Category Archives: Travel

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 #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 #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 #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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