Early Fall In Montana

Ten years ago when I visited Montana, I was impressed by its majestic mountains and bold scenery. On the recent second visit, I found I am so in love of it.

The road to Logan Pass (from Avalanche to Jackson Glacier) was closed due to the freshly covered snow, we were just one day late. Fall colors inside the park have begun to pop on a big scale, beautiful, but not dramatic enough, a bit too early.  We missed out the drama, but no disappointment. It was misty and somewhat bleak; however, the view is no second to a sunshine and glorious day.

Due to weather condition, we decided not to hike any of the trails where I originally expected better photography opportunities. Particularly after my fall, I could manage to walk, but hiking was impossible.

The recent fire has taken away quite a bit of shine from MacDonald Lake. Without getting to the top viewpoints, this is the best I can get from the highway. The burn makes you sigh.

There are slight orange and red colors mixed in with the majority Yellow. Snow changed our itinerary; meanwhile, it provided us with stunning contrast colors. Nature simply knows how to present at its best in the different season and under various circumstances. Oh, Yellow, I have never been so attracted to the color, and so refreshed with its purity.

My dream shots around Lake Mcdonald cannot be fulfilled, instead, I snapped the one below that I love. Mountain, lake, cloud, snow, all colors, and reflection. In addition, this picture marks where I slipped and fell on the ice. I paid a fair price to take this picture. The outcome of my injury prevents me from sitting, but I am still anxious to share, at least some of them.

 

 

Iced Thistle

This picture was taken same time last year on my regular walk path. It’s a path full of thistles that I found boring most of the time. But, thanks (and no thanks for severe cold weather) to the ice storm… and the natural bokeh in the background.

 

 

Black and White – Nostalgia

Cold weather lingered. Snow came to the party almost immediately when the ice storm was finally out of sight. I like fresh air and snow white environment, but I have no courage to drive on the snowy ground.

Out treasure hunt on foot, I saw no life signs and colors. I like simple stuff, and  I always appreciate black and white images, but I have not done much experiment myself. Black and White, as well as Minimalism, are probably two categories that I would tag this year.
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Growing up and living a busy city life in youth, I enjoy rural and country habitat more. I long for simplicity and tranquility.

The sparrow is nestled in the branches covered with snow. Regardless how much she puffed up her feather, it was a 15-degree weather.  The walking path lined with blackberry bushes had no food for her. A small piece of seed means everything.

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 When a part of icicles is all he has to hang on, the chickadee grabs it firm and tight. 20161215-e25a1170-editSometimes I think we are overly spoiled with an endless supply of articles, technologies, and information, but we are not making further efforts to utilize them.

 If these pictures are colored, I probably would not lay my eyes on details and enjoy them as much.20170105-dsc03329-edit-edit-edit-edit-edit

I have tried to photograph thistles all year round. I thought their spring and summer lavender and green colors would make better pictures, but so far my favorite images are often taken in winter. The scoop of shredded ice reminds me of my childhood. We tropical kids had numerous shredded ice with flavor toppings, not only colored syrups, there are red beans, tapioca bubbles, fruits and much more. Up to today, it is still one hot summer fun for all ages.

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Before ice is made inside the freezer of a refrigerator in small pieces, we bought our ice in a large cube. The vend used a large freezer to make a large piece of ice which can be as big as 6′ by 8′. They then used large hand saws to split them into smaller pieces for purchase. On hot days, I, the smallest kid in the family was the one who carried the little bucket to wait in the line and brought cheer home to the sweaty crowd.

Nostalgia, nostalgia, it is all brought up by the Black and White.

Thoughts on Ice – one more thing to thank for

Brrrrr… but utterly beautiful.  Snow or not, I would still say Yes.  Have a cup of tea, sitting by fireplace and staring at the white wonderland outside. Isn’t it one of the best relaxation you can have at home? It is a luxury for me, for someone who does not need to go out and work regularly.
There is no snow in Taiwan, only on couple mountain peaks. As I recall I only saw snow once in Taiwan after we hiked for hours and finally hit the mountain top. At that single event, I suffered a severe frozen feet and had to stay inside the hotel while everyone else was out cheering and tossing snowballs left and right.

When you grow up in tropical region, you have no experience whatsoever to be on snow, don’t know what snow gear to prepare and how thick the socks should be. It only snows 2-3 times a year here in Willamette valley. People are not trained to drive and function normally on snowy days. I simply quit driving if the road condition is slightly doubtful. My car was sliding out of control on snow and I could not stop it but to let it bump into curb and other time, bridge railing.  Thanks God, I am still alive.

More than three decades ago, I went on a business trip to Cleveland, Ohio in winter time.  Having been there half dozen times, I thought I had all my warm gears with me, heavy coat, glove, scarf, stocking hat and I wore a long boot, fully-lined leather boot.  It was snowing and raining. Hotel called a cab for me.  While I was waiting, I decided to call my client to reconfirm our meeting time. Thomas, import manager of the company, mentioned on the phone that they were ready to place an order with me. An order? It was the first order! I had pursued this big company (still in business) for almost two years, and they were ready to officially become my customer. My heart was beating hard and almost leaped out of my chest.
I grabbed my purse and dashed out of my room. The cab driver was waving at me outside hotel entrance. I gave him a big smile and sped up my pace towards the cab. The next thing I noticed, I was looking at blue sky with my four wings up in the air. I came down hard and flat on my back. Cold, hurt and embarrassed, I managed to get up and throw myself into the car. The driver was worried, but I used my fake smile to reassure him that I was OK. It was too big a deal for me that I let my emotion took control of me. I stumbled on ice because I was in the hurry and it is also because the leather boot made in Taiwan those days did not have slip proof grids.


 Snow came down yesterday, well, it was more like a blizzard. I had urge to go out and snap a few shots, but it was so cold and I dare not drive down the hill myself, so I decided to wait.  Overnight the snow was accumulated close to one foot high and stopped. It was raining and temperature is supposed to go up. If I want to shoot snow, I had to act now. So, fully dressed, I stepped out of the door.

My goodness, the snow is so deep and hard that it hurts if I just slightly tilted my foot against the edge of it. It is definitely not the powdery and soft snow that I was experienced in ski area. I had to walk slow and steady to make sure that I was stepping on the right spot. I am not kidding, I can only take one step at a time. ‘One step at a time’ and ‘one thing at a time’ did not exist in my life, but nature is giving me the lessons.

From distance, it is all white. Come closer, it is all clear, crystal clear.  Every single tree, limb and leave are covered with ice. It is icing, not just frosting. This is the first time that I had chance to enjoy crystal trees and bushes since I moved to Oregon.  Everything I saw is coated with ice, crisp and solid.  


Want some frozen berries from crabapple tree? It is frozen good, triple layer icing and looks yummy. It is your winter natural ice cream here.

If not for this icing, I would never pay attention to this piece of twig from oak tree. On normal days, it was just another piece of debris that I have to collect from the ground and put them in compost bin, but today it jumped out on me.  I viewed it like a piece of treasure.

It was treacherous to just walk around in the neighborhood. I actually stepped deep in a few ditches and scared myself to death. This reminds me of those who hiked across the mountains and ravines  covered in snow and what kind of trauma they could face. When we are deep into nature, our life is so vulnerable. A pitfall can lead to a major disaster.

In the past, I questioned the wisdom of taking risks for the unprecedented exploration and taunting experiments. And now I appreciate these pioneers and heroes.  It is for them, we are inspired to strive for mission impossibles and that is the reason that we get to enjoy new technology and new toys in our life today and beyond.

A simple example like mine. If I did not dare to walk in hazardous condition, I would not have chance to explore these icing up-close.

The next day, ice was gone and snow was melting.  I could not find my crystal tree, frozen berries and icicles any more. They are temporary and we cannot wait around. When opportunity popped up, here we go. Act Now.

Olympic races were on TV.  We like to watch figure skating like everyone else.  Just for fun, I took a few panning shots off TV. These figure skaters work so hard to perfect every movement. It shows particularly clear from the pictures.  It is an art form that human being has created to maximize our body potentials. People devoted years of life to come here to compete for the God, the moment of fame. What I see is their spirit and the physical beauty presented through their extra-ordinary performance.

TV was on and I was attentive to Olympic broadcasting… We heard a loud noise from behind our house, a sharp Crack sound, then immediately a Bang, sound like extremely heavy something hit the ground. The (at least) 50 feet oak tree could not handle whole load of ice and finally gave in, fell on the ground.  Thanks God, it hit the common area between our next door neighbor and our house.

This tree normally leaned towards left side of our house where our office is.  It is a healthy tree and we did not think it would cause any hazard.  But nature runs its own course, this tree may have done with its life-spam and due back to heaven. You know what, I just escaped another potential trauma !!! Do you believe there is a Powerful Hand Above? I do, I do and I do.


Rain Drop Thoughts

I am challenging myself to always take new images for my blog. It is the way for me to improve my photography skills.  I collect notes and tips from photography gurus and experts, but end of the day, nobody will hold your hand to set aperture or shutter speed when it comes to your own time and circumstance. I know there is no magic and no instant remedy other than to learn it myself through repetition and practice.
In the last couple of weeks, temperature was low but no snow. Dryness of the year has disappointed many skiers in the area. I don’t ski, but honestly I also hope more snow will come and come soon.  I love that peaceful and soothing white, clean chill, and cheerful surroundings not mentioning what snow would bring, the wild white wonderland.
No snow, I can get by with fog. I always like the simmering look of fog. In fact I have made a few attempt to shoot fog but not too successful. When it was too dense at dawn, I waited. Then I was occupied to engaged in other project, by the time when I put my head up, it vanished. I am having hard time to do one thing at a time, so that one thing slipped away while I tried to hold on two or three things at once. I want some good fog shots and I will, one day, focus on this one thing and accomplish my goal.
I had my mind set on three giant sequoia in front of a school. I have seen them standing in heavy fog and looking like three giant angles floating in the cloud. But this scene has not come back for couple years. I am still waiting….
For this year, I intend to focus more on fine art photography. That means, more macro or close-ups shots and nature theme based. Maybe also getting into some abstract as my inspiration goes. I have to take some artsy shots for my assignments, but what do I shoot? 
Trees and plants are as bare as they can be. Evergreen plants have some green leaves, but what’s special about them, they are here all year around, as boring as it can be.  I could not catch up with fog, snow is long gone, but I must come out something.
Out of desperation, I went out and walked around. Looking harder, looking deeper, still nothing… and I spotted sparkling something under tree limbs and twigs. As a matter of fact, there are a lot, in clusters, gathered around evergreen leaves and deciduous twigs, the rain drops!!!  I had my camera out, macro lens on tripod and on solid ground. Holy cow, there are lots of droplets, too many, and I saw trees in them, the reflection.
Less is more and this is where I began. I wish there are some colors in the surroundings that can be reflected in the droplets, unfortunately it is the season for the reason, bare and lack of luster. Instead of moaning for winter, I added a bit of earth tones to give it a lift, just tints of complimentary colors.

This is exactly my style, casual, natural and understated. We more likely to shoot perfect flowers, the bright and successful side, but I believe portraying truth in various aspect is equally valuable. Furthermore, looking for beauty on ashes.

It was cloudy and I don’t have the best skill and equipment to do the job that I hope for, but it is OK, I am exploring and experimenting. I do what I can. I know I will always learn something from each endeavor.  I like the jewel tone of this one, and I made the background drops more painterly and make the focal point drop more crystal like.

I love crystals over diamond. Both of them are from nature, but monetary value of diamond that people so earnestly pursued makes it unnatural and to me, a symbol of vanity and greed if it is not bond by a sworn commitment, such as used for a wedding ring. The tough and solid nature of diamond is what I appreciate. Glitter and shine will come if a lively relationship sustains. otherwise, it is just a sparkled stone.
So what do you think this is? Christmas is over, but I am getting an ornament and it  is made of water drops. I think it is fun and cool though photo quality is not top notch.  It is a causal occurrence. I tried to shoot one drop out of many. They are all too close that I could not get one crispy clear.  Just because

it is not crisp, it looks like a painted ornament.  If it is not made for original purpose, it will be for something else. If I am not good at something, I will be good at something else. Pondering on this, I feel ease and peace, and contentment.

I left the dead pine cone behind to provide a backdrop. If not for the silent partner behind, the front one won’t be the focal point. Don’t overlook the quiet in the crowd who can be more profound as you can imagine.

At this moment, I raised my head and I saw the warm and friendly smile. My goodness, Sun was here! it was comforting after days of chill and cloud. I was excited and looking anxiously for the light source, and here they are. I found many beautiful drops, big and small. You know I was just complaining too many drops and they stayed too close for me….. Just like that, I changed my point of view in that split second.I wish I had used F8 instead of F5.6 and have more crispy droplets. But I could not see it through till I have the image downloaded and now Sun is down again.  I usually don’t complain much about rain, and I will even do it less after this discoveries.

If I mention that I live in Eugene, people would usually say, lots of rain there, isn’t it? Yes, but it usually comes and goes, it would not stay long enough to bore you. Besides, think of the green acres we have here.
There is a study stating that Oregon is the most popular moving- to state last year. Out of total 129,000 moves, 61% of them moved to Oregon. 
I am not kidding. Check it out yourself at http://huff.to/1d6Wpr3

‘Rain drops falling on my head…’ I heard the song and I saw Butch (Paul Newton) have Etta (Katherine Ross) on his bike, riding along and turning around in the rain…..  Sing along, Oregonians!!!

Dream – Snow – Puzzle

Against my new year resolution ‘simplicity’, somehow I have already created a list of tasks and events to do for 2014. I certainly don’t live like a retiree. I feel no constraint because I do not need to go outside the house to work every day. But days are so short that I am constantly playing catch-up. I think I have finally come to a conclusion, it is my nature that I am fighting against, nothing else.   I cannot sit in front of TV without doing the second or the third thing. I either do ironing, folding the clothes, or cooking. If nothing else, I would try to organize something in my sitting area… endless.  I know the solution is to get out of the house.
Do one thing at a time.  This idea has not come across my mind much and certainly never embossed on me . Or if it did, it would vanish in 5 minutes. I have three photo books that I planned to finish by end of this month.  I thought I have one month, but due to an unexpected trip coming up towards the end of the month, I have to hustle them up now.  I am simply not used to procrastination. I would rather accomplish my goal earlier, not later.  So I spent new year weekend plowing through thousands of photos till past midnight, and, the pressure slipped into my dream…..

There was the checker board. Some of them are more visible than the other. My eyes did not see straight across, I viewed them from diagonal angle. It is easier to take short cuts and straight path, but I tend to choose winding roads. I seemed to have a plan and have all checkers placed, but my destination is cluttered and blurry. My goal post is far away and undefined.  My brain is stuffed, I cannot sort it out and I wandered into never never land…. I actually woke up with a headache and the whole room was spinning in front of me. I could not stand up. I had to lie down to balance myself. An exchange for a few late nights, I think.

I have little pressure wanting to keep up with my project, but it is not substantial enough to put me down. It is this drastic cold weather that kept me inside the house. I have only out walking twice this week. Temperature is low and it is foggy most of the time.  When road is icy early in the morning, I was afraid to drive down the hill to hit couple spots that I had in mind for foggy shots. Then couple hours later, the road is drier and so the fog gets thinner and soon disappeared. Here goes the ambiance. My neighborhood is hilly, but it does not have the layers of the timberlines, more like this one that I took last year. Fog is beautiful among green trees and it is even more amazing when it dwelled among white snow.  Honestly, as cold as I have experienced this year, I don’t mind to see more snow.  We don’t need lower temperature to have snow, what we need is more moisture to generate snow and make all skiers happy and so am I.
Just before last snow hit, we purposely filled up all the feeders. I was so happy to see many birds come around, not for my photography, but for them to have enough food in winter while the ground was covered with snow. All the birds are literally homeless though they are provided and fed by nature.  Looking at this lonely one, I feel he was asking me, “can I take a shelter at your house, even just overnight”?  I would love to host another bird overnight like we did for Baby Jay (B.J. Story) whom we missed so much.
This last snow sticks to the ground for about a week. No getting around by car, I took a walk nearby and ran into this ‘phenomenon’. There were some kind of light beaming from the horizon (jet streams?), there was loose cloud and floating fog, there was sun reflection on my camera lens. Other than that, I cannot explain anything. I left the picture as is, no touch-up and hopefully, someone can give me some education on this.

Note:

I really had the messy dream resembles what I described.  But the image was taken in my recent walk at the park prior when I was testing a new lens that I got for Christmas.  For some reason, I was much attracted to the image and have looked at it repeatedly. Later when I had that dream, I have finally got my answer.

Life is good and life is full of surprises. Photography has become an indispensable part of my life and through it, so my discovery journey continues.

       

Walks and Thoughts on Snow

Other than the extreme winter I experienced in Chicago, this is the lowest temperature that I ever witnessed here. It is hard to make believe to my tropical friends that the temperature actually went down to 1 degree Fahrenheit (Celsius 17 subzero) couple days ago. Snow came down 6 days ago and I have not touched my car key since. One day after the snow, there were 259 car accidents in Eugene according to Register Guard. Eugene people love snow, but not experienced enough to deal with it.

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cotton call or shred ice, your call

Temperature has been so low, the one feet snow accumulated in one day is still there.  I love to see snow when I open window blind in the morning, the whole white world is so wildly beautiful.

It was sunny and gorgeous outside. The freezing chill kept me home, but my mind was wandering and my heart finally made the call – I must go out and shoot a few pictures. The problem is, I don’t dare to drive on heavy snow. I have wrecked my car twice due to lack of experience steering the wheels on snow and my memory of recent deadly-turn-magically car accident is still fresh. So, I thought about my super chauffeur, my husband.

Of course I made a sound suggestion to do a grocery run and by the way, shoot a few. Unless Ducks football game is on, he always said YES. I cheer for Ducks but they are my enemies, too, on this note, LOL.
Costco traffic is unbelievably light.  It is good time to shop while most of people would rather stay warm inside the house. By the time when snow starts to melt, the streets will be icy and messy. Housewives will swarm out after being bond at home for the entire week and when refrigerator is getting empty. I had good rationale to convince my husband to take me out even though you know what’s at the bottom of my heart….. photo walk on snow, hooray!
shaky in the cold
He certainly has a big heart. He not only replenished all our bird feeders, he brought hummingbird feeder in every night to thaw and put it out before he goes to work in the morning. I watched him bring in the feeder 3-4 times during the weekend. Birds certainly know where to go. Many are around in this last week.

It was cold and dark, I saw this hummingbird stationed on the limb for a while, I believe, to declare his territory. The shot was taken from inside the house and from distance.  The image is not very sharp, but can you see hummingbird’s fluffy feather? We add layers of clothing and put on heavy jacket, so do they. They beef up their feather to preserve the heat.

beef up to fight chill

It makes me feel good seeing gold finches were bathing in the sun and did the same as hummingbird. The expansion of its feather makes it look like an egg.  Birds have natural weathering apparels and we use the same material for our warm clothes and comforters. Interesting, isn’t it?  I know I have a reason to like birds.

Ever since I had a close shot of heron in Taiwan, I have seen herons in Ridgefield, in Portland in closer range and I actually saw 3 herons in Eugene Delta Ponds couple days ago.   This guy stood on snow and I liked its back-lit silhouette. I could not see them closer earlier and now they are everywhere. I think herons are now making peace with me after I witnessed its criminal act in Taiwan.

He is now my friend

If you ask me how cold is it for the temperature to be subzero 12-17 degree Fahrenheit, see it yourself. It is crystal clear, it is solid and I had cold chill by just looking at it.  I  had my snow pants on, heavier dow jacket on, plus all the warm accessories, but my fingers were still frozen, so were my feet. I know if I stay outside all night, I would turn into an ice pillar. period. There are now ice hotels in Quebec and Norway, as far as I know. I cannot begin to imagine how people get the pleasure being refrigerated in a hotel where comfort should  be priority.

Ice Jaw

Are we having such a good life that we have to torture ourselves every once a while in order to remember what misery is like and can appreciate more what we have now?

Below is the processed compost pile at Lane Forest Products.  I saw the pile steaming on cold days when I drove by. Wanting to take a picture for long,  but there is no place to pull over. Now I am on passenger side and the pile is covered with snow, even more interesting.  Suddenly a compost pile turns into a smoky mountain.

It is OK to dream
When our car stopped at traffic light, I spotted these roses from distance. Out of curiosity, I took a quick shot. Pondering how come there are still colorful roses this time of the year and how can they stay erected on snow…

When the picture is downloaded and brought close. I realized they are plastic roses and stems. But they look pretty on snow, does it matter if it is real or artificial as long as it is pleasing to our eyes?

Do you feel better when you spend more on something and think it has to be better because it is more expensive? I say, let’s not to be the victim of marketing. The matter of the fact is, when the flowers look too perfect, we would start to doubt their authenticity.  It is like math, like science. When the end is reached, it goes back to a new beginning.

true or false, who cares

Now I mention above picture is taken from a compost pile, do you still enjoy the same? Simple pleasure can readily be accessible if our state of mind is not in the way. I have seen a note on a porcelain piece: “I smile because I have no idea what’s going on.”  

Below is a reflection shot of trees, snow, ice and pond. All are as real as it can be, but I felt original shot was too overly pronounced, too exposed, too overwhelmed with dropped tree limbs, thick snow pack and big sheet of ice. I
like the scene, but I want it simpler in order that I can enjoy more, and not to be distracted.
Bottom Line – Peace in Mind

By using a plug-in that I recently purchased, I was able to make it a semi sepia tone and fade out lots of clutters.  If I need to come up a new year resolution for 2014, I would say, ‘Simplicity’, and that’s exactly what I addressed when I started this blog back in January.