Romantic & Family Friendly Hoi An

I know it seems like those two words should not be in the same title for a vacation; however, Hoi An is a Vietnamese destination for both.  Part of the beauty of this place is that even while vacationing with your kids; this enchanting town can disguise itself into a romantic vacation.  The winding streets of the old town are amazingly similar to any European destination and the people of Hoi An seal the experience with a kiss of kindness.  Iconic silk lanterns adorn every street, explode with color during the day and light the pathway for your evening journey.  If the lanterns aren't stunning enough, maybe the encore of floating candles on the river at sunset will have you falling in love with the town, your significant other and/or your family night after night in this magical location.

 

When traveling as a family, it seems that the biggest concerns for children are entertainment and food.  Hoi An can ease the discomfort of both and put smiles on the entire family's faces.  As for entertainment, there are markets and shopping, but there are also bike tours through the rice fields (flat pathways), boat rides down the river, and Backstreet Academy for those who want to learn a local craft.   The tour company we used was Hoi An Eco Green Tour and they were wonderful.  Our tour guide brought bikes to the hotel, guided us through the rice fields and then brought us back to his home for an authentic Vietnamese meal cooked by his mother!  And if you are worried about eating Vietnamese food every day, don't.  The local cuisine in Hoi An is delicious and you will not tire of it; however, if the kids are in the mood for a pizza, you have many international choices in town as well.

 

Now imagine this town without your children, whether you don't have them, don't want them, or just need to get away from them.  It has everything a romantic vacation needs to bring a couple together, to add romance to a relationship, or to discover something new together.  You can dine together on a yellow-toned rooftop at sunset or spend the afternoon sipping wine and beer along the river, while people watching or watching each other.  Have some clothing made that you can then wear to a romantic dinner.  Meander through the night market and old town while holding hands underneath the luminous lanterns in the evening.  Take a sunset cruise along the river while the floating candles light the way.  You will fall in love with Hoi An every night and every morning and something beautiful will remain in your heart, even after you leave.  

The 50th Floor and Beyond

I spent a wonderful day exploring some parts of Singapore on 1 September 2016.  There is a great group of women in my community that love to go out and explore/learn about the neighborhoods and attractions that have been born in this nation of Singapore.  Plus, I was scouting one of the locations for one of my high school seniors.  On this day, we toured the 50th floor of the Pinnacles at the Duxton.  The building links five towers of apartments with a sections that are used for observation decks.  The 26th floor is for residents only, but the 50th floor is open to the public.  It costs $5 SGD and is worth every cent.  

Not only are the views incredible, but so are the different seating areas and oasis they have integrated into the rooftop landscape.  There are lounge chairs for you to relax on while taking in the view of the Central Business District in one direction, or Chinatown in the other direction.  A structure with chairs and roof - great to set-up for a sunset picnic!  Something that looks like a helicopter landing pad with cement seats surrounding it (comfortable cement seats too!).  And then, a rock climbing structure for those of us who think the 50th floor is the perfect place to play.  

Any which way you look at this building, it is visually pleasing to the eye!  Whether it is rising above the iconic shophouses or looking at the building from below, this architectural beauty is one not to be missed. 

After spending about an hour above the city, we took a short walk to the Singapore City Gallery, formerly known as the URA Gallery, which is across from the Maxwell Food Center.  It is a free museum, you just have to sign in with what country you are from.  The best part about the museum are the two models of Singapore.  One is of the entire island and it helped put the island in perspective.  This little red dot actually has a ton of land, which doesn't seem possible when driving around.  It was also great to see our small community of Sembawang, all the way up north, be included in this immense replica.  

The second model is strictly of Central Singapore, or the downtown area.  It includes larger models of Orchard Road, the Marina Bay Area, The Quays, and much more.  I loved looking at the buildings in this and being able to experience the "bird's eye view" of the downtown.  This model also shows how much they are developing around the area.  If you are interested at all in Singapore and its developing cityscape, I highly recommend popping in.  

Prague and It's Quirks

Prague is a beautiful city with incredible architecture, stunning views and culture that touches everyone it meets.  However, some of my favorite parts of Prague are it's street art, ceramics and shop decorations.  The Czech people are talented and have a great sense of humor when it comes to an opening line or entryway.  

Travel to Mostar, Bosnia-Herzegovinia

Over the summer my husband and I took our kids back to Europe for three weeks!  While living in Singapore is amazing, with incredible travel opportunities, we needed to get away from the humidity and get some European air back into our lungs.  During those three weeks, we traveled to Croatia, Bosnia, Germany and Czech Republic (or Czechia for short now.)  I wanted to share some of the incredible sites I saw and captured during our four days in Mostar.  

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NO. 2 PENCILS

This morning I started to revisit my old photos that I have taken over the last year to see if there were any worthy images of editing.  Over the past two years, I have learned so much not only about the camera, but about Photoshop and Lightroom, so I wanted to put my skills to work.  These images are of something very simple – No. 2 Pencils – how mundane…how boring….or are they?  Sometimes an easy way to improve your photography is to force yourself to create a dynamic image from an every day object.

Something as simple as a pencil can make a beautiful, even dramatic, photographic image.   After importing the above four images into Lightroom, I tried to edit them differently in order to create fine art.

Removing the color along with the continuous lines of the pencils makes this image more interesting.

Removing the color along with the continuous lines of the pencils makes this image more interesting.

A minor crop adjustment, some straightening, and increase in saturation.

A minor crop adjustment, some straightening, and increase in saturation.

Increase in contrast and desaturated yellow completely.

Increase in contrast and desaturated yellow completely.

Cropped this image so the pencil takes up 2/3 of the frame, increased the saturation of yellow, orange and blue.  The contrast of the blue against the red, orange and yellow makes the image stand out.

Cropped this image so the pencil takes up 2/3 of the frame, increased the saturation of yellow, orange and blue.  The contrast of the blue against the red, orange and yellow makes the image stand out.

PHOTOGRAPHY BLOG – DAY #1

Since this is the year of my business, my photography…my photography business, I have been getting much accomplished to reach the goal of a successful photography business.  Website…check.  Facebook page…check. Business cards…check.   First client…check.  New Camera…check.  Now, blog.  Blogging.  So, for Photography Blog – Day #1, I have blogged.

What I can tell you, if you are new to this like I am, is that I am always thinking about getting ideas out there; thinking about telling my photography story; thinking about how I can help others with these things.  I am constantly hoping that someone will fall in love with my photos and understand my passion for this art.  So, today I begin simply with my hope for this blogging endeavor.  I hope you enjoy it, learn from it, and love it as much as I do.

Today I am heading out to photograph Hort Park in Singapore.  I am scouting locations for my family photography and high school seniors, which is what I have been approached for most lately.  I am armed with my new Nikon d7100, three lenses – my Nikkor 50mm f/1.8D, my Nikkor 70-300, and my Nikkor 18-55.  I have yet to master my nifty fifty yet, so most likely will be shooting with my 18-55.  I also have water (because I live in Singapore and it is always hot) and my phone (which I will use to listen to music.)  When I go out to shoot, I like to get into a creative zone, so I have made a playlist that I will listen to that will help me get there.

Find some music that will “put you in the mood.”  If you are trying for a romantic result, listen to something calming.  If you want something bright and lively, bring out some dance or pop.  Think about the result you are looking to achieve before you leave, before you pick up your camera, before you begin editing.  With photography, you need to know where you want to end before you begin.  This will help tailor your scouting session or photo session to achieve the result you have set out for.

For me, I am looking for some classic locations with great texture or architecture to bring out family portraits.  I want pretty, romantic, calm and loving all wrapped up in a location. This is a scouting session so I can sit down with a potential client, offer them options in Singapore for their sessions, provide them with choices.  I am hoping that showing them different options will prove to them that I have done my homework and that I have been preparing for their photo session before they even knew they were looking for a photographer.