Another Day, Another Chapter

I woke up early this morning to a beautiful sunrise… most of the leaves have fallen off the trees so I was able to see the mountain through the forest. What a mesmerizing sight! I get to see this tranquil view everyday from my front porch instead of the rush hour traffic that used to greet me. I can’t believe it has been over a year since I moved from living in a small rental house on a gravel lot next to the noisy freeway to this beautiful six acre property out in the country. Instead of traffic noise and exhaust fume, I get to listen to singing birds, and smell fresh mountain air.

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Besides my change of address, I also made another big change to my career. After 2 1/2 years of 5 to 6 hours of stressful daily commute to my even more stressful management job in Seattle — I decided to quit the rat race. Every day, I would wake up at 4:30 a.m. and leave home at 5:30 a.m. so I could catch the train or express bus to the city and then I had to either catch the slow street car or walk up the steep 1 mile hill to my office. Then, I spend the next 8 hours working with challenging staff and clients. Because of the chaotic traffic in Seattle, I don’t usually get home until 6 or 7 p.m.. I find myself physically sick and rundown constantly. I had no life other than sleep and work. What little time I had, I was too tired and depressed to do anything. Which explains why my last blog post was almost 2 years ago.

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I don’t know what happened to the city of Seattle… it is no longer the beautiful city I used to know. The city now seems very dilapidated and is full of unfriendly, unhappy people. Inevitably, I became one of those people. While I was afraid to give up the security of a  good income, when I noticed my physical and mental health was being severely impacted; it was time for me to move on. I decided to take the obvious opportunity with the property. I started a mini-farm endeavor — in addition to using my other creative talents to generate an income. I am so grateful that I finally have the means to pursue my passion of living off the land and enjoy this beautiful nature around me.

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Fall Into Winter

After weeks of rain and cloudy days… a rare sunny, cloudless fall day in
the beautiful Pacific Northwest.

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My Daily Commute

Hello fellow bloggers! I can’t believe it has been over two years years since my last post. Many events have taken place in that time and I’m happy to say, mostly good. It has been a long and winding road but I finally found the way out of the detour and on to the right path… there were dark moments where I had my doubts that I would ever find my way out; it was also during those moments that I found myself, and the courage and strength,  I would need to take me back to the purposeful life I’ve been praying to God for.

In the last couple of years, I’ve been given the opportunity to have a purposeful job that allows me the financial independence I’ve lacked for so long… while the daily train commute is long, it gives me time to enjoy the beautiful passing views. These shots were taken with my Samsung tablet on auto setting.

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The Dam Eagle Road Trip

Finally… after over two months of being a couch potato to heal my broken ankle; I escaped on a road trip yesterday. The weather was the typical Pacific Northwest winter — rainy and gray, not exactly the best weather for landscape photography. But I didn’t care… I was in desperate need to get away before the insanity of boredom takes over permanently. I knew I was getting to the point of no return when I actually watched the season premier of The Bachelor. If I was looking to regain my self-respect and intelligence, I definitely lost more than a few IQ points for watching the entire episode. So… to redeem myself, I decided I need to put some creativity back in my brain. At first, I thought about escaping to the Oregon coast but given the fact my leg is still in the healing process, I decided to stay close to home — and shoot the bald eagle migration that happens around this time of the year, along State Route 20.

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Unfortunately, there wasn’t a single eagle in sight when I got to the area where they usually hang out. But… no matter, nothing could dampen my excitement and the exhilarating feeling to finally get out of the house and be in nature with my Nikon. I decided to do the dam road trip instead. There are several dams along Route 20. The route is also one of the most beautiful roads I’ve ever traveled. Because of the rainy, gray, sunless weather, it was a challenge with lighting and exposure; everything was mostly flat and lifeless in color. I knew most of the images would be converted to monochrome. With that in mind, I try to shoot with the exposure that would allow me to manipulate in Adobe Lightroom for the mood I wanted to create.


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The Diablo Dam is the second of the three dams along the upper Skagit River. The Diablo Lake is probably one of the most beautiful places on earth. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to capture its beauty and grandeur. It’s one of those places that you really need to see it in person, especially on a sunny day, to experience its breathtaking vista.
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As I continued on to the third dam, Ross Dam; I came upon this sign. At the same time, I was starting to feel pain in my leg. So I took it as a sign to turn around and go back home… and lucky me — the perfect ending to a perfect day — I got to see a few eagles along the way. Since I still use crutches to get around, I wasn’t able to get close to the eagles without scaring them away. It was really difficult trying to hike close to the eagles with my crutches. After a few frustrating attempts of tripping and falling to the ground, I was able to shoot one from the comfort of my car. Wishing everyone a wonderful weekend. Happy shooting. 🙂

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Almost Paradise

After more than five hours of flight, free from any major turbulence and bad passenger behaviors; my destination came into view — the beautiful island of Oahu. My paradise island for the next 7 fun-filled days with my camera and scuba gear.




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It has been over 10 years since I last visited the island and my baby sister, who lives there with her family. As I looked out window, memories of my last visit came flooding back… it’s amazing how my life has changed so much in those 10 years. Little did I know, this trip would bring me another big change — a challenge that will once again test my courage and strength.

Talk about life throwing a curve ball… the term “Life Sucks” doesn’t even come close to describe what happened to me on my FIRST DAY of exploring the island. While hiking along a jetty by an inlet, I was so engrossed by the colorful sea-life swimming along that I forgot to pay attention to the next rock I stepped on. It happened so fast, all I heard was the loud crack of my camera hitting the rock and the feel of excruciating pain in my left foot. After sitting for a few moments in a daze, my first instinct was to check the camera, fearing for the worse but with great relief no damage other than a few scratches. However, one look at my leg and the pain engulfing my whole body; I knew my paradise trip was over. To make the long story short, I fractured my ankle in two places. I have never had a broken bone of any kind in my entire life, until this incident. Like the old saying, there’s a first time for everything. Though this is one of those first times, I would rather not have.

For the rest of the vacation, I spent the next 6 days in excruciating pain, feeling like… honestly, I can’t really find the words to describe all the emotions going through my mind… all I know is that I will not be able to use my leg for the next couple of months and the challenges ahead.

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However… not all was completely loss. On my return flight, I was able to witness and photograph one of the most beautiful sunsets I’ve ever seen. For the moment, the beauty brought me peace and tranquility that made me forgot about my painful broken leg and the screaming babies… ALOHA!!




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Back to Basics

Yesterday, I started my new journey as an underwater photographer. Pirate John and I went back to the Mukilteo T-Dock for my debut. Unlike last weekend during my certification where the visibility were low and murky — which was made worse by so many other inexperienced divers; this time we pretty much had the whole place to ourselves.

After spending sometime adjusting my weights, we were able to descend. I was so focused on photography and Pirate John was focused on keeping me safe and getting me to perfect my buoyancy. Which I can understand is really important but… the photographer in me was definitely more predominate; especially when we got to the bottom. The visibility was so much better. It was probably 20 feet compared to last week’s 3-5 feet. I was like a little kid with her first camera. I wanted to take pictures of everything. Since I don’t have a underwater housing for my Nikon, I had to use Pirate John’s point and shoot.

It has been years since I last used a point and shoot camera. I discovered it was quite a challenge to go back to the basics and shoot on automatic. The camera came with many settings, including underwater — which I chose to use to see what it can do. Even though it was a point and shoot, it was challenging for me. I missed being in control of my camera and the creative settings involved when shooting manual with a DSLR. But I think the point and shoot was  the best way for me to learn from in the underwater environment. I only have three buttons to work with: On/Off, Wide Angle/Close Up, and Shutter. Which is all I can deal with when I have to focus on staying buoyant and not float away with the tide. On couple of occasions, Pirate John had to redirect me because I was going in the wrong direction and floating too much with the current. You can definitely become easily disoriented in the wide open water with no landmarks to guide you. Or the fact you can easily go from 30 feet to 70 plus feet without feeling the change of distance. That’s why I pay close attention to the air and depth gauge on my dive computer. Safety is the most important, photography second…

A few minutes into our dive; I came face to face  with a young wolf eel half hidden in a kelp bed. Wolf eels are extremely shy and elusive. So it was amazing that I found one so easily. Excitedly, I took out the camera and Pirate John thought I wanted to take his picture. He took out his regulator and started to pose. I shook my head no and kept pointing towards the kelp bed.
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Since we only communicate through scuba sign language, by the time he understood what I said, the wolf eel started to swim away. Quickly, I just pointed the camera and shoot.

During our two separate dives, I was able to experiment more with the camera and swam around happy like a fish in water… point and shoot at the abundant of sea life around me.
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There were flounders everywhere… most tried to camouflage themselves though, I was able to capture a couple having fun. Can you see them?
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On our second dive, Pirate John took me to the popular dive spot, Geo Dome. It’s a man-made structure but the sea life didn’t seem to mind. The visibility wasn’t good because of the strong current and lack of sunlight but I could see the abundant sea critters hidden everywhere. As I tried to become neutrally buoyant so I can steady myself enough to shoot without stirring up more silt, the current was bouncing me in all directions.  Then I spotted a large rock fish and was able to get a few shots while battling the strong current at the same time.
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On our way back, I didn’t see anything interesting. So I decided to do some selfie shots.

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I took this shot just as the current pushed me down on my back…

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And as I looked up, I saw a school of fish. When I tried to shoot, the current pushed me sideways and I ended up with this image. I like the abstract look of the fish and air bubbles.

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Finally, after I tumbled around a few more times and couldn’t get the photos I wanted; I put away the camera and enjoyed the rest of the dive with my dive buddy, Pirate John… who made sure we do the safety stop before ascending to the surface. Over all, it was a good first underwater photography experience and though these snap shots aren’t award winning;  it’s a thrilling feeling to know I’m another fin kick closer to my new goal of being an underwater photographer. Happy Diving! 🙂

Happy Like a Fish In Water

After swallowing what felt like gallons of sea water, battling the currents and poor visibility, tumbling around in all different directions, and crashing to the bottom on several occasions (thank-goodness there were no sea urchins below); it’s official… I’m a certified PADI scuba diver!!

Pirate John was there to capture my moments of glory… happy like a fish in water.

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Wow! What an amazing, awesome experience. Even though the eerie green water was freezing cold and murky, visibility less than 4 feet, and my only life source is a 50 lb steel tank strapped to my back; the feeling of being able to swim with the fishes evoked the absolute magical and thrilling emotions deep within me.

There were challenging moments during the certification that made me lose my sense of bravery… but I was determined to make it through the training. Being a certified diver is the only way take my photography to the underwater world. I am looking forward to the new challenges and exciting discoveries waiting for me below. Here is my first of many photos to come as I embark on this new journey. Happy Diving! 😀

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