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WY 2008 009While straightening out my office I picked up a photo from a great adventure in Wyoming.  Fond memories flooded into my mind. Combine good friends with a challenging adventure and there will always result in a moment to remember.

My quarry was the amazing Pronghorn Antelope.  It was created by God with specific features to survive in the rugged plains our great nation.  Experienced outdoors men marvel at this splendid animal.  I would make an effort to capture these animals on my digital camera.

Each antelope is about the size of a smallish whitetail deer.  The Pronghorn has been nicknamed the Prairie Goat.  It eats just about whatever is available in the Prairie.  Here in the upper elevation of Wyoming the main staple for food is wild grass.

These fantastic creatures have oversized eyes in proportion to their head.  God gifted these prairie critters with this unique feature so that they use superior eyesight as a defense mechanism.  Their eyesight is amazing.  Each pronghorn has the eyesight equivalent to humans using 8x binoculars.

Along with their splendid eyesight these animals were created with blazing speed.  They can easily sustain a 30 mph gallop across uneven terrain.  It keeps these herds of beautiful creatures out of reach from predators.

Unfortunately, it also keeps them far away from photographers, even those who are equipped with a significant telephoto lens.  A tripod steadied my shots, nevertheless I was challenged to get close enough for good photos.  I have deleted many blurry shots, miniature images, and clumsy compositions.

Besides the distance challenges inherent in wildlife photography, there is the Wyoming weather.  The wind blows there with relentless force.  I teased my host that when the wind stops blowing, local Wyoming residents fall over.

Once I was in the field all day.  That camera shoot started with very cold but with a clear sky.  Of course it was windy.  Then, the weather turned sour.  First, the low clouds rolled in and engulfed me in a thick fog.  Then, it cleared in time for the rain to start.  Once I was drenched, the cold weather turned the rain into snow.

I gave up in my fight against the elements.  Once back at the cabin, I dried off and watched the frozen rain fly down and pelt the window of my room like a sandstorm.  It was very nice to pull off my boots and warm my feet.  Maybe another day would be more friendly for me and my shutter.

photo credit: brucefong photography

IMG_1806The crowds of people were growing.  More and more cars were arriving.  Each one was filled with weary workers who eagerly anticipated a weekend full of fun, fellowship, spiritual insight and personal challenge.

Every time I turned there was someone new to meet and greet.  Since I was one of the invited guests, I had scores of names to remember, stories to hear and chances to engage new changes in the lives of people whom God was actively working.  The job of a speaker goes way beyond the delivery of a timely message.

We were escorted to our room.  There we settled in for a busy weekend.  It was a familiar task that we have done many times in the past.  Soon we were done and returned to the lodge to meet more people.

I connected with those who were organizing the retreat.  We were registered and introduced to many of the key players.  Early on we laughed and expressed our appreciation for so many who worked so hard to make this event a reality.

It was time to retreat to our room and review my message for the first session.  My mind was beginning to shift away from the conversations and concentrate on the words for the lead-off sermon.  It is a shift that I have trained myself to make my entire career.

Then, something special happened.  We left the building through a back entrance.  My eye caught something unusual, out-of-place, in contrast to what was normal.  It was on the window of the door that we had just used to exit the auditorium.

Carefully, I slowly let the door close.  Hopefully, I would not disturb this remarkable life form resting on one of glass panes.  I had never seen anything like it.

I pointed it out to my bride.  She marveled.  Automatically, we both prepared our cameras to photograph the sight.

Naturally, we started a good distance away.  Then, since it was seemingly undisturbed, we brought our lens closer and closer.  It posed without any sign of panic.

It was a moth.  Yes, a simple insect with wings.  However, it looked like a leaf from a tree.  Clearly out-of-place with its natural camouflage on a man-made door, it stood out.

Others gathered to see what had captured our attention.  There were collective “Wow’s” and several “Oohs”.  Naturally, there was one who waved off the interest, “It’s only a bug.”  None of us were deterred.

Yes, it was a common insect.  Nevertheless, it was very cool.  Creation is always cool.

photo credit: brucefong cellphone photography

Jeremy's PA White Coat Celebration 2013 091My camera has an athletic events setting.  Just in case I am in a situation requiring frequent shots it is there.  I never really thought much of the option.

Now, I was at our youngest son’s White Coat ceremony.  It is the portal that these young health professionals pass through with great delight.  Now, they have finished a grueling period of rigorous classroom work.

In a matter of weeks they will begin their “rotations”.  They will be assigned to real hospitals with real illnesses and injuries.  There they will work alongside physicians and put their knowledge into

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practice.

This is a major milestone for these students.  It is worth the pause to celebrate.  A ceremony when they put on their white coats is the symbol of that achievement.

Knowing that our son’s passage across the stage would happen quickly, I remembered the athletic action setting.  Once it was clicked into place, I just snapped away.  Each motion moment was captured on digital slides.

Jeremy's PA White Coat Celebration 2013 093A faculty member introduced Jeremy by name.  Cheerfully he sauntered across the stage.  Another faculty member held out his white coat.

Jeremy put in one arm.  People were applauding.  I know that our family was cheering.

Then, the final arm slipped into place. He adjusted his shoulders like a man donning a new suit.  It looked good.  It seemed to fit him just right.

His faculty member smoothed out the creases.  A pat on his shoulders with a beaming pride came Jeremy's PA White Coat Celebration 2013 095from teacher to student.  I was smiling while snapping away.

Then, there was a hug.  That’s not usual.  At least in my experience I did not commonly see such affection in a commencement ceremony.

Words were whispered that we in the crowd were not privy to.  It was one professional speaking encouragement into the next generation of professionals.  If that is what bedside manner is all about then these people did something very good in the educational process.

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One more faculty member was on stage.  She was not about to be short-changed from a congratulatory hug and special words whispered to her student.  It was all happening so quickly.

Every family member and friend who came to the ceremony waited for their special member to walk the stage and be gowned in their professional white coat.  We all got into the mood and cheered every graduate whose name was called.  The athletic setting worked just right.

photo credit: brucefong photography

Aquariums fascinate me.  Life underwater, especial in the world’s seas is intriguing.  There is something about the endless variety of sea life that make me marvel at the wonder of creation.

When I wander through the maze of aquarium tanks and exhibits, it never fails to amaze me at the attention that Lionfish generate.  There is usually a crowd around their display.  You can hear the people “ooh” and “ah”.

Parents tell their children, “I saw these Lionfish that last time we were scuba diving.  They are beautiful but dangerous.”  Unmistakably identified by their reddish and white stripes, Lionfish are worth a long lingering look.

While beautiful, they are also venomous.  The toxin in the stinging fin rays of his animal will commonly be painful, cause nausea, vomiting and result in a fever.  This fish’s sting is particularly dangerous to the young or the elderly.  Death can occur especially among those who have a weakened immune system or allergies to the venom. 

Chest pain, difficulty in breathing, low blood pressure and speech slurring are common symptoms of a Lionfish sting.  An encounter with this deadly fish will not go away on its own.  Medical treatment must be sought.

Inside a fish tank, its beauty can we appreciated by all the visitors who never venture into the world below the seas.  These ornate creatures swim with purpose, slowly while on the prowl. Then, with swiftness that will surprise any who are lulled into a lazy tracking of this highly adept predator, are startled when this animal attacks for a meal.

They jettison streams of water to disorient their prey.  Gaping mouths open and inhale their prey in one swift motion.  This fish can position itself with great precision to best dominate their next meal, then move back into a casual holding pattern.

With the light so low, it wasn’t easy trying to photograph these amazingly attractive fish.  I would have to angle the picture correctly to avoid a flash reflection.  Then I would hope that the Lionfish would cooperate and not move during the exposure.  No one like a blurry picture.

Salt water is naturally hazy too.  People bump in these tight quarters as well.  Kids run and collide with other kids and shoving makes many a steady photographer’s arm move at the wrong time. 

But, patience, concentration and God’s moment of blessing prove to be part of my first visit to the Houston Aquarium.  I like these photos of the Lionfish.  It is stunning and deadly; so fascinating!

photo credit: brucefong cellphone photography

My camera is a frequent companion on my adventures through life.  I pull it out of its case and snap a few pictures especially when I’m out on my day off.  It’s a practice that I have wondered about over the past number of years.

I grew up with the old film method and a secondhand SLR camera.  A few accessories gave me some variety in my early photography days.  My shekels were few so I only had two auxiliary lenses.  Both were manual lenses.

Now, I’m immerses in the world of digital photography. It is light years ahead of the old equipment.  Just the cost of developing film was prohibitive.

With digital I can edit as I go.  My photos are immense in number but my editing is vicious.  I hit the delete button often enough that my thumb gets tired.

In the field with my camera I have learned to enjoy God’s creation more than ever.  His variety and secret colors, shapes, textures, perspectives, proportions, shadows are stunning.  The hand of His initiative are a wonder.

My camera actually slows me down.  Too often in years gone by I have been fixated on my destination.  Nothing would stop my forward progress except gasoline or the inevitable call of nature.

Now, life is filled with rich moments that pause is common.  Momentum is lost but gain is enormous.  Capturing a moment gives the journey depth and meaning.

Now, when my bride and I reflect over a day in His creation we marvel together at what we experienced.  Instead of losing a chance, we have grown in our value of the experience.  These computer preserved images are enhanced further in my mind.

I know that I am an amateur photographer.  That is a badge of reality and appreciation.  My photography is not done for financial gain but for the sheer love of the interest.

But my status behind the lens is more than an economic matter.  It is a status that testifies that I am a perpetual learner.  I pay attention when others drop clues of techniques, skills and suggestions.

This hobby is fun.  It is exhilarating.  The results are captivating.

The trail of pictures on my computer are also a historical description of my days on this earth.  As long as His grace gives me breath, I will treasure the days of trekking through His marvelous world and capturing special moments for my computer archives.

photo credit: brucefong photography

God is the Master painter.  With flawless brush strokes of His creation He decorates the end of every day with a spectacular display on the horizon of the Pacific Ocean.  Often I enjoy the stunning artistic work on my way home from a long day at work.

There are many places to pull off the highway along the coast.  My route takes me along Skyline Boulevard, Highway 35.  I pick it up by Lake Merced.

A steep but steady climb leads me away from the lake.  Just around the cliffs where paragliders love to catch their thermals the view of the Pacific breaks open.  It is one of my favorite daily views.

Now it is a matter of personal taste.  Small state parks, county parks and city parks dot the route.  Green signs indicate a turn-off is approaching.  This is one of those driving moments when you need to multi-task.

Off to the West the gestures of the Creator are already at work.  Gulls add their gentle gliding to the picture.  Their steady wing beats and arched wings capture the wind currents that define their art of flight.

Pelicans are ungainly when they waddle on the ground.  But, now in groups that draft for the flock they fly in formation off into the setting sun.  These fascinating birds add texture and uniqueness to the menagerie of a closing day.

The delicate clouds that hug the horizon will become the canvas of the finger painting of Jehovah.  They will capture the colors, add depth to the portrait and spray the sky with shifting hues.  They start off white but literally pulsate with the sinking of the sun.

Now, the closing act of the day begins in earnest.  The star of the show is the sun.  This blazing ball of light moves through the prism shades of light. 

Orange comes to mind.  No, it is yellow.  Hmmm….maybe golden describes it best.  Aesthetic words for colors certainly are not my strong suit.  But, what I lack in vocabulary, I make up in soulish appreciation.

What God gives me to take away my stresses of life with a gorgeous sunset is a gift.  Like a soothing massage of my spirit, He whisks me away into His greatness, reminding me that He controls all things.  He is the Savior of my past, the Solution of my present and the Sovereign of my future. I love Him!

photo credit: brucefong photography

A walk through the Redwood forest in March means a quiet stroll.  Moisture from loads of rain has drenched the forest floor.  Bark from the mighty redwood trees, moss and soft soil beneath the thick layer of decomposing leaves makes it feel like you’re walking on a mattress.

The morning sun is hidden even when the sky is clear.  Thick branches, layers of greenery and massive trunks form an impenetrable barrier.  But, a hole here or crack there let the sun blast through with bursts of light.

Beams from the sun would streak through the canopy of shade and like spotlights shine on the forest floor.  The Creator seemed to call attention to the often overlooked attractions nearer our feet than above our heads.  So, I looked. 

Fungus doesn’t usually make my list of beautiful things on the earth. But, color, life and contrast captured my attention.  There, all alone and drawing nourishment from the decay surrounding it, was a mushroom. 

Nature’s umbrella in the woods was cute.  The Disney creators captured these life forms as my cartoonish ancestors dancing in to the tunes of Mickey the Wizard of Fantasia.  It was easy to pause, kneel and snap a picture.

Just a few steps further down the trail I kept looking down.  There was no movement that caught my eye.  At least the movement wasn’t swift, massive or sudden. 

But, color, sheen and shape stood out.  Like the mushroom, this slug was unique.  I joked that it was the first sign of forest wildlife that I had seen on my morning stroll. 

Slowly and carefully this animal was on a journey for food.  It was seeking out its daily nourishment.  Like every day its only intent was to survive.

Then, it was time to see a splash of color.  I’m not up on my names for flora but I am very high on my appreciation of God’s creation of flowers that decorate the lush world where He graciously allows me to live.  A small purple flower accented the world of green and brown that surrounded it. 

The color of leaves is dominates the forest.  But, also the color of bark, chlorophyl-empty leaves that litter the ground as well as the dirt give the palate of this part of the world massive doses of brown.  But, this little solitary flower contributed a violet brush stroke that stood out from a distance as long as I took time to look down.

photo credit: brucefong photography

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