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Weekly Photo Challenge – Beginning

 “Living is beginning, always, every moment.”

Cesare Pavese

One of my favorite things about photography is the way it trains your eye to see the little things – the everyday, ordinary “stuff” that often goes unnoticed. As we move into 2014, Cheri has asked us to focus on Beginning. So perhaps 2014 should be a year for beginning to look more closely at the smaller wonders of the world around us. Some of those little miscellanies are among my favorite captures from our 2013 trip to China.  So why not? Let’s begin this year’s Travels and Trifles with a post featuring those very incidentals.

SUNFLOWERS AND SEEDS
SUNFLOWERS AND SEEDS

“Be willing to be a beginner every single morning.”

Meister Eckhart

I loved the way these large sunflower heads were so perfectly placed next to the basket of seeds.  The display was part of a rudimentary shop in Ping Yao, where clearly the customers can be assured the seeds are fresh.

WHITE TEE
WHITE TEE

“The beginning is the most important part of the work.”

Plato

A simple white tee shirt, hung on a makeshift clothesline, casts its shadow on the wall behind.  Do you wonder who wore it, who washed it, or where it will go once it’s dry and ready?

ANVIL AND HAMMER
ANVIL AND HAMMER

“The artist is always beginning.”

Ezra Pound

Above, several tools of the trade stand ready to serve.  I particularly liked the many shades of earth tone in the assembly, and the artistic arrangement which I assume happened by chance.  The shiny, worn surface of the anvil’s head tells us it’s seen lots of use over time.  For what, when, and by whom?

MAN WITH CHICKENS
MAN WITH CHICKENS

“He who chooses the beginning of the road chooses the place it leads to.”

Harry Emerson Fosdick

The obvious pride of this man who had brought his chickens to market caught my eye.  He, like most of the Chinese people we encountered, was more than willing to have his photo taken. He’d have preferred, I think, to sell me a chicken but that wasn’t happening!

FISH
FISH

“There are only 2 mistakes one can make along the road to truth; not going all the way, and not beginning.”

Buddha

At the same market, fish hung by colorful red ribbons stared glassy-eyed and open-mouthed at passersby.  Somehow they struck me as more appropriate for my lens than my table.

CURLY SHEEP
CURLY SHEEP

“A loving heart is the beginning of all knowledge.”

Thomas Carlyle

In the more remote areas, we saw livestock of many kinds, but this rather forlorn little fellow seemed to need a portrait for posterity. One of my favorite memories of the trip was the day I was walking down a dusty path in Shangri-La when two young boys came walking toward me with a dozen sheep. I’m not sure who was more surprised, the boys (who were intimidated by my long lens), the sheep (who couldn’t have cared less) or me. Fortunately, my lens was ready even if i wasn’t 🙂

CHINESE CHESS
CHINESE CHESS

“He has the deed half done who has made a beginning.”

Horace

We observed many Chinese men focused intently on board games like the one above. This is Xiangqi, the Chinese version of chess. Unlike pieces in the US, the tokens are round and typically wooden. They include Chinese characters as identification rather than being specifically shaped, and the game is played on the lines of the board rather than in its spaces.

TWO PARROTS
TWO PARROTS

“There is no end, there is no beginning. There is only the passion of life.”

Frederico Fellini

Birds in China serve as symbols of many things, including freedom, happiness, love and blessings from heaven. One of our more curious stops was at Hong Kong’s Yuen Po Bird Garden, where older Chinese men bring their pet birds for a “walk” much as Americans walk their dogs.  It is an important area for senior socializing, with bird singing competitions alongside card and board games. Birds, birdcages, birdseed, bags of live insects and other items are sold as well, feeding birds and birders alike.

WINDOW SCENE
WINDOW SCENE

“The beginning of all beauty is knowing and liking oneself.”

Kevyn Aucoin

This window arrangement called out to me as I entered one of Beijing’s Hutongs.  The juxtaposition of the bird cages, the simple white nightgown and the day’s newspaper reminded me of a scene in a 40’s or 50’s art noir film. Hence my post-processing treatment in soft sepia.

GRAPHICS
GRAPHICS

“Knowledge of what is possible is the beginning of happiness.”

George Santayana

The graphics of this simple section of wall appealed to me, with nothing but textures, contrasting tones, and a few lines leading out of the shot. It reminded me of a modern art painting such as might have been done by Mondrian or Bennett Newman in their day.

CLEANING STATION
BASIC SHOWER

“Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.”

Seneca

Speaking of paintings, couldn’t this composition easily hang on the walls of a New York apartment or a Connecticut country house?  The shapes and placement of the elements, especially the rudimentary faucet, called out to me in their timelessness.

BAMBOO MESSAGE
BAMBOO MESSAGE

“Let every dawn be to you as the beginning of life.”

John Ruskin

Finally, a stalk of bamboo – carved by an unknown visitor with an indecipherable (at least to me) message.  Who left it, for whom, and what does it say?  To me, it ‘s symbolic of the captures in this post – little messages sent from the subjects to my eyes, mind, lens, and finally post; the better to communicate with you, the reader.  Which, if any, drew you in, and why?  Food for thought as we all search for the most positive ways to implement this year’s new beginning.

If you’re interested in more of my photography and text about China, please click on this link for a complete preview of my book detailing the trip:  http://www.blurb.com/books/4913316-the-magic-of-china-photography-and-text-by-tina-r .

After that, have a look at what “Beginning” meant to some other bloggers by clicking here.

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132 thoughts on “Weekly Photo Challenge – Beginning Leave a comment

  1. The subject of this post and the photos with their captions are so enjoyable to read. And of course the quotes which are a highlight of all your posts. Thank you for enriching us Tina. 🙂

  2. A fun set of diverse images, Tina, interspersed with some fitting words of wisdom. I love the warm smile you captured on the face of the man selling chickens.

    “Be willing to be a beginner every single morning” – those are also great words with which to start the day. 🙂

  3. I love the detail, Tina. I was fascinated to see what you would make of “beginnings”. While my outright favourite is that sunflowers shot, I was quite taken with those parrots exchanging wisdom. 🙂 I must be getting somewhere because I have started to take some of these “ugly” shots which I once wouldn’t have thought twice about.

    • LOL on your “ugly” shots!!! The little details do tend to draw me in I must admit, so it was fun to respond to beginnings with some of my favorites. Thanks for stopping by!

  4. Brilliant post, Tina. I’ve never been to China or HongKong (except inside the airport) but your post provided a glimpse of life in this country. Thank you!

    And a very happy new year to you and yours.
    (P.S. it seems I am not getting your posts (and some others that I follow) on my feed, must be a WP glitch again.)

  5. Thank you for the inspiration from your quotes and photography. It was hard picking a favorite, they all have layers of stories,,,,maybe the goat with silky hair and placid expression, definitely the bamboo with a secret. I wonder if anyone who knows Chinese will tell us the meaning. Wouldn’t it be funny if it was just graffiti?

  6. A wonderful post, Tina, with so many good quotes and images and ideas in it. I’m drawn to the everyday too, so I really like the way you end this post. And I Love that last image!

  7. The new year couldn’t start with a finer post for me, Tina – so much inspiration and good thoughts, beautiful photography and excellent quotes.
    All the best for 2014, may it be a happy and prosperous one!
    Et riktig godt nytt år til deg og dine! 🙂
    Warm greetings from England
    The Fabulous Four,
    Dina

  8. Love all the possible stories behind your cool photos.
    Pers fav -chess & shower& bamboo.
    LOL on Comments w chicken man … He is happy guy! (..even tho you didn’t buy a new pet.. Or dinner?)

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