The Yellow Mountain in central southwestern China has been a source of inspiration for Chinese artists for many years.
Though it is usually shrouded in fog and clouds, it revealed its peak last year at just the right time to pose for an award-winning photograph.
"I feel very lucky," Yao-pi Hsu said. She said people have spent up to a week at this famous tourist spot without ever seeing the mountain.
Hsu discovered her interest in photography about four years ago. She likes to travel and takes her camera wherever she goes. A year ago she took a basic photography class at the Santa Clara Unified School District.
"Now I'm getting more interested," she said, "I pay attention to composition and setting the aperture."
For a hobby photographer, Hsu has been doing quite well. One day she went to a framing gallery in Town & Country Village shopping center in Palo Alto to ask for advice on framing her photographs. The owner of the Van Kampen Framing Gallery, Jan Krane, liked her mountain shots so much that he decided to display two of them in his shop.
"I was so flattered," said Hsu. Krane sold a few of her images and encouraged her to follow her talent.
Hsu took his advice and entered a different Yellow Mountain shot in the Price Club photo contest and received an honorable mention. Then she heard that the Palo Alto Medical Foundation had art shows in the hallway of their hospital. Impressed with her work, they exhibited 15 pieces, including other landscapes from China, Hawaii and Canada, for six weeks last January.
Winning third place in the Views From Beyond the Bay category in the Weekly's contest is yet another stroke from the mountain's magic. "Maybe I'm not so bad, I'm embarrassed to say, but maybe I do have some talent," said Hsu.
Hsu was born in China, lived in Taiwan and moved to the United States for graduate school. She has lived in Santa Clara for 27 years and is a research associate for cystic fibrosis in the pediatric department at Stanford University.
Encouraged and excited, Hsu is already planning her next trip. In the fall she will travel with her sister to the southwestern United States. Hsu wants to learn more about photography now, but she also remembers her friend's advice.
"She said to me that I must enjoy it, that it is all for fun," Hsu said. "That's how I want to keep it."