Seeing the Adventure in the Ordinary

In his essay “Tremendous Trifles” G.K. Chesterton contrasts travelling the globe in search of exotic places, people and sights with his preference of discovering the meaning and the extraordinary in everyday things and people if we only make the effort to truly see and learn.

That certainly sounds like great advice for photography, after all, Chesterton was not only a brilliant writer but also a gifted visual artist and illustrator. He says “we may, by fixing our attention almost fiercely on the facts actually before us, force them to turn into adventures; force them to give up their meaning and fulfill their mysterious purpose. . . the object of my school is to show how many extraordinary things even a lazy and ordinary man may see if he can spur himself to the single activity of seeing.”

As a photographer I too often hurry from scene to scene instead of stopping and truly paying attention. Chesterton ends his essay with these words, “I will sit still and let the marvels and the adventures settle on me like flies. There are plenty of them, I assure you. The world will never starve for want of wonders; but only for want of wonder.”

Here are some of my feeble attempts to “fix my attention on the facts before me”. In order of appearance

Staircase, Running Shoes From Below, Reflections in the Water, My New Computer, Drainage Cover and Cotton Swabs.

Abstract Staircase Railing PatternCloseup View of Sneaker SoleWater ReflectionsExtreme Closeup of Motherboard and Cablesdrainagecover01_f53Close Up of Q-Tips

Weekly Challenge Photos

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Posted in art, inspirational, macro, photography, Taiwan | Tagged , , , , , , | 8 Comments

It’s Chinese New Year!

All the best for the Year of the Dog, peace, good health and stay safe!

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Weekly Challenge Sweet

Posted in Chinese New Year, Taiwan | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

The Short Life of Longevity Noodles

In China and Japan noodles are traditionally associated with long life and served at birthdays and for the New Year. I have often wondered how this analogy came about, because if you have ever witnessed some hungry Chinese sitting down with their bowls of noodles, their chopsticks ready to go, you would know that these noodles will disappear at breakneck speed into the mouths of the diners. Their life will be short indeed. For these noodles, rather than long life a more fitting analogy seem to be the words of the Apostle James who said that our life appears on the scene for a little while and then vanishes.

Or maybe the comparison of life to noodles is illustrated in the way we start eating noodles on one end and eat our way along a curved and twisted noodle path to the other end, sort of from birth to death. To make sure this pleasure of slurping noodles from one end to the other is uninterrupted you should never cut or break up noodles when with your Asian friends. It is considered bad luck. Whatever the deeper symbolism of the short existence of delicious noodle dishes, one things is certain, there is an endless variety of noodles in all shapes, forms and sizes, let alone in the way they can be prepared. Here are just a few examples.

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Weekly Challenge Post

Posted in food, street food, Taiwan, tradition | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

Water — The Great Silencer

I assume many of us have the experience of sitting by some water, be it a grand ocean or a small pond in the park, and feeling a quietness and silence come across the water that make us just sit there and think, remember, reminisce, meditate or whatever you want to call it. There is something about being by the water that helps us be alone with our thoughts, be they glad, sad or somewhere in between. Like the old song by Otis Reading, “Sittin’ in the morning sun, I’ll be sittin’ when the evening comes, Watching the ships roll in, Then I watch them roll away again”. In the Psalms it speaks about God leading us beside the still waters, and how they sat by the waters of Babylon, weeping and remembering their home far away. Even the water fowl seem to get silent by the waters.

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Weekly Challenge Silence

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First Light Painting

I’m not sure what people were thinking when they saw me waving my camera around in circular and triangular motions and then eagerly looking at the results on the little screen on the back. I had heard of painting with light and seen some examples, so I thought to give it a try, at the risk of appearing slightly lunatic to bystanders. As you can see from the examples below I’m a complete beginner, but it was certainly a lot of fun. You can try it out in a dimly lit place with some lights, just choose a small aperture and a long exposure time of a few seconds and off you go.

Colorful Waves of LightAbstract Light PaintingBlue and Green Light PaintingLight Painting with LOVE

Weekly Challenge Experimental

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Taiwan’s Farmland Patchwork Quilt

Arable land is at a premium in Taiwan. Close to 70% of the island consists of rugged mountains and forests, with several hundred peaks reaching 3000m (9800 feet) or more. Taiwan’s farmers have a reputation for being thrifty, hard-working and resourceful. Some time ago I had the chance to climb the thousand steps up to Qi Wei mountain that rises out of the plains in the south. Barely making it to the top the view made me momentarily forget my aching legs. I now understood the Taiwan farmer’s reputation. Neatly laid out rice paddies, green houses and vegetables fields were stitched together like a patchwork quilt and not a scrap of land was wasted.

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Weekly Challenge Scale

Posted in agriculture, Taiwan, Travel | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

The Pleasure of Waiting

About 100 years ago G.K. Chesterton wrote about leisure. In his view the “perhaps most rare and precious (type of leisure) is being allowed to do nothing.” It was his favorite, because it allowed idleness — in Chesterton’s view, the truest form of leisure.

Today the “leisure industry” (strange word as it is) does its best to combat idleness. It promotes exotic hobbies and sports, adventure tourism, far-flung destinations, extreme travel thrills and the like. Idleness is of no commercial interest.

Thankfully there are still some leisure activities where doing nothing and having the pleasure of waiting are an integral part of the pleasure of leisure. One of them is fishing, or to be more precise angling.

In his book “The Idle Angler” Kevin Parr puts it this way,

To idle successfully one must not simply be lazy. Idleness is a state of mind. Being lazy takes effort and avoidance whereas idleness is the release of that part of our self within which we feel most at ease and most content.”

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Weekly Challenge Waiting

My new store on Etsy

Posted in inspirational, motivational, nature, occupation, sunset, Taiwan, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Foot Reflexology Made Easy

If you take a stroll in a park in Taiwan or China you will very likely come across a strange sight. Men and women, mostly middle-aged or elderly walking barefoot on a path made up from large smooth pebbles with the thin end sticking up. I can assure you that these people are not doing penance for real or imagined sins nor are they trying to attain greater spirituality trough self-imposed suffering. They are practicing the ancient Chinese health exercise of foot reflexology. According to traditional Chinese medicine teachings our feet have various pressure points and areas that correspond to the major organs and parts of our body. Walking on the poking pebbles stimulates these pressure points and creates health benefits for your whole body, it increases the flow of blood and vital energy.

Besides being good for you in spite of the initial pain or maybe because of it, these pebble path also create interesting structures and pattern when photographed from various angles.

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Posted in Weekly Challenge: Structure

My new store on Etsy

Posted in health, Taiwan, tradition | Tagged , , , , , | 8 Comments

My Relaxing Hexagon

The Chinese pavilion is an interesting structure. It has no walls, is most often hexagonal, but also round or octagonal in shape and is covered with a curved roof with glazed tiles. You find them in parks, gardens, out on the mountains and in various scenery. They always invite me to sit down, enjoy the shade and take a rest.

I don’t know if it is the architecture with its airy feeling or how pavilions blend into the surrounding landscape, but sitting down in a shady pavilion and enjoying the view always brings with it a calming and soothing feeling, no matter if it is in a small park in bustling downtown or halfway up a steep mountain hike.

Here are some images of pavilions in Kaohsiung and Taipei city.

square-pavilionfive-li-pavillon03_smoldchingarden_f5_smsunny-pavilionlotuspavillon03_sm

Posted in Daily Challenge: Corners

Posted in architecture, art, culture, Taiwan | Tagged , , , , , | 6 Comments

Beat the Heat!

Weathermen are saying that this summer has seen the longest period of steaming hot and sunny weather in Taiwan in history. Usually the summer sizzling is interrupted by periods of rain and wind, but this year it has been one bright and sunny day after another and there is no end in sight yet.

To make life bearable, some come up with creative solutions.

This man must have had enough of his hot and stuffy room, so he moved his breakfast table out into the street to catch a bit of the cool morning breeze. Add an electric fan and a cold cup of soy milk, and things are looking up.

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What would do if you had to wear a fur coat in this weather? Probably the same as this fellow. Find a refreshing pool and never leave.

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Have fun in the sun, but keep cool!

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