Three Photographing Things I Learned Recently — 2017 Week 9

I will have two scheduled posts and this is the first one. A short break is always good. 😉

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You cannot put the same shoe on every foot. – Publilius Syrus

Here are some photos I took at the shoe repair shop.

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I recently watched a good video on back button focusing, and read an article on how to properly hold a camera (I know. I know…), and another on Capturing the Atmosphere in Night Photos.

Back button focus allows us to use a button on the back of camera to focus instead of using the shutter button. In this case, the shutter button doesn’t control the focus activation at all. I have heard about this a year ago, but I’d never bothered to figure it out how. Last week, I watched a YouTube video by CreativeLive, and tried it out. I love it! (Do you use back button focusing?)

Photography Life recently published an article titled How to Properly Hold a Camera. When I saw it in my inbox, my first reaction was deleting it. But it included a video and I like watching videos. I was surprised when one of the presenters suggested “Place your feet perpendicular to your subject”. Does everyone know this except me? Of course I had to try it. And it worked!

Taking night photos is not my favorite thing to do. My failure rate is 95%, and even for those I considered okay, I mean that 5%, I wasn’t thrilled about them. Otto recently posted an article titled Capturing the Atmosphere in Night Photos. In that article, Otto offered this tip: “The trick to get a more dynamic night sky, is not shooting during night time, but rather just before the night sets in.” Again, I tried. When I finally understood what “just before the night sets in” means, (Thanks, Otto ;-), I got my first decent night photo. Yeah!

I am excited for learning these 3 things; As usual, I am anxious to share them with you. Just like the same shoe does not fit every foot, the same photographing tip would not yield the same result for everyone. But I still like to share them with you. 😉

Thanks for visiting my blog.

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A Little Thought – 2017 Week 8

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Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened. – Dr. Seuss

Why do we cry?
A why-do-we-cry article at Live-Science.com says:

“Babies cry to signal to their mothers [that] something’s up,” Silva told Live Science in an email. “It’s a pure attention call.”

As people grow older, they begin to use their tears to express emotion, such as happiness or sadness. These tears may promote compassion and empathy in others, Silva said.

(André Silva is a doctoral student of psychology at the University of Minho in Portugal.)

Two days ago, I finally started digitizing my daughter’s baby photos, which had been on my to-do list for seemingly forever. This wasn’t an easy task. First, I lined up photo albums by year (Why did we take so many photos?) Then I took each photo out, wiped dusts off, and scanned it (Tried to scan one way first, and changed to another). Of course after scanning it, I edited it.

Tedious work like this, usually, is a no-brainer. It’s like one person assembly line. You do one thing after the other without thinking, and soon, before you know, the work will be done, supposedly.

I honestly thought so, until all those fond memories rushing toward me like waves in a stormy sea. Fifteen minutes later, I was helplessly sitting on the floor, tears flowing down my cheek.

I got confused. I wasn’t happy. I wasn’t sad. And I was definitely grateful for all the things that had happened. So… why was I crying?

Wei happened to walk by. He took a look at me, and took a look at the pile of photo albums.

“I understand,” he said. “It’s one of those mothering things.”

Thanks for visiting my blog.

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A Little Thought – 2017 Week 7

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Thank you, God, for this good life and forgive us if we do not love it enough.
— Garrison Keillor

This morning, I took one of my sister’s jackets to a shoe repair shop to replace a couple of snap buttons. The old man informed me that the new buttons might look differently from the old. I, then, suggested replacing all. He said, “I don’t think you have to, since the missing ones are the top and the bottom ones. No one will notice it.”

I looked down at my shoes. Each had a discolored spot in the front. I asked him if there was anything I could do with those spots. He told me to take the shoes off and a couple minutes later, he brought them back. The shoes looked like new. “Now you can go dancing,” he said.

I asked him how much I owed him. He waved his hand.

Suddenly, I became aware of how happy I was. Meeting a kind person always has that effect on me. I then asked him if I could go in and take a look of his shop. He nodded.

The room is very small. It has a lot of interesting things that I have no idea what they are. “Do you mind I take some pictures?” I said.

“Nope.”

I was trying to get my phone, but at the last minute I stopped. “If it’s ok with you, I will take pictures when I pick up the jacket. I need my big camera,” I said.

“Okay. Now go dancing.”

Slowly, I danced out of the store. Before I closed the door, I heard the old man laughing.

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We continue changing in our life, physically and spiritually. Last year, I was introduced to a book “A Guide to Cultivating Mindfulness in Everyday Life”. I’ll be honest, I didn’t finish reading it and I don’t have a strong desire to read more at this moment. But “be mindful in everyday life” has become one of the most important lessons I have learned. My life is definitely richer since I’ve become more mindful in everyday life.

It isn’t easy to be mindful. Most of us have been trained (maybe by ourselves) to multitask. When driving from home to work, our ears listen to the music; our eyes pay attention to the traffic; our mind tries to solve a problem… Each of our senses is assigned to a different task, and, quite often, one sense has no idea what other senses are experiencing.

Since I read the book (even though I didn’t finish reading it), I often pause and let each sense report to us (all senses) what it is experiencing, so we all know what is going on 😉 For example, at this moment, my eyes are enjoying looking at a bird-feeder being polished by the morning sunshine, while I smell and taste a cup of Blue Bottle coffee. And I am thinking… I wish you were here.

I may not love my life enough, but I do love it more and more. Come to think of it… it all started the day after I retired 😉

Thanks for visiting my blog.

Posted in photo and thoughts, random thoughts, Weekly Little Thought, Writing | 24 Comments

A Little Thought – 2017 Week 6

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There are two great days in a person’s life – the day we are born and the day we discover why. —- William Barclay

I took this photo with my iPhone 6 when we flew to San Francisco last Thanksgiving. It was one of those moments that I felt, maybe, God was going to say something to me. 😉

I don’t know about other people… it seemed that I had been bothered by why-I-am-here since I was born. It was not one of those sad or depressed kinds of bothering; it was, from time to time, feeling frustrated that I-was-not-at-where-I-should-be kind of bothering. And that frustration had puzzled me for many years.

When I was 30 something, one day, a family friend came to visit us. After dinner, while chatting, he suddenly said, “I remember when your mom was pregnant with you… your family was poor; your mom didn’t want another kid.”

I don’t know how I was supposed to feel, but I knew exactly how I felt. I was angry that my birth had created a big concern for this wonderful woman. I had a feeling that I knew the situation when I was still in her womb; I had a feeling that I didn’t want to be born because I love her so much that I didn’t want to trouble her.

I didn’t say a thing to my mom, but she found out anyway. She wasn’t happy. She told me it was not true.

It doesn’t matter if that was true or not. I love my mom a lot more after that day. In spite of having financial difficulty, she gave birth to me; she loved every one of her kids equally; she worked hard, and never asked anything in return.

Years later, when my brother Shao turned 50, he said to me, “I don’t know the purpose of my life.”

Shao was 4 years older than me. He, too, was born during that family struggling time.

I told him I didn’t know the purpose of my life either. I suggested that since we were here, we might as well enjoy it.

I also told him that it was possible that we were lab mice for a researcher high up there. The researcher himself knew exactly what each mouse was here for, but the mouse didn’t have a clue.

Many years has passed since my conversation with Shao. I don’t know when or how, I started seeing a lot of beautiful things around me: snow glimpsing under sun, trees coming alive after winter, a baby crawling toward his mother… I began wanting to see more and more, and I loved each day more than the day before.

Now, I wonder… does it really matter why I am here?

There are two great days in my life – the day I was born and the day I no longer cared why.

Thanks for visiting my blog.

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A Little Thought – 2017 Week 5

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Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year.
— Ralph Waldo Emerson

Today is Chinese New Year… the year of the rooster. Happy New Year to you all!

I have written about Chinese New Year before, so I think I would share one New Year story this time.

Giving lucky money in red envelopes to kids, a way to send good wishes and luck, is one of the New Year customs that we still keep.

Many years ago when my daughter was 6 or 7, we went to my brother’s house to celebrate New Year with them. Our financial situation had been improved somewhat; we gave each kids, my brother’s 3 kids and our daughter, a red envelope with $5 in it.

The night went on as normal: kids were playing, and adults were chatting. Suddenly, my daughter came and asked, “Mom, can I give my $5 to Anthony?”

“Why?” I asked.

“He lost his red envelope, and he is crying,” she said.

“But this is your lucky money,” I said.

I am not a selfish person. It’s not difficult for me to give someone something that I owe and cherish. But… giving away my daughter’s lucky money? I hesitated.

My daughter wrapped her little arm around me and said, “Mom, it’s ok. He needs it.”

She melted my heart…

Happy New Year, I wish you good health and lasting prosperity.

Thanks for visiting my blog.

Posted in photo and thoughts, Weekly Little Thought | 35 Comments

A Little Thought – 2017 Week 4

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Nothing strengthens authority so much as silence.
— Leonardo da Vinci.

Many of us walked to this spot to take pictures. When we got there, for a couple of seconds, we forgot what we were supposed to do. That silence was unforgettable.

(I wish I were taller. I asked my husband to lift me so I could take a better photo. I guess I was heavier than I thought 😉

We were taught to obey authority figures like our teachers. When we saw our teachers in hallways, we would respectfully bow to them.

When I was senior in high school, one day after receiving the exam paper back from my Chinese teacher, I noticed that she had deducted several points from one of my answers.

We were asked to use the modern Chinese language (白話文) to rewrite a classical-Chinese paragraph (文言文). I asked my teacher what I did wrong. She said she didn’t think I had translated the paragraph correctly.

When I told one of my classmates what had happened. She said she, too, had translated the paragraph like I did and lost several points.

“But, that was how she taught us,” my classmate said. She then showed me the class note she had taken. Sure enough, word by word, we translated the paragraph like we were taught.

I showed my teacher my classmate’s note. My teacher said, “That wasn’t what I said.”

I knew my classmate and I were right that our teacher did teach us to translate the paragraph as we did. At the same time, I knew very well that we couldn’t win the battle (wish I had an iPhone at that time so we could video tape…). I calmly walked away. In a strange way, I wasn’t bothered by this at all. I guess when you are sure that you are right, you really don’t care what others think.

When I arrived home that day, I saw my sister Karin sitting by her desk. I told Karin what had happened and asked, “Who do you think has the right translation? My teacher or me?”

Knowing the fact that how easy it is for us to blindly trust our teachers, I switched my teacher’s new translation with mine (which was her previous translation).

Karin thought for a while, and said, “I think your teacher is right.”

“Ah-ha, I knew I was right.”

“Wait a second, I said I agreed with your teacher!”

“Well, I knew you would take TEACHER’s side, so I had switched our translations around. There!” I said, smiling big. I didn’t blame Karin. Even then, I understood how easy it was to agree with those authority figures.

In my life, I have been called weak. I may not be brave, but I‘m not weak. Many times, I choose to remain silent because I know how easy it is for any of us to make a mistake. I understand very well that none of us is perfect. And it is that understanding, quite often, keeps me quiet.

Thanks for visiting my blog.

Posted in Memoir, Weekly Little Thought, Writing | 38 Comments

A Little Thought – 2017 Week 3

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The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.
— Martin Luther King, Jr.

(You can see more of Dr. King’s quotes and wonderful photos at Robin’s blog.)

I am not a brave person. I wasn’t brought up to be one. I was born in one of those gray periods in Chinese history. Leaving Mainland China and relocating to Taiwan, people faced a lot of uncertainties. Separating from their families (parents, siblings…), they carried a huge load of sadness and guilt. My parents, I believe, had made a conscious decision not to talk about their past. I didn’t hear a thing about my grandparents until I turned 40. I must have sensed something that was not quite right. Ever since I was little, even though nothing bad had happened, I had this unsafe feeling deep inside. Conflicts and controversies frightened me.

Because I am not brave, I particularly admire courageous people like Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Park… etc. I wish I could/would be like them.

Still, when my daughter told me she was going to participate a march for women’s right, my instant reaction, in my head, was, “Oh no.”

Demonstration was not allowed when I grew up. One could be put in jail for doing so. Hearing what my daughter said, I paused, trying not to say anything that I would regret, and, at the same time, trying to control the fear that started running all over me.

“Really?” I finally said.

Unlike me, my daughter grew up in America. She doesn’t have any problem to stand up for her beliefs.

“Yes, I already bought the flight ticket,” she said.

We didn’t discuss further. For the rest of the week, I kept thinking about the rally, feeling somewhat uneasy. Then I remembered Martin Luther King Jr., and Rosa Park, and Nelson Mandela. I had always wondered where they got their courage and questioned “aren’t they afraid? Not even a little bit?”

For many years, I had convinced myself that they were made differently. There were people like them and people like me. Something in their DNA, it appeared to be. Now I looked at my daughter. I knew DNA wasn’t it.

I think it’s time for this mother to grow up. It’s time for me to step out of my comfort zone. I can never be like Martin Luther King or Rosa Park, but I may be able to walk next to my daughter next time.

Yes, I can picture it. 😉

Thanks for visiting my blog.

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