Tuesday, May 31, 2011

ABC Wednesday: T is for Taroko Gorge

Taoroko Gorge is part of the Central Cross-island Highway and belong to the Taroko National Park.  It is the most scenic place in Taiwan.  On impulse, I made a day trip from Taipei to the park two weeks ago when Grace was on a trip to Paris.  The meaning of the Taroko is "magnificent and beautiful" in local tribal language.  Central Cross-island Highway was built in between 1956 to 1960 by the veterans of Communist-National conflict of China .  The 20 km of highway that goes through Taroko Gorage was the most difficult part of the whole construction project.  The road had to be carved into the marble cliff.  It was purely built by hands and dynamites with the lost of 212 life.  

The above picture was taken at Swallow Grotto.  The legend has when the road was built, there were a lot of swallow living on the cliff.  Most of them probably scared away by the dynamite.  From the picture you can see how tall is the gorge.  The black hole in middle on the left is the road.  Today most of the original roads are footpaths for the tourists, the major road is further inside in the mountain as tunnels of two-lane highway.

This is the Bridge of Kind Mother.  It is located at the junction of two rivers.  The legend has that a local tribesman was lost in the river during the road construction.  The mother who brought lunch for him everyday came to the same spot each day hoping for his return.  The little gazebo on top of rock, which is called Frog Rock, was built by Jiang-Kai Shek's son to remember his mother.  There is another gazebo built by Jiang-Kai Shek to remember his mother at the other side of the bridge.  This is not the original bridge, like most of the original bridges along the gorge, they have been often destroyed by flood water.

This is the most impressive part of the Taroko Gorge, Tunnel of Nine Turns.  During my trip to the gorge two weeks ago, I found that this area is no longer open to the public.  The entrance to the tunnel was littered with broken rocks.  A few years ago, a Chinese tourist was killed by the fallen rock.  I have to take out this photo from my previous travel to show you how impressive the gorge is.  The rock below the road was pure white as original color of the marble.  It has been washed by the flood water.  I surly do not want to be at that road spot when Typhoon hits Taiwan and the flood water in the mountain explodes.

At the narrowest part of the "Tunnel of Nine Turns", when we look up, we can see the sky through a space formed by the cliffs at the two sides of the gorge.  It is in a perfect shape of Taiwan.  It illustrates how narrow the gorge is at this area.

This is Eternal Spring Shrine located near the end of the gorge where it joins the Pacific ocean.  It was built in memory of the life lost during the construction of the highway.  The shrine looks different from what I remember when I visited the area as a college student.  Do not take lightly of the gentle spring water that coms out from the mountain.  The shrine has been destroyed many times and rebuilt many times due to the flood water.

To see more entries of ABC Wednesday clcik here.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

ABC Wednesday: S is for Strange Lights over Su-ao Harbor

I was making a day trip to Taroko National Park yesterday.  On the way back, arriving at the port city of Su-ao, it was almost dark.  Su-ao is at northeast side of Taiwan facing Pacific Ocean.  It is both a fishing harbor and a navy base.  I stopped by a scenic point by the highway to take a few pictures of the beautiful harbor at night.  Can you see the strange lights over the ocean at the right hand side of the picture.

Here is a better view.  Are they UFOs?

Well, they are not!  They are squid boats out doing squid fishing at night.  They use very strong light to attract squid to the fishing vessels.

Here is some detail for those of you into technical aspect of photography.  With my D700 and the 28-300 VR lens, I could photographed all these images hand-held.  However, ISO would be high and the images may not be as sharp as they could be.  I dutifully set up the tripod, set exposure compensation at -2, aperture at 8, ISO200, turned off the VR and used mirror-up with a remote trigger.  Since Nikon 28-300 VR lens has 9 round blades for the diaphragm, Ken Rockwell claimed that he could not get sunstars out of the Nikon 28-300 VR lens.  If you click on the last images, you can see, even at aperture 8, the perfect sunstars of each light, everyone has 18 rays, a classic for Nikon lens (Canon only has 6 or 8).  May be the lights were just so strong and so concentrated.  

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Sunday, May 22, 2011

Today's Flower #144: Our Home

No, this is not our home, it is a 民宿, Bed and Breakfast at Jinguashi northeast of Taipei named "Our Home".  It is up in the mountain facing Pacific Ocean.  Two weeks ago, we made a reservation beforehand for dinner.  It is a Greek-styled building with beautiful garden.  We arrived just before sunset in the rain, a magic moment.

To see more flowers from around the world click here.

Bronzed Drongo and Black-crowned Night Heron

Taiwan had a draught for most of the Spring and the situation has been getting serious.  Even a typhoon in early May did not bring much relieve.  The temperature reached over 30 degree C.  Finally, since last week, the raining season started. We had a nice rain and the temperature finally cool down.

I have not seen Paulownia Flower Blossom this year.  I took Taipei metro to a local town then car pooled a taxi up the mountain to the Paulownia Flower Garden.  Most of the flower have gone due to the rain, I can only see some flowering tree in the distance.

I walk down the mountain through a well organized path by the mountain stream.  The temperature was cool that made the walk a very pleasant one.

Here is my first surprise, a Bronzed Drongo (小捲尾) Dicrurus aeneus.

Then I saw this very young Black-crowned Night Heron (夜鷺) Nyticorax nyticorax.   The light down in the valley by the mountain stream created this natural concentration of light on the young bird.

I had my 28-300 VR lens with Nikon D700.  Imanaged to lean on the railing and shot at 300mm, f5.6, 1/20.  The picture came out very nice and sharp.

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

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

ABC Wednesday: R is for Rainbow

Have you ever dream of walking into the origin of a rainbow, to be inside of a rainbow, and may be find a chest of brilliant treasure that gives out such beautiful color.  The unexpected surprise when we visited 十分 Waterfall was seeing the rainbow at the bottom of the waterfall.  It was late afternoon, the sun shine through the back of the waterfall and a rainbow appeared in the water mist.

It separates brightness from shadow, light from darkness, goodness from evil and right from wrong!!

When we walked down to the bottom of the waterfall and looking back, we could see the sunstar through the trees.

Closer we finally see what is inside of a rainbow.

It is a dreamy fairyland!

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Sunday, May 8, 2011

Today's Flower #141: Carnation

I post this carnation for all the mother in the world.  Happy Mother's Day!

To see more flowers from around the world click here.

Camera-Critters #161: Little Egret (小白鷺), Egretta garzetta

This is my favorite

After photographing Eagret so many times now, it is not the detail of the bird but its pose and its surroundings that matter more.

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

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

ABC Wednesday: P is for Poorly Preserved

Jinguashi (金瓜石) is a old gold mining town in the northeastern part of Taiwan.  It is not far from Taipei.  The gold was discovered in 1890.  After 1895 Japanese occupation of Taiwan, the mine was further developed.

The mining company has its up and down and went through two World War and was eventually returned to Taiwan government at the end of World War II.  With the exhaustion of mineral deposit, it eventually ceased operation in 1987.  However, some international mining concerns believe that the site is still containing enough mineral deposits and can be extracted with modern technology.

The building of the de-functioned mining company was painted in this very peculiar blue and make it very photogenic.

Much of the old village and some of the factory is now tourist attraction.  However,  many area are off limit to ordinary tourist.  The toxic material that was used for the mineral extraction was too toxic to be cleared away.

Here I only showed the ruin of one of the buildings.  The whole building complex occupied half of the mountain slop with 13 rows of buildings.  From a distance, it almost looks like a fort.

Over one thousand of British prisoner-of-war were detained on this sit and used as hard labor for the mining operation during the WWII.

The rain water seeps into the mine shafts then resurfaces through the cracks in the surface rock.  It creates this natural wonder of "Gold Waterfall".

The water continues in the mountain stream and empty into the Pacific Ocean.  The mineral in the water interacts with the sea water and turns into yellow color in contrast to the crystal blue water in the surrounding sea.  It is another natural wonder that is called "Yin-yang sea", which I have shown here.

To see more entries of ABC Wednesday click here.


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