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 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.

2009 Yosemite Trip I: Mariposa

Sunday, October 18 we started our trip to Yosemite. We drove from South San Francisco to Yosemite. Mariposa was the last town on Route 140 before we entered Yosemite National Park. The town was fully decorated for Halloween. Here is a figurine welcoming us to the town.

You can see that the town was very old from the gold mining era. We had the feeling that we should arrive on wagon or horse back.

This pair looked like us, Grace and Bradley having a good time.

Well, then this must be our granddaughter, Sailee.

Here we were, the first day of our trip into Yosemite!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Today's Flowers #65: Napa Valley

Even at the end of October, when most color is coming from the autumn leaves, we can still find some beautiful planted flowers at sunny California. This picture was taken at Castello di Amorosa at Nappa Valley, a 20th century stone castle and vineyard.

Not only the trees, the leaves of grape vine also changed to brilliant color.

We spent a day in Napa Valley after out trip to Yosemite and Eastern Sierra. The weather was absolutely beautiful. We visited several vineyard, but did not drink much. What every we did drink was very good.

It was also the harvest season. It seems that 2009 has been a good year for the crop. Unlike the old days, when the year was good, the wine was good and they sold at better price. Now a good year produced too many grapes. We then have a grape glut and the price of wine goes down. I hope that is true, we did not see that was very evident on the price tag of wine in the restaurant.

To see more flowers from around the world click here

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Camera-Critters #83: Raven at Yosemite

They are everywhere inside the Yosemite National Park and not afraid of people. They will come right close to the tourist and begging for food.

Here it was flying high in the valley.

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

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Skywatch Friday No. 69: Half dome of Yosemite

Half Dome is the quite essential element of Yosemite. It symbolizes the National Park and can be seen almost at any location inside the valley. However, the best place to view this amazing giant boulder (or half of a boulder) is from the Glacial Point where we come almost at eye level with it. But getting to the Glacial Point is only half of the story, the other half is getting there at the right time. The view is most dramatic during the sunset of a clear day. The first picture was taken just before the sunset.

This one was taken during the sunset. The whole dome was bath in the golden light, but it lasted only a few minutes.

This one was taken after the sunset. You can still see some sparkles of golden light on the rock.

To see more sky from around the world click here.


I thought that we should put up this blog for our blogging friend "Spiderama". We were looking up on the giant boulder on the side of El Capitan in the late afternoon when Ken Rockwell showed us on his Leica M9 two cliffhangers on the surface of the boulder. It had been a day of vary variable weather in Yosemite, started by some misty morning sunshine then followed by an early afternoon downpour. I took the pictures with my D700 and 70-300 VR lens. If you click on the photo to enlarge it and know where to look, you can find the two of them.

If you enlarge this photo, you can see the fissure that they attached themselves and their equipments. Apparently, after a hard day work, they already tugged themselves in for the night. I wonder did they have portable TV up there.

The next day, we saw the helicopter came by, we assumed that they have reached the top and were picked up by the chopper.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

ABC Wednesday: P is for Photographers

Grace and I were at photographic tours for almost 10 days in California. The first part of the tour was at Yosemite National Park, the second part was at Eastern Sierra. We have many fellow photographers in our tour. Here is our leader Dave Wyman in front of the Half Dome of Yosemite.

Grace photographed this photographer photographing a group of photographers at Merced River, Yosemite. She is a young pharmacist and a ethusastic photographer from California.

This is actually a reflection from a small water pool of one of our fellow photographer. I turn the picture upside down.

The amazing golden light reflected from the Twin Lake near Bridgeport, California is the reflection of morning sunlight shone on a nearby mountain. She is a professional photographer from Haiti.

Can you see the reflection of both of us in the window. It was shot at the ghost town of Bodie. It is the best preserved original mining town in the West.

You can see more of our photos of Yosemite here and Eastern Sierra here.

To see more entries of ABC Wednesday click here.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Big Basin Redwood State Park

Grace and I started our US photographic trip on Saturday, October 17. We have arrived the previous afternoon at San Francisco. We would drive to Yosemite on Sunday to start our one week trip in Sierra. But on this day we just have an easy drive ourselves from South San Francisco to the Big Basin Redwood State Park. The above pictures was taken at the Skyline Boulevard on our way to the state park. The early morning mist from the Pacific ocean just rolled in through the mountain. The highway provides magnificent view to the West towards Pacific ocean and to the East towards Silicon Valley.

The weather was very warm and magnificent. We took the short loop around the park, normally should take less than one hour, but it took us 3 hours.

I have always wanted to have a picture like this facing the sky. I finally got it.

It is hard to appreciate how big the redwood is, unless you put a person in it to give a better prospective.

Here is another view of this incredible beautiful giant.


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