Alaska Day 5: Exit[ing] Glacier.

Day 5, our second day in Seward, we went to see glaciers again, the day before on water, but this time on land! We visited Exit Glacier in Kenai Fjords National Park. It’s a shorter and accessible trail, so pretty much anyone could walk the path and see it ūüôā

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Puddlegram! Exit Glacier reflected in a puddle.
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My family enjoying the view of the glacier!

The sad thing is, Exit Glacier is, well, exiting! The picture below is the one of the closest vantage points the park’s trail takes us to view the glacier. In 2010, the glacier was much larger. I would have been able to touch the glacier from where I took this photo only 6 years ago. 100 years ago, the glacier, the mile trail we walked was essentially all glacier.I essence, the glaciers in Alaska have all been slowly shrinking since the end of the earth’s ice age, but in just the last decade, it’s been shrinking faster and faster, and Exit Glacier here is an up close and personal example of one of them.

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This picture shows how far the glacier had been just back in 2010.

If that picture doesn’t scare you, how about this one? I took it from farther back where the glacier reached back in 2005, just eleven years ago (I was only ten years old, and I just turned 21 recently). I also added an indicator below to show where I was standing for the photo I took above of the 2010 sign.

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The glacier’s size back in 205. In 11 years, the glacier has shrunk from 2005 sign to the one you see in the photo now. The “2010” arrow points to were I took the photo above this one- how large the glacier was in 2010.

What were you doing in 2005? 2010? Comment below ūüôā

In the infographic below, Kenai Fjords National Park scientists also say that the glacier used to be much larger, and has been shrinking and melting more and more every year.

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Information and graphic in this photo belong to Kenai Fjords National Park.
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A mini-water fall within a crevice of the glacier.

My brother made an extra climb up closer to the glacier, and he got to touch it! Check out his Instagram post below, and follow him @timclau ūüôā

A few non-glacier pictures taken along the trail. Cool to think that all the trees, rivers, flowers, and earth used to be frozen less than a century ago!

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(Long Exposure) – river we had to cross to see the glacier.
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(Macro) small flower that was along the trail to see Exit Glacier

We ended the day by going back to Seward and taking a stroll around Seward. Turns our there is large RV park by the bay, and lots of families either camping out or living in their RVs. It’s a beautiful place to be in the summer.

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RVs and/or Campers around a fire.
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The Seward Beach.

I hope you enjoyed these photos of Exit Glacier and the Seward Bay. However, I want to challenge you to educate yourself¬†on the warming of Alaska. I know there is lots of controversy about the politics of global warming and climate change. However, I’m not asking you to look into politics, but to check out and see if beautiful natural wonders of Alaska-its glaciers for example-may soon cease to exist. Also, with glaciers gone, cute little tourist towns like Seward may lose its large amount of¬†tourism, which is important for the town’s economic well-being (when no tourists come in the coldest months of winter, many Seward residents and workers actually leave for a break because there is no work for them).

The Natural Resources Defense Council, or the NRDC, a non-profit that aims to protect the earth’s natural ecosystem and the animals, plants, and humans within it. They have fought for clean water in Flint, Michigan and have campaigned against the antibiotics found in Kentucky Fried Chicken’s¬†poultry. These are just two of the many projects they’re working on- and they reported the day I arrived back in Jersey that Alaska is having the hottest year ever recorded. Check out their tweet below:

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been tracking the impact climate change has had on Alaska as well. They say that there have been an increase in wildfires in the state, and its lakes and ponds are getting smaller due to warmer weather resulting in increased evaporation.

You can take what I say with a grain of salt. I’m not trying to convince you to believe everything I say, but I do hope that you would at least educate yourselves about the climate change in Alaska if you have not already. The unfortunate conclusion is that in just a couple of years, kids will never be able to see glaciers in Alaska anymore.

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Soon there might not a be a glacier for us to see anymore ūüė¶

But two truths are clear:
1. Alaska is having the hottest year that’s ever been recorded.
2 This glacier, Exit Glacier, has been shrinking faster and faster by the decade, and so are the other glaciers in Alaska.

For me, that’s enough reason to start demanding climate action when I can, and having a different perspective on how I treat my earth’s ecosystem- even back home in the suburbs of¬†New Jersey.

What do you think of this “warming of Alaska”? I’d like to hear your opinion if you would like to share; comment below!

Thanks for reading! Be sure to check my past photo¬†blog posts about Alaska by clicking on the images below ūüôā

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Day 0: 30 Hour Trip
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Day 1: Denali National Park
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Day 2: Rain in Talkeetna
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Day 3: Talkeetna to Seward, and Views Along the Way
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Day 4: Cruise Through the Gulf of Alaska

Alaska Day 1: Denali National Park

Day 1 after 30 hours of travel and a good early night’s rest (also adjusting to the 24 daylight called “Midnight’s Sun” here in Alaska), we were up early and were off by 7:15 AM to Denali National Park, home to Denali (formerly known as Mount McKinley), the highest peak in the US.

The only way to get into the park past a certain point is to use the park’s bus tours (the main road extends to 84-89 miles long, but private cars are only allowed to drive past mile 15 now). The bus we signed up for went from the parking lot to the 84th mile – Wonder Lake. The bus made about 8 stops give or take, and the bus also often stopped if there was any wildlife near the roads. The buses would be rotating very often, so if we wanted to stay at any certain spot and enjoy the view longer, hike a trail or two, or even camp, we could, and other buses could take us a long later. However we stuck with the same bus all day, and the trip went on from 7:30 AM till around¬†6:30 PM (almost 11 hours!). 168 miles on not the best terrain, with stops along the way.

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Bus tours are the best way for us to see Denali National Park. (Sony !7)

Everywhere we went, there was just so much distance to see for miles and miles, and beautiful mountains surrounding us.

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Denali (Mount McKinley) and the reflection pool.

We saw a good amount of wildlife.

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A moose about 100-200 yards from our bus.
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Bear and Cubs
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Bear and Cubs
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Male Moose
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Elk
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Sheep
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Sheep

Our bus ride might have been great, and the car ride could be boring, but our driver might have been the highlight of the trip. A school bus driver during the year, she gets to work in Denali National Park, interacting with people, telling stories,  or make lots of jokes. Thanks, Wendy, for being a compassionate and loving driver and tour gjide.

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Our cheerful and incredibly bus driver and tour guide, Wendy.
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Family Photo with Denali. #30percentclub
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My favorite picture of the day for sure!

On our bus, we met an older couple who owned an RV and have been driving for a long time. The lady told us we must get food at the “Salmon Bake” and that it’s worth it. It was! Salmon and Halibut are Alaska’s favorites. Also, Happy BIrthday Mom!

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Dinner (delicious salmon and halibut).

Long day. Stay tuned for Day 2 ūüôā

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Day 0: 30 Hour Trip.

R8 Post-Joaquin Hiking @ Point Mountain – 10/10/15

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10/10/15 – Second hiking trip to Point Mountain, Washington in a month.

This time i went with my home church’s (Rutgers Community Christian Church) collegiate small group: R8. It’s named R8 after Romans 8, a chapter in the Bible. Our goal is love God, serve the church, and to impact the community with the good news of Jesus’ love.

Can anything ever separate us from Christ‚Äôs love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? …¬†No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.” – Romans 8:35, 37, New Living Translation.

WARNING: Photography Jargon START

After dropping my 50mm f/1.8 prime lens off the cliff last month, I decided to invest in a refurbished lens (low budged). I went with a 30mm f/2.8 macro prime lens.

This 30mm macro lens has slower aperture than the 50mm prime, but it’s much better at close-up pictures because the macro lens has a minimum focus length of around 6 inches, compared to the 50mm prime lens, which focus length of 24 inches. This means that the “new” macro lens that I bought can focus on an object when I hold a much smaller distance than my other lenses. Do you know how when taking a picture even with your phone, once you get too close to an object it won’t focus? Exactly that. In other words, this “new” lens made¬†look pretty funny when I was¬†holding my camera super close to random small objects during the hike.

Being so close to an object makes it really hard to focus on a small object. Any tiny movement of the object, my camera, or my camera’s focus ring could make the image blurry. It takes a lot of patience and it takes many tries. However, when taking close-up pictures of¬†nature,¬†it’s so peaceful that the extended time doesn’t bother me. It does leave me far behind the rest of the hiking group though, haha!

Photography Jargon END

The following pictures were taken along the hike. I used mostly my “new” 30mm f/2.8 macro lens with my Sony a57, but I also used my 75-300mm zoom lens as well.

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I took a lot of pictures that beautiful Saturday. Here’s a gallery of all the photos I took:

Spontaneous Hiking Trip (9/24/15)

Thursday, September 24, 2015 РHiking at Point Mountain Reservation, Washington, NJ.

Last Thursday, I was able to go hiking at Point Mountain¬†with my friends Jen and Dorothy. Jen and Dorothy were undergraduate seniors at Rutgers when I was a freshmen two years ago, and they’re both like older sisters to me. Jen would always invite people to go hiking, and she’s one of the reasons why hiking has become one of my favorite things to do on a nice day. I happen to have Thursday mornings and afternoons free every week this fall semester, while Jen and Dorothy both work jobs that have very sporadic schedules. Jen is a nurse at a hospital, while Dorothy tutors students in secondary education. Both happened to have Thursday off as well, and the weather was GREAT, so it all worked out perfectly!

QUICK HIKING SPOT REVIEW:¬†It can be difficult to find nice overlooks when it comes to hiking in Central New Jersey. There are lots of nice forest areas to hike, but there just aren’t a lot of peaks to choose from. Only about a forty-five minute drive away from Rutgers New Brunswick, Point Mountain was a great surprise. This hiking spot is a part of the Musconetcong Reservation in Hunterdon County. The peak was beautiful and really high up, and the hiking trail involved lots of rock scrambling. Also, if you go on the right trail path(s), you’ll hike alongside the peaceful Musconetcong River (there’s just something peaceful about running water!). I would love to go back again soon. Jen and I both share a favorite hiking spot in NJ at Mount Tammany and Dunnfield Creek @ The Delaware Water Gap (http://www.njhiking.com/best_hikes_red_dot_mt_tammany/), which is over an hour drive away from Rutgers. However, I think that Point Mountain, much closer to my Central NJ home, in comparison to Mt. Tammany was also really great location! Difficulty: 7/10 (lots of climbing and rocky paths), Overall¬†Rating: 8/10.

Check out Point Mountain for yourself here! http://www.njhiking.com/nj-hikes-point-mountain/

(WARNING: Photography Jargon)¬†I have gone hiking quite a lot the last two years, and most of the pictures I’ve taken have been focusing on the wide landscapes, such as a view on the top of a mountain, or a flowing river. However, early in the hike, I saw little stinkbugs crawling around. Most of the macro (close up) photography I take outside are usually pictures of flowers. I was able to find a couple insects and take macro shots of them during this hike!

Random fact about this hike: I had taken my Sony 50mm 1.8 prime lens out to take most of these macro pictures. It was my first time using it (I have used a 35mm or the past year). On the top of the mountain, I actually dropped my 50mm prime lens off the cliff (it went CLUNK CLUNK CLUNK as it bounced down each rock) at the end of the hike… so these pictures you see here are pretty much the ONLY pictures that were ever taken by that 50mm primes lens sitting and rotting somewhere in the forest at Washington NJ.

(WARNING: MORE Photography Jargon) Using my Sony A57 DSLR camera, I carried three lenses with me: my Sony 50mm f/1.8 prime lens (for portraits and macro shots), my Sony 75-300mm f/3.5-6.5 telephoto zoom lens (for far away shots), and my Samyang (Rokinon) 14mm f/2.8 ultra-wide angle lens (for landscapes).

FIrst, the macro shots:

The first two pictures are of a caterpillar species that I saw twice during the hike. These caterpillars look super white and fuzzy… searching it up, it’s called a Hickory Tussock Moth¬†(Lophocampa caryae). According to the University of Wisconsin in Milwaukee, it has poison glands on the longer lashes that causes a burning and itchy rash. Glad I didn’t touch it, haha!

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50mm   f/2.8   1/80 sec   ISO 400

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50 mm   f/2.8   1/80 sec   ISO 200

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Stinkbug (Halyomorpha halys).  50mm   f/5.6   1/160 sec   ISO 800

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Here’s a picture of a daddy long leg (called the “Eastern Harvestman”,¬†Leiobunum¬†vittatu). We saw a bunch of these on bench along the trail.

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Bees! Not sure what type this is. Some sunlight bokeh in the background. 50mm   f/4.5   1/1600 sec   ISO 400

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I believe this is a honeybee.  50mm   f/4.5   1/1600 sec   ISO 400

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I wasn’t able to find out what animal this is… please contact me or comment if you have any clue! This worm or caterpillar would burrow itself into the leaves/dirt to protect itself. When I removed the dirt to look at it longer, it would curl into a “fetal” defensive position. ¬† 50mm ¬† f/4 ¬† 1/100 sec ¬† ISO 800

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50mm   f/4.5   1/125 sec   ISO 400

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50mm   f/3.5   1/200 sec   ISO 400

A couple of landscape/telephoto pictures:

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150mm   f/8   1/250 sec   ISO 200

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14mm ¬† 1/125 sec ¬† ISO 100 ¬†(NOTE: the aperture is adjusted manually on the lens, so I don’t know what f-stop it ended up being!)

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Mini long exposure of running water.   50mm   f/13   0.4 sec  ISO 200

The 0.4 second exposure allowed the shot to have a silky water movement.

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14mm   1/80 sec   ISO 400

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Pre-sunset. 300mm   f/11   1/1000 sec   ISO 100

Lastly, a couple portrait/people shots:

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Direct sunlight allowed for some interesting bokeh here. Thanks to Jen for standing still for me, haha!   50mm   f/2.5   1/125 sec   ISO 800

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50mm   f/3.2   1/160 sec   ISO 800

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Dorothy overlooking the peak of Point Mountain.   50mm   f/11   1/250 sec  ISO 800

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Jen hopping on rocks in the middle of the river.   50mm   f/2.8   1/320 sec   ISO 800

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50mm   f/3.2   1/1000 sec   ISO 1600

LASTLY, a selfie with the three of us… (no selfie sticks were used here. Actually, no selfie sticks will EVER be used for this blog… unless it’s a blog post filled with pictures of tourists and people using selfie sticks!).

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14mm   1/125 sec   ISO 100

Thanks again for reading ūüôā If you like these pictures, please share this blog with your friends!

Follow me on instagram (@mattlau95)! Also, follow Jen (@jenwenlee) but I think she may have her account on private, haha!

Flowers at America’s Keswick

It’s been two weeks into the school year, and it’s so exciting. So many things to do and so many people to do things with!

However, I’m already missing the free time and solidarity that I had in the summer. Summer ended perfectly this year, when my church went on a retreat at America’s Keswick Retreat Center in Whiting, NJ. It was beautiful area, and one thing I really admired about their retreat site as their gardening. They had a lot of nice flowers, and they took really good care of them. I had a blast practicing some close-up macro shots that weekend. Look at them below ūüôā

(WARNING: Photography Jargon Ahead!) All of these were taken with my Sony A57 DSLR, with my 35mm f/1.8 prime lens attached. It was really bright out, so I could use a low ISO and really fast shutter speed. I wanted to keep the f-stop (aperture) lower so only the flowers were in focus. Enjoy!EC Retreat 2015 Flowers Daytime (9 of 13)

35mm   f/4.5   1/250 sec   ISO 400

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35mm   f/4.5   1/250 sec   ISO 400

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35mm   f/2.8   1/320 sec   ISO 200

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35mm   f/4.5   1/250    ISO 400

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35mm   f/3.2   1/500 sec    ISO 400

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35mm   f/2.8   1/3200 sec   ISO 200

EC Retreat 2015 Flowers Daytime (2 of 13)

35mm   f/5.6   1/125 sec   ISO 200

Mom’s Home Gardening (Post 3 of 5 in 5 days)

My mom has started to work more on our home garden the last year. It might be in congruency with me go to college, haha! We live in a very deer-populated area, so it can be pretty difficult sometimes to avoid chomped petals.

My mom’s garden was the perfect opportunity for me try macro and flower photography.

I¬†used¬†around with my trusty Sony a57 DSLR, and I used my 75-300mm zoom lens for the first two flower picture below, and then my 35mm f/1.8 prime lens for the third picture. If anyone knows the names of these flowers these are let me know! They’re both about like 1-2 inches in diameter.210mm ¬†f/5.6 ¬†0.5 sec ¬†ISO 400

280 mm  f/5.6  0.5  ISO 400

35mm  f/1.8  1/500 sec  ISO 200

Photography Jargon: This last picture shows a really good example of “shallow depth of field” that comes with a low aperture of f/1.8, which explains the blurry background.

I hope the deer will stay away from my mom’s garden so I might have more things to take pictures of!

Matthew Lau Photography

Hi everyone!

I’m a thinker, so I always have ideas. I also stink and lack the patience for¬†the art of writing That’s why I’ve started or re-started countless journals and blogs in the past, failing to update it after a couple weeks.

However, in the half-year, Ive discovered a new passion of photography at the age of 19 years. Simply put it, I love the art of a still image. To capture a moment that doesn’t move and can be observed over time is a challenge that I get excited about. ¬†My mother told me that growing up, I always tried to do things and gave up quickly (e.g. my previous blogs), but she said recently, observing moments when I’m messing around with my camera, that she has barely ever seen so much patience in me before. I’ve gotten a great chance to travel (Minnesota, Vermont) and explore the outdoors during this summer, so it’s been very exciting.

Being able to take a picture is something pretty new in the history of civilization. However, now, pretty much everyone can take a picture of whatever they want with their smartphone. I decided I wanted to take it to the next level, so I hope to continue learning more about photography and improve in this form of art. I hope you enjoy it!

Thanks to my parents for support, my brother Tim (@timclau)¬†for encouraging me to start this blog, Natalie¬†for creating the calligraphy in my logo Jon for convincing me to learn how to use Adobe Lightroom, Ariel and Sam for giving me tips, Jasmine and Harry for letting me take pictures of them, and anyone who’s encouraged me!

I will show you a small snippet of the types of photos I’ve been learning to take. These are already posted on my instagram (follow me @mattlau95!). Feel free to e-mail me at mattlau95@gmail.com¬†with critiques, questions, ideas, comments, etc. ūüôā

Landscape Photography

One of my favorite things to do since college started is hiking. And after hiking more often, I’ve discovered a love for the beauty of nature. I think nature is the perfect representation of God’s power. Here are two examples of my landscape photography:

Waterfall of Duke Brook – Duke Farms, Hillsborough, New Jersey – 6/18/2015

This is the first photo where the result got me really excited about photography. It’s a simple waterfall, I took up to thirty shots of the same scene and blended them together to give the water a silky look. This can easily be done with a neutral density filter and a long exposure, but I didn’t have a ND filter at the time!

First Blog Post (4 of 6)

Sunrise Over Parley Lake – St Bonifacius, Minnesota – 7/11/2015

I’m using this as the background for my avatar at the top of the page right now! This sunrise culminated an all-nighter at the annual Internationals Bible Quizzing tournament at Crown College this year.

Macro Photography

In the same way how it’s easy to get excited about how large the universe is, it’s also easy to get excited about how detailed the smallest objects or creatures in the world can be. Not quite the same as microscopes in a science lab, but my macro photography focuses on capturing a lot of detail in an image of small things. Below is an example of a small bumblebee on a flower.

First Blog Post (5 of 6)

Bumblebee Nomming – Princeton Gardens – 7/23/2015

Animal and Action Photography 

Animals can be tough to take pictures of because they run away from you (I guess animals hate me ūüė• ). It takes very fast shutter speeds, zoom, and patience. Here’s a butterfly I shot at Princeton Gardens.

First Blog Post (6 of 6)

Butterfly – Princeton Gardens, NJ – 7/23/2015

Portrait Photography

This is the hardest one for me, because it takes interacting with people (introvert here). It’s also not really my thing because I don’t know much about modeling or telling people how to pose. Luckily, I have friends that are willing volunteer to help me learn and be a part of my photos!

First Blog Post (2 of 6)

Portrait at the Livingston Courtyard – Livingston Campus of Rutgers, Piscataway, New Jersey – 6/26/2015

Jasmine is a close friend of mine who loves fashion. Check her out on Instagram! @thetrendscender

Astrophotography

Lastly is Astrophotography, my favorite. I love stars. They’re so big, but so far away. Light and darkness motif. Enough said! ūüôā

Astrophotography is definitely the hardest one to do well, because it takes lots of patience (long exposure) and it’s dependent on time, weather, moonlight, clouds, a lots of other factors. But it’s so beautiful to me.

First Blog Post (1 of 1)

Meteor from NJ – Colonial Park, Somerset, NJ – 8/12/15

This was taken during the peak of the Perseids Meteor sighting that is still technically going on as August comes to a close. I took a 5 second photo on non-stop (I had a loop function on my remote) until a meteor dashed right in the middle of the scene. Again, there’s a lot of patience that comes with this.

I hope if you’re still reading at this point, you somewhat enjoy my pictures. I definitely enjoy taking them. To kick off this blog, I’m going to try to do a daily post for the next five days. Keep a lookout!