoted Mike Wilks who strung a sentence with all the words begin with the letter S and indicated on the shelves in his store stacked with stock of 1,234 Ss to see.

I don’t want to list some seventy-seven S-things. I only chose several to be included in this post. I simply tried to have samples.

“May you see sunshine where others see shadows and opportunities where others see obstacles.” – Anonymous

Sunny sky above the summer sand

“Rise above the storm and you will find the sunshine.” – Mario Fernandez

Sunny sky above the snowy summit

“Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see the shadow. It’s what sunflowers do.” Helen Keller

“If roses tried to be sunflowers, they would lose their beauty; and if sunflowers tried to be roses, they would lose their strength.” Matshona Dhliwayo

Sunflowers surged into the sky searching the sunlight

“Millions of trees in the world are accidentally planted by squirrels who bury nuts, then forget where they hid them. Do good and forget. It’ll grow someday.” – Anonymous

“Little squirrel opens human heart because they have lots of practice with the nuts.” – Swapna Ch

Squirrel, squirrel, what do you see?

“A smile is happiness you’ll find right under your nose.” -Tom Wilson

“Life is like a mirror. Smile at it and it smiles back at you.” – Peace Pilgrim

Sweet smiles from my daughter Mercy

“Having a sister is like having a best friend you can’t get rid of. You know whatever you do, they’ll still be there.” – Amy Li

“Sister is probably the most competitive relationship within the family, but once the sisters are grown, it becomes the strongest relationship.” – Margaret Mead

Songs sisters Autumn and Nora sing together

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Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #136: Subjects Starting with the Letter–S

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Lens-Artists Challenge #134 – From Forgettable to Favorite

This week for Lens-Artists Challenge #134, Tina invited us to show a few images that may not have met our original expectations but that through editing we’ve turned into “keepers”. I turned two originals into three edited photos. The originals are at the end of the post.

The small Alcatraz island in San Francisco was once a fort, a military prison, and a maximum-security federal penitentiary. The prison is famous because no prisoner had ever successfully escaped. The 1966 American action thriller film The Rock was filmed at this site. The film, stars Sean Connery, Nicolas Cage and Ed Harris, is about the eighty-one civilians on a tour of Alcatraz. During the tour, Marine General Francis Xavier Hummel takes the civilians hostage with the help of other Marines. He threatens the F.B.I. to launch the VX rockets. The F.B.I. is forced to resort to John Patrick Mason, an ex-con who broke out of Alcatraz in 1962, to break into Alcatraz to defuse the launch.

Sean Connery is one of my favorite actors, and we watched The Rock at least twice. Alcatraz Island fascinates me because of the film and the history. I have never taken a tour on the island, but during one visit, my friends and I leisurely walked on Fisherman’s Wharf and I took several shots of the Island.

I had a small pocket camera. The day was smoggy. I looked at the shots afterwards and was disappointed. Then something caught my eyes. A bird flew in front of the camera and showed up in one shot. I did some cropping and editing the colors and clarity to make two version, one to bring out the bird and the other with more clarity of the Island.

2017 was the first year the plum tree had an abundant blossom. I just needed the bees to pollinate the flowers. Yellow flowers were not my favorite color until this year. I had clover plant with yellow flowers popping up in early spring every year. I usually pulled them out and tried hard to replace with other plants in the same spots. But clover bulbs multiply and multiply, and there seem to be no way to get rid of them. One morning this early spring in 2017, I pulled a couple handfuls of clover plants out, but at the corner of my eyes, caught some bees hovering on the yellow flowers.

It surprised me with excitement, and I wanted to plug the plants back into the soil. From that moment on, I had a keen interest in the clover and the bees. I cropped and edited one photo of the clover and brought out the focus on the bee.

Here are the originals.

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Lens-Artists Challenge #134 – From Forgettable to Favorite

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Lens-Artists Challenge #132 – Striped & Checked

This week, Ann-Christine invited us to look at striped and checked images.

I started looking around the house both indoor and outdoor and noticed things I hadn’t noticed before. There is a striped area rug in front of the fireplace. There are horizontal blinds for the windows, vertical blinds for the patio door, and the striped fabrics on the couches. Going outside the patio, I could see the stripes of the patio cover and the beach chair.

I looked in the closet next. Twenty-five percent of my husband’s shirts have stripes or plaid. I think it’s true in general that most of the men wear stripes or plaid dressed shirts. On the contrary, I only have one pair of pants and one sweater with stripes, and one plaid sweater. If my office had a stripe and check day in the summer, I would have to buy a new top.

When I investigated the archives, there are several of my favorite images have stripes and checks on the indoor structures, outdoor structures as well as in the nature.

The Huntington Library Arts Exhibit, Los Angeles
Lobby on the Ensenada Cruise Ship
Garden outside of a restaurant in Hong Kong
Arts and Sciences, Valencia, Spain
Bamboo Forest, Maui, Hawaii
Wire fence to keep the ponies in the backyard, Laguna Lake

What interesting stripes and checks do you see around your home?

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Lens-Artists Challenge #132 – Striped & Checked

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Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #131-Emotions

This week for Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #131, Patti invited us to focus on Emotion. We choose the photography or a theme that evokes emotions. I could think of many situations for this theme, but for this post, I narrowed down to a couple of thoughts.

The latest excitement for us was on January 3, less than three weeks ago, when my husband Lynton turned 65. He retired in November 2016 and had an extension of health insurance for another 18 months, and then just paid cash for prescriptions without paying the premium for full coverage. He started the Medicare on the first of this year. It has been less than three weeks, but he had a Zoom visit with a family doctor, got all the prescriptions filled, and made all the other doctors’ appointments to establish a baseline of his health. He was like a kid in a candy store.

My friends and I arranged a surprised birthday party at their house for him. I told him they invited us for brunch but hearing me talking on the phone and running to the store; he wanted to know what was going on. I’m not good in keeping a secret, so I told him it was a surprised party. He had to act as if he was surprised to see the guests.

There were eight of us meeting at our friends’ patio. We didn’t go to any parties for ten months and were hungry for chatting with friends of thirty years. We were in no hurry to finish the meal. Even when we did, we continued to talk, and the party lasted for four and a half hours.

My daughter Mercy, and her husband Will, enjoy outdoor adventures. They regularly go cross-country skiing, camping, kayaking, to name just a few. They are in good company with a core group of friends who have the same passion. In June 2015, Mercy, Will, and their friend took part in the triathlon–swimming, biking, and running. Two other friends who didn’t enter the race but rode their bikes along the trail to cheer them. Will kept Mercy in sight all the time. The last leg was running, and they ran side by side. At the last stretch they were holding hands, pushed through the finish line together. Their proud smiles were ear to ear.

Friends came with signs of cheering messages. It was my honor to be there to join the cheering team and photographed the event.

In early 2017, I had a strong emotion connection with Mercy and sensed that she was pregnant. She didn’t say too much when we talked on the phone. In February, I couldn’t withhold my feeling and asked if she was pregnant. She changed the subject. My husband and I scheduled to visit them late in March, but early in the month, she and Will skyed us and showed us the ultrasound. She was going to surprise us during our visit, but their excitement couldn’t wait for another two weeks.

It is a blessing for them to have two adorable and intelligent girls. The three-year-old Autumn is a toddler nerd. She started reading by herself in her bedroom when she was 15 months old. For the first two years, she preferred books than toys. She now loves to play with problem-solving toys. Like parents, like daughter, she is a daring rock climber, hiker, and biker. She is her mom’s proud helper in cooking. Nora is an all time happy child with a biggest smile.

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Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #131-Emotions

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Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #127: Precious Moments

This week, as we are approaching the end of 2020, Amy invited us to share some of the precious moments we have had, before or during the pandemic.

I love travel. I know I won’t return to many places I had been and always treasure the experiences of being there and seeing those places. Yet if I must choose between travel and spend time with family and friends, I choose the latter. It is the relationship that makes the moments precious.

We are travelers on a cosmic journey, stardust, swirling and dancing in the eddies and whirlpools of infinity. Life is eternal. We have stopped for a moment to encounter each other, to meet, to love, to share. This is a precious moment. It is a little parenthesis in eternity.” – Paulo Coelho

Our family photo which was taken in 2006. One young girl on the left got married a few years ago and now has a baby daughter. The other one on the left just got married last month. The three little ones are in college. Lynton’s dad, second from the right, died 12 years ago.

Every moment of life is precious and can never happen again and therefore is a reason to appreciate, be grateful for and celebrate the fact that you are alive.” – Zelig Pliskin

Eight years ago, we took our family trip to China and stopped by Hong Kong to see my family. Seven of us were in the middle of this photo, with my siblings and their families on the left and right sides. Will’s mom (behind Will, in green) died three years after the trip. My sister, third from right, died last year when we were in Hong Kong for my nephew’s wedding.

But friendship is precious, not only in the shade, but in the sunshine of life, and thanks to a benevolent arrangement the greater part of life is sunshine.” – Thomas Jefferson

This is a group of my lovely lady friends celebrating Christmas in 2019. We missed each other tremendously.

“The most beautiful discovery true friends make is that they can grow separately without growing apart.” — Elisabeth Foley

Many of my friends and I were in this chorale last year singing in the annual performance of Messiah. The past weekend would have been the usual schedule for the performance. It didn’t happen this year.

“A man travels the world over in search of what he needs and returns home to find it.” – George Moore

This precious photo was taken with my daughter Mercy and granddaughter Autumn last year. We cancelled our trip this year because the Covid cases were worse than when it started.

Precious moments are small elements of time, we show and share love and kindness, with those we care about.” – Tom Baker

The family of four – from left, Autumn (3 years old), Mercy, Nora (8 months), and Will. Our hearts are together even when we’re apart. We’ll keep in touch with them and will see them very soon.

Thank you for reading!

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #127: Precious Moments

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