Farewell to Tulip Magnolia

One sunny week brings our tulip magnolia to her full bloom. However the flowers do not sustain long before the petals begin to fall down the ground.

This is the first time that I checked on them every couple days and tried to snap shots from different angles. The flowers are showy due to the size and the density of the blooms. Otherwise, I say it is quite plain in comparison with other smaller flowers. But photographers are supposed to be able t20160324-E25A37441o shoot anything and play with that magic wand, so I did.

My images are surely not magical, but I thought it worthwhile to record the short blooming season of this tree we planted 17 years ago. The flowers are way up there. I hand-held my 300mm to take all the pictures. They grow so tightly to one another. It is not easy to isolate one from the other. A cluster of large flowers do not look bad either.

Though the appearance is not dramatic or striking, it fits right in my favorite style: subtle, elegant and understated. The sculptured edges seem to be amplified in the form of solo and simplicity. I have tried to use bold and exaggerated textures for the background, but I seemed to always come back to my preferred tone and style.  Am I confined myself to the box and lack of courage to explore outwards? Or, am I a stubborn soul who stick to my principal faithfully?

This duo image makes me think of my hubby and friends. One applause does not echo but two will. Even when both two are drenched in the rain, their connected point remains dry and a stronghold. If not for that stronghold, they would have been separately defeated by the rain and are struggling with their last breath right now.

Below image was taken in an overcast day.I was looking to give it a little twist. After removing perplexed twigs and limbs off the way, I added couple of textures to carry on the gloomy state. As cold as it looks, I think it would be good to have it on a porcelain piece of some sort. Not every day is a glorious day but every day has the charm of its own.


If I don’t, one rainy day can scatter the patels and take blossoms’ life away. It was only two days apart, the flowers became vulnerable and fragile after a brief rain shower. I am posting this image to illustrate the reality besides I actually find them most attractive in this stage of the life. With the experience and knowledge we’ve obtained in decades of our life, can you see the hidden charm behind?


See you next year, my inspiring Tulip Magnolia.

In Retrospect – The Alternatives

A bit less than two years into posting my blogs, I recently have been pondering why I am doing it and what is my short term or long term goals.
I post my blog every Wednesday since I started and I have not broken once. I have been faithful to maintain the integrity of my content, i.e. to tell the true stories behind. Either I share exactly what comes to my mind or where my imagination takes me to. I can sometimes wander and roam without an end, but most of the time, truth comes and it brings me freedom and ease to simply talk about it.
Grab a bit of sunshine in this autumn day.

It has something to do with my family trait and my personality. If I am onto something, I want to do it right and good. The consistent posting forces me to take more pictures and the process has gradually and greatly helped me to unfold the mystery behind the camera, one layer at a time. I am learning every day and there are still mountains of knowledge to be explored. Foremostly I am getting fresh prospective for life through the lens and that is priceless and unspeakable.

In the end of last year, I looked at the pictures I took throughout the year and smiled at considerable amount of them. However, when I am re-examining my efforts one year after, I found less images make it to my faves list.  I realized that I am not as easily pleasing myself any more. I desire to be better, but I have not been devoted and patient enough to follow the steps recommended by the pros. My tripod still looks new and I barely used my remote release. I am always too much in a hurry and I want to change that. I need to yell out each day, patient, patient and patient.
Rainy day? Play with rain drops.
Every once a while, when my inspiration did not flow, but I had to keep up my routine and so I did. In other words, on a few occasions I blogged because I did not want to break my blogging schedule, inspired or not. I did not feel good when that happened. In my whole life, I swear to myself to be truthful, faithful and (close to) perfect in whatever I do. Once I gamed, I was in for excellence and results. That occasional unease bugged me a great deal.
I have not taken enough time to shoot each image like many other great photographers do.  I should assure that I am using the right lens, pre-visualize the shots, take time to compose before I trigger a shot. But I seem to always fire one of too many shots and take too much time going through hundreds and hundreds images afterwards. Greatness does not come by accident. I have repeatedly told myself that I cannot continue doing what I have been doing. I don’t want to shoot many and hopefully some of them will turn out. I want my mind and soul inbefore I pull the trigger. 
Frosted hay field? I saw morning glory gradually fading out to night solace.
I also like to spend more time working on certain images to add artistic touch or enhancement of any kind. My interest in black and white photography is growing and I want to attack that area as well.

In my weekly practice, I found it easy to write when the images are in place. It is easy to speak the truth and from the heart. At this stage of my life,  I don’t have to think about product designs or business strategies. It is a simple leisure and it is easy to bring pleasure. I enjoyed it immensely whenever my inspiration flows and my pen flies. 

Taking all above into consideration, I may begin to experiment a less frequent posting. Instead of weekly post, I may start to do it bi-weekly. I am not particularly happy with the layout of my blog, but I am not software savvy and preset format does not seem to give me enough freedom to play with. I am bored to post my images in the symmetrical manner (one to the right and the next one to the left :-<) and I plan to look into other options and make changes.
No dramatic sunburst? How about dainty sun sparks?
When there is no way, there will be another way. I cannot remember who is the singer, but her voice seems to stick in my mind. No cozy sunshine, rain just stopped, cloudy and hazy, but there is still Light and rain Drops are sparkling on the leaves. Murky water,? no problem, just Texture and cover it up. When reality is not as pretty, make something for yourself. This is exactly what photography does for me. 
Blogging has forced me to write and daringly, write in my second language. Blogging has provided me the means to share my images and my thoughts. The impact is unmeasurable and I gratefully embrace it.

Autumn Rain Brings Fall Colors

Eugene is a nice and decent size town, but it is not as resourceful as I like it to be. Driving on the freeway is not my favorite thing to do, but I have often been going back and forth between here and up north to procure what’s missing here. It is surely not fun to drive on freeway particularly in the rain. In fact, it is very dangerous. 
My driving history is not as long as the regular folks here. I don’t have any breaking record to be proud of, but I did have a few very scaring experience. The most recent one was just less than ten days ago. It rained so hard on the freeway that I could not see the car ahead of me not mentioning the cars behind.  My windshield wipers worked as hard as they could, but still not fast enough to give me a clear view. I thought to pull over, but I could not see far enough to make any move.
I saw rainbow, double rainbows actually. The rainbow colors turned extremely bright at some point when the background color is light and then dimmed down when they hit the dark mountain range.  The scene was so dramatic and so unprecedented that I desired so hard to make a stop somewhere and snap a shot. But I knew it is a mission impossible and I should not even take my eyes off  the road… Rain diminished and so were the rainbows. But that glory-like moment is still in my mind.
Rain washes, cleanses and wipes the grasses green. Acres of green fields, sea of trees with fall colors, rivers and lakes and the reflections on them have composed a breath-taking landscape. The scene of Willamette Valley that I saw from the airplane is absolutely stunning!  On this note, I think it worthwhile to exchange for falling short of resources here.
Autumn rain brings fall colors. I ran out of the door with my raincoat and camera rain jacket when I saw the trees spotted with fall colors. I have been waiting for the leaves to turn colors and these few colors are enough to get me out of the house. There are many shades of red and this red looks so fresh and so clean that it stands out among brown tree barks, evergreens and the beige house in the background. It was a cloudy day, a better day to portrait autumn in many ways.

Inside the white fence is a large piece of property with a house sitting far away from the road. The wide open field is just right there, I guess, to be the barrier between the house and the street. It looks like a horse property, but I have never seen any horse (or even people) around. The owner must like the secluded living.  I have always had my eyes on this place because of the open space, the row of the trees and the white fence. I cannot tell you why I like white fence. Maybe I wish I have a horse and can ride my horse at my own property. And, I would love to live in a place like this. Quiet, secluded, open and surrounded by nature.

I took this picture to compare with the other one I took last year in a foggy day (see my previous blog “GotCha Fog”. Can you believe how different it is when two pictures are taken at the same spot at two different time of the season?

Not having to drive on the freeway, local park is my other place to shoot fall colors. When the colors are intense and there are many colors, I feel like to paint over them and turn them into something more artistic. However, I just came back from a trip and did not have time to play with them. Instead, I used several different preset to give all images a bit of painterly look.
My corn flower is still blooming since I got it six months ago. New growth is still popping. It is not influenced by cool weather and rain at all. I have taken many and decided to take another shot today.
The flower colors are still as vivid and bright as they have been that is truly amazing.  No post processing was done. What you see is what it looks. Although they are not your typical fall colors, but I count them fall colors because they are the colors that I see in this cold days.

It is the rain that brings all the beautiful fall colors. I like to believe it and I like rain.

Simply Tulip Magnolia

Looking at ten days weather forecast, I know it will be my week of shooting around the house. At my attempt to keep it Simple, I have very limited home decors.  I don’t have the habit to collect nicks and nacks, no crafts, no antiques, no acquisition of famous paintings.  I guess I can pull stuff out of kitchen and bathroom to shoot, but that will be my last resort. I can always put on my rain gear and shoot in the rain, but I would rather keep my camera dry.
My bird buddies have not come around much lately. I have cleaned up and refreshed all my feeders with new goodies, but they must be still sheltering somewhere to stay warm and out of rain. I saw little bit of blooms from my flower pots, but they are just barely surviving in the rain… Am I making lots of excuses here? But really, it’s time for rain to go away.
People walking down the street have often stopped in front of our house pointing at this tulip magnolia tree during its blooming season. Though it’s packed with countless flowers, they are mostly hanging high. I have circled around the tree with my camera, but not much luck. Deep pink color and curvy petals are quite pretty, but I could not shoot anything worthy to share.  Strange enough, large showy flowers tend to have less interesting details.

My life trained me not to take No as an answer. Find a way if there is no way. If there is only one option, utilize it and make the best out of it. I want to be faithful and forceful to myself to shoot something new every week. My mind is set. I want to shoot these magnolia flowers regardless !

A blink of light flashed through my mind. I got a stepper to reach up and cut 5 limbs from the tree. Cut flowers were brought inside the house.  The flowers are very fragrant that I have never noticed prior. This little discovery makes me happy. However, the blossoms are big and twigs are thick. I could barely find a vase to fit. Finally they were managed to hold together. Examining them from all angles over and over, I had no idea where to start.

They are large, colorful, curvy, but no intricate details like most of the flowers. Couple flowers were in full bloom. I tried some Marco shots, but they look redundant as what I have done many times. Less is more, but not in this case. Rainy day, not enough light and I did not want to use flash. I was bombed. I buried myself in magazine piles the rest of the day…
And, I wowed when I got up next morning, guess what? All flowers were opened, I know it is the warmth inside the house, but I was still a bit jaw dropping. The boring bunch is now turning into an array of beauties, my favorite kind, gorgeous but subtle. I was so thrilled. They have just made my day.
Mr. Weather was moody in this day. Sun went up and down within 2-3 minutes window. By the time when I had my setting adjusted, light condition changed. A bit of frustration turning the dials from one end to the other. But, luckily, I was able to nail this shot sitting flowers by the window and the sun happened to shine through at that crucial moment. Background is the magnolia tree outside, bathed in the sun.  There is no doubt in my mind, the light has dramatically blown in new life to the flowers.
This shot has given me a lift. I grabbed the beauty bunch, went around the house, sitting on the floor, lying down, stepping up, snap, snap and snap. I tried to single out the flowers and minimize the content, but it simply did not work. They are just meant to be together.
Imagine you are out in a tropical resort. You wake up in the morning. Bright and clear outside, cozy and relaxing inside the room. You don’t feel like to get out of the bed. You just want to have your aromatic cup of coffee and fresh croissant in bed. Watch a bit of ‘Good Morning, America’ and rolled back to doze off… At least this is how I felt when I had this image taken. I forgot the ground was still wet outside and the cloud would move in again anytime.
Otherwise, thinking that you just checked into a Victoria boutique bed and breakfast. You walked by intricate decors in the lobby, hall way and entered your room, here it was, an oil painting on the wall… I took this shot when the sun was down. Could not get a shot with good exposure, so I ‘painted’ it, might as well.
Often times I lamented that I did not take any single landscape, architecture or street photographs (only product shots) while I was traveling intensively worldwide, throughout Europe and North America, Australia, New Zealand and even made it to South Africa. From photography point of view, how exciting it will be if I have brought home something from these places. But I have Zero in stock and more than likely, I won’t go back.
Now I am plowing through Oregon, Eugene and even my house.  My map is getting smaller and smaller. I missed out lots of landscapes and now I am making macros. How life revolves and transforms! My big wave is long gone and I am now playing with bubbles. Different but still enjoyable.
In my previous blog I have gone through the secrecy of flowers talking about perfect and imperfect flowers, and that boring pistols and stamens. Hold on, I found pieces of stamens left on my patio table, socked in rain water. Not sure what I was getting into it, but I snapped a few close-up shots with my Macro lens and extension tubes, and here they are. If I want to caption this image, I would use ‘whimsical’.
I think they are dancing in the rain, but not in Spain. The texture of my glass table, the color of glass and the reflections. I hear the music and the beat in the party, do you?
Writing to this point, I realized that I was drilling down and discovering a living thing, the tulip magnolia tree, from a magnifying glass to a microscope. My mood swings with the weather and with the images I took myself. The process is revealing and I feel energized in the end.

My grand daughter has just turned One. A simple birthday cake I made and a toy guitar have brought me many good photography opps. I don’t care for little children to pose or have cheesy smiles. I love everything natural from them just as they are, simply pure and utterly sincere. 
A bit texture is added to my window flower shot and the tint was tweaked for a warmer tone as backdrop. And, I invited my precious Star here to make the image pop. My Pop Star has concluded a great Magnolia day for me. Life is good and I believe we are the builder of our own happiness.