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. 😉

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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.

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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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My Recent Taiwan Trip (photographing part 2) – 2017 Week 14

Environmentalists changed the word jungle to rain forest, because no one would give them money to save a jungle. Same with swamps and wetlands.
— George Carlin

I love George Carlin… I can’t help it. 😉

On our way to Gaomei wetlands, it rained. “Oh, no,” I said. Kuenhwa told me not to worry. “We have umbrellas,” he said.

We were lucky, the rain stopped when we arrived. However, the temperature had dropped significantly. It was windy and cold. I quickly added another sweater. Just as I was about running to see the wetlands, I heard Wei said, “Look at these houses! I want to take some photos of them.”

What houses? How come I didn’t see any?

I turned around. Sure enough… some interesting looking houses. I felt a little deflated, didn’t expect the first lesson I learned at Gaomei coming from Wei. Oh well… Lesson #1: Even having a pre-defined subject, I should still keep my eyes open, and not be limited by my original goal.

(While I was working on this post in my head, Otto posted an article: “See Beyond the Subject”. Great timing! 😉

After taking plenty of house photos, finally, we walked to the wetlands. Kuenhwa carried two tripods: one for me, and the other for himself. Wei said he wasn’t going to use one. (I know I should carry it myself, but he insisted 😉

The moment I saw the wetlands, I was amazed. Since this was the first time I saw wetlands, I was excited. I couldn’t wait for the tripod, quickly took a couple of photos using a fence to stabilize the camera.

A long narrowed boardwalk stretching far into the wetlands and it was packed with people.

At first we were going to walk to the end of the boardwalk, but it didn’t take long for us to realize that because of the strong wind, taking any photo on the boardwalk was impossible. To be honest, while walking on the boardwalk, I could only think of one thing: don’t fall off. Several hats were in the mud.

Kuenhwa said, “It’s all right. I know a spot that is not as windy. Let’s go there.”

He took us to a walk path, which was not as windy and a little warmer. So, we found a spot in the middle of the walking path, set up our tripods and took several photos.

Lesson #2: scouting is a good idea. If Kuenhwa had never been there before, we would probably go home without taking any decent photo.

After taking 10 to 15 photos, I said, “Thick clouds. I don’t think we will see a beautiful sunset. I am afraid this is it!”
“Let’s wait for a while,” Kuenhwa said.
“Wait for what? Nothing is going to change,” I said.
“You never know,” he said.

Kuenhwa and Wei then took a seat on a bench; they started chatting. They looked comfortable and relaxed as if they were in a nice café drinking the best coffee in the world.

I had no choice but taking more photos, wondering when we could leave.

Suddenly, the sun came out.

So… Lesson #3: don’t give up too early. I mean, never give up 😉

Lesson #4: tripod is very helpful.

When we were done, Kuenhwa commented that it was too bad that we didn’t see the sunset. I told him I was quite satisfied with what I saw. I really meant it… maybe I am more of a black and white person?

I can’t wait for our next photographing trip!

Thanks for visiting my blog.

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My Recent Taiwan Trip (photographing part 1) – 2017 Week 13

National Taiwan Craft Research & Development Institute

“Taking pictures is like tiptoeing into the kitchen late at night and stealing Oreo cookies.”
— Diane Arbus

Finally, it was the photographing day (3/26/2017)! I got up early, kept asking Wei when his nephew, Kuenhwa, would come. Kuenhwa came around noon and said that taking sunset photos at Gaomei Wetland was our major plan. He then took us for a wonderful lunch (one of the best green onion pancakes I had ever tasted!), and after lunch we went to National Taiwan Craft Research & Development Institute to kill some time so we would arrive at Gaomei Wetland right before sunset.

At National Taiwan Craft Research & Development Institute, Kuenhwa asked me which photo mode I used. I told him that I was quite comfortable with A (aperture-priority), S (shutter-priority), and P (program) modes, but most of the time I used P mode. He said, “You should use M (manual) mode.”

“I am not good enough to use M,” I said. Wei had said that I could take a photo with P mode to find out the aperture and shutter speed settings and then use those settings as a base to take next photo in M mode. But that was too much work and too little gain, I think.

“Use meter, it’s not that hard,” Kuenhwa said.

The only meter I knew was the external light meter, and since I had enough trouble with the camera, there was no way for me to consider using an external device, so I simply ignored his words. After Kuenhwa asking me a couple of times if I started using M mode, I finally said “What meter?”

He pointed at the meter on my camera screen. “There. You can start shooting with 0 setting, take a look at the photo, and then adjust the exposure.”

Ha ha… I had never noticed that meter. It only shows up in M mode and I had used M mode probably twice. In case some of you don’t know either, here is a photo of the meter.

After I learned how to use the meter, I liked M mode much better. Here is why: since most of the time, I do know what aperture or shutter speed I like to use (I know one of them, not both), by using M, I have an easier way to set the exposure as the way I want it to be. Hmm… let me give you an example. A lot of time, I know what aperture I want to use because I know the DOF (depth of the field) I like to achieve. In that case, using M mode makes it easier to set the shutter speed because all I have to do is rotating the shutter speed dial until the meter reads close to 0. (If I use A mode, I can’t control the shutter speed.) I hope this makes sense. ;-(

National Taiwan Craft Research & Development Institute has a lot of stone sculptures. The first photo I posted here, my favorite sculpture, was taken in M mode; the second one was Wei’s photo. Because of the location of the sculpture, there was no way to get the reflection from where I stood. I was glad that Wei got it in his photo. (This means I should walk around more. But to my defense, I was busy practicing M mode at that time.)

Of course when I only have limited time to take a shot, I will still use P 😉

Turning around one corner, I saw sun rays shining through tree leaves. I commented on how difficult it was to get the starburst effect. Wei told me all I had to remember was to use a small aperture. He was right!

I practiced this again later at home.

I saw other photographers taking photos at National Taiwan Craft Research & Development Institute, too. Apparently, it is a popular place for photographing.

So, before arriving Gaomei Wetland, I’ve learned (1) how to take photos in M mode (2) how to get starburst effect (3) do not stay at one spot and be satisfied. If Taking pictures is like stealing Oreo cookies, I felt I had stolen enough cookies by then. 😉

To keep this post short, I’ll stop here. 😉 Gaomei Wetland will be next.

Thanks for visiting my blog.

Posted in photo, photo and thoughts, Weekly Little Thought | 22 Comments