Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #70: Monochrome

This is my submission for Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #70: Monochrome.

For challenge #70, Patti invited us to explore the world of monochrome. She said, “For an extra challenge, try adding a bit of color to a black and white image.”


We have taken many photos of this tree. It grows in the middle of a farmland; we couldn’t get closer. I always wonder what kind of tree it is.


One of the houses we had lived in had an oak tree in the backyard. I thought acorns were cute, but my husband didn’t like them, because they messed up the yard.


I found this mushroom at the end of a wooden bridge in a state park. I wanted to take a closer look, but my husband was already 30 feet in front of me, so I clicked and left.


Some of us rather take an action than speaking words. Some couldn’t comprehend actions. 😉


We went to see Tundra Swans on the other day. It was cold, but at least they had each other, I thought to myself.

Thank you, Patti.

Thank you for visiting my blog.

Posted in photo, photo and thoughts, Weekly Photo Challenge | Tagged | 18 Comments

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #68: Layered & #69: Seeing Double

This is my submission for Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #68: Layered and #69: Seeing Double.

Sorry for being late for challenge #68. I was very impressed with Amy’s post about Plitvice lakes, and was anxious to submit mine, but I had never thought of “layers” in photos (don’t know why) and had a hard time to select any photo for the challenge. However, a week later, “layer” started making sense to me. Here are a couple of photos I had taken at North Adams, Massachusetts ;-).

Thank you, Amy.

Challenge #69… Tina said, “This week, let’s double our pleasure and focus on things that come in twos.”

Looking out of the window, I saw my neighbor and his son raking leaves in our front yard. Well, they were raking… 😉

Thank you, Tina.

Thank you for visiting my blog.

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Wedding Photographing, Anyone?

This is a long post… (sorry.)

My nephew, Jeff, got married at the end of Sept. A year ago, shortly after he announced his engagement, my sister said to me, “Kids want to save money; they probably will ask Wei and you to be their wedding photographers.”

Stress free is what we treasure the most in our retirement life. What I understand about wedding photographing is that you only have one chance to get each photo right, and some (most?) brides (mother of bride?) are not easy to please. After hearing what my sister said, I was nervous, scared, and exciting at the same time. Who else, other than my wonderful nephew, would consider giving us such an opportunity?

Still, I highly recommended them to hire a professional photographer, whom they could be angry with if things didn’t go as expected (definitely not his aunt!) 😉 Later, they said they preferred having us to enjoy the wedding; they hired a professional photographer. They asked if we minded to take some get-ready photos and the First Look photos. I felt relieved. Still, I watched tons of wedding photographing videos, just in case.

We were as prepared as we could be. We drove to Vermont; each had two cameras (so we didn’t have to change lenses), four external flashes (one for each camera), two tripods, lighting stands, lighting umbrellas, extra batteries, and extra memory cards. I had compiled a shot list; I even had some images in my head.

Well, all those videos I had watched didn’t help much. ;-( Walking into the makeup room, immediately, I got my first surprise. The make-up room was one bathroom in a beautiful 126 year old home. Like any old house during that period of time, each room is small. A small table was placed between the toilet seat and the sink; a small portable round mirror was on the table. The hairdresser had her curing iron… etc. plugged in by the sink, wires dangling. Other than taking a few shots behind the bride, my only logical choice was to shoot while sitting on the toilet seat.

The subject would be sitting in front of windows in a sunny day; the light condition was challenging, to say the least. One bedroom (small) served as the bride’s changing room. It has two twin size beds in it; with suitcases, and other things piling on the floor, the walking path was less than two feet wide. Two windows locate at each end of the outer wall and a table was placed in front of one of them. If I wanted to take a photo of the bride standing by the window to take an advantage of the natural light like professionals had suggested, I would have to stand on top of one bed. No room for tripod, lighting stands… etc.!

In most of those wedding videos I had watched, I saw a big well-lit room with a large mirror. Using natural light, selecting the spot, utilizing the mirror… they said. Their room, apparently, had plenty of space for everyone to move around! But that wasn’t true for the room I was in. I took a few photos of the bride standing in front of the mirror, which was hanging on the closet door, and found out later that the mirror has something (dust?) all over it, so my photos were covered with a thousand white dots. (Is it photographer’s job to make sure the mirror is clean?)

The above photo was the result after spending hours cleaning up the white spots. I cropped the photo to the minimum so I didn’t have to be the slave of those unwanted dots.

Allowed time was another surprise. In those videos, it seems like each photographer has an assigned time (short or long) that he can pose people in a couple of different ways. In reality, their schedule was very tight and they were behind. I didn’t want to slow things down further, so I tried to stay out of their way while clicking. When I finally got a free moment, I thought I could take photos of the rings, flowers, dress, shoes… etc. since one of my cameras had a macro lens just for this purpose. Well, flowers were not delivered yet; my sister had no idea where rings were. We managed to find the dress and shoes (a photo of shoes was posted on my previous post), and that was it. At the end, I didn’t need my other camera at all.

First Look – am I the only ones who didn’t know what First-Look was? I thought it was for groom and bride to meet their families after they got dressed. 😉 I found out what it was 20 minutes before it was supposed to happen! Wei and I hurriedly scouted the location and came up with some ideas. Good thing that Andrew, the professional photographer, had arrived. Even though I had an idea how to shoot, but Andrew’s idea was even better (Experience!).

There were a lot of surprises, to say the least. But each one was a fun challenge. I was thrilled! I am still excited. Come to think of it, getting involved in wedding photographing ONCE should be on my bucket list; the only reason it wasn’t there was that I didn’t think I could make it happen. Thanks to my nephew and his wife for taking a chance on us.

I want to thank Andrew Cate (the professional photographer they hired, remember?) Some wedding photographers don’t allow other photographer taking photos at the wedding. Andrew not only allowed us to take photos, but also shared his talent and knowledge with us. He is kind, warm and he is a great photographer.

After having this experience, I have a newfound respect for all wedding photographers, particularly a nice one like Andrew. It’s really not an easy job! At the end, I learned that shooting documentary or candid photos fit me better. I want to tell stories.

It was a beautiful, romantic, and moving wedding. Standing there with my nephew waiting for the bride to arrive, thinking of all the joy this boy (young man) has brought to us in all these years, I almost cried. Best wishes to my nephew Jeff and his wife Emily.

Thanks for visiting my blog.

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Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #67: Candid

This is my submission for Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #67: Candid.

Anne-Christine said: “Taking photos of people or animals when they have no idea that you’re doing it is called candid photography.”

I love candid photos. It seems to me that when someone posing for a photo, the excitement (surprise?) part of a photo would no longer be there. 😉


At a farmers market in Vermont… the light was irresistible.



I saw similar emotion on their faces. The man on the left had a sign saying: “Retired teacher (I think it was “teacher”… I don’t remember). Pension not enough for living.” (Something like that.) How can anyone forget him?

A ring pop was the reward of being a ring bearer at the wedding. Whatever worked… but blue? 😉

Thank you, Anne-Christine.

Thank you for visiting my blog.

Posted in photo, photo and thoughts, Weekly Photo Challenge | Tagged | 23 Comments

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #66: Filling the Frame

This is my submission for Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #66: Filling the Frame.

First, a little explanation… I haven’t blogged for a long while because: (1) as time flies by quicker and quicker, working on my bucket list had become more and more urgent 😉 And since I am onto that subject, I may as well do some serious thinking about life in general, which I have done from time to time in the past. (2) One of my nephews got married at the end of Sept; my husband and I were honored to be a part of photographing team. Our first time! That meant a lot of studies, and preparations. I will write about that later.

Patti in her wonderful article said that before she learned “Get close to your subject” and “Think about how to frame the shot.”, her images, sometime, seemed lacking drama and did not convey the artistic “message” she was hoping to convey. I love this wise lady! Now I know why I like cropping photos so much! In one of photographing workshops that I’d attended, I jokingly said, “There is no bad photo, only bad cropping.” I remember that after repeating what I said, my instructor had a mysterious smile on his face.

So, do you frame it right when you take each photo, or, like me, you make sure you get enough material on each photo so you can later crop it to convey the artistic “message”? For me, this is not a choice. I don’t have enough experience (Talent? Practice?) to recognize the right frame within the limited time I have to shoot each photo, so I do what I do. However, I like to add that cropping allows me to see more possibilities!

Sunflower at Northwoods Orchard:

Just a tomato:

Bride’s shoes:

Flower Girl (my grandniece) at rehearsal:

Thank you for visiting my blog.

Posted in photo, photo and thoughts, Weekly Photo Challenge | Tagged | 26 Comments

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #53: Your Choice (Gratitude)

This is my submission for Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #53: Your Choice (Gratitude).

Lens-Artists is one year old, do you believe that? The subject of #53 is “Your Choice”, and gratitude is what in my mind/heart.

Patti, Ann-Christine, Amy and Tina are 4 amazing bloggers. In the past year, they have come up with a subject every week, produced wonderful posts for the challenge, read every participant’s post, and left meaningful comment for each. I don’t know how they did it… probably because they are young – my excuse for everything nowadays.

Because of this challenge, I had been motivated; learned more on photographing and learned more about myself; had a few ah-ha moments… and I enjoyed every moment of it.

There were times that I would like to comment on other’s post, but because I was still busy working on mine so I didn’t (I am sorry). There were times I struggled, but when I finally got it, the joy was so huge. Once in a while, I knew right away what photo I wanted to post – that made me happy 😉 And I think I probably had become wiser. 😉

Thank you, Patti, Ann-Christine, Amy and Tina! This is for you… with gratitude and love.

I counted… due to different reasons, I had missed a little more than 1/3 of the challenges. If you had missed some like I did, here is the list.

1 Patti, 7/7/2018, Wonder
2 Ann-Christine, 7/14/2018, Cooling
3 Amy, 7/21/2018, Time to Relax
4 Tina, 7/28/2018, Soft
5 Patti, 8/4/2018, Blue
6 Ann-Christine, 8/11/2018, Patterns
7 Amy, 8/18/2018, Everyday Moments
8 Tina, 8/25/2018, Colorful
9 Patti, 9/1/2018, Action
10 Ann-Christine, 9/8/2018, Fences
11 Amy, 9/15/2018, Small is Beautiful
12 Tina, 9/22/2018, Path
13 Patti, 9/29/2018, Look Up
14 Ann-Christine, 10/6/2018, Windows+
15 Amy, 10/13/2018, Changing and/or Changeable
16 Tina, 10/20/2018, Big Can Be Beautiful
17 Patti, 10/27/2018, Just For Fun
18 Ann-Christine, 11/3/2018, Blending In or Standing Out
19 Amy, 11/10/2018, Magical Light
20 Tina, 11/17/2018, Open Sesame: Doors and Doorways
21 Patti, 11/24/2018, Splash
22 Ann-Christine, 12/1/2018, Happiness is
23 Amy, 12/8/2018, Celebrations
24 Tina, 12/15/2018, Seasonal
25 Patti, 12/22/2018, Reflections
26 Ann-Christine, 12/29/2018, Photographic Review
27 Amy, 1/5/2019, My Travels
28 Tina, 1/12/2019, Curves
29 Patti, 1/19/2019, Cityscapes
30 Ann-Christine, 1/26/2019, Unexpected
31 Amy, 2/2/2019, Landscapes
32 Tina, 2/9/2019, Shadows
33 Patti, 2/16/2019, Nature
34 Ann-Christine, 2/23/2019, Close-Up
35 Amy, 3/2/2019, Architecture
36 Tina, 3/9/2019, Around the Neighborhood
37 Patti, 3/16/2019, History
38 Ann-Christine, 3/23/2019, Weathered or Worn
39 Amy, 3/30/2019, Hello April
40 Tina, 4/6/2019, Something Different
41 Patti, 4/13/2019, Delicious
42 Ann-Christine, 4/20/2019, Creativity
43 Amy, 4/27/2019, Less is More
44 Tina, 5/4/2019, Harmony
45 Patti, 5/11/2019, Street Art
46 Ann-Christine, 5/18/2019, Delicate
47 Amy, 5/25/2019, Five Elements
48 Tina, 6/1/2019, Wild
49 Patti, 6/8/2019, Favorite Things
50 Ann-Christine, 6/15/2019, Trees
51 Amy, 6/22/2019, Unique
52 Tina, 6/29/2019, Serenity

I didn’t double check all links. I figure I can change it whenever I find something wrong. Also, I took a quick glance of number of pingbacks. Among about 20 that I looked, 76 was the biggest number. (Imagine… whoever that blogger is had to read and comment at least 76 submissions!)

Thank you, Patti, Ann-Christine, Amy and Tina!

Thank you for visiting my blog.

Posted in Weekly Photo Challenge | Tagged | 31 Comments

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #52: Serenity

This is my submission for Tina’s Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #52: Serenity.

“Serenity” is not a rare word. I knew what it meant, more or less. The first photo came to my mind was a mirror-like ocean when I was at Chesapeake Bay last year.

And, I remember the sunset.

That was all I knew about the serenity. Was that it? I wondered.

I did a quick glance at all photos that were submitted to this challenge. Most of them (97%?) are natural images that don’t have people in them. Hmm… is it possible to find serenity when we are in a crowd?

Watching the 4th of July parade, I stared at people across the street from me…feeling serenity, anyone?

I saw idleness. Serenity? Maybe not. As usual, I googled. I found an article: “Getting to Serenity: 10 Daily Habits for Inner Peace”. The 10 Daily Habits, according to this author, are: Give Thanks Continually; As Soon As Your Mind Wanders Off in The Wrong Direction, Get It Back on Course; Practice Acceptance; Be Kind To Others; Be Careful What You Drink; Get Enough Sleep; Watch and Read the Right Kind of Books, Movies and Television; Keep a Clean, Uncluttered Home; Spend Some Parts of the Day without Noise; Spend Time with the Right Kind of People.

So, I don’t have to sit by a mirror-like ocean every day? But I really felt serenity when I was there at that that moment!

Continue reading articles returned by Google. I saw the following quote.

The only Zen you find on the tops of mountains is the Zen you bring up there.
~Robert Pirsig

I got it. I brought the Zen to the ocean; then, the ocean made it alive.

Thanks to Tina for this meaningful challenge.

Thanks for visiting my blog.

Posted in photo, photo and thoughts, Weekly Photo Challenge | Tagged | 18 Comments