Posts tagged photography

Downtown Savannah. All photos by Clarence Lacy

I’ve been feeling a tinge of excitement building thinking about my impending return home to the Chesapeake Bay. Virginia will always have a special place in my heart, specifically Hampton and its location on the Peninsula. The Bay is home to some of the richest ecologies, including my favorite, the estuarine/salt marsh.

During a trip to Savannah and Tybee Island, I observed this ecosystem up close in a different context. While attending Landscape Architecture School I began to understand the importance of this ecosystem and the role it plays in our lives as coastal residents. Armed with my hipster camera and some old found film, I was ready to explore a new territory.

Panorama of Tybee Island.

My adventure begins amongst the enchanting oak woodlands. These woods feel and smell like something straight out of the pages of a fairy tale. Spanish moss covered live oaks shade a flood of palmettos, creating a varied texture unique to southern live oak forests. Wandering through these woodlands, each tree feels like an ancient spiritual guardian welcoming you into the equally divine salt marsh.

Skidaway Island State Park.

Leaving the woodland, solid ground gives way to a reedy edge. The oak woodland smell is quickly exchanged for an overwhelmingly familiar smell reminiscent of my childhood on the Chesapeake Bay. Those early days were spent visiting the wharf to buy a bushel of crab, where I would also stop to watch swarms of gulls perched or gliding mid-flight overhead over the piers. Many boats are docked here – a true show of Savannah’s boat culture. From this edge, my journey begins upon the water.


Our boat weave in and out of small tributaries that wind around the subtle topography of soft ground. A new understanding of the eco-diversity and local nuance of this landscape revealed itself through its broad visual monotony. A vigorous smell of salt water intermingles with a subtle, yet captivating smell of decomposition, accompanied by the surround sound symphony of life teeming within this ecosystem.


A combination of childhood nostalgia, love of seafood, and my education brought me to a truly spiritual nexus – a discovery of something unfamiliar, yet familiar. This moment solidifies my love for this ecosystem.


Looking back at my photos, the place feels ghostly and magnificent, yet also tinged with a spirit of the sentimental past. To this day, this trip holds great importance to me. The visit taught me that a true understanding and appreciation of an ecology requires more than academic research, but also a firsthand experience within it.

All photos by Calvin Abe

I had the opportunity to visit Biei, the northern most Japanese island of Hokkaido, for the third year in a row this past winter. Although I have never traveled to the island’s quiet and beautiful landscape in the spring or fall, photographs online tell me that the location is equally beautiful during those seasons.

As I reflect upon my last visit – already almost three months ago – I wonder what is it about this place that piques my interest and ignites a strong desire to return. Biei is a place where I return to experience silence, beauty, and the sacred. The simplicity and the quiet is surreal, unworldly and restorative. And besides, there is nothing like sitting outside in zero degree temperature in an “onsen” (hot bath) naturally sourced from a hot spring, with long distant views of nothing but rolling snow covered landscape.

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All photos by Calvin Abe

Over the holidays I went up to Sacramento to visit my family. While there I decided to visit the Rancho Seco Nuclear Power Plant in nearby Herald, California, about 12 miles from my where I grew up. Although the plant was decommissioned back in 1989, it was built in the early 1970’s when I was in high school, and was operational for nearly two decades. The plant was eventually decommissioned due to operational problems.

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This post and accompanying photos are not presented to argue the merits or criticism of nuclear power, but simply to share a dualistic thought that popped into my head as I drove around the facility: the admiration for the bucolic beauty and sculptural qualities of the reactor towers as structures – each sitting atop the landscape – while at the same time recognizing their potential to alter the face of the landscape for thousands of years in an instant. Chernobyl in 1986, Three Mile Island in 1979, and the recent Fukushima incident still remain vivid memories of this dualism between potential and pitfalls.

Is the future of nuclear power a sustainable or resilient approach? I’ll let you decide. But here are a few of my photographs from the two days I was there to view and witness their history firsthand.

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All photos by Calvin Abe

I recently traveled to Myanmar. My travel expectations were cautiously optimistic given its recent political and militaristic history. But I knew that it was an opportunity that I just could not pass up. I went thinking that I might discover and experience a new landscape – which I did. But what surprised me more were the people and their culture.

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I discovered a country in transition. The contrast between the larger city of Yangon and the small tiny villages were eye opening. With Myanmar in a state of “under construction”, so to speak, I believe the time to visit the country is now.  Myanmar won’t not be the same country in even ten years time from now. The influx of investment money from the outside world will change this small third world country, hopefully for the better.

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I was particularly fascinated by the historic Buddhist relics throughout the region. With 95% of the population practicing Buddhism, there are thousands of temples and pagodas, some as old as 600 to 1000 years old. I was also fascinated how the city of Yangon is being transformed into a modern metropolis. Yangon reminds me of mainland China during the 1980-90’s. You can still find recently completed high rise hotels and condos with horse drawn carts carrying fruits and vegetables on the street.

For the sake of brevity, I want to share one of my visits to a small isolated village in Chin region of northern Myanmar. I want to share a few of my photographs which illustrates this unique world.

All photos by Calvin Abe

Although it took 6 hours on a small river boat, the day long journey was worth the humid hardship. I traveled on the river starting from the coastal city of Sittwe. Still on the river, I passed through a small town called Mrauk-U where I stayed for a day. At sunrise, I got onto the boat an reached a remote Chin village. My local guide told me that this village was a great example of the Chin people. It is a place where the river acts as the main source of food, drink water, bath, and linkage to the region. This small village had no vehicular roads, but was organized around a series of pathway connecting the small thatched roof houses. The local people were warm, inviting and curious about us foreigners.

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Although everyday modern day conveniences such as running water or flush toilets were absent, I did experience something much more profound: the love of family, joy of children, and the respect of the elders and community. The experience made me ponder the true meaning of community in the world.

I think this is where it was invented.

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All photos by Wendy Chan

I grew up living in Los Angeles, but I hardly ever ventured into Downtown LA while growing up. I remember visiting the Central Public Library, being in awe by the architecture. I also remember taking the bus with my mom to the Fashion District to get fabric. So when our office moved into Downtown Los Angeles on 7th and Hope over 2 years ago, I was surprised by the walkability and energy that Downtown offered.

I decided to take my camera and walk straight down 7th Street as far as my one hour of lunch allowed to document my experience. I chose 7th Street because it takes you through various neighborhoods and districts within Downtown – from the jewelry, theatre, fashion districts, then finally to the Los Angeles Flower Market before turning back. There are some great finds and artifacts along the way that deserves a double take.

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