Category Archives: Travel

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #126: An Alphabet Challenge – A: Australia

For this week’s Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #126, Patti invited us to go back to basics–namely, the ABC’s. We’re starting at the very beginning with the letter A.  I chose A for Australia.

Australia was my husband, Lynton’s birthplace, and childhood home for 10 years. When we started our travel journey, it was logical that it was our first choice. We like to fly nonstop as much as possible and it was a 17-hour flight from Los Angeles, the longest flight we have had.

Our first visit was to tour the Sydney Opera House. I was especially interested in the design and the structure. From the tour I learned that 233 designers submitted the designs for the Opera House international design competition held in 1956. Jørn Utzon from Denmark was the winner, receiving ₤5000 for his design. There are over 1 million roof tiles covering approximately 1.62 hectares sitting over the structure. They were made in Sweden. Besides the tour, we watched an opera available during our visit.

The Sydney Harbor bridge opened in 1932. It is the tallest steel arch bridge in the world, measuring 134 meters (440 feet) from the top to water level. It spans about 500 meters (1,650 feet). You can walk and cycle across the bridge. We joined the guided tour to climb the Bridge. We wore the special hooded suit that wrapped around us with nothing loose outside the suit.  There were belts and connecting straps buckled on to each climber of a group and each climber had hooks attaching to the steel railing leading to the top of the bridge. The view on top of the Bridge was breathtaking. It was a climb of a lifetime.

Lynton’s aunt and uncle lived in New South Wales which is less than a two-hour drive from Sydney. They took us to Blue Mountain, and we went down to the visitor area that provided a spectacular view to the Jamison Valley below the Three Sisters.

We went to Koala Park Sanctuary in Sydney. Koalas are cute and calm creatures. They could cling on to the tree trunks for a long time without moving. We had photos taken with a koala at a photo booth.

Koorana Crocodile Farm was established by John and Lilian Lever and was open in 1981. It was the first crocodile farm in Queensland. The person at the gift shop told us that the average heart rate of crocodile is 9.8 beats per minute, and it can reduce to 2–3 beats per minute to save energy as reduced cellular respiration. Crocodiles do not have sweat glands and release heat through their mouths. They often sleep with their mouths open.

We flew from Sydney to Cairns and rented another car. At Cairns, Lynton went diving in the Great Barrier Reef. Most of the corals lost the colors due to climate change. The dive was his highlight of the trip. I don’t dive but had a pleasant boat ride and a spectacular view of the ocean. We drove north to Port Douglas and Cape Tribulation before flying back to Sydney to return home.

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Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #126: An Alphabet Challenge–A: Australia

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Lens-Artists Challenge #124 – Now and Then

Happy Thanksgiving from Beach Ford! | Beach Ford

This week Amy invited us to reflect on our time staying at home mostly due to the pandemic, compared to what happened to our life prior to this situation. What happened then, and what happened now?

“Eventually all things fall into place. Until then, laugh at the confusion, live for the moments, and know everything happens for a reason.” — Albert Schweitzer

It has been over eight months since COVID-19 hit. Did time go by fast?

It did not; it was like forever. The second week of March was difficult to be confined at home. I wanted to run outside to do something. I wanted to shout or talk to someone. It was boring to do the same things day after day. There were no special events such as travel, movies, family and social gathering, birthdays, or holidays to punctuate the different seasons. As time went by, I accepted the new normal and set up my new routine. In fact, I appreciated the concentrated time to do certain tasks without interruption. Even when the social distancing was relaxed, I was not ready to take risk except going to see my granddaughters with great caution.

On the other hand, time went by fast. This one enormous bubble of a single day was in fact eight months long. Yet, it will not last forever. History told us that this will end. I will do my part to observe the safety regulation. I will stay safe and keep healthy, so when this is over, I can fully enjoy my family.

We had been doing major traveling since 2000, went to Australia, London, Amsterdam, Paris, Germany, Austria, Spain, and China, to name some countries. We didn’t go anywhere except Portland to see Mercy and her family. I spend a lot of time gardening.

Toledo, Spain

Thanksgiving is our major family gathering time. Two sister-in-laws and I took turns to host the Thanksgiving dinner. Mercy and her family came to California to join us. Two weeks ago, California, Oregon, and Washington jointly announced a new restriction. Upon arriving in Oregon, we would have to be self-quarantine for 14 days. The new spikes of cases spread throughout the country, it is worse than March when the pandemic started. Hubby and I will spend the holiday just the two of us, and cook a 15-pound turkey, eat some and freeze some for later.

Autumn had a big birthday party with many friends her age in 2019. We are not big cake eaters. Autumn had a birthday pie. This year, she had a smaller birthday party in the front yard serving a cake to her friends and aunties and uncles. They came in masks keeping the social distancing.

Nora is growing fast. The first two years of a kid’s life is the fast growing period in proportion to the remaining of one’s life. When I visited her in August, she was not sitting up yet. She turned eight months two days ago. She is now sitting up and enjoys eating many mashed veggies.

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Lens Artists Challenge # 124: Now and Then

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Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #121: Focus on the Subject

This week for Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #121, Patti shared “some helpful techniques from the experts that can help us create images that lead our viewers to our subject.”

Using Lines and repeated patterns to bring focus to the subject

At Valencia, Spain, we visited Hemisferic which is a splendid Laserium, Planetarium, and IMAX cinema (over 900 square meters of the screen). It is in the City of Arts and Sciences complex. The building was designed by Santiago Calatrava. The lines and repeated patterns draw the viewers’ attention to the shape of the eyes (one eye opened, one eye shut).

The tour bus arrived at a large parking lot. We entered a 124 m (407 ft) tunnel which leads to an ornate elevator that ascends the final 124 m (407 ft) to the building of Eagle’s Nest in Germany. The lines on the wall and the lights point to the elevator at the end of the tunnel.

Using colors and contrast to draw attention to the subject

The contrast light color of the flower and dark green background bring the attention to the single yellow Daffodil.

Using arches and doorways to frame the image

This is the St. Johns Bridge in Portland, Oregon. The bridge has a 1,207-foot (368 m) center span and a total length of 2,067 feet (630 m). The arches of the bridge towers framed the Gothic cathedral-like image. The adjacent park and neighborhood of Cathedral Park are named after this appearance.

Using freezing the moment to capture the subject

Hummingbirds flap the wings more than 60 times a second. I had fun freezing the moment of the hummingbird flapping the wings. My baby Ruby Throated hummingbird was in a “standing” still position.

Using the eyes to draw attention to the subject

I had fun finding the eyes of the animals for you to fall in love with them. The cat in the neighborhood, the deer, and the monkeys in Nara and Kyoto, Japan.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #121: Focus on the Subject

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Lens Artists Challenge#117: A Photo Walk

 

This week for Lens Artists Challenge, Amy invited us to share our photo walk.

We went to Maui on multiple trips. Last year, something out of ordinary during our trip was hiking the Pipiwai Trail to Waimoku Falls. On the previous trips when driving on the Road to Hana, I could see some of the Seven Sacred Pools. Seeing people having fun playing in the pools delighted me but didn’t think of stopping by until this trip.

The Seven Sacred Pools is a beautiful but remote location featuring waterfalls, freshwater pools. And incredible green foliage. The actual name is the Ohe’o Gulch. The name “Ohe’o” means “something special” and it’s part of the Haleakala National Park. We paid the $15 admission to the park.

We took the Kuloa Point Trail, a 0.5-mile loop, and continued toward the Pipiwai. It’s a 2-mile hike (4 miles roundtrip) leading to the 400-foot-tall Waimoku Falls.

There are several key points of interest on this photo walk.

The Kuloa Point Trail was marked by jagged roots. For the most part, the Pipiwai Trail was a stone upward trail.

This was an enormous Banyan tree along the Pipiwai Trail. There was not enough space far enough to capture the entire tree.

There are more than seven pools. During the flooding, there are as many as 20 pools. This was a small one and we stopped by for a photo.

Several layers of falls and pools.

The last bridge before entering the Bamboo Forest.

The trail through the Bamboo Forest is a popular one, so it’s frequently maintained. The pathway is large, and looks like this photo throughout the way. it’s very easy to navigate. Many fallen bamboo good enough to use as walking sticks or canes. Someone gave me one on his return hike.

We reached the 400-foot Waimoku Falls. It was a rocky area with a barrier where we could go to take a closer look at the fall.

Lens Artists Challenge#117: A Photo Walk

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Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #116: Symmetry

This week, Patti invites us to explore Symmetry as a way to create dramatic and impactful images.  I made a quick review of symmetry in photography and learned something new. Thank you, Patti.

There are four most common types of symmetry in photography

Vertical Symmetry

Vertical symmetry is the most common type of symmetry. Draw an imaginary vertical line at the center of the photo, if both sides are symmetrical, your photo will look visually appealing. Vertical symmetry is often used in architectural photography.  It emphasizes the size, shape, and design of buildings.

This Tea Garden at a restaurant in Hong Kong in which my nephew and his wife had the tea ceremony before the wedding banquet.

Kasuga Grand Shrine in Nara, Japan, is famous for its many bronze lanterns, as well as the many stone lanterns that lead up the shrine.  

The Champ de Mars is one of the most beautiful, large public green spaces in Paris, France. This is one of the 360o views on the viewing level of the Eiffel Tower.

Horizontal Symmetry

Horizontal symmetry is often used in landscape photography. Especially when a body of water is present. This can be confused with reflective symmetry. The difference is that horizontal symmetry does not necessarily have to feature a reflection. Reflective symmetry always does.

The following beach photo shows the horizon reaching the sky, and the horizontal lines of the waves, and the line between the sand and water.

Seville was one of our stops during the Spain tour. This photo shows both vertical and horizontal symmetry. This is the Plaza de España in Seville built in 1928. It is a landmark example of Regionalism Architecture, mixing elements of the Baroque Revival, Renaissance Revival and Moorish Revival styles of Spanish architecture.

Radial Symmetry

Radial symmetry usually involves shapes that go round and round with the same patterns. This is often associated with ripples, succulents, domes, wheels, etc.

There are many circular layers in the Central Garden at the Getty Museum in Los Angeles.

Reflective Symmetry

As its name suggests, reflective symmetry is all about reflections. We can find reflections in water, surfaces like glass, and buildings to create a mirror image.

This is the Patio de los Arrayanes in Alhambra, Spain. The image of the building is reflected in the pond.

Our favorite get away is the Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens in Los Angeles. This part of the Chinese Garden is reflected in the pond.

LENS-ARTISTS PHOTO CHALLENGE #116: SYMMETRY

Lens-Artists Photo CHALLENGE #114: Negative Space

This week for Lens-Artists Photo Challenge 114, Amy invited us to look at Negative Space in photography.

This is my first time explored negative space in photography. It made me interested to do a quick study about the subject. I only looked at three photography sites and the following is the basic idea.

Negative space is the area surrounding the main subject in a photograph. It allows us to create a dramatic image that attracts viewers to lead their eyes towards the smaller area of positive space.

Negative space should take up more of the image than the positive space. It has the effect of making us notice and inspect the main subject even more. It can be an unoccupied area.

This was three days before the full moon in July 2017
California fires: 3,154,107 Acres Burned, 7,718 Incidents, 20 Fatalities, 6,334 Structures as of Sept. 12, 2020
(Photo from my backyard Sept. 6, 2020 4:00 p.m.)

The contrast in size makes us more curious about the main subject. The smaller the subject in the positive space is, the more noticeable it will become.

A grasshopper the size of a grain of rice sitting on the African Lily in my garden.

The negative space does not have to be an empty space. Things surrounding the subject are peripheral. They almost blend into the background, but they should never be the main subjects.  They cause you to focus even more on the subject.

Rose bud in spring
I captured this yacht during a whale watching trip.
My husband turned around for a photo before he dived in the Great Barrier Reef.

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LENS-ARTISTS PHOTO CHALLENGE 114: NEGATIVE SPACE

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Lens-Artists Weekly Photo Challenge #109: Under the Sun

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge theme from Amy for this week is “Under the Sun.” It’s about photo captures anywhere under the sun. I applied the theme to both indoor and outdoor.

Last year in June I babysat my granddaughter, Autumn, by myself while my daughter, Mercy, and her husband went to Iceland on vacation. Some friends said I was brave. Some said it would tire me, but I could handle it. The advice was, “When she sleeps, you sleep.”

Mercy made a spreadsheet of suggested daily schedule and activities, a list of her friends and phone numbers, the doctor and phone number. My mind was at ease without worrying of what to do to fill the days. They rented a car even though I wasn’t planning on driving.

They took a late afternoon flight to arrive early the next day to make the most of their trip.

“I missed Autumn already. Please send us a lot of pictures.” Before boarding, Mercy sent me a message.

“I will do that.” I returned her message.

When Autumn woke up in the morning, she looked for mommy and daddy. I said, “Mommy will be back. Daddy will be back.” She said, “Daddy went to work. Mommy went to work. Daddy will be back. Mommy will be back.”

We went to the park in the afternoon. There were kids playing with the water feature. I looked at the backpack, there was a change of clothes, no I let Autumn play with other kids.

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The next day before nap time, Autumn had a temperature of 101.2. After she woke up from the nap, the temperature went up to 103. I kept Mercy updated. Deep down, I regretted to let Autumn play with the water for too long on the previous day. I hoped her temperature wouldn’t prolong. Most of all, I didn’t want Mercy to cut their vacation short.

I called Mercy’s friends to pick up a few items from the store for me. They came after work. One of them was a nurse. She checked on Autumn and wrote some instruction for me. The other friend bought what I needed, plus some Popsicle.

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Autumn had a good night sleep. I put her on a soft diet, plus the Popsicle. We didn’t go to the park and just did some quiet activities around the house. By the afternoon, her temperature came back to normal. It was such a tremendous relief for me. My first-time babysitting Autumn full time was okay.  I’m glad Mercy didn’t have to cut their vacation short.

“It seems to be a 24-hour thing.” Mercy messaged me.

“I think so. I’m glad it was a 24-hour thing.” I returned the message.

The remaining days, we went to the park, the library, and walked around the neighborhood.

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Mercy and Will had a fabulous trip. We exchange messages and photos many times a day. They got home in the late evening on their return. Autumn was excited to see Mommy and Daddy when she woke up the next day.

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Iceland by Mercy Rossi

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Iceland by Mercy Rossi

 

Lens-Artists Weekly Photo Challenge #109: Under the Sun

 

Thank you for reading. Wishing you a fabulous day under the sun.

 

 

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #107 – Winter

This week for Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #107, Ann-Christine invited us to look at the difference in the winter when we compare the Northern Hemisphere with the Southern Hemisphere. 

The first time I saw snow was my first year in Portland, Oregon. It was in November. I walked along the hallway from one classroom to the next. My eyes glanced through the floor to ceiling window. A thin layer of white stuff drifting down in the air. I stopped and observed. Each layer above seemed to get thicker and whiter. I realized what happened and called out while jumping up and down, “It’s snowing. It’s snowing!” Some male students walked by and looked at me. Probably the last time they saw and heard of it was from their little kids.

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When I finished school in Portland, I went on to Seattle Pacific University for my second graduate study. The city welcomed me with seven inches of snow. When the snow came to a pause, I put on my knee high, custom made leather boots and my leather gloves to make the first snowman. The leather gloves got hard and stiff after they were dry. My boots were fine, probably they were made differently.

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Is winter warm or cold? I think winter is warm because it’s the time for events such as Christmas concert, Christmas light cruise, Christmas parties with family and friends, and my daughter’s birthday the day after Christmas.

One New Year, we visited my sister’s family in Vancouver B.C. We couldn’t go skiing in Whistler B.C. because the heavy fog came in. We managed going to a nearby mountain for my husband, niece, and nephew to do snowboarding.

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Back home in southern California, our chorale started rehearsing for the Messiah concert first week of November, leading to the two performances before Christmas. This is the highlight of the year for me.

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The adult fellowship group at church has many Christmas parties. One year we had a catering dinner at a deluxe retirement home. The chef built a gingerbread village every year. He made one gingerbread house at a time throughout the year and froze them. By early December, he assembled the village with a train track and an electrical train going around it.

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The last two years, we went on the Christmas Light Cruise and watched the Christmas Boat Parade.

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Two years ago was the first-time snow and Christmas met. My husband and I went to Portland, Oregon to spend the holiday with my daughter’s family. I saw snow before the plane landed and was so excited to have a white Christmas.

Most exciting of all during Christmas time is my daughter’s birthday on the day after Christmas. Here, Mercy opened the birthday card from her daughter Autumn.

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Is winter warm or cold in your part of the world? I would like to hear from you.

 

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #107 – Winter

 

 

Lens Artists Photo Challenge #103 – Surprise

This week, Ann-Christine invited us to show some moments of surprises.

There were several surprises for me when we were at Munich, Germany. The tour group went out for a beer in the evening at the Staatliches Hofbräuhaus in München (Royal Brewery in Munich) owned by the Bavarian state government.

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We arrived before dark. Outside of the Hofbräuhaus (Beer Hall), there was a street pantomime artist. He changed the gestures and directions every few seconds, but after he made the change, he was as still and solid as a bronze statue. The woman was surprised when the “statue” moved.

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The tour guide reserved several tables for our group. Before we ordered a beer, I walked around. There were small lockers where regular customers stored their beer steins. It was a novelty to me.

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The Beer Hall was packed full. Servers were twirling fast in serving the beer. Each server could carry five or six 1-liter beer steins in each hand. Some of them even added one on top of the five or six in one hand before they grabbed another five or six in other hand. It fascinated me and I wanted to take photos of them carrying liters of beer, but they moved so fast that I couldn’t get any single clear photo. So, I borrowed one from Alamy here.

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At first, I thought the steins were plastic, but as we got our beer, I realized they were glass steins. How heavy were the steins before filling with the beer and how much the total weight of the glass beer steins plus liters of beer?

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It was amazing and surprising to me!

 

Lens Artists Photo Challenge #103 – Surprise

Lens-Artists Challenge #100 – The Long and Winding Road

Tina introduced a thoughtful theme this week in reflection of The Long and Winding Road we have traveled the last several months. It happened to be the theme she chose for the Lens-Artists Challenge this week. Please visit her to enjoy her photography and her thoughts.

The challenge this week reminds me of one of the multiple trips we took to Maui. We always rent a Jeep to drive around. My husband loves to go on the Road to Hana. The previously drives were enjoyable. He doesn’t mind driving through the narrow unpaved part of the Road with the cliff on one side. Somehow during this one trip, the drive turned out to be different.

We started out in a sunny afternoon right after lunch, enjoyed the ocean and the cliff scene.

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When the road turned narrower with thick trees, it started pouring rain. The rain was so heavy that the windshield wiper didn’t go fast enough to show a view of the road. The waterfalls looked as though the dam was broken. We knew that we had not yet passed the most twisting and winding point with single lane and no visibility of the oncoming cars. Drivers use honking, and caution driving to get through. Sometimes one car must find a tiny shoulder to stop and let the other car go by. We worried about the safety to go through that part of the road in the rain. I looked at the map and tried to estimate the distance behind us and how much further we would have to go. It looked like we were in the middle. Turning around was as hard as going forward. We knew that the hardest part of driving was coming up; there should be a town after that. My husband decided to keep going. I was sitting tight, praying for safety.

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Fortunately, we passed the “no visibility” point before dark. Then we drove in the dark until we got back to the condo. As soon as we saw the smoke from the sugar cane factory, we knew our condo was very near (the sugar cane factory photo was taken during the day).

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The drive was supposed to be six and a half hours. We didn’t get back to the condo at Kihei until almost nine hours later.

Maui

 

Lens-Artists Challenge #100 – The Long and Winding Road

 

 

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