Photo Challenge: Awakening in Halong Bay


The legend of Halong Bay is that a celestial dragon defended ancient Vietnam by breathing fire on pirate invaders and spitting out hundreds of hot emerald stones into the north sea. The gems become islands  which formed an impenetrable wall to other invaders.

Today Halong Bay protected from the sea but vulnerable to a daily invasion of tourists.  It is a busy thoroughfare of sailing boats and day cruise ships. By day the bay is alive with the sights and sounds of 8200 visitors daily.

Select cruises offer overnight stays and in the late evenings and early morning it’s possible to experience the quiet solitude of the bay.

On this morning I was awake at dawn.  The early morning light had just broken and the only sound was the gentle slap of water against the fisherman’s oar.  It was a quiet awakening to a brand new day.

Photo taken in Halong Bay, Vietnam. 2014

 via Photo Challenge: Awakening


Polka Dot Lady

Polka Dot Lady

Have you  walked through a warren of alleys, turned a corner and been startled by a cacophony of color, light and pattern?   Visuals so loud and discordant that you had to blink three times to tone it down?

This happened to me in an outdoor market in Northern Thailand. I’d stumbled into hat makers alley. A place where ladies surrounded by  gaily colored fabric,  sewed ribbons of bubbles and baubles on to hats, aprons and vests.  They draped themselves with vibrantly patterned scarves with no apparent concern for color harmony.   The laughed and chattered among themselves, ignoring the tourist fidgeting with her camera and trying to isolate a shot.


Later when I uploaded my photos I ignored all of these photos.  I had liked one but decided that the frame was too full with color and pattern.  It was hard see the subject against the distraction of background.

Fast forward to years later.   I’m searching through my catalog looking for interesting B&W portraits.   I find this old photo and casually flick it to B&W.  What a difference.

The moral of this story?   Never discard photos that you like.  Maybe your eye saw something your brain did not. Time will tell.

Photo taken in Thailand, 2015



And now for something different …




A new year is a good time to try something different.

After my less than illustrious foray into flash photography, I’ve been shy about doing studio shoots.  However when Hubby arranged a session with a model in Native American dress, I was more than happy to tag along.

The difference between studio and street photography is light.  In a studio, you have full control of light, in street you don’t. In street, you chase the light. In studio, you make it. There’s a lot of  technical knowledge involved in getting light to perform. Know-how and Gear and Set-up.  For this session I was glad to rely on Hubby’s expertise. My focus was on getting a few good shots.

Here’s my first set. I kept them in dramatic B&W to emphasize the shape and movement of the fancy shawl.

Saga our model had some spectacular outfits. They were all handmade with fine details and gorgeous colors.  She also had  an interesting tale about the origins of the Fancy Shawl dance event in Pow Wows … but you can read more about that in my next post.

 Toronto, Canada. 2018





Life and Art in Ihwa

In the north east corner of Seoul, beside the old city wall on Naksan mountain there’s a quaint little village called Ihwa.  In the Josean era this area used to be grand, a fortress locality for the new capital. But the times peaked and declined and by the end of the Korean War it was a derelict shanty town. In 2006 the Ministry of Culture & Tourism established the Naksan Art Project, an initiative to re-invent urban areas into arts and culture friendly environments.  Ihwa was selected for revitalization by painted murals and art installations.

The Ihwa Mural Village is a popular but not so well known tourist spot. On TripAdvisor it is #53 of Things to Do and it is not even mentioned in my Lonely Planets Korea guidebook.  I forget how I’d stumbled across it.  Maybe I did a search on “quirky Seoul” or “alternative sites that are not castles, palaces and museums.” Suffice to say I found it and on a dark and overcast morning, I headed out to Hyehwa Stn on Line 4.

BW--2The village is tucked in high on the mountain side.  My Google search hadn’t quite prepared me for the climb nor for the unmarked route through a clubbing district, up a hair pin road and around a sprawling hilltop park.

The rain had degraded into a drizzle and cloudy skies obscured scenic views of the city. On a sunnier day the mural village would have provided cheery photo ops.  I had one.  But mostly my pictures were somber, black and white super-impositions of life and art.

Life is not always cheery. Sometimes we have to stand in the rain and look in to the window of someone else’s warmth.

For more about the Naksan Art Project (and cheerful pictures) see the Visit Seoul website

Ihwa Village, Seoul.  May 2016