Travel

Bluebonnets in Texas

One of my favorite things about Texas is the state flower: the bluebonnet. 

 Somewhere in Texas :) | 2013

Somewhere in Texas :) | 2013

In the springtime, wild bluebonnets will begin to pop up everywhere on the sides of roads, especially along highways. You will see people parking on the sides of roads, wrangling their kids to capture family photos with the bluebonnets. They're beautiful and just pop when you photograph them! 

I captured this one above on a road trip in 2013 before we moved overseas. I just couldn't resist myself and had to get my husband to pull over the car. :) Sometimes you gotta do, what you gotta do! 

For you more techy people out there who are curious, I shot this on my Canon 5D Mark II, likely with my Tamron 28-75 f/2.8. This was the lens I used almost exclusively for a while before I switched to Primes. It's a great lens and would totally buy one again! 

Hope you're weekend is awesome!

-Ashley

The Himalayas

The Himalayas are so beautiful. I've seen them in different spots and they've never disappointed me. Traveling in them though can be nerve racking as the roads aren't the best--very narrow and people can drive fast and crazy. But they're still beautiful to look at. :)

One day I'd love to travel to Nepal and do the Annapurna Circuit, which is a hiking trail that goes through a section of the Himalayas. It's a beautiful area, but it'd definitely require me to start getting in better shape! Apparently you can choose what sections you want to do (so you don't have to do the entire trail), but even then it would require for my legs to be stronger.

Do you like to hike? What's your favorite trail and why?

Have a great weekend!

-Ashley

Connecting with People

One of the things I love to do when I travel is connect with people. I think it comes more natural to me than it used to; in the past I was afraid to approach strangers, but I've grown in that area (although sometimes I still get scared). The fear that I feel though is generally washed away once I begin talking with people--I genuinely love meeting new people and hearing about their lives.  Like for example, this family I met in Thailand when I was there last year.

2017.11.24 - Connecting with People - blog 01.jpg

These two women are sisters, and their family has been running this small restaurant on the side of the road for a very long time. The sisters make the delicious food and take care of all the customers and their parents as well who live with them in their home that is attached to this restaurant. 

Going to the back of their restaurant was pleasurable--we chatted while they cooked and I took a few pictures. Unfortunately their English was limited and I have no Thai language abilities, but we were able to small talk some and it was an enjoyable experience for us both.

People are willing to connect with you if you just try to understand them; try to relate with them on some level about what they do, their lives, where they come from, what they believe in, etc. I know for me, when others ask me about my life and experiences I feel honored and loved--I hope these women did as well. If I ever get back to where they are it would be fun to visit them again!

-Ashley

Wadi What? | #ThrowbackThursday #tbt

Have you ever heard of a wadi? It was new for me earlier this year when I first visited the Middle East. A wadi is like a large dry riverbed or a place that does hold water in rainy seasons. Whenever they are dry, they are great places to hike and explore and look like this:

2017.11.09-WadiWhat-for blog03.jpg

Some friends of ours invited us to go on a wadi hike and it was a blast. The water is so naturally blue and beautiful. This is where we ended up before I had to put my camera away:

2017.11.09-WadiWhat-for blog02.jpg

I unfortunately don't have any pictures after this, but you basically swim and walk through this channel of water until it leads you to this small, narrow opening into a cave. Inside the cave are ropes to climb up and jump down. I was completely content watching others climb up and jump down--it had to of been at least 15 feet high! At times I honestly felt like I was at Disney World--but it was all real. lol  Imagine that! :)

By the end of the day we were beat, but it was a blast to go and visit a place that was only two hours from our home.

This has been so different from our experiences in South Asia, where the only fun things to do was eat, shop, or look at historical sites (which you can only do so much of!). Here we can actually get away and have some adventure in clean air. At one point, Joshua told me to look up and I was amazed at how blue the sky was. How can the sky be so blue?! It was amazing. 

So needless to say, I feel so spoiled right now. While there are so many things I miss about South Asia, I am enjoying the beauty of this new place. It's definitely more healthy for our bodies and our lungs as we've been way more active since moving and my asthma has declined greatly. 

I'm sure I'm in a honeymoon phase and in six months I will be complaining to you, but for now I'm content and okay with the phase I'm in. Hopefully since we've experienced culture shock before it won't be a complete surprise this time! :)

Have a good one (and go explore something! It's fun!)!

-Ashley

Surprising Moments | #ThrowbackThursday #tbt

It was a nice sunny day as we stopped to hike a trailhead that someone recommended to us. It didn't look like much, but the bright green trees, colorful vegetation, and fresh, clean air was calling our names, so we didn't even care if the views were nice wherever we were going. It was just nice to be outside in nature for a change (rather than a dusty, dirty, big city). As well, we were with great friends, which made anything we did that day worth it. 

As we neared the top, we began to see a wide opening in the midst of the trees and the view was absolutely amazing. We stayed their a while, looking out at the small quaint town talking while the kids played nearby. It was an amazing sight, one that we couldn't have anticipated (or at least I didn't know what I was walking into!). I really appreciated it though and as I look back at this photo I'm reminded of the enjoyable moment I spent with my friends on that hilltop.

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What's been a surprising moment for you lately? I feel like sometimes we have to stop what we're doing and recognize that it's a special moment, otherwise we miss it. Fortunately I was in the position to just take in the beauty around me in this moment, but that's not always the case (and beautiful places that catch your eyes like this one does don't exist everywhere!). But I think there is value in noticing the beauty in the things around us. I know for myself, learning to slow down and appreciate what's around me is something I'm still working on. What about you? 

I hope that you have a surprising moment today that is encouraging to you!

-Ashley

By the way, for those of you who are wondering, this image was taken with a 24mm f/2.8 on my Canon 5D Mark II. This lens is a great one to have in your bag, especially for landscapes or tight squeezes, although you have to be careful of lens distortion. I'll share more about this another time. :)

New Territory | Personal Post

Living in a new country is always a learning curve--What gestures are appropriate? What do people find interesting to talk about? Where do you buy groceries--and what do you have/lack and what do you have change in your diet to go with what you can find? What do you wear? What's in fashion or what is inappropriate to wear? And so forth! The questions are endless.

Learning a new city is also an interesting experience. Some of our new finds include a local coffee shop that makes excellent coffee. We also found a bubble tea shop--something I haven't had in a long time (that was an exciting discovery)! We also have found that a lot of local places are closed between the hours of 1pm and 4pm. Larger grocery stores and shops are fine, but if you want to go to a market, don't plan to go at that time (we heard about this, but then forgot and learned the hard way--oops). You actually probably wouldn't want to go at that time anyway because it's so hot! Also the work week here is Sunday to Thursday with Friday and Saturday being the weekend. 

So we are in new territory folks--learning a lot and realizing also as we learn how much we don't know about life. It's interesting living in other cultures as it teaches you so much about the creativity of God and how different life can be done. I think every person should live in a different culture than their own for at least some season of their life--it teaches you a kind of respect and perspective that living in your home culture doesn't. Not to say that in some cities you can't get that "international" experience that I'm talking about; I'm fully aware that pockets of many nationalities exist in major cities. But for whatever reason, immersing yourself in a new environment and having to learn how to appreciate differences (because you can't change what's around you or escape from it) is a character building experience. :) 

 October 2017 - This new place is starkly different from South Asia. So much space and no people to be seen. It's very different and taking some getting used to.

October 2017 - This new place is starkly different from South Asia. So much space and no people to be seen. It's very different and taking some getting used to.

The other day while looking for homes, we were invited into someone's home and we had the pleasure of experiencing their hospitality. After cardamom-coffee, dates, somosas, fried fish, other-unrecognizable-items, and juice (remember this was a spontaneous house visit--they were prepared!), we left their home grinning ear to ear, very honored, and stomachs full. Our host was very adamant that she show us hospitality and how they do it, relaying to us every detail that goes into serving guests in our new city. They were very proud to be the first locals to invite us into their home and we enjoyed it thoroughly. It was actually recognizable in a lot of ways from our previous place of residence. 

I look forward to more of these experiences as I have much to learn in this new place.! Follow me to hear more about it. :)

-Ashley

Shameless Sunset Share | #ThrowbackThursday #tbt

 April 2017 - Istanbul, Turkey

April 2017 - Istanbul, Turkey

I know that countless sunsets fill up the internet, but why not clog it up more with one I saw earlier this year! :)

Last April we had the chance to visit Turkey and we happened to be crossing this bridge right at sunset. It was seriously amazing and I took way too many photos! Seeing this again makes me remember the incredible feeling of viewing it firsthand, thanking God for being such a wonderful creator. It is seriously breathtaking! 

Hope that you are inspired by something in your day today that brings you encouragement and thankfulness. Have a good one!

-Ashley

Perspectives

I've wrote about the idea of "perspectives" on my blog before, but I think it's worth bringing up again.

 Canon 5D Mark II; 50mm f/1.4  |  f/3.2, 1/200 sec, ISO-100

Canon 5D Mark II; 50mm f/1.4  |  f/3.2, 1/200 sec, ISO-100

Finding images that are interesting around us is fairly easy to do. Just like this boat I came across in Thailand a couple years back, I saw it and was so excited. I loved the colors and have even posted images of it before. 

However, what happens if I would have stopped just there? The above shot is nice, but it's good to get different perspectives by walking around your subject. 

 Canon 5D Mark II; 50mm f/1.4  |  f/10, 1/160 sec, ISO-500

Canon 5D Mark II; 50mm f/1.4  |  f/10, 1/160 sec, ISO-500

 Canon 5D Mark II; 50mm f/1.4  |  f/3.2, 1/250 sec, ISO-100

Canon 5D Mark II; 50mm f/1.4  |  f/3.2, 1/250 sec, ISO-100

 Canon 5D Mark II; 50mm f/1.4  |  f/3.2, 1/200 sec, ISO-100

Canon 5D Mark II; 50mm f/1.4  |  f/3.2, 1/200 sec, ISO-100

There are so many details that I would have missed if I would have just taken that first shot and walked on. All that to say, if you have the opportunity to take time on your subject, shoot away! Changing your perspective, whether that's walking to the left or right or getting higher/lower can completely change the image. 

This week I had a micro project that is about the topic of perspectives in my photography class and it's been really challenging. The topic is "Is this really South Asia?". The idea is to take images that one would not normally associate with this area of the world. I'm compiling the images today and will post them here tomorrow! This program keeps me on my toes!

Hope you've had a great week!

-Ashley