Nat Geo Travel Photo Winners (2015) and AB Friday

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I did the normal process, Lr for the basic edits, went to Efex Pro to get the B&W “after” version (see above), then back to Lr to reduce the sharpness. Voila!

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In response to Ben’s After Before Forum (Aperture64)

Ben after before friday

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Enjoy!

See you next Monday:)

 

Spring Beauties

9 Images

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The sun was warm but the wind was chill.
You know how it is with an April day.
~Robert Frost

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Enjoy spring beauties; fresh flowers after each rain.

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April is a hard-working time for these little guys. They bring spring beauties to us.

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Up there, The Woodpecker is watching over her nest:

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This little guy is waiting…

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Springtime is filled with blooms, enjoy.

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It’s hard to believe April is almost gone…

Happy Thursday!

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Thursday’s Two Phrase Story #39 is up:

“The premise is simple. I provide one phrase every Thursday, an incomplete string of words, and it is up to you to complete it in your own, inimitable way. However you like, taking it in any direction you want.” ~ Dr. Hb

 

Windswept Woman for WPC Abstract

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Windswept Woman or Guardian Angel at the lower level of Antelope Canyon.  Some call it the “Lady in the Wind”. Can you spot her head, torso, and flowing hair? 

An evolving millions upon millions of years where flowing water and winds carved this sacred wonder.

WPC: Abstract

I could have danced, danced danced all night

This week,  asks us to turn the concrete and familiar into something new and mysterious.

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I could have danced all night.
And still have begged for more.
I could have spread my wings,
And done a thousand things I’ve never done before.

~”I Could Have Danced All Night

WPC: Abstract

Dr. Hb is joining in the “7-day Nature Challenge“. He is showing us the beautiful nature of India through his lens. Today is Day 3.

I will always remember the story Dr. Hb shared with us. It starts like this:

“Around 2009, five years into practice I had started doing Phaco cases. One of my first patients was Lal Singh. An octogenarian farmer, what you’d call ‘son of the soil’, …”  Click HERE to read the story.

Have a great week!

Weekend Coffee Share (4/24/16): Introducing my new neighbors

If I were having coffee with you, my friend, I’d tell you my new neighbors. It was a nice surprise.

I remember the Golden-fronted Woodpeckers visited our backyard last summer, and really enjoyed our fruit tree. I’m not sure if these two woodpeckers excavate nest hole or work on a cavity trunk of the oak tree. And, I don’t know exactly when they situated themselves in our backyard neither. It was already March, when we noticed both were in and out of their nest hole. Luckily, one of our kitchen windows faces their nest hole, Hubby watches them with his binoculars and I take photos with my canon and 300 mm lens. They know we watch them, but don’t mind as long as we stay inside.

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I think they picked a perfect spot. It is a pretty tall oak tree, their hole (home)is about 10 feet above the ground (the tree may go another 10 ft above them). The angle of the hole prevents of getting afternoon sun heat and rain, or north wind.

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Before she flies outside, she sticks her head out of the hole slowly. See below:

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When she is sure it’s safe to be out, she crawls out and stays up on the tree, look right, left, and back. If everything looks okay, she takes off quickly.

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She does the same when she gets home, looks around, then slowly gets in…

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Normally, she gets home before 6 pm, her mate flies back 20 minutes later. But last Thursday, he wasn’t on his regular schedule. She waited and waited at her nest hole, looked pretty worrisome:

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If I were having coffee with you, my friend, I’d tell you, I stayed by the kitchen window watching and wondering, “What if her mate doesn’t come home? Something bad happened… ?”

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He finally showed up, but it was almost one hour late. I was so relieved…

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He went in, but a couple minutes later he showed up at the nest hole, didn’t look happy at all. I wished I could tell him how worried his mate was…

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I wonder if we are going to see the young ones soon.

Here is the photo I took from our kitchen window last summer:

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Thanks to Diana for hosting the Weekend Coffee Share if you want to join us.  Click HERE to visit our Weekend Coffee Share community.

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Trees for the Earth. Let’s get planting — Earth Day Theme for 2016

After inserting the Miho Museum building in the beautiful mountain site, I.M.Pei wanted to replace the mountain along with 7,000 trees and other plantings. And, he did. 

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The Miho Museum is located in southeast of Kyoto, Japan.

Photo source: Archdaily 

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In 1991, I.M. Pei accepted the commission from Mrs. Koyama. When Pei saw the mountainous location that the Miho Museum would be, Mr. Pei recalled a classic Chinese poetry entitled the “Peach Blossom Spring” written by Tao Yuan Ming in the 4th century. Pei’s idea was to bring the joy of discovering the Peach Blossom to visitors at their arrival.

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Challenges:

The most formidable difficulties was providing access to the mountainous site. The next one was to accommodate the 187,500 sq ft of space and to preserve the landscape of the mountains.

Solution:

Pei decided to provide a theatrical sense of arrival using a combination of a 660 ft tunnel dug through an adjacent mountain and a 400 ft bridge to achieve the goal of the “discovery of” the Peach Blossom Spring and the access to the mountainous site. So, he designed a single “king post” set to support this bridge, then stretched from one angle into the mountain slope.

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To preserve the landscape of the mountains, Pei’s solution was to remove the top of the mountain where the museum was to be located; and after inserting the building, he wanted to replace the mountain along with 7,000 trees and other plantings.  As a result, 80% of the building is below ground; that is 17,400 square meter building is situated underground, carved out of a rocky mountaintop.

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Inside of the Museum:

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“I think you can see a very conscious attempt on my part to make the silhouette of the building comfortable in the natural landscape.”  

~ I.M. Pei 

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“Having won every award of any consequence in his art, Pei stands alone as the most distinguished member of his Late-Modernist generation still in practice. And what most distinguishes his practice is that it has never ceased to grow, or to change. “

When Carter Wiseman made this remark, Pei was already 84 years old.

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Notes:

  • When Mr. Pei completed this massive architecture in 1997, he was 80 years old.

  • The Peach Blossom Spring: There once lived a fisherman in Eastern China. One day, as he was rowing up a mountain stream, he came across a peach orchard in full bloom. At the end of the orchard, he noticed a ray of light coming from a small cave at the foot of a mountain. Once inside, he found himself on a narrow road, but traveling deeper, a splendid view suddenly opened before him. There was the Shangri-La.

  • Reference: I.M. Pei : A Profile in American architecture by Carter Wiseman

I did a post of the Mihon Museum in 2013, which was the 3rd post for Pei’s Architecture series. For this one, I used a new set of  photos. If I am lucky, I may get to see this museum someday.

Photo source: Archdaily 

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“The environment is where we all meet; where all have a mutual interest;

it is the one thing all of us share.

It is not only a mirror of ourselves, but a focusing lens on what we can become.”

Mrs. Lady Bird Johnson

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Earth Day 2016 — Trees for the Earth. Let’s get planting. This year, instead of telling each other “happy earth day”, let’s get involved and spread the word for our beautiful earth. Read more

Daily Prompt: Earth 

Art of Dumpling Making

Among the traditional Chinese food, dumplings and buns have its long history. Asides of its history, Din Tai Fung Restaurant made its name in making dumplings and other traditional Chinese dishes. In 1993, this restaurant was selected as one of the top 10 restaurants in the world by the NY Times; in 2010, it was awarded one Michelin Star.

Photo source: DinTaiFung Instagram

The specialty of DTF is the soup dumpling. Each 5-gram skin gets 16 grams of carefully sourced all-natural ground pork filling. But the hard part is pinching, each 21-gram dumpling is pinched exactly 18 times to form the pleated, swirled seal at the top. When you pick up a hot dumpling  from the bamboo basket with chopsticks, you can see the thin floury skin has just enough elasticity to give the dumpling some bounce, and the small pork meatball inside is delicately seasoned, boiling broth.

DTF Buns

As a young man, the founder worked as a waiter for a street vendor. In 1958, he started his own dumpling restaurant. Decades later, when the business passed on to the 2nd generation, the new boss raised the bar and perfected the making of dumplings, it became a high-ranked restaurant in Taipei.

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DTF soon expanded to several major cities in Asian and U.S. According to the current online sources, there are eight locations in Taiwan, four in the Los Angeles area, two in Seattle, and a dozen or so other cities around the world. Once the company decides on a new location, they send a team to stay in the city for a year to study the products of the local farms to ensure the local vendors can meet their quality demand.

 

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We have tried their specialty and many other traditional Chinese dishes at the DTF restaurants in Arcadia (Los Angeles) and Bellevue (Seattle). The waiting is about 45 minutes during the daytime; it’s an hour or longer waiting during dinnertime.

Photo Source: DinTaiFung Instagram. Hi Helen, love to hear your experience, feel free to chime in.:)

WPC: Dinnertime

 

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