Terra Galleria Photography

Open thread: student questions and answers


Dear students,

Thank you for taking the time to write, and for your nice words about my images. Above all, I hope that the article got you interested enough that you will be inspired to go and see those places for yourself. Ask your parents to take you to a National Park ! If you thought the image of the waterfall was cool, think how much cooler it would be to experience the mist on your face, and see the water flow vary with the wind, maybe producing a rainbow.

It’s great that you sent an actual letter, however I thought that instead of just mailing to you the replies, I would publish them here, so this would give you the chance to be exposed to another medium, the internet blog, which I think will be growing in importance. On the blog, you can follow up with more questions and comments.

I have named this post “Open thread”. This means that any student is welcome to ask me questions here by leaving a reply. I will try to answer here so that everyone can benefit from the exchange.

Note also that prior to starting this blog, I have replied to a few frequently asked questions here.


The first time I climbed a snowy mountain, I was indeed a little scared. That was a terrain I was not familiar with, and I was afraid that if I would slip and fall I would die, or at the least get hurt. Fortunately I was with good, experienced friends, and nothing bad happened. Subsequently, as I became more experienced, I would be scared only if the situation was really dangerous, which is sometimes the case. One doesn’t need to be afraid to be scared. Experiencing fear is an opportunity to surmount it.


The light you see in the Mammoth Cave image is under water, in a small pool of water, shinning up. Because the water in the cave is greenish, the light looks green. Brown bears come to the waterfall in Katmai National Park because at that time of the year, the salmon swim up the river in order to lay down their eggs. The bears need to eat a lot before they hibernate. They know that they can catch a lot of salmon there. I have not visited Loriella Park in Virginia yet. I’ve been focusing my travels mostly on National Parks for many years. I did not find sleeping on the cliff scary, because I was attached to the rope while I was sleeping. Besides, do you often fell out of your bed, no matter how high it is ? I use a lot of different cameras. You can read about them in this article, and here are pictures of me with my cameras.


How I took the pictures could be the subject of a whole book, so I am afraid I cannot give a brief answer, but I’d encourage you to take a photography class, and you’ll get a better idea of the process. It’s not that difficult, but there is a lot to learn. The bird with the red head was very tame. It walked around on the grass for a while. This was taken in a urban park. You can tell that because the grass is a lawn. In those places, animals often get used to humans, so they are not afraid. You are right, my shoulders sometimes get tired from carrying a lot of heavy equipment, but there is a price to pay for everything, and nothing great has been accomplished without a dose of pain or effort. Don’t you think the pictures make it worth it ?


To take pictures up close of animals, you use special lenses called telephotos. They magnify distant subjects just like binoculars. To take pictures up close of small things, you use special lenses called macro lenses. They work a bit like a magnifying glass. Many mountains are easy to climb, since there will be a trail to the top, so it’s just a matter of walking. Others are covered in snow or ice, in which case you need to wear crampons on your feet and use ice axes in your hands. Some are made of very steep rock, so you climb them using both your hands and feet, like you climb a tree. With so many different mountains, the time it can take them can vary from a few hours to a few weeks. On some mountains, the risk of falling is quite high, as is the risk of being trapped by bad weather. I have been scared in those conditions, but the point is to control your fear so that it doesn’t control you (and make you panic). There was a time when a bear came towards me as I was taking pictures. He did not attack me, but I had to abandon my equipment to hide behind a tree to be safe. It is fairly rare for bears to attack humans. Although they are powerful animals, they are actually afraid of us. The 100,000 miles mentioned in the article that you read were driven in a car. It would take a very long time to walk.


The lava is flowing down from the volcano crater as it is driven by gravity, just like water. It is entering the beach because the beach is lower than the cliff which is above it. The reason you don’t see a continuous flow (which makes you wonder where it comes from) is that sometimes, it flows beneath older lava. The older lava has hardened and become rock. It then forms a tunnel for the new lava to flow underneath. At Katmai, the distance between the observation platform and the falls where the bears fish is about fifty feet, which is quite close. Normally, you wouldn’t want to get that close to a bear, however there you are standing on a platform. That’s in fact one of the only spots in the world that I know where you can get reliably and safely that close to wild bears. El Capitan is very easy to find. It dominates Yosemite Valley, and you can see it from most places in the Valley.


  1. Edie Howe says:


    I’m not a student, nor do I have a question. I just want to say thank you for sharing your answers to these students’ question online. It was a delight to read.

    Tom and Theresa’s friend.

  2. Lauren Saravia says:

    Mr. Luong,

    We received the beautiful calendar of the national parks photographs, and your hand-written note yesterday, along with the post cards. Thank you so much for taking the time to respond. They already enjoyed writing the letters to you, but are ecstatic to have received a reply. I think it really teaches them the value of writing!

    Replying on the blog is a great idea. You are right, this medium will be expanding and I’m so glad to have a chance to share it with them, in a meaningful way. Also, thanks for the reminder about the national parks. I hope that it will enrich their love of our beautiful country.

    Your calendar is a beautiful addition to our school. Thank you!

  3. jennifer says:

    Dear Mr.Qt Luong
    WOW!!!You have inpresst with your photos.Thank you for everything that you have done for us.

  4. GABRIELA says:

    Thank you for the calendar and for writings us back.
    I hope one day i can go to a National Park and i like your your pictures
    and you have a nice blog.

    thank you!

  5. Yareliana says:

    I liked your calender and your response. I was very exited to put my mail in the mail box.Thank you for gaving beautiful pictures.

  6. rafael says:

    Thank you for writing back.It was so cool to get the calendar from you.I felt scared when I read about the bear.I saw all of your pictures in your blog.

    thank you:RAFAEL

  7. Karen says:

    Thank you for writing us back and for the awesome,cool calender and the pictures in the calender and Iwas surprised about the mail and I wish i could go to a National Park one day and see the cool stuff and i’m just standing in the place I think it will be awesome and when I have to be careful about the bears.
    thank you

  8. Candi Blaize says:

    Here are some questions that my students from Fourth Grade
    Gatesville Intermediate have compiled…some are rather

    -How old where you when you developed an interest in photography?
    -Where is somewhere you would like to go in the world that you have not
    been to yet?
    -When you were younger, was there a place you wanted to go? Did you go
    that place yet?
    -Have you written or do you plan on writing any books about your
    -Have you seen the Ice Hotel?
    -Have you ever been to Ireland, Iceland or Antarctica?
    -If you could have any superhero power, what would you pick?
    -What is your most favorite animal?
    -Do you have any pets?
    -Do you enjoy scary movies?
    -Do you like ice cream? What flavor?

    Thank you for taking time to answer the questions. They really
    appreciate it!

  9. QT Luong says:

    I began to take pictures around the age of 12, but it was not before I started climbing mountains in my early 20s that this interest took up in earnest.

    Any place I haven’t visited yet is of interest to me. Africa, South America, Antartica are the continents I haven’t visited.

    I traveled a lot by imagination when I was younger, as I was a real bookworm. It’s only after I grew up and began to climb that I became interested in seeing more of the world with my own eyes.

    I am writing a book about the National Parks. The main focus will be on the photographs, but there will be a section about my experiences in each of the parks as well.

    I hadn’t heard of the Ice Hotel before, but now that you mentioned it and I researched it quickly on the web, I’d really be interested in seeing it. Thanks for the question, I learned something from you today.

    No, but they are all on my list of destinations. Probably I’ll visit Ireland and Iceland first, and possibly on the same trip, as Antartica is really expensive.

    To fly, so that I could go everywhere quickly and have a new perspective on the world.

    I love rabbits. I use to have a few as pets. Whenever I go in the wilderness, if I see one, this makes my day.

    I do no longer have pets. It’s difficult to take care of them if you travel a lot, besides my kids give me already enough concerns.

    Not at all. I never watch scary or horror movies. They are just … horrible, so I don’t see why I should inflict that on myself. However, I don’t mind some good suspense.

    Yes, I like fruity flavors, like raspberry or mango.

Leave a Reply to Edie Howe