Saturday, April 30, 2011

Camera-Critters #160: White-breasted Waterhen (白胸苦惡鳥), Amaurornis phoenicurus

When I was at Taipei botanical Garden two weeks ago, I saw something moving in the distance by the water way.  I have the inking of what it is and confirmed my intuition when I observed it with my telephoto lens.  I have only a glimpse of this creature once before and had a not very clear photo of it. It is the White-breasted Waterhen.  It was moving quickly away from me.  I stalked it by circulating to a bridge upstream.  There it was just right under the bridge.  The sky was getting dark and amid the excitement, I did manage to get some clear shots of it.  The pictures were taken in ISO over 1000.  But with the D700, they are at least good enough for the web.  If I had to shoot them with a tripod and at speed slower than 1/100, I doubt that I would get any of these pictures.

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

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

ABC Wednesday: O is for the Origin of Keelung River

One of the biggest challenge of 19th century European exploration of Africa was the Origin of Nile River.  All the famous explorers, Livingston, Stanley, Speke, Burton and Baker were figured in the search.  Speke is the first person laid the claim that Lake Victoria at Uganda is the origin of the White Nile.  Ripon Falls was the northern outlet of Lake Victoria.  Speke named the Falls after the then President of Royal Geographical Society.

Last weekend, Grace and I set out for our own exploration of the Origin of Keelung River of Taipei.  Keelung River has its origin at the northeast mountainous region of New Taipei City (old Taipei County).  It flows northeast then making a 180 degree turn near Keelung City and passing through Taipei, eventually flows into sea at Danshui.  There is a narrow track railroad follows the river valley from Taipei into the mountain.  It was built by the Japanese for coal mining.

The whole area is now a well organized tourist attraction.  And we have our own waterfall at the Origin of Keelung River, the Shihfen Falls.  We have been to the waterfall twice before.  Once specifically to photograph the waterfall and the second time with Grace's sister and father.

Shihfen Waterfall is the largest waterfall in Taiwan.  Looking at the picture, you can see it is a perfect waterfall.  As those African Explorers, we well also fully equipped.  Grace brought with her the D7000 with 18-200 VR lens and I brought my D700 with 27-300 VR lens.  For the people in-the-know, we basically have the same set up.  I have an additional 20 mm lens with me.  We also brought neutral density filter, polarization filter and remote trigger release.  We used the neutral density filter for most of the pictures but not the other two accessories (too lazy).  More importantly we brought two professional Gitzo carbon fiber tripods.  It was using these tripods that enable us to use shutter speed at 2 to 5 seconds to generate this cotton cloud feeling of the water.

We can walk from the top of the half crescent shaped fall through a footpath to the bottom of the fall and bath ourselves in the water mist.  When the afternoon sun shining from the top of the waterfall, if we are lucky, we can even see a rainbow.  But that is for next time.

To see more entries of ABC Wednesday click here.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Today's Flower #140: Taipei Flora Expo

This weekend is the last weekend for the Taipei Flora Expo.  The event has been very successful with over 8 million visitors.  I went for the last time this past Friday.  As you can see from the above image, there were people all over the place.  

Here are some of the images that I took on that day.

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Thursday, April 21, 2011

Skywatch Friday: Spring day at Boston Common

Grace took this picture on a chilly but sunny day at Boston Common in late March.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

ABC Wednesday & Camera-Critters #159: N is for Narcissus Flycather

Yehliu (野柳) is a small peninsula at the northern end of Taiwan.  According to my bird photography guide book that it is one of the premium spot to watch migratory birds.  They will congregate at the peninsula before making a dash across the ocean toward north in the Spring.

When I arrived at the place, I was not quite sure about the guide book's description.  The peninsula is also the premium tourist attraction of Northern Taiwan.  There were 10s of tour buses in the parking lot and hundreds if not thousands of tourists.  The guide books said, watched for the bird activities in the wooded park near the entrance.  Sure, except the noise from the a tourist operator's speaker, I heard no bird sound.  Not to be discouraged, I continued my hike with the tourists.  Occasionally some encouraging signs appeared.  A few serious looking photographers dressing in camouflage outfit carrying huge tripod and camera lens the size of an elephant walking passed me.

 At the end of the hiking path where the tourists stopped, there it is: "Bird Watching Trail".  I climbed the stairs into the woods and saw a group of photographers apparently from a club gathered excitingly.  Finally, I saw what they were gathering for.  One tiny colorful bird was flying and jumping in the woods.  I took out my camera and squeezed in between the photographers.  I got my first shot.  Leaving them, I continued hiking into the woods and saw the same bird in two more occasions.

I love this last shot I got for this bird.  The out-focused tree branches, leaves and light gave the image an almost painting-like feeling.  I found out later the name of the bird is Nacrissus Flycather (黃眉姬鶲), Ficedula narcissina. It is a rare bird in Taiwan.  Its normal summer habitat is northeastern China and Japan.  I wish it luck on its way back home.

In case you are wondering what the mass of tourists came to see at Yehliu? Certainly not the tiny colorful migratory bird!  They came to see this amazing rock formation at the ocean front of the peninsula, a real nature wonder! 

To see more entries of ABC Wednesday click here.
To see more Camera-Critters from around the world click here.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Today's Flower #139: Taipei Flora Expo

 I was at the Taipei Flora Expo again on March 31.  Rather than go for the flowers in the beautiful landscaped ground.  I joined the line and tried to get into various exposition halls.

Many of the more dramatic and famous expositions, require lining up for tickets as early as 4 o'clock in the morning.  I opted for the less crowed but still very beautiful Expo Dome.  It hosts various flora competitions.

Here are my first series of takes in the Expo Dome.  Because it is indoor, I have relative more relax time to do some close-up.

To see more flowers from around the world click here.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Camera-Critters #158: Malaysian Night Heron

Malaysian Night Heron (黑冠麻鷺), Gorsachius melanolophus

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

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Skywatch Friday: Longfellow Bridge, Boston

The Longfellow Bridge also known as Salt-and-Pepper Bridge, it crosses Charles River and connects Boston with Cambridge.

B & W version, which one do you prefer?

To see more sky from around the world click here.

Monday, April 11, 2011

ABC Wednesday: M is for Milan

This is the second of ABC Wednesday that we use M for Milan.  We visited Milan last October right after our photographic tour to Tuscany.  Grace was in the city for conference and I got some time to walk around.  I am showing here of my trip to Castello Sforzesco.

The original castle was constructed in the 14th century.

During the 15th and 16th century, the castle was built up to a huge star fort with 12 bastions.  The external fortification reached 3 km long and covered 25.9 hectares.

The star fort was developed during the age of gunpowder.  The ring-shaped fortification of the Medieval era can no longer effectively defend the city.  It is particularly developed in the Italian peninsula against French invasion.

The Italian engineers who built these fortifications become in high demand during the next three centuries throughout Europe.

After the unification of Italy in the 19th century, the castle was transformed from military use to the civilian use of Milan City.  A restoration was started.

The castle was severely damaged in 1943 by Allied bombardment.  It has been restored again and now the complex consists of several museum.

 It was a very fine Fall afternoon.  I did not go into any of the museums, rather I just walked around the compound and took pictures.

I was practicing what our photo instructor, Dave Hoptman, try to drill into us during our one week with him in Tuscany.  Basically how the vertical line should be vertical and how horizontal line should be horizontal.

 Here is a remnant of the original fortification.

I saw a professional looking photographer climbed on top of a garbage bin to get a better prospective of the central court yard.  So I did the same thing, with some cleaver post-processing in Photoshop, all my vertical lines now are vertical.

To see more entries of ABC Wednesday click here.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Camera-Critters #157: Cattle Egret

Cattle Eagret (牛背鷺), Bubulcus ibis

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

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Skywatch Friday: Sunrset at Paris

Grace took this beautiful sunset of Paris in October, 2010

to see more sky from around the world click here.

Monday, April 4, 2011

ABC Wednesday: L is for Light

October 3, 2010 arriving at Proceno, Italy for our photographic workshop of "Tuscan Light".

October 4, soft Light coming in through the window of a castle museum in Sorono.

October 5, view from the top of castle tower of Proceno under the Light of a late aftenoon sun.

October 6, bright Light reflected from the sand on a fishing boat at Marta by the Largo di Bolsena.

 October 7, reflection of Light in an otherwise shaded alleyway at Pitigliano.

October 8, Italian mother under the Light of an archway after shopping at open air market in Acquapendente.

October 9, Light at the ceiling of Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II at Milan.

October 12, Light coming in from a doorway at Como.

To see more entries of ABC Wednesday click here.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Today's Flower #138: Taipei Floral Expo

I have shown the Taipei International Floral Exposition a while ago.  With the Spring arriving and the weather is getting better.  I went to the Expo once again.

This time rather than the usual zoom lens, I brought with me my 105 mm macro lens.  The type of flower in the Expo also changed.  There are a lot of mass planted Dahlia.

The weather was really sunny, I have to put my subject shaded in my shadow in order to get good shots. The temperature is close to the summer temperature in Northeast of America, thus most flowers are colorful annuals. 

I have a good time to get a lot of close-up shots. 

With the lens, I can get really close.  The is a Johnney-Jump Up.

To see more flowers from around the world click here.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Skywatch Friday: Sunrise at Boston

Grace took this image of Backbay of Boston in the early morning about two weeks ago from her room at Royal Sonesta Hotel.  The Hotel is at Cambridge side of Boston by the Charles River.  The bridge is Longfellow bridge, which also known locally as Salt-and-Pepper Bridge due to the shape of the central towers.  The Red Line of the Boston MBTA subway system goes over the bridge.  You can see the train on the bridge in the image.  The main pier under the central towers has sculptures resemble Viking ship.  Some legend states that the Viking on their way to Iceland and the New World has reached as far as Charles River.

To see more Sky from around the world click here.


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