To be fair, who doesn’t want to go to the beach in the summer? (Even friends in the Southern Hemisphere are probably missing summer right about now.)
As people from all over the world get ready to visit Hawai’i's beaches this summer, I remind myself how grateful I am to live so close to the beach. Which beach I choose to visit depends on what I plan to do when I arrive, the tide/currents, and if I plan to stay on the sand or get in the water. Some places are peaceful and good for curling up with a book beneath a swaying palm tree. Others have interesting shells, broken off pieces of coral, and seaweed strewed across the beach. O’ahu doesn’t have any black sand beaches, but the beautiful sand that we do have varies in color and texture on different beaches. The kinds of waves range from the famous gigantic waves surfers love to ride on North Shore, to softly lapping water ideal for snorkeling.
Taking photos while riding an elephant through the jungles of Thailand can be an interesting challenge – and just the type of situation that can create unique photographs with good timing. Motion blur can be a beautiful element in photography. Since the elephant trainers keep the pace of the elephants, they are relatively in-focus compared to the foliage in the background. The key comes down to getting a feel for the rhythm of the elephant’s stride. Each part of the stride will have varying speeds, moving quite fast at some points, and slowing to nearly a stop at others. By experimenting with different timings and/or shutter speeds, can create unique effects . For more variation, or if your subject is moving at a different pace than you are, try leaning your body while snapping the picture. Similar techniques can create motion blur in other situations with rhythmic motion, such as while on a boat, or while riding horses and other animals.
Climbing the Great Wall is high on the wish list for many visitors to China, but not everyone realizes just how much of a climb it really is. China loves its stairs, and the Great Wall is no exception. However, these stairs are notoriously uneven, with small steps dispersed amongst giant steps, and plenty of steps that are sagging in places from the wear of millions of feet.
The surface of the wall isn’t the same rock that was there over two thousand years ago – it has been rebuilt multiple times, most famously during the Ming Dynasty in the 14th century, right on top of the crumbling ruins of the older sections of the wall. While scaling the wall today, it is hard to imagine how difficult it would have been for ancient Chinese troops to patrol up and down the mountain.
The climb, although not for the faint of heart, is very rewarding (and for more than the “I Climbed the Great Wall” t-shirts sold halfway up the mountain). The views are spectacular, as is the sense of accomplishment. Visitors aiming to reach “the top” are often surprised to discover that upon reaching what they thought was the highest point, that the wall really continues up and up beyond what they had previously been able to see. But all the little old ladies zooming past the young “in shape” tourists probably aren’t laughing at them (too much).
Inside the Grand Palace of Bangkok, Thailand, the most sacred Buddhist temple in the country gleams in the mid-morning sunlight. On the left is the library Phra Mondop, and behind it is the Royal Pantheon Prasat Phra Thep Bidorn. One of the Twelve Small Open Pavilions is on the right.
When possible, I like taking photos with both interesting clouds foregrounds, ideally with a sense of connection between the two. During post-production, I remember how it felt to be at that place when I took the photo, and imbibe that energy into the final photo. The awe of discovery. The profoundness of the spiritual. The hot sun on my skin on a breeze-less day. The smell of the nearby river and market. The stunningly beautiful and grandiose palace grounds. The intense reverence of the Thai people (and many foreigners) for this special place. My increased respect for the generations of Thai royals, as I learned more about them in the museum exhibits. I felt very uplifted that day, in multiple ways.
These memories remain fresh, even for a photo taken 6 years ago. I guess you could say that my memory hasn’t gotten cloudy ;D
Do your photos also bring back such strong memories?
Here are a few of my other favorite cloud photos from previous entries – click to see a larger view and read more:
At dusk along the northern shore of West Lake in Hangzhou China there is a beautiful water show lit up by an array of colored lights. Right at the waterline there are dozens of little fountain heads that shoot the water high into the air – sometimes 50 feet or more. The fountains of water change angles as well in a coordinated fashion, making the mist seem to dance across the lake.
Hangzhou is one of my favorite cities in China. It’s a city that has modernized quite eloquently without loosing its charm or cultural heritage, and while still upholding the beautiful natural landscape that surrounds the city. Even when venturing into the main parts of the city, Hangzhou never quite feels like the large metropolis of over 8 million people that it is – which is part of why I like it. After spending the day peacefully meandering around West Lake, or exploring temples, tea fields, and museums, the light show is a nice finale. I easily become memorized by pretty lights.
Moms are always multitasking, and Mama Cat’s Little Helper wants to “help” with bath time. Are the playful little kitten’s antics ever overlooked by Mom? Absolutely not – moms always have eyes in the back of their heads. She patiently lets the kitten play with her tail, all the while making plans to pounce on the little kitten and give her a bath too in due time. Multiple kittens have a way of keeping anyone’s paws full, yet moms somehow rise to the challenge with amazing grace.
Stray cats are some of the most overlooked members of our society. But a cat lover like me can’t help but notice such cute little kittens. These cats from a small town in central China seemed pretty healthy, so maybe some of the locals were feeding them. Canned cat food isn’t as common in China, but I’ve seen many Chinese people donate part of their lunch to hungry kitties.
Located on a small island not far from Hiroshima, Miyajima seems worlds away from the modern concrete and steel grid of Hiroshima. One can spend hours leisurely winding through the peaceful streets surrounded by traditional style buildings and historical sites. Two such places can be seen on the horizon from this scenic overlook – Gojunoto Pagoda and Senjokaku Shrine.
Although it was overcast and rainy for part of the day that I was there, the sun did come out a little and bask the village in its warmth. The aptly nicknamed “shrine island” has a very cozy feel to it, aided by the rolling hills next to the beautiful sea, the traditional architecture, multiple shrines and temples within easy walking distance, and even plentiful tame and friendly deer roaming the streets.
On a peaceful day in Wuhan, China, the still waters of a pond perfectly reflect the many arches of a bridge. In the shallow parts of the pond there are so many lotus plants growing that the lotus leaves completely cover the water. A few pink lotus blossoms rise up proud and strong, transcending the pond and the canopy of leaves, but not the scene itself. The same still waters that allow for such a nice reflection are also what allows the thin stem of the lotus to grow straight up, unhindered by currents.
Are the conditions for inner reflections the same as that which we need to fully bloom?
Here are a few of my other favorite reflection photos from previous entries – click to see a larger view and read more:
Two female mallards are checking out a passing male mallard. One of the females is preening her feathers, as if hoping the male will notice her. Even the water seems to reflect their mood, with the red reflections of all the koi in the lake.
Whenever I think of spring, two of the things I always think about are birds and new beginnings. These ducks seem like they are at the start of something, and there may be cute little ducklings in their future. Spring may not be as distinct here in Hawai’i as it is in temperate regions, but there is still the feeling of something special in the air, and all the twitterpated birds add to that effect.
On a crisp autumn night in Kyoto, Japan, the full moon shines down on Kiyomizu Temple (清水寺). The name of the temple “pure water” comes from a nearby waterfall. This UNESCO World Heritage Site was founded in 798 during the early Heian Period, and reconstructed in 1633 without a single nail. The sense of history and majesty of the place come alive during the special night temple light-ups that occur during certain times of the year.