Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #33: Nature

This is my submission for Patti’s Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #33: Nature.

In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.
–John Muir

Continue my Amaryllis story… Amaryllis amazes me! I may make a fool of myself here, but before you laugh too loud, please remember this is my very first Amaryllis plant. 😉

First, I googled and read about Amaryllis. From eHow…

Each stem may hold a single bloom or a cluster of two or three (one other article says 3 or 4) blooms which project outward. They are large and trumpet-shaped, each made of six radiating and overlapping petals.

Mine has 4 blooms — I was very happy. Six petals — yes! But I didn’t see them project outward (see above photo). If they stay the way they were, how could 4 large flowers share such a small space?

Not to worry… a few hours later (to my surprise) all 4 flowers were no longer pointing upward – they projected outward! It was a 90-degree turn!

One flower bud, however, was squeezed between a leaf and a stem. I tried to guide the leaf away without breaking it, but it wouldn’t budge.

To my surprise (again), that particular one grew and grew.

Seeing two stems grow from the center of the bulb, I had another concern: if both stems grew to the same height, we (it?) would still have the space issue, wouldn’t it?

Apparently, Amaryllis (Nature) knows what it is doing. One stem is taller!

I see an artist, a computer programmer, an architect… in it. I am amazed. Finally…

Colors are the smiles of nature. –Leigh Hunt

Thanks, Patti.

Thank you for visiting my blog.

Posted in photo, photo and thoughts, Weekly Photo Challenge | Tagged | 16 Comments


My neighbor gave me an Amaryllis plant (bulb) for Christmas. I remember having mixed feelings. I had killed a Christmas cactus (which I loved very much) many years ago because I had watered more than I should. I had killed another two plants: Jasmine and Osmanthus (which I loved dearly), because I didn’t water enough (due to travel). After those experiences, I quit. So… when I saw the gift, I wasn’t sure I wanted it.

To my surprise, Amaryllis grows well… so far. Every morning I jumped out of the bed, hurried to see how much it had grown overnight. It sure grows fast.

I have forgotten the joy of seeing things grow. A plant, a person… Yes, it is a joy to see a person, maybe yourself, grow, too.

Even though I had mentioned about Buddhism, LamRim class… in my blog before, I have tried to keep spiritual things to the minimum, because I don’t know enough to have confidence to discuss it with others. But I really want to share this with you: never give up. Had my neighbor not given me the plant, I would miss all the joy of watching Amaryllis plant grow. That would be a big loss, wouldn’t it?

Who knows what we would miss if we have given up on a person or on ourselves?

(I didn’t plan on writing this; for some reason, I feel I have to… maybe for Amaryllis?)

Thanks for visiting my blog.

Posted in photo, photo and thoughts, random thoughts | Tagged | 10 Comments

Brenda’s A Photo Study: High-Angle Photography

Continue on Brenda’s A Photo Study. Today I am working on High-Angle Photography.

First, I want to let you know that I am going to take a 3-4 week break from blogging. If this week’s Lens-Artists challenge is not too difficult, I may be able to participate before the break. 😉 Anyway, happy photographing, or writing, my friends.

Brenda wrote: “High-angle photography is created when the photographer is situated above her subject(s)–upper floors of a buildings, at the top of stairs, up on a ladder, holding the camera above the head–and the camera is focused downwards. It is often used for the group shot as it is the best way to include everyone in an image and brings about a dynamic element not found in an eye-level image.”

I guess “a dynamic element “ is the key thing. To be honest, most of the times, I shoot high-angle because I was up high. I re-read Brenda’s post a week or two ago, and picked a few photos, but I wasn’t satisfied. It took me a while to realize that the dynamic element I was looking for was missing from a couple of photos that I previously selected. 😉

(Alaska Cruise)

(Baltic Cruise)

(SF Chinatown)

(Duluth, Minnesota)

(Roseville Shopping Mall, Minnesota)

I have read that every time you press the shutter release button, you should have a purpose in your mind. At the time I read it, I wasn’t 100% sure what he meant. Can “having fun” count as a purpose? How about “I wonder how this looks”?

I think my shooting purpose will be different from now on (after this study). I think 😉

Thanks, Brenda.

Thank you for visiting my blog. And Happy Valentine’s Day!

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Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #32: Shadows

This is my submission for Tina’s Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #32: Shadows.

Just the other day, walking by our living room, I saw shadows of two tripods on the wall. I asked Wei to take a picture of my shadow with those tripod shadows. Just for fun, that was. When I saw this week’s challenge, I had a big smile on my face 😉

I couldn’t stop! Wine glasses, vase, dried flowers… I walked around with a flashlight in hand. Shadows were everywhere 😉

In the next photo, other than the shadow, I added an image of trees to create some lines in the shadow and changed the color of the background.

I enjoy working on this challenge. Thanks, Tina.

Thank you for visiting my blog.

Posted in photo, Weekly Photo Challenge | Tagged | 16 Comments

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #31: Landscapes

This is my submission for Amy’s Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #31: Landscapes.

It was fun to see different places through Amy and other’s photos. I also appreciate the quote or story that goes with each photo. Please visit Amy’s blog to find out more.

Here are some photos I took on our Alaska trip. It was wet and cold when we were at Denali National Park, so I don’t have any good photos there. Weather was nice when we were on the cruise ship. The last two photos were taken from the ship.

Last night I asked Wei how much he had enjoyed our Alaska trip. He said, “Not much!”

“Rained too many days,” I said. He nodded.

But we did get a few nice shots, so I’m not going to complain.

Thank you for visiting my blog.

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

Yes, I Miss Firecrackers

I can’t say this is my submission for Tales of Terror: Times Past, but I definitely was motivated by it.

(Thanks to rxfrazier… now I know this is a Patrick Amiot piece! Cool!)

Irene asks, “Can you remember any tales of fear that your parents used to stop you going out of bounds?”

My mom was one of those people who worried a lot. I don’t remember any tales of fear she had told us, but I remember the suffering she had endured when she suspected something had gone wrong. We, her kids, learned from a very young age to play safely; we didn’t want Mom to worry. But kids are kids. We also learned “don’t tell”.

Now, I would like to share a firecracker story with you.

Baby Boomer – Tainan, Taiwan

Firecrackers were fascinating to me. Every Chinese New Year, I would patiently wait for my brother lighting up firecrackers, so we could start celebrating the New Year (Dad thought it was a scaring thing for girls to do). The sound, the smell… I loved it all.

One year, while my parents were busy, my neighbor’s boy and I were in the backyard throwing firecrackers at each other. He was in their backyard and I was in ours. A brick wall stood between us, so we couldn’t see where the other person really was. It was fun; we shouted, laughed, and had a great time.

At one specific moment, while I was busy getting ready to light up next firecracker in my hand, I felt something was on my chin. It turned out to be ash. “Weird, when did it get on my face?” I thought. A few seconds later, a firecracker exploded near my feet and that was when I realized a firecracker had just flown by my face.

To be honest, even after that realization, the only thing in my mind was: “Oh no, he got me!” It was not until many years later that I realized how lucky I was on that day. If the fuse was a little shorter, the firecracker would explode right by my face. Other than having a bloody face, I, most likely, would become blind (I had my eyes opened looking at the firecracker in my own hand). If that happened, my parents would be heartbroken and his parents would feel terrible; the relationship between two families would have changed forever; my friend would carry guilt for the rest of his life and I would have a totally different life…

In recent years, many cities (countries) had banned firecrackers. I guess it is a good thing, even though I, somewhat, miss the smell, the sound, and the excitement…

Feb. 5th is Chinese New Year. Happy Chinese New Year, my friends. It’s year of the pig, if you wonder.

Thanks for visiting my blog

Posted in Memoir | 17 Comments


Continue on Brenda’s A Photo Study. Today I am working on CONTEMPLATIVE PHOTOGRAPHY VIII – TEXTURE.

Texture is one of those things that I thought I knew what it was, and never bothered to find out more. I started preparing this post 4 days ago, read a few articles, and when I was ready to post, somehow, I had an uneasy feeling on what I wrote. Went back to the drawing board, read a few more articles, here I am, trying to write a totally different post. From this experience, I’ve learned that every article has its targeted readers and I need to be smart enough to know which one is written for me.

Anyway, what I’ve learned about texture…
1. Texture has a lot to do with how light hits on the surface. Highlights and shadows are key elements to present textures. (Better photograph from an angle.)
2. Contrast, curves and patterns help composing a texture image.
3. A pure texture shot is a detail shot. For example, the bark of a tree.
4. Generally, a texture should be evenly focused throughout.
5. Textures can be applied to existing photos to create different effects.

Pure Texture

Add Texture to an Existing Photo

Original photo:

Add the fan (the 2nd photo) to this photo:

You can hardly tell the difference, I know. But I do like it better with the texture. So I tried again…

I was having a lot of fun so I kept playing. It didn’t take me long to realize that randomly picking up a texture photo added to any existing photo didn’t work well 😉 Some photos just didn’t go well together. (Reminds me of arranged marriage… Ha.)

Thank you for visiting my blog.

Posted in photo, photo and thoughts | Tagged | 16 Comments