Tuesday, December 29, 2009

ABC Wednesday: X for Hugs and Kisses

Some of our blogging friends may notice that we have been absent from the blogosphere for a while. I (Bradley) was trying to travel from Taipei to Washington, DC to be with our daughter's family, for Christmas and for her oncoming new baby. My trip was delayed for three days due to the snow storm in the northeast of the United Sates on December 19.

When I was pondering on the perfect "X" for my ABC entry, my daughter said why not Kisses and Hugs. I thought that was a great idea, but where is the "X". She said "XOXO", have I seen Aunt Sue always end her Christmas card with a XOXO!!

Oh, I am too old for internet. XO for me is the Extra Old Cognac, or the XO sauce in Chinese cooking, a very fine sauce of a blend of dried scallop, mushroom, hot pepper and black bean.

According to most sources, in XOXO, the X stands for Kisses and O stands for Hugs. However, some believe that O stands for Kisses and X stands for Hugs, which also makes sense.

Here is our two years and four months old granddaughter at Christmas. She is so cute and how can I not XOXO her!!

The photos were shot with Nikon 135mm DC lens on my D700.

To see more entries of ABC Wednesday click here.

Monday, December 14, 2009

ABC Wednesday: V for Visual Arts

I (Grace) was in Paris after our Yosemite and Eastern Sierra trips. I have been in Paris many times, but never had much time for the beautiful museums there. I only had a few hours to spare in the rainy and chilly early evening. So I decided to visit Musee du Petit Palais (Petit Palais) or Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais (Grand Palais). The picture above is the Petit Palais just after dusk with the dark blue cloudy sky. Across the street, there was an exhibition of "Art en Capital" in the Grand Palais (picture below).

The Grand Palais was built for the Paris Exhibition of 1900. I was attracted by the contrast of classical stone facade, intricate ironwork and the colorful glasswork. There I went!

The interior of the huge hall is made of steel and glass. An imposing horse made of metal was roaring high.

The exhibit composed of 5 historical grand salons with painting, sculptures, and modern art objects.

Here you see the bronze sculptures of two lovers in front of an oil painting.

Here are two watercolor paintings. The clown is so colorful, one can not help seeing it from afar.

Close by was a clay sculpture with 11 figures, but I only chose four for the close up. They have such dramatic expressions on their faces.

To see more entries of ABC Wednesday click here.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Skywatch Friday, Camera Critters, Bird photography Weekly & Weekend Reflections

Now in Taiwan, it is the season that we can see the migratory birds passing through. Some of them will go further south, but some will stay for the winter. The Egret we see in the field usually very alert and will not let us come close. This Little Egret, Egretta garzetta in a lily pond of Taipei Botanical Park was not bothered by human spectators.

I have photographed Egret many times before and was not too excited seeing them fishing in the pond. However, I soon realized, it was not about the Egret, it was the reflection in the background.

It was a very nice day and the pond is nearby a traditional Northern Chinese Palace styled building. The reflection of the sky, the building and trees made a very colorful background of this Great Egret, Ardea Alba.

Here it is so intensely immobile and stared at its potential pray. The reflections are from the colorful exhibition banners in the nearby buildings.

To see more sky from around the world click here.

To see more Camera-Critters from around the world click here.

Want to see more bird photography every week? Go to Bird Photography Weekly.

This is the first time we join Weekend Reflection, I think we will enjoy it.

ABC Wednesday: U for Un.....

The last day of our trip to Eastern Sierra, our group leader Dave Wyman woke us up at 6 in the morning to go to the Twin Lake. It is one of the many lakes formed by damming the tributaries feeding into the Mono Lake. It was very cold, very dark and very early. For us, the Unforeseeable and Unexpected was when the sun finally came up, we were greeted with an Unbelievable and Unforgettable scenery.

As you can see from the photograph, the sun bathed the mountains closer to the lake in a golden light, further away, the snow-capped mountain also lighted up, both of them reflected in the calm lake surface. The water was so clear that you could see the pebbles underneath, and in the distance, a multicolor shimmering just appeared.

Here Dave Wyman was talking to two other group members. It is a reflection from the lake and I inverted it a 180-degree.

Now the sun came up more and we can see the opposite side of the lake, and the shimmering turned to golden color. Unquestionably, it is one of the most amazing scenery we have seen during the trip.

This is the way how to use a vintage Leica. Our other leader Ken Rockwell was shown here photographing the snow-capped mountain on the other side of the lake. He hung his backpack on the tripod in order to further stabilized it and pointed his hand-held light meter toward the scene. For me, it is Unbelievably difficult but I bet he would have Unsurpassed quality of the image on film.

To see more entries of ABC Wednesday click here.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Today's Flowers #69: Ixora duffii cv. "Super King"

Even in the sub-tropical paradise of Taiwan, this time of the year, we find very few blooming flowers. I was at the Taipei Botanical Park this morning, the only flower worth photographing was the Ixora duffii cv. "Super King". It is common known as Jungle Flame, and its Chinese name is 大王仙丹花. I used a 20mm lens and aperture set at f14 to give me enough depth-of-field to bring both clusters of flower in-focus. This Nikon prime lens has very little distortion and the image looks more natural than other wide-angle zooms.

Here is new flower buds photographed with a 105mm micro lens again I used a very small aperture, f20 to have the whole flower in focus.

Here I got really close.

To see more flowers from around the world click here.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Camera-Critters #87: Scarlet Ibis (Eudocimus ruber)

I visited the Aviary at Taipei Zoo last Wednesday. I was at the hospital for a regular check-up, the Zoo is only two metro-stop down the road. I thus packed my camera and went for a visit after my doctor's appointment.

I have been to the zoo several times but never been to its Aviary. The species in the aviary are very different from that of the Aviary at Hong Kong Park, which I visited several weeks ago. The Scarlet Ibis, Eudocimus ruber has very beautiful bright red color. I was able to catch several pictures of them in flight.

To see more Camera-Critters from around the world click here.

Monday, November 30, 2009

ABC Wednesday & Skywatch Friday: T for Tufa

As we showed in our last post of Sunset of South Tufa at Mono Lake of Eastern Sierra, we have to catch the light in order to make the tufa more dramatic. We went back the next morning and tried to photograph them under the morning sun. Here, the sun just came up and bathed the tufa and the sky in glorious red color.

Very quickly, the light changed. Here we have the tufa in front of the snow capped Sierra Mountain, both reflected on the very calm blue lake surface.

Here is the same tufa as we shown in our last blog under the sunset, it was now under the morning sun and perfect blue sky, a very different image.

Our blogging friend J commented that she would love to go out on the Mono Lake on a boat. That was exactly what we did, went out on the lake in a canoe. It just happened that day, October 24, was International Day of Climate Change organized by 350.org. Over 5200 events at 181 countries came together. In each event, people tried to use their own means to form the number "350". The means of Mono Lake Committee was to have 18 boats assembling the number "350" on the lake. You can see the photo here. Well, we were part of the group in the picture. It has made our trip more meaningful and also allowed us to have a chance to view the tufa out on the lake. Grace was sitting so low in the canoe, she really had a view of the tufa at water level.

To bring the climate change impact more at home, as we were assembling the canoe for the "350", a forest fire was raging at a distant Sierra Mountain top.

To see more entries of ABC Wednesday click here.

To see more sky from around the world click here.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Today's Flowers #68: Cypress Park

Last weekend, Grace' company had its annual company trip. This year, one of the highlight of the trip is to visit the park of giant cypress trees. This lovely purple flower was just about to bloom on the forest floor.

Here the flower is in its full bloom. The cypress trees are species native to Taiwan. They consist of two distinct species: Taiwan Cypress, 扁柏 (Chamaecyparis taiwanensis), and Formosan Cypress, 紅檜 (Chamaecyparis formosensis). They are very slow-growing trees and live for a long time. Formosan Cypress takes 350 years to mature and the Taiwan Cypress takes three times longer. These woods are very precious and have been logged since the late 19th century, first by Japanese then by Taiwan government. The presidential palace of South Korea and many temples in Japan were built using these timbers. It was not until ten years ago that Taiwan government issued a fifty-year ban on all logging in Taiwan.

There were three major logging operations in Taiwan, the area that we visited was the last one been developed. The park is actually an original old-growth forest that has never been logged. The 37 acres park contains over 100 cypress trees with age ranging from 1000 to over 2000 years old.

As human, when the tree gets old, strange formation appears on its skin. Can you see a skeleton with a spar on this tree?

To see more flowers from around the world click here.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Camera-Critters #86: Yellow-faced Myna (Mino dumontii)

Two weeks ago when I came back from the US, Grace joined me in Taipei and we flied immediately to Hong Kong to celebrate her parents' 60th wedding anniversary. All the siblings were there and we all had a good time. Another purpose of my trip to Hong Kong is to visit the Aviary in Hong Kong Park, the one which kRiZ cPEc often mentioned in his blog.

Hong Kong Park is right at the center of Hong Kong, in the busiest and most fashionable district. The park provides a natural environment, which is a startling contrast to the surrounding commercial buildings. One of the highlight of the park is its aviary. It provides close encounter with many exotic birds. Here are two images of the Yellow-Faced Myna, Mino doumontii.

To see more Camera-Critters from around the world click here.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

ABC Wednesday & Skywatch Friday: S for Sunset at South Tufa

During our trip to Eastern Sierra in late October, one of the highlight was to visit the tufa at Mono Lake. Tufa is a strange geological phenomenon. It is similar to the stalactite and stalagmite in the cave. It is formed by the calcium carbonate deposit. But rather than formed by the water droplets from the cave ceiling, it is formed by the water forced out from the bottom of the lake. When the water sources of Mono Lake was diverted to feed Los Angeles, the water level of the lake dropped. The tufa was exposed for us to see. The best place to view the tufa at Mono Lake is at South Tufa.

The pale gray limestone columns are best viewed during the sunset or sunrise. We arrived at South Tufa just at the sunset, we were a little bit worried that we missed the timing. But actually the most dramatic view was after the sunset when the sky changed to brilliant red.

We have only a few minutes to catch the color before all changed to dark.

To see more entries of ABC Wednesday click here.

To see more sky from around the world click here.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Kreative Blogger

Grace and I are very honored to accept the Kreativ Blogger Award from Carol of Photo Phase. To accept the award I think that we should write seven things of ourselves: 1. We are college classmates and married right after our graduation; 2. My parents bought me a SRL camera, Minolta 101 when I was 20. It was a great tool of courting Grace; 3. We left Taiwan to pursue higher scientific studies in the US then in the UK and worked in France before settling back again in the US; 4. Photography has been a passion for us throughout our life. Grace used her point-and-shoot, which I upgraded for her every few years, from film to digital. I used my Minolta SLR before upgraded to Nikon; 5. We moved back to Taiwan seven years ago to be close to our aging parents and started new business; 6. Two years ago, I gave Grace a Nikon D40, her first SLR. Our life changed ever since. We go out almost every weekend to explore new places and take photographs. We also went on professional guided photographic tours; and 7. We also start blogging to share our passion of photography and life with many blogging friends. ABC Wednesday is the first meme that we joined and that is where we met Carol. Thank you, Carol, for your friendship and the Kreativ Blogger Award.

Now we would like to pass the Kreative Blogger Award to several of the blogs that we have been following and enjoyed. 1. fiziskandarZ: It is hosted by a young Malaysian couple studying in the UK. The blog chronicles their life in Europe. His photos are amazing both in color and composition, especially of his creative use of wide-angle lens. They are also examples of how to take photographs of yourself and your partner, which our older generation of photographers never learn. 2. J of Occasional J: She was an English teacher from the UK working in China. We followed her experience in China and the point of view from a foreigner toward the rapid changes undertaking in China recently. She has since gone back to the UK and started a new chapter of her life back home. She also bought a new DSLR and we can see the great advance in her photographic talent. 3. JoAnn at Through JoAnn's Digital Eyes: We just simply love her photos, she is so artistic.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

2009 Yosemite Trip IV: Skywatch Friday No. 71

Monday, October 19 is the first day of our trip in Yosemite. We woke up early and the whole group had a walk over a meadow near the Curry Village. There was a mist on the ground with the Yosemite Fall in the distance lighted up by the early morning sunlight.

The exposure for the sky and the waterfall and that of the foreground was very different. I took 5 bracketed shots then selected two to do the exposure blending in the Photoshop.

Here is a closer look of the Yosemite Fall in a beautiful morning with just enough of clouds over the mountain and blue sky.

To see more sky from around the world click here.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

2009 Yosemite Trip III: ABC Wednesday, R for Red Maple

If you drive into Yosemite National Park in October or November, before reaching the Yosemite Village, by the sentinel bridge, you cannot not notice this brilliant red maple.

However, as I mentioned in our previous blog, most of the trees in the Sierra have yellow leaves in autumn. This is not a native tree. It was brought in from the East by the pioneers.

There were much discussions of whether this tree should be removed since it is not a native species of the Yosemite National Park.

Eventually, the tree is considered as part of the National Park's history and stayed.

We were glad that it stood there to welcome us when we arrived in the late afternoon. It greeted us with the most brilliant fall color under the setting sun.

To see more entries of ABC Wednesday click here.

2009 Yosemite Trip II: Merced River

We participated in the Autumn Lighting - Photography in Yosemite by Dave Wyman. One of the highlight of the trip was, of course, to see the various changes of the color of the leaves in the Yosemite National Park. Here it is our first view of the autumn color. It was by the Merced River before we entered the park.

We would follow and photograph the Merced River throughout our trip, especially inside the valley. This picture was taken at a very calm spot where we were still outside of the park. You can see the autumn color reflected from the water.

Here the water was much more turbulent.

Here you can see the mountain beyond which would lead us into the Yosemite valley.

Here we were almost at the entrance of the park. We loved the speeding warning sign. In reality, many bears are killed by cars inside the park every year.


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