XDrive Photo Lesson 3 – Exposure

This is my submission for XDrive Photo Lesson 3 – Exposure. (All photos were taken with Nikon D750.)


(Rose – F/5.6; ISO-400; 1/160)

A young and brilliant photographer Spencer Cox, whose photos I like a lot, wrote the following in his article Composition Tip: Give your Subjects Breathing Space : “Composition has no correct answer. The best you can do is to create something that looks good to you, or looks good to your intended audience.”

Got it. But… can we say the same thing about exposure?

About 3 years ago I watched a video of a professional woman photographer speaking about portrait photographing. If I remember it right, she said something like: don’t be afraid of over exposing. She then showed us several of her over-exposed portraits. I frowned… those photos were too bright (white) and they looked two dimensional. But, in a strange way, they attracted me. I guess it is true that one can break the rules if he knows them.

I am not as experienced or as confident as that woman. I don’t intend to try under or over exposing for any of my photos for another 5 or 10 years 😉 However, since I didn’t use manual mode for very long, accident happened. 😉


(Japanese Garden 1: F/8; ISO 900; 1/6.)

Oops. I forgot to check the exposure meter; I forgot I was using the manual mode. However, this photo gives me a dreamy feeling, and it looks like a quick sketch, so I kind of like it. I mean… I wish I didn’t make the mistake, but the photo is somewhat interesting to me. (I am weird, I know.)

(I am adding a black and white here per Raj’s request. Raj is right. I like the b&w much better.)

Here is a better one.


(Japanese Garden 2: F/8; ISO 360; 1/640)


(Walker Art Center Sculpture Garden: F/4; ISO 200; 1/2500)

Now I have a question: Since most of the time we do edit our photos (post-processing), do these original settings (aperture, shutter speed, ISO) really mean anything?

Also, I don’t understand why some of my photos were under exposed (manual mode) even though I was setting the exposure according to the camera meter. (I guess I have to figure this one out myself.)

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Miller Time

This is my submission for: The Daily Post Photo Challenge: Unusual.

Walking out of my house, I saw a topless man on the roof 😉

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Posted in photo, Weekly Photo Challenge | 11 Comments

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.

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

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.

Posted in photo and thoughts, Weekly Little Thought | 18 Comments

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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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