The Sky at Shinkoku, Japan

There is an old saying that the sky and the wind can change  momentously.

The weather change dramatically when the hurricane Neoguri passed us by at Shinkoku.

It rained heavily at first but by the second day when the hurricane has moved further north towards Osaka, there was sunshine.

It became hot and the air was still.

We went inside a big shopping mall to stay away from the high temperatures and the stuffy air.CIMG5507

When we came out of the mall into the carpark, all we saw was a spectacular sunset.

It was crimson, grey and blue with the trees silhouetted against it.

A picture to be remembered!


Weekly Photo Challenge: Contrast

This week’s WPC challenge is Contrast.

I have always asked myself what photography is about.

It helps to preserve memories and  some precious moments, it is something about our lives.DSCF0108

It is about composition, light, creativity, texture and, of course, contrast.

This photo is taken inside a church in Budapest – this is my first example of contrast.

I have always taken a liking to stained glass, but many times in my photography, I have failed to photograph the colors.

Hope this one is of sufficient contrast.



Weekly photo Challenge: Twist (in the Stairway)

We were climbing down the narrow stairway which led to the dungeon in the Spanish Castle of Hvar Island, Croatia.

The place was dark and was artificially lit by some colored lights.DSCF0578A

As we groped down the stairway, I took this photo which shows the winding and narrow stairway; with handrail on one side which cast a strange shadow on the wall.DSCF0578B

The wall on the right hand side was, of course, out of focus.

I find the color somewhat unnatural and therefore turned it into a Black and White image to remove the distraction.

However, this twist in the stairway does give you a sense of heading down into the unknown!


Bring Back the Girls!

The world always seem to be in a bit of chaos:

Around 250 girls in a boarding school in Nigeria were kidnapped and nowhere to be found!

The Malaysian airline MH370 seems to have been hijacked with over 200 people on board and no where to be found.

A ferry capsized in  seas of Korea, killing over 250 people including many students.

Mine exploded and killing as many in Turkey.

Such is the world we are living in!DSCF0047

I was reminded of Nigerian girls when I saw the sculptures of the school girls, posing outside their school. They were smiley and chatty!DSCF0016

Two of the girls, in particular, are happily taking to each other.

The sculptures of Ju Ming have again shown this quite vividly.

Ju Ming has reminded us of the lighter and happy side of the world we live in. Let’s smile and enjoy 🙂

A Word A Week Challenge: Gap

This is the narrowest Gap that I have ever squeezed  through in my life, so far.

We were up in Wu Yi Shan mountain, China. Our tour guide brought us to this part of the mountain where there is a small gap between two sides of a mountain – a narrow rock passage literally translated as ” A Thread in the Sky”.

The gap is not vertical but slanted.

We were to climb through this narrow gap. As there were no light, we have to grope our way through – with the guide leading in the front.CIMG0261

At the pinch point, it was so narrow that we were asked to take our backpack off from our shoulders so we can squeeze through.

As a relatively slim person I did, as instructed, and somehow squeezed through. While at the narrowest point, I have the thought that in case there was an earthquake, I could just be squashed to death in between these big rocks. . . . .  for a moment, I was scared.CIMG0260

When we came out from the other side, we were relieved – we have finally made it unscathed.

I took the opportunity to photograph the rock from a distance.

This is something that I will remember for the rest of my life!

Travel Theme: Still

The Word this week from Ailsa is Still.

Still is no motion and more importantly, the image should not suggest any motion.DSCF6488

Here are a few images which were taken in the Winter at West Lake, China which are stills.DSCF6381

All four images have a common element – the placid lake with reflections.DSCF6500

The reflection reinforces that there is no motion – even wind or any motion like ripples or currents in the water.DSCF6501

Apart from the trees, bridge, house and water, there are also no signs of life which were moving.

These are also images of quietude and peace 🙂

A Word A Week: Castle

The Word  from Word A Week Challenges this week is Castle.

I love castles but have lost many of my castle photos; including those taken on a trip down the Loire valley in France viewing and photographing castles. The ones shown here were taken in more recent years.

Building of castles started around year 1066 when the Normans won the Battle of Hastings, it continued for approximately 500 years until the Tudor era (1485). It seems that castles are not as common in the Orient. Instead, stone protection walls  (for instance, the Great Wall of China) were built; protection buildings were usually separately built in timber on or behind the walls.

At Lithuania, we stumbled across this sleepy small town of Trakai, which is surrounded by lake Galve. The Trakai castle has a stunning setting. Originally built in the 14th century, it looks like it came out from a fairy tale.DSC_0276

Walking across the bridge towards the castle, we were stunned by the beauty.

The view was so picturesque that we felt like we were part of a postcard. . . . . . . . . .

Travelling north in the UK to Scotland, we came across this surreal Stlker castle sitting out there in solitude on an island.Scan10010

Heading back south, we were delighted to visit Leeds castle, which claims to be the most romantic castle in Europe. The castle is in Kent, England, 5 miles from Maidstone. Built in 1119 by Robert de Crevecoeur as a Norman stronghold, Leeds Castle descended through the de Crevecoeur family until the 1260s. What form this first castle took is uncertain because it was rebuilt and transformed in the following centuries. The castle was opened to the public since 1976.2

Our trip took us to Budapest. While we enjoyed the views of the Heroes’ Square, we were stunned by the view of the Vajdahunyad Castle nearby. It was built between 1896 and 1908 as part of the Millennial Exhibition which celebrated the 1000 years of Hungary since the Hungarian Conquest of the Carpathian Basin in 895.DSCF0152

I am a fan of castles. Sometimes, it is not grand castles that attract us. This little castle in Prague have always come to my memory.My beautiful picture

Heading south east, we found ourselves on the Hvar island of Croatia. We enjoyed walking up the steep paths on the island towards the Spanish Castle. The view from the castle towards the sea was breathtaking.DSCF0560

From Hvar, we crossed over by sea to the southern part of Croatia and reached Dubrovnik. There are numerous fortress towers within the confines of the Dubrovnik walls; it was indeed a feast for the eyes (if you so wish, please see my earlier posts on Dubrovnik). Here is a causal view of what one might expect while there.DSCF0909

Heading even further south, down under in Queensland, we were amazed at the efforts of someone trying to build a Spanish castle in Australia. This is the Paronella castle / park in Cairns.

Paronella Park was built in the 1930s by Jose Paronella, a Spanish immigrant.  José Paronella built facilities, including tennis courts and a cinema and a ballroom inspired by Spanish castles, to provide entertainment for the public.CIMG0579

We were much delighted by the tranquil garden and fountains of the castle.CIMG0603A

After all these tiring trips, we headed north and was happy to be back to our own castle . . . . . . . .  our home 🙂