The Wheels on the Train…

I’ve always had a thing for trains. Perhaps it’s because I raised two boys who were so into trains when they were little and the fond memories I have in my heart of our train yard escapades. Oh, I remember those times we would sing over and over —  the silly song about the wheels on the train go round and round… and the big smiles on their little faces when the nice train engineer let them  push the whistle button. It’s amazing how something so simple yet ordinary can bring such joy and contentment when we are young.


Though I’m glad I still enjoy simple things in life  but I am not always content with the ordinary, especially when it involves photography. After taking a couple of shots of this moving train, I decided to challenge myself to turn the ordinary into something different. As I zoomed in, my creative brain began to turn like the wheels and I no longer see the train but instead I saw shapes, lines and lights. However, during processing in Lightroom; the images still seem ordinary in color. So I decided to turn them into monochrome. I really like the more dramatic and stylistic image then just a picture of a moving train. But that’s just me… and my wild imagination. 😀

Click on the photo to see a larger version. It’s definitely more dramatic.

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The Photographer and a Boring Spider

While walking around the yard looking for inspiration, I came upon a nice spider web covered with morning dew. However after a few shots of a boring spider on a web, I couldn’t get inspired to shoot more; the light wasn’t ideal to make the background interesting. Then a stream of sunlight broke through the cloudy sky and made the morning dew droplets sparkly and more inviting. I shot a few more frames, though I still find the images boring. But the sunlight helped stir up my creative brain and gave me the challenge of wanting to take the ordinary and make something unique with it.

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After a few close up shots with different aperture settings, I decided to shoot at the largest opening available for my lens (f/6.3) to get the most shallow depth of field and bokeh background. With this in mind, I shot all the images a little underexposed so the background would be dark, with very faint details while keeping the details of the water droplets as sharp as possible. In Adobe Lightroom, I converted the images into monochrome with yellowish undertone for the highlights. After adjusting the exposure, contrast, and clarity; I added more highlights by using the brush tool to dodge and burn. I used the tool more like a paint brush: adding highlights to create  a more illustrative, surreal image. It was a good experiment and helped me think outside of the box — which is always a good thing… 🙂

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Foodie Friday

While visiting a friend yesterday, I was given a bunch of rhubarb from his garden. It has been awhile since I got to play with food, so the idea of making Strawberry & Rhubarb Pie came to mind.

First, you need 2 pounds of ripe, juicy strawberries. And 4 pounds of rhubarb stalks. Then completely remove the stringy skin off the rhubarb.

Once the rhubarb skin is removed. Slice the stalks into even thin slices. Do the same thing for the strawberries. I like thin slices because it looks better but more importantly; the filling will cook more evenly while the sugar and spices can penetrate into the rhubarb and strawberries easily.

Gently mix the strawberry & rhubarb slices with 2 cups of sugar, 1/2 cup of corn starch, 2 teaspoons of cinnamon, 1 teaspoon of ground ginger, and 1/2 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper until it’s well coated. I use a 9″ spring form pan. Although you can use regular pie pan if you like.

For the crumble: In a bowl, mix 2 cups flour with 1 cup sugar and 1/2 pound of melted butter. Stir until mixed but still crumbly. Fill pie crust lined pan with strawberry & rhubarb mixture and evenly top with crumble until the filling is covered.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Baked for about 60 minutes or until you see the thick juice, oozing and bubbling through the golden brown crumble crust.

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The pie is really good as is. Although, a scoop of vanilla ice cream would definitely elevate the pie to a delectable sinful level — that you would be happy be devour without guilt. Bon Appétit!

Wordless Wednesday

Nautical Discovery

A few weeks ago, I took the furry kids for our usual walk around the boat filled marina near where I live. I have walked around the marina many times — admiring many of the beautiful boats tied to the docks, and daydreaming about sailing. My mind filled with the romantic notion of sailing to different places and someday… perhaps I might even sail around the world. Sounds rather crazy when I don’t know how to sail nor do I know anything about sailing and I have never owned a boat. Okay, I did have a kayak years ago but I don’t think that count as a real boat.

For some reason on that day, I decided to walk down an unfamiliar path. I thought it would be nice to give the furry kids different places to sniff and to get me out of the comfort zone. As the furry kids and I walked by a nice sail boat, the owner with a friendly smile said hello to me. Since he seemed friendly, I stopped to say hello. We chatted about sailing, boats and other topics. Well, the path took me to an opportunity I didn’t expect to find. Sometimes you just never know who you might meet… that will change your life for the better. Pirate John took me sailing… 😀

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What an amazing day it was yesterday for my debut as a sailor. The weather was absolutely gorgeous and the wind — just right for testing out my sea legs and I’m very happy I passed with flying colors. I didn’t get sea sick nor did I fall overboard. The biggest challenge for me was to hold my camera steady while trying to stand firm on deck. Thankfully, Pirate John was a good sailor and he was able to navigate well on the sea. Once I began to get my footing on the motion and bouncing waves, I was able to shoot with abandon to get interesting POV of the 40 foot sail boat. It was a wonderful day… after six hours of sun and relaxation; I felt my creativity rejuvenated to a level it hasn’t been in a long time. While the bright afternoon sunlight and moving motion made the shooting challenging, it was one of the best times I’ve ever had in years. I discovered my love for sailing isn’t just a romantic notion and that someday, I want to realize my dream of sailing around the world… ALOHA!

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The Golden Hour

THE GOLDEN HOUR

No destination, no compass
Sixty glorious minutes passing by
Taking in the golden moments through my eyes
Savoring every second of the journey
For wherever the wind may take me

The Golden Hour

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New Year, New Opportunities

One of the most profound things I’ve learned last year… when a door closes, another opens.  However, you might not always like the person behind the door with the offering and the price one must pay. My dream job last year was an amazing opportunity for me. Not only did the project gave me the validation I was looking for but it also gave me the financial earning I desperately needed. I was happy and grateful that I opened the right door… or so I thought. Unfortunately two months after I started my job, my boss told me he and I should date. I was speechless and dumbfounded as I desperately try to tell him off without bruising his ego. All I wanted was to keep my job. Trust me, if I didn’t need my job, I would have told him the truth, that I have no desire to date him now or ever. I was able to come up with some excuses to hold him off.

After realizing my days were numbered; I saved every penny I made and completed my real estate license to prepare for the inevitable of unemployment.  To make the long story short…  when my boss asked for a date a couple of weeks later, once again, I told him that dating him would be unprofessional and reminded him of my NO dating co-worker or boss rules. Well, after that he began to treat me poorly and made my job beyond difficult. In the end, job be damned… I had enough. I told him the truth and quit.

So, now that door is closed. And because of that door — even if the opportunity wasn’t what I had hoped — I was able to make the best of it so I can open another door to a path that I hope will be the right one.

Into The LightI realized that no matter how many doors I have to walk through, there will always be the one that shines brightly if I don’t give up.
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Facing The UnknownWhile it’s scary walking into the unknown… it’s even scarier to give up my humanity and self-respect.
Safe HarborThere are times I long for the security of a safe harbor…
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Happy New Year, Everyone! I wish you another year full of prosperity and doors of opportunity without having to sell your soul.  🙂

Hello, World…

Hello everyone, I’m still here and doing well. It has been a while since my last post. I hope to get back into regular blogging next year, which I can’t believe is less than a week away. Where did the time go?? 2013 has been a year of surprising opportunities and rediscovery for me — both good and not so pleasant. But in the end, I try to learn from my furry kids, Evie and Max… live life in the moment and enjoy the good times regardless of its duration — for I’m grateful to be alive, healthy, and with my humanity still intact. Best wishes to everyone, see you next year…

“May All Beings Be Happy & Peaceful.”

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