Maid of the Mist

Niagara Falls
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Lone Mountain Goat

Lone mountain goat

I do not own a telephoto lens and this is as close as I could get.

Sleeper Bus

Overnight bus in India

Barren

Kootenay National Park (Canada)

I did not expect to see this when hiking into the backcountry of Kootenay National Park. The landscape was barren and scars of a massive forest fire could be seen everywhere. I later read that a lightning strike in 2003 has sparked the sprawling blaze, which lasted for weeks and destroyed 17,000 hectares of forest in the park. It is still recovering.

The charred trees in black, the fallen trees in white, and their irregular crisscross patterns are ideal for monochrome photography. I tried to capture the mood which I could not explain in words.

Lonely Tree

Piazzale Michelangelo @ Florence (Italy)

Piazzale Michelangelo offers a magnificent view over the city of Florence with the Tuscan hills providing a scenic backdrop. This is a popular place for sunset photos and I thought this tree is a good foreground but surprisingly no one even notices it. Perhaps understandable because there are so many important landmarks, including the Duomo (dome at the right), Palazzo Vecchio (tall bell tower) and Ponte Vecchio (bridge over river) getting all the attention.

Gates

Taj Mahal @ Agra (India)

This is the main gateway of Taj Mahal. It was not an easy shot because the gate was crowded with tourists and everyone started taking pictures at the first direct glimpse of the white marble mausoleum. In fact, this photo is quite misleading as it does not really reflect the actual scene during my visit. The huge gap of space between me and that nearest person ahead of me only lasted for a split second. Normally, people would rush and overtake one another just to get an unblocked view. Imagine rows and rows of people shuffling forward like a deck of cards.

I was lucky because there was a group of elderly tourists right behind. They were slow to outdo me but, more importantly, they also shielded me from those who were behind them. Chance!

I like this silhouette shot. The people and their legs were spaced apart equally. Even their standing positions and their heights formed a nice pattern to complement the symmetrical building.

Somehow, this reminds me of another photo which I took at Gyeongbokgung Palace in Seoul because both used the technique of framing within a frame.

Gyeongbokgung Palace @ Seoul (South Korea)

To See in Black-and-White

Near Lukla, the trailhead of the Everest Base Camp Trek, Nepal

In monochrome photography, everyone is saying that we should learn to see in grayscale and to practice as often as possible. But how? Such advice is a little too vague to me and it is easier said than done. Nobody can really train someone else’s vision, so I guess this must be self-taught. And it is frustrating because how can I judge whether I have finally acquired this visual skill or not? I do not even know whether I have been practicing correctly.

However, during a recent hiking trip to Mount Everest, there was an instant when I suddenly felt that my eyes could visualize the final image in black-and-white! Or at least I thought so. This photo is that significant moment of realization.

Perhaps it is like learning to ride a bicycle. Suddenly you are cycling! Once learned, never forgotten.