Beautiful, Interesting and Ooo Shiny! Images From Various Places


New Year, New Blogs

Location: Indonesia
Camera Info: Fuji Finepix A303 • Automatic Point & Shoot
ISO 100 • f 2.8 • 1/250 sec

I’m back! Or more specifically, I’m trying again. Life got very overwhelming last year, and I had to make some cutbacks, so unfortunately this blog had to take a backseat as well. This year looks like it will be pretty busy as well (I’m looking forward to my wedding, as well as up to three potential international trips), but I will make a strong attempt to keep this going, even if I have to cut back to once or twice a month instead of every week. You wonderful people deserve it! So sorry to keep you waiting this past year.

This week’s picture makes me think of reflections. As I looked out those windows in Indonesia, I thought about where I had been and what lies ahead, and now I am doing the same. This last year has seen Andy and I losing employment, gaining it, losing it, etc. Currently he has found a job and I am still looking (yet another reason why I actually have time to write again!). We are planning our wedding for this spring (finally!) and hope to be heading overseas again shortly afterward.

Together, we’ve had quite the year! Both of us have been very involved in our Toastmasters clubs, with me becoming an officer and taking part in a humorous speech contest, and Andy becoming the very first non-inmate to join a prison club! Andy has kept busy ministering in the prison in various ways, as well as leading tours and working on archive preservation at the historic Harrison House. Of course I can’t mention Andy without his favorite sports, running and archery. This year, he has been teaching me to shoot with him, and he completed his 10th full marathon and 20th half-marathon, earning himself a place in the Marathon Maniacs club (Think: hotel discounts for life!). We’ve also added to our respective families. I took in a stray black cat, Ninja, and adopted a second kitten to keep her company (Leo). And yes, that means there will be occasional cat pictures for you as well! *giggle*

For 2014, we don’t know what it may hold, but we do know God is faithful to lead us. We’re excited for the new adventures that await us… and hopefully they will come with plenty new photos to show you! Thanks everyone for sticking with me. Here’s to a great 2014!

What’s your biggest hope for the new year?

Strange & Crazy Animals!

Location: Indonesia
Camera Info: Fuji Finepix A303 • Automatic Point & Shoot
ISO 100 • f 2.8 • 1/680 sec

“Is that a purple crab?” my friend asked, looking over our balcony. Sure enough, a solid purple crab was clinging to the side of the building near the water. Indonesia is one of several countries that sports these colorful critters. The babies (pictured above) start with some orange on them as well before they turn all purple. So it made me wonder, what other fun animal species can I find around the world that would deserve a second glance?

We’ve probably all heard of the platypus, sloth, alpaca, angora rabbit, komondor dog, and red panda, creatures that have ended up on pretty much every list of odd animals. But here’s some more:

  • More crabs! The white & hairy yeti crab (South Pacific) & ginormous giant coconut crab (Guam) are good examples.
  • The Mexican axoloxl salamander (Wooper Rooper) is so weird it’s kind of cute, so many people keep them as pets.
  • The aye-aye is a type of lemur from Madagascar.
  • If I ever met a star-nosed mole, I don’t know if I’d laugh of be creeped out. They live in Canada and the NE United States.
  • The leafy sea dragon lives up to its name by looking just like seaweed. Good luck telling it apart!
  • What can I say about the tapir? It’s just weird-looking, and inhabits jungles on three continents.
  • The hagfish is pretty much disgusting. It escapes predators by oozing goo (which can even kill itself sometimes).
  • The dumbo octopus got its name due to the “ears” (fins) hanging off what looks like its head. Unlike Dumbo, however, it’s very tiny.
  • The frill-necked lizard looks like it came straight out of Jurassic Park, but it’s actually from Australia.
  • Here’s a blobfish. They pretty much look like their name, and they hang out in very deep water around Australia & Tasmania, so you probably won’t see one while taking a dip in the lake.
  • I can’t think of the African shoebill without thinking about this video. You’re welcome.
  • And last but not least, NARWHALS!!!!! Yes, they’re real.

What’s the strangest animal you’ve ever seen?

Are You a Survivor?

Location: Indonesia
Camera info: Fuji Finepix A303 • Automatic Point & Shoot
ISO 100 • f 2.8 • 1/60 sec

“Check this out. We call it a vase plant,” our tour guide said. I stared at the green and red growth, making a mental note that they carried fresh water. In our mini jungle survival course, our guide also taught us some good sources of food – like termites (they really don’t taste that bad)! So, I thought I’d share the wealth and include a few more jungle survival tips for all you crazy adventurers out there, just in case you lose your way.

  • First, don’t panic and run in circles. It doesn’t help. Keep calm, and try to find a trail. If you can’t, pick a direction and travel that way consistantly. Eventually you’ll find something useful.
  • One very useful thing is rivers. Small streams will lead to big streams, which lead to rivers, which (more often than not) lead to settlements. They also create a break in the treeline, which may make you easier to spot from above.
  • WATER is the most important thing you can find. Several plants (like the one in the photo) can collect water. Bamboo is a good source, as are some types of vines (avoid the ones where the water is red, yellow, or milky). You can also collect it from a fast-moving stream and boil it, or start digging!
  • FOOD is next. Many plants are edible, such as palm hearts, but unless you know for sure which ones, be careful! Avoid most red berries, plants with milky sap, and anything with sap that irritates your skin. When in doubt, follow some monkeys. Most of their diet is compatible with ours.
  • The biggest dangers in the jungle are falling trees/branches and insect/reptile bites. Use your various forms of insect repellant, don’t touch the plants when you don’t have to, and build your hammock or shelter above the ground
  • Don’t forget the all-important things – how to build a fire and tie a good knot. It’s also a good idea to carry a machete. They’re just so useful!
  • Don’t forget to pack the essentials before you travel! Things you may consider beyond the usual stuff: salt (for drying, santization & diet), foot powder (the humidity makes fungal infections common), or condoms (not for what you think… they can protect from waterborne pathogens when crossing rivers)
  • Finally, keep a good attitude! The will to survive, fight off fear, and find humor in tough situations is the key factor in most survival stories.

P.S. There’s way more tips than I can summarize on just this short blog. Check out these sites for more.

Have you heard any other survival tip you find interesting? Let us know!

Setting Up the Perfect Scene: Composition 1

Location: Indonesia
Camera info: Fuji Finepix A303 / Automatic Point & Shoot
ISO 100 • f 7 • 1/340 sec

For all the other aspiring photographers out there, here’s one you don’t want to miss! Previously, I talked about the use of aperture and timing. This week’s photo lesson covers a few points of composition, something you can practice with anything from a DSLR to a cell phone camera. There are lots of rules to composition, yet rules were made to be broken! My suggestion is to learn the rules and practice them until you know when you can break them. Since there are so many, I’ll give a few here and plan to add more in future posts.

The most well-known composition rule is the “Rule of Thirds.” Take any scene, and divide it up into three pieces, both horozontally and vertically. Now place your subject at any point where those lines meet (which normally seems just off-center). Here is an example (this can also be applied vertically). One time to break this rule: when your scene is symmetrical.

The second rule: framing. My photo above is the example for this one. Putting elements on the edges of the picture can help draw the viewer’s eye to your subject of the photo. In this case, I took this photo of a dock in Indonesia from inside the outhouse next door (and yes, it’s kinda freaky that the holes in the boards were that big!). Trees also make good frames.

So start practicing with these two rules and there will be more to come!

What is your favorite photo? Share a link and we can discuss how it was composed.

The Thing No One Wants to Talk About

Location: Indonesia
Camera info: Fuji Finepix A303 / Automatic Point & Shoot
ISO 100 • f 2.8 • 1/240 sec

I don’t know how I got here. I can’t remember much of the past few hours at all. This afternoon, I went to the market with my friends, and one of the merchants offered us free samples of his latest dish. Not long after trying it, I felt really tired, so I sat down on a bench while my friends continued shopping nearby. That’s the last I remember. Now I’m in a dimly lit room with no windows, and a door locked from the outside. I’ve tried calling for help several times, but no one answers.

Soon, an older man and woman enter the room. I try to get them to help me, but they just look at me coldly. The woman accuses me of stealing food at the market, and tells me I must work to pay her back. I refuse and try to run past her, but the man grabs me and hits me until I stop fighting. He drops me to the floor, where I sit there crying, unable to move because of the pain.

That first night in the brothel still haunts my dreams. I had three “customers” visit me, and each one was meaner than the one before. They didn’t care that I was only a child, or that I was trapped in a tiny room while my family searched for me in vain. All they wanted was what I could give them, no matter how unwillingly.

(This fictional story was adapted from the testimony of a young woman in India, who was rescued after being enslaved since she was 12 years old).

It’s Human Trafficking Awareness Month, so I wanted to focus on that tough topic this week. As most of America gears up for the Super Bowl on Feb 5th, traffickers are also preparing for one of their busiest weeks of the year. Children and young girls are brought into the city from Asia, Europe, and the Americas to give visitors more “entertainment” during their stay. Local law enforcement and many ministries are working to prevent these things from happening and rescue these modern-day slaves, but it’s everyday people who can raise awareness and protect their children and others’ the best. Turning a blind eye to the problem will only allow it to continue unhindered.

So what is your part in ending modern-day slavery?