Tag Archives: Landscape

Climbing a Mountain (Figuratively)


I think it’s the 79th anniversary of Golden Gate Bridge. Happy birthday, dude.  You rock.  Keep on going.


This used to be my view every. Single. Day.

I miss it.

It probably still could be my view, if I didn’t mind paying an arm, a leg, and my firstborn (and possibly my second) in order to afford rent in San Francisco.  I have come to the conclusion that those kids living n San Francisco (they’re all kids, no matter their age) must fall into one of the following categories:

  1. Independently wealthy (from the parents or perhaps because they sold their start up for at least $500 billion)
  2. Work at one of the few places that pay enough salary to accommodate for housing prices in San Francisco
  3. Under the age of 35, childless, and relatively new to San Francisco

I do miss it.


I am flying to Hong Kong tomorrow.  It’s the eve before I fly, and I haven’t even finished packing.

Oops.  I should get started on that.

But before I do, some background about these images.  These are all photos of the Golden Gate Bridge from different vantage points. These were taken over the course of the past few months.  Look at the hills: they’re still green, which means we were still enjoying a Northern California spring at the time I took these photos.

Nowadays, those hills are yellow in hue.  We’re not called the “Golden State” for nothing.  Those hills are pure gold.

So these photos were all taken after work one day.  Some days, when I drive in to the City after work, I take a break from the traffic to seek out the Marin Headlands and the Golden Gate Bridge.


How is this not absolutely breathtaking?

When I took this photo, I had to shove a middle school kid aside and out of my way.  (Punks!)  It looked like a school field trip to the Golden Gate Bridge.  Dozens upon dozens of students getting into my shot.  So I was lucky to get a few.


It’s been a long week.  Maybe it’s time to go pack.

See you in Hong Kong.

//35mm film photos of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge taken from the Marin side.  If you look carefully, you can see Sutro Tower in the background.

Roses in Napa


Somewhere along the way, I was lost.  But then I found myself.  Or, at least, pieces of myself.  Step by step, like Hansel and Gretel picking up the crumbs they left behind, I am following the crumbs of who I am.

I’ve gone through many iterations of “me-ness.”  My haecceity.  (That’s a new word I learned this past weekend from reading a young adult book.  Makes me wonder about the level of my vocabulary– or it’s saying something about the authors when I can still learn new words to add to my lexicon.  Anyway, this is a very verbose way of say– look it up.)


Many of my friends are still figuring out who they are– what makes them tick and keeps them going.  Is there a midlife crisis before you’re in your midlife?  Because that’s what’s going on.  Many of my friends are changing their careers, leaving lucrative, high powered jobs, departing the known to pursue the unknown.  Others have hopped around, seeking the right fit.

How do we find the right fit?

I have friends who left and are now writers, calligraphers, artists.  That wasn’t the plan when we started out.

But then again, who were we, to presume to know our futures?


I changed direction, too.  I’m a million times happier now than I was two years ago, but it didn’t happen overnight.  I write a lot when I am stressed, and maybe one day I’ll do a photo shoot of the notebooks I write in.  Page after page, I dug into my soul with ink.  It was a stream of consciousness, rambling much like I am now.  Stormy ideas and thoughts, tumbling rough and unpolished, onto paper.

It helped a lot.

I’m not at the final stage of discovering who I am– and I may never really find that out.  I sometimes wonder why I’m not doing something different.  For now, though, I’m still following that little stream of clues of haeccity through life.

I’ll figure it out as I go.


{{Oh yes, these are 35 mm film photos of roses taken outside of the Mondavi Winery in Napa Valley, California from a couple weekends back.  Aren’t these petals dreamy?  The grain of the film (Portra 400) makes me so happy, too.  I fall in love with film every time. }}

Taiwan in the Winter


In those rare opportunities when I get to experience something from a different perspective, I am always pleasantly surprised.  A few months ago, I had the opportunity to spend a few days in Taiwan during the winter.

A January Taiwan is a very different experience than a July or an August Taiwan.

Some background on Taiwan

Taiwan is my parents’ home.  Neither of my parents grew up in Taipei, and my childhood trips to Taiwan were always to the towns in which they grew up.  I’m a country girl, my mom would say.  She spent her young years playing hide and seek in the rice fields, and Taipei was a big city that warranted an  occasional visit but never was “home.”

Instead, my mother’s home is a town about an hour’s drive from Taipei.  Her home is where I go every time I’m in Taiwan to visit my remaining grandparent.  Her home is where I meet up once every few years with my Taiwanese cousins to eat and drink and catch up on family news.

[That top photo is the Longtan Lake, a few blocks from my grandfather’s house.]


Winter in Taiwan

For once, I realized, I wasn’t sweating every waking (and sleeping) moment of the day.  The usual oppressive heat and sit-on-your-chest humidity had given way to a brisk coolness that wasn’t quite cold, and it wasn’t quite damp, either.

This was, for me, a new Taiwan.

So I wandered.




Muted greys dominated, only to be broken by brightly colored temples.

Walls of Taiwan

I want to do a series of photos about the walls of Taiwan.  Taiwan’s tropical air forces walls and other edifices to age prematurely, weeping from the moisture.  Cleaning the walls is almost futile.  Why try, when moss and dirt return immediately like iron filings to a magnet?




// 35mm film photos taken in Longtan, Taiwan (龍潭) in January 2016 during an afternoon wander near my grandfather’s house.  If, by some odd chance, you find yourself in Longtan, look for the Lupin Flower shop– that’s my aunt’s semi-defunct quilting shop.  That’s where I spend my Taiwan trips with my grandfather, uncle, aunt, and cousins.

Biosphere 2


Last month, Chris and I went flew in to Tucson, Arizona to shoot my cousin’s family portraits.  Landing early Friday afternoon before my cousin and his wife had gotten off work, we tried to go to Kartchner Caverns to explore and see cool caves.  Unfortunately, I forgot to make advance reservations for tickets, and they were sold out.  Not surprisingly, I might add, because it was the same weekend as the Tucson Gem, Mineral & Fossil showcase.

Who knew that caves filled with minerals would be of interest on the VERY weekend a Mineral showcase is going on.

So instead, we dropped our stuff into the small car we had rented, and set off on an adventure to Biosphere 2.


This is Biosphere 2.  (A regular Star Wars droid, eh?)  A massive ecological experiment, it originally housed highly publicized experiments with dreams of creating a sealed, self-sustaining environment that could be used in outer space.  Although the experiments ultimately were deemed “failures,” they provided invaluable information.  Today, Biosphere 2 is owned and operated by the University of Arizona, who gives regular tours of the facilities.

And that’s where we started.



We made it there just in time for the last tour of the day.


(We made it!  We thought we wouldn’t.)

Beautiful grounds and sculptures dotted the landscape.



We explored for a bit before the tour began.


Succulents are everywhere!

The tour began at 4:15 PM, and there were five other people on the tour with us, one of whom was a 9 -month-old baby.

It was pretty awesome inside.  There was a rainforest, a desert, an ocean . . . All surrounded by glass:



We had a grand old time!  Learned a lot, explored a lot!


We played with the various plant-life that fell on us.  Like this pollen ball here.  This was the first photo, as well.

We had so much fun that our tour guide took us from a tour that was projected to end at 5:30 PM to a tour that ended near 7:00 PM.  Egads.  I love these kinds of places, but we were starting to wonder if we weren’t going to be shut up in there, as well!


When we finally got out, the sun was setting.


Correction: The sun had set.

And as the last people on site, it was time to capture a couple more shots:




It had been an exhilarating day.  We were pooped.  Until next time, Biosphere 2!

// All photos above were taken on 35mm film (Portra 400) with my Canon AE-1 in Arizona on February 12, 2016.



Rings and Things


There was great internal debate as to whether I would post about this online.  I’m not wont to share much of my personal life online, especially in highly exposed fora of arenas such as Facebook.  (I won’t go into it too much here, but I’m highly averse to the voyeuristic nature of Facebook and other social media.)

But my Blog is a different matter.  Plus, I’m rather pleased with how these photos came out, and I don’t know where else I could share these photos other than Instagram.  And sometimes, some things are too important and too special to be relegated to Facebook.

So, after the phone calls were made, after the dinners and lunches and happy hours and visits were had . . .


I’m happy to announce that I am engaged!

The questions that a person encounters as soon as her friends/family/coworkers discover that she is engaged are listed below:

  1. When’s the wedding?

. . . and that’s it.

Taiwan-2First things first: I am not going to turn this blog into a wedding blog.

Secondly: I didn’t know the answer to that question the day after I got engaged.

Thirdly: I still do not know the answer to that question, nearly two months later.


But I do like taking photos.  So while I and my new fiancé figure out what we want to do, I’m going to keep shooting.

These are 35mm film photos taken of my new, bright, and shiny engagement ring nestled among my favorite succulents.  I haven’t had an opportunity to shoot rings and jewelry before, so perfect chance, right?


If you’ve read this far, you’re probably looking for our engagement story.  Here’s the short version (email me if you want the long winded version):

We have a yearly tradition of seeing the Nutcracker every Christmastime at the S.F. Ballet. This year, he sent me a bouquet of flowers and then picked me up from work.  We stopped by the Marin Headlands despite the rain and being late to our dinner reservation because of lame traffic, and, overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge, he proposed.  (There was some debate as to whether we’d actually stop in the Marin Headlands because of the rain, but he had a semi-panicked, puppy-dog look in his eyes, and, well, let’s just say that it’s very easy to persuade me to take a detour to take photos in the Marin Headlands.)

The photo above was taken right before we engaged.


Trailing Into Autumn: Sauntering along the Billy Goat Trail



How does one enjoy a free trip home in late-October courtesy of a work trip to the nation’s capital?  Go for a hike with the parentals and shoot lots of photos of the East Coast in all its fall glory, of course!

And what a glorious day it was. 



The sky was blue, the waters were bluer, and the film in my camera was eating it all up like candy. 

How is this even real life? 

The Billy Goat Trail is a trail that I’ve been hiking for almost my entire life.  It is part of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal and located between the C&O Canal and Potomac River near Great Falls in my hometown of Montgomery County, Maryland.  



While my parents and I were walking along the banks of the C&O Canal and I was reveling in the beauty of the still waters in the early morning, we heard a cacophony above us.  A flock of birds was flying by, and they were also enjoying the crisp, fall morning, singing and calling to one another as they roamed the skies above.

But in addition to the birds’ voices, there is also the roar of the falls.

What’s fantastic about this hike is that people can cut across from the canal-side to the Potomac River side and see the Great Falls.



It’s like a painting.  The swirls, the eddies, and the roar of water, captured in moving stillness in these photos.




A walk among the trees and beside the water is perfection.  Absolute perfection.  Especially when I get to do it with my parents. 


// 35mm film photos taken with my Canon AE-1 one bright, October morning along the Billy Goat Trail in Potomac, Maryland.


Sunset Views: Albany Bulb

Albany Bulbtastic

Sunsets on the horizon. 

Albany Bulb Albany Bulb Silhouette

The weather’s been getting colder, and the winter rains are coming.  Wrapped in a fuzzy blanket next to a pile of sweet smelling, fresh laundry, I find my mind wandering.  Wandering over the last year.  Wandering through the photos, the places, and the people.  Wondering what I’ll do and where I’ll go next. 

I’ve spent the past year soul searching.  This time last year, I was struggling with my career and my direction in life.  I wanted a new job; I wanted to shoot photography; I wanted to be someone and do something. 

It didn’t come easily, though. 

I was so lost. 

And, I realized recently, I’m still not there yet.  It’s kind of like that feeling you get after browsing Facebook or Instagram for a period of time and leave, feeling like everyone else in the world has their life together and are out doing wonderful and beautiful things.  (Yes, I just linked to my Instagram.  I am unabashedly self-promoting my Insta- I can’t help it sometimes.  As for Facebook, I lurk, but I want to detach.) That’s how I feel sometimes. Left out and forgotten. 

So I’m on a journey.  To find myself.  To find what makes me tick.  I’m not satisfied with living a life merely going through the motions.  The circumstances of my departure from my last job left me with bouts of nervousness at my new job, which I’ve used as motivation now to be the best I can be.  I’m still nervous, but I know I won’t feel this way forever.  Is this life?  Waking up early to work out, wading through my work, fighting traffic to get home, ultimately eating dinner and collapsing in bed in order to wake up and do it all over again?  I freaked out the other day because my mind (my traitorous mind) had explored the possibility that I was too old and too far down a path to be able to achieve everything I desired.  Sunsets on the horizon, if you will.

No.  I refuse.  This isn’t it.  I’m too young and too ambitious and too excited to do other things.  I’m going down a good path now, but I refuse to let it be a leisurely path, and I refuse to let it become a dead end.  I’ve been down this road before.  But this time, I have the ability to make my own life and make my own time for things that I want.  I’m looking into art classes; photography classes; reigniting my artistic spark and flexing my creative muscles.

I just need a reminder every now and then.  Let’s go.  Let’s be!

// 35mm film photo taken with my Canon AE-1 a Albany Bulb in Albany, CA, just east of San Francisco.  On clear days, you can see all three bridges (Golden Gate, Bay, and Richmond) from this vantage point.  A quiet place for quiet reflection.