Story Telling – at a wedding

I photographed another wedding over the weekend. Hard work, I am still recuperating a week after.  A load of fun, the photographer is the orchestrator, and you tell them where to stand and what to do. I am glad that I am not the professionals who charge big bucks and work under tremendous pressure.  A wedding is (normally) a once-in-a-lifetime event, and we all try to capture the most precious moment at our best in spite of the variables.

Perfect posed portraits are the tradition although the trends go to lifestyle and illustrate modern living and environment. This wedding was on a private ranch. Other than acres of fields, barns, haystacks, horses, beer barrels and farmhouses are the backdrops.

The bride is in a pure white wedding gown adorned with a red-laced draping on the back which ties in with her red shoes. No tux’s for the groom and his boys, they are all in cowboy hats, Levi’s and western belts. The guests wear casual dresses, trousers, and jeans. Casual, Natural and Free-spirited.

For privacy concerns, I intend not to post any people pictures on this blog though I have lots of favorites. Just grab a couple of fun shots here.

The moment when I spotted this cake decoration, I could not let go of it. On this day of the union of two hearts, the guests are invited inside the tent to celebrate and give their best regards to the newly-wed. With this thought in mind, I took this picture.

The tent structure and chairs offer a bit of architecture background. The table flowers are my main subject while the man and the beer help me to tell the story. Men & Beer vs. Women & Dog was what came to my mind…

I love the shape and the sculptured lines of this piece. Used it to play a little more. While multi-colors are often more striking, I like the black and white version of this one. It’s the purity and subtlety that I like black and white images.

I wanted to shoot the cute little heart-shaped tea lights on the table, and I also liked the sunset light shadow in distance. Besides, it is an event and people need to be in it.  ‘Heart’ is not clearly shown here, but I seem to like the negative space of the image. People and the row of chairs do tell the story…

A Coastal Weekend

It was 93 degree in the valley, we headed to the coast for the cool air. The Northern part of Oregon coast is usually more popular than the South. We were very content with a low-key and slow-paced weekend at Port Orford area, away from the busy water front where the action is.

Oregon coastline is simply beautiful wherever you go.  For a relaxing weekend like this, I brought only a point-and-shoot camera just to make sure that I don’t miss out any major subject or event.

When this parachute suddenly showed up above the rocks on the beach, I could not help not to follow it, and at least, in the next whole hour. I was first attracted by the colorful parachute, then I noticed this persistent young man who has made every effort he could trying to get his parachute off the ground. There was barely wind blowing in the air, but that did not stop him. I was so excited to see him finally flying in the air. At that hour, the sky has turned blue to celebrate his success.

At Cape Arago State Park, we were greeted by three volunteers who are enthusiastically offering us to tour the lighthouse. After seeing various lighthouses, all I want to do is to take their pictures. It was not the sunrise or sunset hour, and I am not that dedicated photographer. Just to add a couple of texture to give it a bit ambiance. The lady and the dog are fairly small. I keep them there to remember what I saw.

I walked to the fishing dock at Charleston and thought I might see some shore birds here and there. Unfortunately, there were only seagulls. I was told that Charleston is a dedicated fishing town. People charter fishing boats to fish here for entertainment and also to get fresh tuna out of the water.  However, most of the people can the tuna. Why would you try to catch fresh fish and make them canned food?  I grew up eating fresh and organic food before I came to this big country where the majority of the food is processed. I guess it has something to do with the cost of mass production and the attempt to preserve the longevity of the food.

 

My heart was not on the fish, but the fishing boats and their reflections.

Great Egrets and Night Herons

Egret is very common in Taiwan, but I have never seen one when I lived there. The first Egret I ever saw was at a local pond and was from distance. Somehow I have always been attracted to their beautiful white feathers and elegant posture. For years I have been observing them from distance, and they often look just couple small white spots in my pictures.

Back in April, when I visited Da-An Forest Park in Taiwan, I was ‘shocked’ to see a great number of them dwelled in an island area inside the park. From what I understood, it was the season when they have their fluffy feather. Snow white feather and fluffy fine feather are what looking attractive and unique to me not mentioning their beautiful form in flight.

 

In their large community, I saw newbies are constantly opening their mouth waiting to be fed; adults are flying over the pond to fetch food to feed their babies.  I witnessed adult’s courtship and ‘the process of reproduction’.

 

Nuthatches and chickadees are usually mingling together. Here Night Herons are Egret’s next door buddies. Apparently, they like the same kind of habitat and they get along well.

 

 

 

 

 

A College Reunion

When my college friends told me that they are coming to Oregon for our 2017 Reunion. I thought they were teasing. Who wants to come to Oregon and what can they do in Oregon (as my Oregonian friends said)? As far as I know, there have not been tourist itineraries (other than wine tasting and sport-driven excursions) established and Oregon Tourist Bureau provides no help. Other than beautiful scenery, what else this rugged state can offer? I felt like given a photography project to create something interesting from a plain subject (no extensive history, no splendid architecture and no renown restaurants etc. tourist attractions).  Besides, most of my friends are world travelers and what would interest them among everything they have seen?It is challenging, but the challenge is where the fun sprouted from.

My husband and I mapped out the itinerary and calculated the driving distance using Google Map before the preliminary itinerary was established. Then we began to explore the places in the itinerary, check out the restaurants I researched or recommended by our friends, and we made our ways to various hiking spots at the coast. If not for the organization of this reunion, I would not think to try these restaurants and so glad that we did. We have hiked in many places, but coastal trails are still quite new to us. This reunion brought us the opportunities to access various trails and explore many amazing views otherwise we would not even know of. The preparation period is long and there are endless details to be worked on, continuously, However, I have not known Oregon as much as I do now.

We have total 32 people in the group, 13 husbands including MD’s (three of them), Chemist, Professor, High Tech engineers, Business developers and humanity specialist.  Almost all my classmates have obtained their master degrees here in the States and their husbands, many Ph.D.’s with their unique talent. It’s inspiring to be around this elite group of people who are not only extraordinary intelligent, they are humble, profound and thoughtful. Besides, they are not the stereo Asian book-worm type that you may have in mind, they are active, fun and energetic.

The fitness level of this group of people is impressive, and I know most of them are not gym goers. There are thousand years of Chinese health maintenance tips and secrets available to utilize and the results are far superior to what you can get from a trainer at the gym. I was inspired to try Ba-Duan-Jin (a very effective Chinese qigong) in one of our reunions and I have practiced since. It is so simple and yet so effective.  

Hanging out with my friends reminds me of my unique cultural background, and make me appreciate more for being part of it.

Going to places in Oregon, long distance drive is inevitable. Bus time can be lengthy and tedious, but I don’t recall that I ever felt tedious and dozed it off.  We sang our Oldies and Goodies to remember our good old days. We had the experts in all fields take well-beings Q&A’s, we talked plain jokes and approached various subjects as inspired. Our tour guide certainly did not talk much, and nobody was hypnotized.  All I saw are the sunshine and smiling faces. What the aging has done is only the seasoned humor, patience and wisdom. The comradery in youth and the harmonious accord are carried on to this day.  Youth friendship is invaluable.

I planned a bake-your-own-pizza night and cook-your-own dinner while we stayed at a beach rental house with 14 rooms on three levels. Hot pizzas were freshly baked out of the three ovens at the house, yummy. The dinner preparation on the second night turned out to be a blast. We whipped a delicious dinner in about 45 minutes with more-than-enough help we had between men and women. Our chef team cooked the salmon as our main dish. The helpers chopped garlic, made the salad, sliced bread, fetched utensils and shoveled tablewares from one floor to the other…

I have had the same salmon and cooked it the same way for years, but I have not felt they tasted so good as what I had that night.  How often in our lifetime that we can enjoy a good meal with our old youth friends, a whole group of them. It’s the people, the chit-chat, the giggle and the nostalgia that orchestrated the whole concert.

Originally we had a beach party night planned, but the wind was blowing so hard that the camp fire idea became in-executable. Without that cozy flame, the sunset was a bit shy creating that ambiance that I’d envisioned. No beach party? Fine, I knew then our entertainment team was up to something else… and before I slowly figured it out, I saw the furniture being moved to be close to the walls and a large space was created on the mid floor. Music was on, and the first dance parties were on the floor. A line dance crew launched the opening of our indoor party.

The radiance of the golden sunset shone through the windows that outlined the silhouette of the dancers. The designs were continually transformed through the movement of the dancers, and they looked very appealing to me. I planned to take lots of reunion pictures, but I ended up with very limited images. I seemed often occupied doing something else. These pictures are my favorite though the exposure quality is not there.

I have posted some landscape pictures (don’t intend to repeat in this blog), but this one with layers of mountains particularly in black and white reminds me of Chinese brush paintings…

I take this picture whenever I go to Crater Lake. It has been three years since I was there last and the bush has since grown and covered half of the frame.

The reunion came to an end after seven days of excursion. Friends are very considerate to repeatedly express their sincere appreciation and assure me how much they have enjoyed the trip. I am relieved to finally turn in a finished project and realize that Oregon does have something to offer besides being praised as ‘Photographer’s Heaven’. I am grateful that I was given this opportunity to serve and offer what I know as a local resident. I am content knowing my friends had a good time and truly enjoyed Oregon. However, it is even better if we had a more professional and responsible tour guide and we did not miss several important spots in my plan… Remember? I am a perfectionist. Let go? I will see to it, maybe some day.

 

 

 

Random thoughts


No longer part of this picture, I can only be the spectator and recollect what I have experienced in life. Life is a long journey. Just like the waves, it goes up and down. Live it with a welcoming heart, take it one day at a time.

Hiking is good for body and soul. I feel the cleansing effect through the wild forest with old growth, unpolluted air, and filtered sunshine. Bird songs and calls are nature sound that energizes the walk strides.  The reward is at the end of the tunnel, the peak. It’s not just for the sense of achievement, it also puts you ‘above the world’ and ‘beyond the material’ state besides the breath-taking scenery.

It is a wrecked ship, but its new value is accessed when the photographers find it attractive under the sunset and the kids or the young-in-heart get another place to release their excessive energy. When the condition turns into boredom, find the excitement hidden behind.

 

At Ease

The forecast says 82, but I am in the shade with gentle breeze softly brushing my face.  The Privets are sending off their pleasing fragrance to the air and I have indulged in aromatherapy. My backyard friends, nuthatches and chickadees, are coming back and forth like busy bees ever since I found that ‘gourmet’ suet with almond, walnut and pecan among other delicious ingredients.  The fountain is playing that ever-refreshing water sound besides offering birds a cooling stop to quench their thirst.

Life is good. At this moment, I have no desire beyond this simple harmony.

 

Good Morning, Crater Lake

We had a long and cold winter and therefore, late summer this year. I expected snow on the ground in June, but the amount of snow is a bit too much to get around. More than half of the rim is closed, and most of the hiking trails are still not accessible. I wish I could get higher for a broader angle of view and the dramatic reflection I previsualized…

Hanging out around the lake, to me, is luxurious enough, and we got to stay at the Lodge overnight. Lodge guest room is small and somewhat outdated. I wish the management can make some effort to upgrade the facility, but I also understand it is a national park and I should expect less from a non-private organization.

The lake is so peaceful, and the blue water can melt your heart. I wanted to embrace the lake with a panorama shot, but my anchored ground is not ideal for what I had in mind. I would get a really boring shot if my friend Ed did not show up in the picture.  He is a seasoned photographer and perfectly fits the scene with a story.

Fortunately, we at least enjoyed an excellent dinner at the dining room, the juicy rib eye steak, fresh salad and the delicious desert. Watching the sunset from inside the room right above the lake is enchanting. The gradual lumination of the sunlight cast on the lake and created the constant change of the scenes. The absolute tranquility can actually take you into an out-of-the-world state of mind. The experience is well worth it.

 

Backyard Entertainers

Having all feeders filled up, I can just sit behind the window and watch my backyard birds coming and going for hours. Newbies born in early summer have their feathers grown but still not fully experienced in flying are often flapping their wings wherever they go. Sometimes they landed on hummingbird feeder and then realized that their food was in a different feeder.  It is just fun to watch them. Starting from backyard birds, I grow my emotional attachment to birds. On them, I see the display of humanity and personality, and that’s exactly why I love birds.

House finish mommy was feeding her baby. California Quail daddy was guarding his juvenile while the newbie was enjoying the grass, and I was standing in the distance. California Quail male is so protective of his family. I cannot never go too close without scaring them away, and the entire family goes into hiding.

I spotted a pregnant American Robin on the ground and rushed into the house to grab my camera. When I came out again,  I saw the female fly into a bush hiding, and this male was standing on the stump spying on me.  A few weeks after, I noticed a baby jumping on the ground by the bush.

American Robins are too common that I stop taking their pictures, but I cannot resist this young bird singing in front of my house early in the morning. When cherries are in season, the cherry tree behind our house is often taken over by the Robins. I caught this guy ‘red-handed’.

Gold Finches and House Finches are family-oriented. Male and Female couples are often seen traveling together. Usually, one party shows up first to scout and calls for their companion to join. Man and woman share equal opportunity. Unlike some of the other birds, Grosbeak, for example, the male usually takes over the feeder while the female is waiting somewhere nearby. If the male does not leave, the female won’t come by.

Red-breasted Sapsucker, a type of Woodpecker, came early this spring and as usual, pounded on the vent on our roof to make the loud noise. I know that’s how they called for their mate, but so far I have not seen a female respond to the calling right on the spot.

It is great if I can take good pictures of the birds. If not, I feel it more interesting to record their lives and behaviors. Like us, they are one of God’s creations on earth and their existence  plays a part in the universe.

 

 

Taste of Oregon

As beautiful as it is, Oregon is not a tourist destination.  Tour industry is still undeveloped. There are barely organized tours and no infrastructure established to facilitate the tourism. It was a bit of challenge planning a reunion tour for my college friends, but they all seemed to be impressed by the scenery here and had a good time.

Multnomah Falls is one major landmark along Columbia River. Women’s Forum is a good spot to overlook Columbia Gorge.

Multnomah Falls

Women’s Forum

Smith Rock is the place where you can spend hours hiking along the river in the canyon. It is also a great photography location. Unfortunately, we had a very short stay, and I only took a few shots at the beginning of the trail.

Smith Rock

Snow dramatizes Three Sisters in June summer day. They are absolutely gorgeous. I can imagine the romantic look on sunrise and sunset, but I seem to always come through here during the bright sunny day.

Three Sisters

Crater Lake is the only national park in Oregon and the most desired place for the visitors. Unfortunately, we have a late summer this year, and the ground is still heavily covered with snow. Rim access is minimum. We missed out multiple great photography locations!

Crater Lake

Sunrise at Crater Lake

I recently discovered Yaquina nature area (Newport) from a birding trip. In addition to the well-known Peregrine Falcon family, there are numerous shorebirds and seals in the area. We even saw a few whales swimming in white water.

Yaquina Lighthouse

Thore’s Well at Cape Perpetua is one popular photography spot. There are three hiking trails in the area. St. Perpetua Trail leads you up to Whisper Spruce Loop Trail where you can overlook a range of Oregon coast, simply stunning coastline.

St Perpetua Trail

Oregon is not lack of scenic viewpoints, but bus access and qualified tour guides ought to be developed and improved.

 

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Among the whole world of beautiful flowers, Crocus is probably not one of the most-photographed. However, they usually pop up early in spring when I was anxious to see colors. Besides, purple is my favorite.

This is just a random snapshot, but I am pleased with the gentle and quiet outlook. I am ready to launch my reunion trip and meet the friends who I have not seen since college. A sea of memory and thought suddenly overwhelmed me. My mind is full of words, but I cannot burst out anything. This image illustrates my current state of mind.