Hibiscus flowers are some of the most popular flowers here in Hawai’i, and one of the most iconic. I’m no plant expert, but I think that this is the species Hibiscus rosa-sinensis which is native to East Asia but now very common in Hawai’i. However, there are also many Hibiscus varieties that are native to Hawai’i in a full rainbow of colors. And yes – tourist and local women alike occasionally tuck a blossom behind our ear (although it can be hard to get them to stay!)
This is a digital oil painting I did inspired by one of my photos. I painted it in Photoshop using digital brushes designed to simulate real oil-painting brushes on a canvas texture.
Upon arriving in Luang Prabang, Laos, I heard of a great hill from which to watch the sunset. Customs took awhile, and I reached the bottom of the hill with only about 15 minutes left until sunset. Still rather motion sick from the propeller plane I came in on, I hiked up the mountain as fast as I could, worried that I would miss the sunset. The hill was deceptively tall and long, so each time I thought the end was in sight, I discovered more stairs just around the bend. Although exhausted by the end, I somehow made it to the top of the “hill” in time to watch what turned out to be a very golden sunset. The beautiful mountains in the distance and the winding Mekong River made for a very peaceful setting. It was a rush climbing up there, but in the end it was worth it.
Other photos taken during Golden Hours (sunrise or sunset):
To be fair, who doesn’t want to go to the beach in the summer? (Even friends in the Southern Hemisphere are probably missing summer right about now.)
As people from all over the world get ready to visit Hawai’i’s beaches this summer, I remind myself how grateful I am to live so close to the beach. Which beach I choose to visit depends on what I plan to do when I arrive, the tide/currents, and if I plan to stay on the sand or get in the water. Some places are peaceful and good for curling up with a book beneath a swaying palm tree. Others have interesting shells, broken off pieces of coral, and seaweed strewed across the beach. O’ahu doesn’t have any black sand beaches, but the beautiful sand that we do have varies in color and texture on different beaches. The kinds of waves range from the famous gigantic waves surfers love to ride on North Shore, to softly lapping water ideal for snorkeling.
On a peaceful day in Wuhan, China, the still waters of a pond perfectly reflect the many arches of a bridge. In the shallow parts of the pond there are so many lotus plants growing that the lotus leaves completely cover the water. A few pink lotus blossoms rise up proud and strong, transcending the pond and the canopy of leaves, but not the scene itself. The same still waters that allow for such a nice reflection are also what allows the thin stem of the lotus to grow straight up, unhindered by currents.
Are the conditions for inner reflections the same as that which we need to fully bloom?
Here are a few of my other favorite reflection photos from previous entries – click to see a larger view and read more:
Two female mallards are checking out a passing male mallard. One of the females is preening her feathers, as if hoping the male will notice her. Even the water seems to reflect their mood, with the red reflections of all the koi in the lake.
Whenever I think of spring, two of the things I always think about are birds and new beginnings. These ducks seem like they are at the start of something, and there may be cute little ducklings in their future. Spring may not be as distinct here in Hawai’i as it is in temperate regions, but there is still the feeling of something special in the air, and all the twitterpated birds add to that effect.
This watercolor painting illustrates the glow of a temple light up in Kyoto, Japan. Arrays of lights shine up onto the multi-colored leaves of the trees and upon the various buildings on the temple grounds. This view is from Kiyomizu-dera, looking up at the surrounding mountains towards a small part of the temple near the mountain peaks. The landscape feels otherworldly, and although logic knows that there are hidden lights shining on the trees, it seems as if the light is radiating out of the trees themselves – perhaps as if an inner light was illuminating the landscape and bringing it to life. Although the technique of the light show is modern, the scene before me felt quite ancient and as timeless and the changing seasons.
Japan celebrates the richness of each season in a way that is unique amongst the countries I’ve visited thus far. Even in this age of jet-imported fresh foods from half-way around the world, the Japanese still retain an emphasis on what is local, seasonal, and fresh – the uniqueness and beauty of what is right in front of them at the moment. The same is true for the arts – it is often apparent which season is depicted in each Japanese painting, as that momentary fleeting beauty is represented. It’s a celebration of impermanence, and of being present and living in the moment. Where else do people, as an entire society, go out together just to see the autumn leaves? Seeing Kyoto that November gave me the most appreciation for the potential benefits of having four seasons that I’ve ever had, being a woman of the tropics at heart.
Are there other parts of the world that have such autumn light ups? Let me know in the comments!
On a rainy day in central China, a snail scooted along an ancient stone wall. The snail moved with a great sense of purpose, and amazingly fast for a snail.
Even on gloomy “days” of our lives, we need to keep moving forward as best as we are able. This snail didn’t let the weather get it down – on the contrary, the moisture probably made it easier to move across the wet surface of the stone. Perhaps that was the silver lining for the snail.
How can you best utilize the day’s circumstances to move forward in your life?
This is yesterday’s sunrise coming up between Koko Head and Hanauma (the two mountains) with reflections in the beautiful ocean. This photo could not have been taken during high tide, so timing really is everything sometimes! It’s mornings like this that remind me how much I really love living in Hawai’i! The panorama is too large to easily fit in this window, so click on it to see a larger view.
Near the giant Buddha at Le Shan in Sichuan, China, a tiny pavilion clings to the steep mountainside, overlooking the expansive river below. Part of the charm of China is the dotting of the mountainous landscape with these pavilions and temples that are difficult to reach, and must have been even harder to build. The location gives them a sense of majesty and separation from the mundane world, often seeming as otherworldly and spiritual as the mists enveloping them.
When I think of “wanderlust” images of such mysterious and off-the-beaten-path places spring to mind. To me, wanderlust embodies the spirit of adventure and the quest for the unknown. Spirituality and a yearning the unknown are closely linked, and so a small often overlooked part at a Buddhist historical site seemed appropriate for this challenge.
The Giant Buddha at Le Shan (乐山大佛) is carved directly out of the mountainside overlooking the river. It is located in the southern part of the Chinese province of Sichuan, and together with Mount Emei is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was built during the Tang Dynasty (618–907). The seated Buddha is so large that humans are dwarfed by a single toe of the Buddha. This photo was taken about halfway down the perilous walkway carved into the cliff-face next to the Buddha.
Although Le Shan is rather short compared to many mountains, and the Chinese character “shān 山” can refer to hills as well as mountains, Le Shan is typically translated into English as a “mountain” and therefore will be considered one for the Mountain theme of the travel photo challenge. Indeed it is a mountain of great historical, religious, and artistic importance, and still attracts thousands of tourists and pilgrims every day. I had to wait in line for two hours before I could walk down the steep, uneven, and narrow stairway that lead from the Buddha’s head to his feet, and I was told that I wasn’t even there during a “busy” time.