Sunshine

Pleasure is to live in Northwest if not for the long winter. Luckily sunshine is quietly stepping in this week. It brightens the day and energizes me.

Going through my photo library and found three sunshine-related images. Just to share them for fun. Sun is the source of all-positive elements. It is charming any time of the day.

Sunrise

HighNoon (Emerald Lake, Canada)

Sunset

Stay-home days are over. I am ready to head out and explore again. Thanks to Sun that inspired me to post again.

Windows with views – Travel

If not for the long hours inflight and all sorts of travel restrictions, I would go back to Taiwan now and enjoy the luxury to live normally. For years, I was not disciplined enough to download pictures and do the due diligence to edit and delete after each shot. It’s now the good time to catch up, and to fall into the dream to travel to the past.

Nan-Yuan (meaning South Garden) is located in Hsin-Chu country, about one hour drive from Taipei, the capital city north. It is a retreat place originally built by a Taiwanese news tycoon for his family. The place sits in the seclusive high mountain overlooking the valley. Breathtaking and out of the world.

Aside from the architectural, cultural and intellectual elements throughout, everything seems to be deliberately designed and displayed. I felt I could be there days and thinking I was in heaven. 2013 is the beginning of my photography journey when I visited Nan-Yuan (also called One Place by the owner). I desire to go back sometime to look at it from different perspectives.

Out of everything, I was most attracted to the windows (and doors) in all shapes (an opened book, a flower vase, a pair of pears…). Walking along the path in the retreat, unique scenes after scenes are casually and randomly framed by the windows or the doors.

Sight is showcased by the frames (windows and doors), and one frame is being framed by the other.

Current lock-downs deprive our freedom physically, but we can free up ourselves by seeing through the windows and conducting virtual tours through the pictures.

Memories from Travel

My new normal is to conduct home and hobby projects working from a planned list and a designated timeline. I like to be able to adjust my pace to make the process fun and relaxing, and yet, not to waste the time away.

Most of my intensive travel was done while I was still working and thought photography is a luxury hobby. Still having a bucket list of travel destinations and still patiently waiting for the pandemic to be lessened, I am going through the old travel pictures. Most of my intensive travel was done while I was still working and way before my photography journey. Still having a bucket list of travel destinations and still patiently waiting for the pandemic to be lessened, I can at least go through the old travel pictures.

She was working in a vineyard in Tuscany, Italy. Every morning as I enjoyed my breakfast, I spotted her red jacket and noticed that she was one of the industrious workers whose bucket seemed always full. One day I walked up to her asking for a shot, she returned with a smile. This smile has always been in my mind. I wish her well.

After visiting numerous castles, mansions and churches in Europe, I found my ‘fiddler-on-the-roof’ in front of a Spanish palace. His self-content and nostalgic music are infectious and impactful. A few years later I ran into the texture with the music notes and this image has since become one of my favorites. I can still feel and hear up to this day.

That was at least 15 years ago. I ran into my colleague in Hong Kong while we were both traveling for work. We decided to utilize the weekend time and travel to Guilin, South West China where layers of winding rice patties are the unique landscape for the region. Farming residents then grew their own food with natural fertilizers, but we were still skeptical about the food quality in the restaurant. While there was no better choice, we took some stomach medicine and walked into a local restaurant. Surprise and not, the food is naturally and organically delicious. I can still remember the freshly stir-fried crunchy cabbage we had.

She was trimming freshly harvested chili and placed them on the bamboo plate. With two chatty people walking by, she did not even raise her head. No disturbance is the message. Our chat paused and footsteps were gradually quiet down… Simple yet colorful, Silent yet busy, Secluded yet a workforce on its own.

Lost in Vegas

Las Vegas was not, is not, and won’t be my destination. It is, however, my convenient transit point to Utah national parks. Wrongly booked my return date, I ended up having to spend one more day here. I thought I would be overwhelmed by boredom, but not at all. You will see why.

I also dreamed of a jackpot, but I don’t even know how to use a modern slot machine. Besides I was overwhelmed by all sorts of the designs in my surroundings that I did not even consider to come close to the gambling table.

Looking around, I found my favorite flower vase,

Looking up, there are endless ceiling intererst:

Those glamourous casino hotels have characteristics of their own. My interest in architecture is my drive to visit them. However, the content of such hotels is too much for me. If not for a few eye-opening architectural designs, I would not want to stay indoors a bit longer.

Two white door frames welcome you into the restaurant; One hotel concierge is located at the bottom of a wood structure with a bar in the mid-level. I don’t even know how to describe the design.

In Vegas, the walk paths either lead you to a casino or a gift shop. I stayed away from the casino, but I love window browsing and enjoying the creative pieces of work. Chocolate dripping from the ceiling and down right in front of you. Simple fluorescent lights to showcase a fashion red and the whimsical bar stools…

Having hometown gourmet in a foreign place is like having fresh water in the desert. I was tired of expensive restaurants and buffets, so happy to enjoy a simple bowl of shrimp wonton noodle soup. 

Have steaming hot food in an outdoor cafe in Vegas, under 110 degree? Nop. These are cold water mist…

Too much to go on, I don’t want to get you lost either. Las Vegas is not my travel destination, but it is definitely a great place for street photography.

Natural Sculpture – Lower Antelope Canyon

natural It’s unusual for me not to post anything in a week. And yet it’s quite challenging to travel in the 110-degree temperature. Besides, I’d decided not to carry my laptop also no editing or posting through any handheld devices.  Below are again ‘vacation pictures’. Busing time is long while stops for photography is short.

Two years ago I visited upper Antelope Canyon with a large crowd and I did it again as a tourist this time except that the location is the lower section of the canyon. Walk path at lower canyon seems to be narrower, but the light condition is better. I could manage OK for handheld shots.

How nature has made her way to formulate our environment is inspiring. I can just look at the curves, shades, and colors for hours. I know if I go back the next time, I will bring home another set of images, completely different.

New York, New York (3) – Architecture

Three days are barely enough to photograph in New York City. Wherever you go, there is a multitude of people and there is beautiful architecture, interior, and exterior. Unexpected, I was so drawn to the architecture, I lost my attention on the candid shots that I originally planned for the trip.

One World Trade Center was my target, but I ended being obsessed with the architecture of the transit station. The large flow of the people come out of the arrival train prompted me to photograph people, at the same time, I could not lift my eyes on the overall architecture of the interior.

Grand Central Station is another classic treasure that I love.  It is one of the most monumental and magnificent buildings built in the 18th century and it’s well-maintained up to this day. The entire place is meticulously crafted with arts and details. To my surprise, the magic extends to the basement where the food court is.

On the third day of my trip, I finally experienced some sunshine. The reciprocal reflection among the buildings is quite a unique scene. It would take some time to separate these buildings from the reflection on the window facade. The streets are full of construction sites. I could not photograph the new World Trade building up close without cranes in the way, just to shot one from distance as a record. This last image shows a residential building (I believe) in Soho area. The distinctive appearance echoes the outlook of the area, aesthetic and stylish.

So much to see and so many different subjects interest me. I had a hard time deciding what to post and what not.  Now I have written three blogs for it. I think it’s time for something else.

New York, New York (2) – Central Park, Skyscapers

New York is one of the ultimate destination for the tourists and photographers. I have been here numerous times, but the visit to Central Park is my first. Central Park occupies 842.60 acres, more than 5 times of Washington Park in Oregon. I entered the south entrance on 59th street and later discovered that I had to go out of the park and re-entered from 105th street entrance to access the north section of the park which ends on 110th street.

Thought to photograph some fall colors at Central Park, but prime time was over, and I don’t think the tree varieties here generate stunning colors as we have here in Northwest. For one thing, mountains are more superior than buildings as background. There are plenty of space and greens, but wherever you go, you are in the vicinity of the high-rise structures.  I guess it is not so bad to enjoy building/ vegetation mixed reflection which has a character of its own.

Wheather you jog along the reservoir or ice skate at Wollman Rink, you are looking into NYC ‘mountains’.  The shape and structure of the Bow Bridge are appealing. What I like the most is the walking steps wrapped under and hidden inside of the facade. In other words, you cannot see the steps from each side of the bridge.  Bethesda fountain angel statue is common, but it becomes interesting when I witnessed the flock of pigeons landing and forming that familiar sculpture…

You may have seen the giant bubbles at an amusement park or on a busy beach. I was amazed how the bubbles were formed and checked online. There are ‘recipes’ to make large bubbles, really. It is only in Central Park where I expected to see several groups of photographers filming broadcasting subjects.

Architecture in NYC is what interests me the most among the abundant resource of everything, vintage and contemporary. In Europe, we see classics, and here we get to appreciate both. The skyscrapers erect high in the sky and split the blue sky into chunks and strips. They are like a herd of horses sticking their heads up and racing to take up the sky. I meant to take more people pictures, but I could not resist the grandeur above.

Not only during the day, the night sky is also as charming as the day. When I looked into the night sky at home, I was aiming at stars. However, at this moment of time in New York City, I forgot about stars… I only saw the smogged cloud on the dark canvas and the mystical peace of the night.

Before this trip, I purposely avoided viewing other people’s pictures. Many excellent works of iconic landmarks are existing and very accessible online. I feel that I don’t need to jam in thinking that I can do better with these iconic shots. I cannot, particularly in a short stay roaming around town without a tripod.

New York, New York (1) – street photography

Happy Thanksgiving !!! While many are busy exploring Black Friday deals, I am posting a ‘Black Wednesday’ blog (with B&W pictures :-).

With street photography in mind, I went to New York and walked around Manhattan for three full days. Though I have been there more than 20 times in the past, I have never taken a close look at the city until this trip.

I made myself a goal to ask 10 people to take their pictures, as you may know, I like candid shots including wedding and family portrait pictures. However, end of the trip, I did not ask anyone. The city is in her dynamic mold, lively, converting and vibrant. It is like a revolving door moving with the constant flow of people including myself, I snapped as I walked by. I did not either previsualize my shots nor did I try to compose before I shoot.

People are inside and out of the building and coming to and from multiple directions. City life does not seem to begin before it gets dark.

New York is made out of high-rise buildings. A few parks here and there are barely adequate for the vast amount of city residents to hang out and enjoy a slice of greens. I  imagined that the gyms are packed with working people to get their fast work-out.

Morning jogging in Central Park is a treat.  At Northwest, our parks are surrounded by the mountains, and here, New Yorkers have the mountains of their own, the countless skyscrapers and tightly adjacent buildings.

I like nature and its quietness, I also like the action and speed in the big city. I feel energized when I move fast and see things in action.

On this note, I appreciate the life in the big city like NYC.  These people were lined up in front of the building, apparently waiting to get in. Time is an asset in city life and there were certainly no idlers.

It seems to be dangerous enough to be on the skateboard rolling down the sidewalk. I was ready to cross the street and suddenly felt the need to dodge the skater who sneaked into the scene without me noticing it beforehand. And, the black limo was pulling into the pedestrian zone at the same time… Glad that all went well and there was no honking or yelling.

 

I watched the couple strolling with their eyes closed. Holding the hands, they seemed so calm and relaxing, not being distracted by the noise and traffic at all.

Not intentionally, I discovered that I took many pictures showing the fashion and style in the streets. People are conscious of their outlook. Lots of suits for working men, coats and boots for ladies.

It was a windy day. In front of Tiffany, I saw this lady repeatedly trying to cover her legs while walking and talking on the phone…

People walked their dogs (I saw minimum two) in the busy streets. This man has had his dogs trained and was able to handle their street crossing in a very organized manner. He is apparently the owner. I heard that the students walk other people’s dogs to make some small money.

Just to grab a few shots from the streets to show you what I saw. I will be sharing more pictures in the next couple posts.