XDrive Photo Lesson 2

This is my submission for XDrive Photo Lesson 2.

A week ago, Amy (The World is a Book…) posted a couple of photos for XDrive Photo Lesson 2 (Amy). I have followed Amy’s blog for a while and her blog is one of several that I hate to miss. Not too surprisingly, I decided to follow her step once again 😉

Due to the hailstorm we had a month or two ago, every house in the neighborhood is getting a new roof, including us. At first, I thought it would be a good idea to stay home to watch, and maybe take some photos. The noise was loud and I started getting a headache, so we decided to visit a Japanese garden an hour away instead.

It was a hot day. No breeze. When we arrived at the garden, we were told that someone had rented the place for shooting wedding photos. We ended up waiting in a small room near the entrance for 40 minutes. Did I say it was hot and no breeze… and it is a very small room?

So, I sat there thinking about Raj’s XDrive Photo Lesson 2. Five feet away, there was a pair of shining shoes. Maybe I could take a photo or two to kill time, I thought to myself.

Raj says (in XDrive Photo Lesson 2): “I strongly believe that, we should always ask one important question to ourselves before we click that shutter… ‘Why should I click this picture?’”

As a person who likes to follow instructions, I asked myself why I should take this photo. I had a feeling that having-nothing-better-to-do is not a desired answer. Let me see… it was not usual to see a pair of fancy shoes left on a wall. Why does a woman (I guessed they belonged to the bride) leave her shoes here? How far these shoes will take her? Hmm… I do want a photo of the shoes.

Raj says: “Before you click always imagine a finished photograph what you are going to create. Think about it, ask a question, is this going to be an unique photo I am going to be taking?”

Is the above photo a unique photo? How do we measure the uniqueness? I was always be able to see a finished photo before clicking the shutter (unless I was taking street photos), wan’t I?

I had to wait 20 more minutes. I stared at the shoes… what if I take a photo from this angle? What kind of background will tell a better story? Are they really belong to the bride?

In a way, I like to believe that we all see the picture before taking a photo. Being mindful or not, that is a different story. I took time to think about the photos before taking photo #2 and #3. Having gone through that thinking process doesn’t guarantee that I would produce a better result, but I certainly felt more satisfied. I think I would continue working on it.

Raj says, “A good picture always speaks out its story…” I couldn’t agree more. 😉

Thanks, Amy and Raj. It’s a good lesson. I’ve learned a lot, and I am so happy.

Thanks for visiting my blog.

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Playing with light – 2017 Week 27

A single rose can be my garden… a single friend, my world.
— Leo Buscaglia

The joy of doing-nothing has not been well studied (I think), but one can certainly addict to it. At first, I was going to take easy for a couple of days. Then I added another two days, then two weeks…

I took the above photo last night by placing a strong flash light under the rose. I didn’t use any special filter, just playing with the light, trying to do something I hadn’t done before.

Do I love the photo? I am not 100% sure. It’s different. I definitely need to experience more. Here are several others that I took.

I want to thank Cee for her daily flower post, and I want to thank Reinhold Staden for his “Into White”, which got me out of that do-nothing mood. 😉

On second thought, not taking many photos, maybe, doesn’t mean do-nothing. I have watched several photographing videos and started having some interest in taking portraits. I used to think that taking portrait is something like “she or he poses and I shoot”. Now I understand it’s more than that 😉 I understand the importance of bringing out the subject’s emotion and her/his unique characteristic. Not being able to find a free model, I took several photos of myself using a remote control. Sadly, I didn’t get any good one to show you 😉 But, I did learn a little about lighting through the process.

I am also reading two books: The Passionate Photographer, and Within the Frame – thanks to Otto for his suggestion. Not sure if I had said it before… I had been searching for a meaningful project to work on. A meaningful project, for me, means: having some educational value, and benefiting some people. I have had a couple of ideas, but none is solid at this moment. So, for now, I would take easy and enjoy reading books and watching videos ;-).

Thanks for visiting my blog.

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Some Gave All – 2017 Week 22

Since it is not granted to us to live long, let us transmit to posterity some memorial that we have at least lived.
— E. Joseph Cossman

We had attended our local Memorial Day Celebration at Soldiers Field a couple of times before. Now that I’ve gotten to know myself better as a photographer, I was looking forward to this year’s celebration.

I googled and found the celebration was on May 27. How could it be? Memorial Day is May 29! I checked again and again. Sure enough, it said May 27. Maybe we decided to celebrate a couple of days earlier because of the weather forecast? (This is Minnesota after all!) It must be!

So, Wei and I packed our cameras and drove to Soldiers Field. No one was there!

Have you ever had the feeling that you might not know who you really were? Am I alive and living in this world? I quietly took out the paper I’d printed. It said May 27, but it said 2013. ;-(

I had put a lot of trust (expectation?) in Google that it would display the most current information first and, apparently, I was wrong. And how stupid I was that, again and again, I stopped reading right after I saw the date, before seeing the year?

My conclusion: blind trust is dangerous.

However, it turned out to be a good photographing day. Since only a few people were there, I had plenty of time visualizing each picture before pressing the shutter release button.

Then, suddenly, I felt like to cry. I don’t know anyone whose name was on the wall, but we, somehow, were able to connect.

I remembered David, one fallen soldier’s father, told me that holidays (Thanksgiving, Christmas…) were difficult. Every morning during holidays, his son usually was the first one walking into the kitchen, asking “Is coffee ready, Dad?”

Some gave all. Don’t let the memory of them drift away.

Thanks for visiting my blog.

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Stories Behind 3 Photos – 2017 Week 21

Develop a passion for learning. If you do, you will never cease to grow.
— Anthony J. D’Angelo

I do have a passion for learning, but, I have found out that, having passion for learning doesn’t make learning easier. 😉

Photo #1, the photo above — I wanted to take a photo and she happened to be there.

That day I was sitting on a tour bus in Vienna. I thought to myself, “I haven’t taken any street photo in this trip yet. I should at least take one.” So, while the bus was making a left turn, I lifted my camera and shot this photo.

The photo has a lot of noise in it – it was a cloudy day. Usually I would trash this kind of photos, but since I really like this woman’s face expression and how she walked (and how the other people were blurred), I decided to keep it.

Since I was sitting on a moving bus, the panning camera technique was accidentally used.

Photo #2 – it took me some effort to find her, and I am glad I did.

There were a lot of people shopping at Budspest Central Market Hall that day. If I just wanted a picture, any picture, I could get it done within seconds, but, somehow, I wasn’t in a mood of taking any picture. I wanted a photo of a special person, and I had no idea how this special person would look like.

How about that butcher? No, not quite. The sausage man? I don’t think so.

I walked around with a camera in my hand, wondering since when taking a street photo had become so difficult. It used to be as long as I could build up the courage and took a photo of a person, I would be happy. And now after walking for an hour, I was still looking for the subject.

Finally, I spotted her 10 minutes before we were supposed to leave. In my mind, I gave her a big hug and thanked her.

Photo #3 – it was all about the light.

One evening, driving on a country road looking for a photo opportunity, my husband and I saw a big old building. The soft evening light coated the building with a thin layer of gold and it looked beautiful.

“The light is bad,” my husband said.

Huh? I didn’t get it, but decided not to ask.

When we reached to the side of the building, he said, “Now it looks much better. You can see shadows and it looks more 3 dimensional.”

* * *
My neighbor invited us to his uncle’s farm for their Mother’s Day picnic. His uncle was very nice. He showed us their barn and all his tractors. Of course, we were busy taking photos. Actually, my husband was busy taking photos; I took some.

When we were done, my husband was the first one walking out of the barn, Uncle Lyle was following my husband, and I was behind Uncle Lyle. Right before Uncle Lyle stepping out, I saw the “good” light.

“Wait! Would you please stay here for one more minute?”

And I got the photo I wanted. 😉

Thanks for visiting my blog.

Posted in photo and thoughts, Weekly Little Thought | 44 Comments

Cee’s Odd Ball Photo Challenge: April 16, 2017

My entry for Cee’s Odd Ball Photo Challenge: April 16, 2017.

Need any help to clean your refrigerator?

I recommend my great nephew. As you can see from the photo, he takes his job seriously. And he doesn’t charge much. 😉

Thanks for visiting my blog.

Posted in Cee’s Odd Ball Photo Challenge, photo | 27 Comments

My Recent Taiwan Trip (Chimei Museum in Tainan, Taiwan) – 2017 Week 16

This is a scheduled post. I will reply comments a week later.

From Wikipedia…
The Chimei Museum (Chinese: 奇美博物館; pinyin: Qíměi Bówùguǎn) is a private museum established in 1992 by the Chi Mei Corporation in Rende District, Tainan, Taiwan. The museum’s collection is divided into five categories: Western Art (including painting, sculpture, decorative arts and period furniture); Musical instruments; Natural history; Arms and armor; Antiquities and artifacts. The museum is known for having one of the largest collections of violins in the world, and also for its significant collections of ancient weapons and Western paintings and sculptures.[2] Forbes magazine, in its February 1996 article on private collectors in Asia, called Chimei Museum “one of the world’s most surprising art collections.”[3]The museum moved to its current venue on Wenhua Road in 2014.

My nephew Lin and his wife took me to see Chimei museum one day when I was in Tainan.

“You won’t be able to see the inside of the museum, because it closes around 5:30, but the outside is still worth taking pictures,” he said.

The plan was: first went to a beach to see sunset, then Chimei museum then eat.

I was hoping we would arrive at Chimei during the blue hour, but the traffic wasn’t good so when we arrived, it was already dark.

The fountain in front was beautiful. There were already several photographers there with their big cameras on top of their tripods. I decided to shoot from the opposite side.

The water would be turned on from time to time. I thought it would be a better photo when the water was on. But I couldn’t see any of those sculptures when water was spraying around.

No clouds. Actually, I kind of like that blackness.

Thanks for visiting my blog.

Posted in photo and thoughts, Weekly Little Thought | 25 Comments

A Little Thought (Keep Practicing) – 2017 Week 15

Eagle at the Oxbow Park

Knowledge is of no value unless you put it into practice.
— Anton Chekhow

When I went golfing with Wei, he usually took 4 or 5 practice swings before each shot, and I took 0. My reasons were: (1) he had used up more than his allowed-practice-time plus mine; I had to speed up. (2) I need save energy (3) it was frustrating that, quite often, my practice swing turned out to be much better than the real one.

Of course, photographing is different (I think ;-). I have heard several photographers say “practice, practice, practice” as if they knew my bad habit of not practicing. Now that the weather was getting warmer, I decided to go out practicing shooting because I wanted to be able to say, “I did practice.” 😉

All photos posted today are the results from our recent practice run at Silver Lake and Oxbow Park.

I can fly. I can fly.

A kiss a day…

At Silver Lake, we met a photographer T. While introducing myself, I said, “I am a beginning photographer.”

Wei said, “She always says she is a beginner!”

Later, at home, Wei said to me: “I don’t like hearing you say you are a beginner. You are NOT.”

Hmm… had my privilege of being a beginner been expired? Since when? Where is the line between a beginner and not-a-beginner?

“What’s the qualification for being a beginner?’ I carefully asked.

Wei didn’t respond, so I continued. “I consider myself a beginner because there are so many photographing things that I don’t know.”

“No one knows everything, not even a professional photographer,” Wei said.

“I would feel more comfortable saying I am not a beginner if every time I shoot, I am confident that at least 50% of my photos would turn out good.”

“No one has that kind of confidence,” he said, sighed, and then continued, “You always look down on yourself and I hate that.”

Wait a second, if I look down on myself, can I be this happy? And I like some of my photos!

But he must have a reason for saying what he said (maybe)… So, I did some serious thinking that night. I think I like being a beginner because I’m comfortable of being one. Being a beginner makes me feel freer. It’s less stress, and no responsibility. I want to keep learning and that’s the only important thing for me at this moment.

Hmm… should I start calling myself an advanced beginner to make both Wei and I happy? 😉

(Pictures of eagle and owl were taken at Oxbow Park Zoo. They were inside of a wired space. I learned that if they are far away from the wire, it is possible to make the wire disappear from the photo. I didn’t do any post-processing work to remove the wire. In fact you still can see a light trace of the wire here and there.)

(This last photo… the eagle was too close to the wire so the wire was more obvious. I kind of like seeing the wires in this photo though. I thought it goes well with this eagle’s sad and angry and hopeless expression. Don’t you think so?)

Thanks for visiting my blog.

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