Weekly Photo Challenge: Rule of Thirds

The rule of thirds is one of those basic rules of composition that I like playing around with to see the different effects it can have on the same subject. Basically you make a tic-tac-toe grid on your camera (a lot of cameras will have an option for you to display the grid on your screen) and then you put objects of interest on the intersections of those lines.

If you have a bit of time, here’s one of my favorite silly DigitalRev videos – Teaching Girls How to Take Photos (SPOOF PARODY). There’s an amusing part where Kai likens the rule of thirds to a waffle – bam, bam, bam, BOSH!

So here’s my off-center rule of thirds photo:

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This was taken in New Orleans, in the St. Louis Cathedral in Jackson Square. If you can imagine the grid, the statue is on the right hand line and the altar in the blurred out background would be on the intersection of the left and top line. So it adds a bit of interest to have something in the foreground and also in the distant background too, all on those points of interest.

And the rule of thirds is so nice, I had to do it twice!

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This photo was from a trip to England in the Lake District. The bird in focus is once again on the right line, and the second flying bird in that top corner intersection again. I also like the lines of the piers in the background as well, lending a bit of visual interest.

And if it’s the rule of thirds, you gotta finish it off with a third picture right?!

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Goodbye with a sunset at Sunset Beach in Cape May, NJ!

Black & White Sunday: Quiet

After fresh snowfall (of which we have had a lot up here lately) the world seems blanketed not just in snow, but also in a thick layer of quiet. Everything is hushed and muted by the fluffy snow, perhaps also because ones ears are bundled up in a hat or earmuffs. And there’s no place quieter than a park on Christmas Day after fresh snow.

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This post is in response to Lost in Translation’s B&W Sunday and PODcast B&W, check them out for more interesting pictures 🙂

Travel theme: Energy

Living in a smaller city now has made me appreciate even more the city of my birth – New York City! There’s a wonderful zest and energy that the city has that, to me at least, is inimitable. On any given day there’s tons of stuff going on – concerts, festivals, museum exhibits, shows, etc. And of course, it’s a given that you’ll find awesome food if you know where to look. Even now, there’s a hot chocolate festival going on! Le sigh…

Anyway, I may be extremely biased, but I do believe that NYC is a great city full of energy!

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A accordion player during the festival of San Gennaro in Little Italy.

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Setting off fireworks (illegally, I must add!!) in the streets of Coney Island during July 4th.

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Although it’s pretty much a tourist trap, it’s a must-do for out-of-towners – Times Square! Stay for the lights and the bustling crowds, maybe get some cheap Broadway tickets at the TKTS booth… but do not eat here. It’s all crap chain stuff.

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One of my favorite places in NYC – Grand Central Terminal! Probably because I’ve never had to actually take a train here, but just to admire the architecture and maybe charge my iPhone at the Apple store heh. There’s definitely a lot of energy at this transportation hub. One of my favorite parts is the constellations picked out on the ceiling.

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Another ubiquitous scene in NYC. If you’ve taken the subway or strolled through an open touristy area, you will have seen these Showtime kids – they blast music, hype up the crowd, and do a lot of impressive acrobatics and gymnastics. It’s pretty cool when they do it on the subway with the poles. After a while though, you do become a bit jaded about seeing them ^_^;;

Black & White Sunday: Lines

Black and white photography has never really been one of my strong points – so that’s why I’ve decided to take on some B&W challenges to explore the world of monochrome photography and push my own limits. Without color, certain aspects of a photo come more into focus and it’s interesting to see how black and white can make an otherwise flat photo look dynamic… and vice versa!

This week’s photograph is focusing on lines:

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When I originally took this photo, I wasn’t too impressed by it. I liked the pattern of the lines and the angle of the photograph, but overall it was just kind of “meh”. However, once I put it into black and white the pattern of the lines really popped! I actually like it a lot better as a B&W vs the original color version.

This post is in response to Lost in Translation’s B&W Sunday and PODcast B&W, check them out for more interesting pictures 🙂

Travel theme: Transformation

<cue computer voice>

Transformers – robots in disguise!

I couldn’t help it, this week’s travel theme by Ailsa reminded me of them! Here’s a quick shot of Megatron, the transformer baddie.

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Anyway, on to the more “serious” photos for this week’s theme! I’m always impressed by people’s artistic skill, and their ability to transform a blank canvas into something that captivates people and expresses their emotions. An artist can be anyone who creates, in my opinion – the traditional artist with pencil and sketchbook, a sculptor who finds vision in clay or stone, and even the sometimes vilified graffiti artist.

DSC02671I took this photo on a trip to London, around the Brick Lane area where there are many colorful graffiti artworks. This one is in the process, but even in the early stages it is quite beautiful!

Another example of artistic transformation, showing that anyone can be (sort of) an artist with enough guidance!

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the beginning!

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the finished painting!

While this isn’t going to fool any Van Gogh fans, I was pretty pleased by how it turned out and how fun it is to create something! If you haven’t tried one of these painting classes, you should check them out – even the artistically impaired like me come out looking good!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Symmetry

There have been studies showing that people who have symmetrical features are found to be more attractive and beautiful than their slightly more lopsided counterparts. However, most people aren’t symmetrical – our eyes might be a little off, or one bigger than the other, ears not even (apparently this is very common according to my optometrist!) and so on and so forth. Maybe our natural asymmetry makes us pursue symmetry even more, whether in architecture, design, or beauty.

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This photo is from Oak Alley Plantation near New Orleans, Louisiana. The name is pretty self explanatory – the walkway is lined with amazing centuries old oak trees, creating a beautiful tunnel of greenery leading to the grand house. Although the symmetry is striking, I really like the juxtaposition of the oak trees themselves –  asymmetrical, gnarled and totally perfect in their own way.

Also a little fangirl note for those Nora Roberts fans – they used Oak Alley as the filming location for Midnight Bayou =D

Travel theme: Details

I’m the kind of person that my travel companions roll my eyes at while I stop to take a picture of something mundane – I can’t help it, I like to capture every little detail whenever I’m on a trip! That includes food… yes, I’m very guilty of that, sorry! But when I look back at my pictures, I find that oftentimes it is those photos of little details that bring back specific memories and feelings for me.

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This photo reminds me of cycling around Hyde Park and Kensington with the rental bikes. It was a nice because we only paid £2 to use the bikes and then as long as we re-docked them within 30 minutes it was still free. So we probably biked 2-3 hours around with those bikes, docking them and then checking them out again at 30 min intervals. We even had time to go have tea at the Orangery and then come out and ride again!
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We visited the English countryside of the Lake District, and the fields were filled with lovely bluebells! I love their delicate shape and brilliant color. We stayed at a lakeside hostel that was a 15 minute walk to town – which meant that we saw many fields of flowers, cows and sheep!
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My college friends and I try to visit our alma mater once a year – it’s become a tradition to rent a house, play games and have a BBQ. While walking around campus last year, I saw this chalk drawing on the sidewalk – we used to live in Fontana Apartments during our senior year! Ahh… brought back some nostalgic memories.

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This was what my father felt was appropriate footwear for my cousin’s beach wedding. I was considering saving this picture for blackmail, but it wouldn’t work because he feels no shame at all.
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Another cousin, another wedding. This is their kitchen table the morning of the wedding day, filled with takeout boxes of delicious dim sum sustenance for the family and the bride and groom to feast on before the long day ahead. Just looking at this picture reminds me of the cheerful bustle in the house, everyone talking over each other and fighting for the last shrimp dumpling.
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This was from a trip to China, when we were visiting a local temple. The whole atmosphere was very solemn and reverent as we were looking around… and then you peek into a room and see a ping pong table. I guess even solemn and reverent needs to take a break sometimes!

This post is in response to Ailsa’s Travel Theme! Go check out her great pics 🙂