So…..Being retired, I don’t really have much to escape from anymore – at least not in the traditional sense. In my last post, I mentioned I was leaving to go to Yellowstone National Park. I spent 12 hours in the car on Friday to reach Salt Lake City. Saturday I was approaching 12 hours again between getting to Jackson Wyoming and then starting to search for photo ops – all in the pouring down rain. About 5 in the evening, I was driving down a remote mountain road looking for creatures when it finally stopped raining. I rolled down my window and was immediately refreshed with the scent of fresh pine bought even fresher by the spring rain. I also turned off the “tunes” from the car stereo and it was replaced by the melodies of the mountain forest birds. Then, about a hundred yards down the road, I caught a glimpse of some light “spots” on the hill to my left. Upon approach , it was a nice herd of about 8 Elk working their way up the hillside (the spots where their white butts). I spent about ten uninterrupted minutes with them staring at me and me staring through my lens at them before they heard an intruding car and departed over the hill. It was a great reprieve from the confines of my car – here’s a shot from my moment of “great escape”.
While I was out the other morning at the beach, I saw a large bird coming at me and immediately thought it must be one of the local ospreys. It definitely was and it flew directly over me on its way across the inlet. I got this nice shot of him showing his colors as he stared down at me with those yellow eyes. OBTW – this will be my last post for a few days as I make my way up to Yellowstone National Park. I’ll hopefully have some nice photos to share once I arrive there…..
Yesterday morning I went down to the beach to see what was moving around. One of the reasons I went was that the morning marine layer was supposed to evaporate – didn’t happen. In any case there were many snowy egrets wandering around in the tidal flats – several of which were chasing each other around. I got numerous shots of their high jinx but this is the one that I kind of like…..
As a photographer who is always interested in nature first, I immediately started thinking about natural patterns which led me to formation flying in geese and this photo taken at the Bosque Del Apache in New Mexico last December.
But then I thought about what it would look like with this pattern repeated over and over – so, given the magic of photoshop, I made lots of copies of the birds and put them all in formation – a different “pattern”. That looked pretty good but then I tried it in B&W and I liked that better……I hope you like my final Pattern.
I had thought about taking a reflection photo and totally blanking out the background on both the subject and its reflection to see how it would come out. Thats what I did here. If you look closely, I finished it off by applying an oil paint filter on the photo to make the remaining image look like it was a painting – including some texture. Not sure whether I like it or not but it was a fun experiment. What do you think?
We had a few minutes with this Mom and Fawn in the forest in Bandhavgarh National Park in India. Mom was doing a VERY thorough job of grooming her young one – pretty much licking her entire body. This was my favorite photo from that enDEERing interaction (sorry for the bad pun). Pretty cute….and look at the blue eyes!
It was a rainy day here in san diego so I had some time to kill. I stumbled across a YouTube video tutorial on how to use photoshop to make it appear that your images are jumping out of the photo – I thought I’d give it a try. Here’s the result of that tutorial on one of my Bear photos from our Alaska trip in 2011. This is a pretty quick and dirty experiment – I would have taken much more time (this took about 25 minutes) if I’d have wanted to do a “clean version”. Kinda fun – Hope you enjoy….
While I don’t have any really “vertical” shots that I can think of right now, here’s one “from above” the city of Katmandu, Nepal. It was really nice of the Kite to fly by as I was taking this….
Here’s another couple of my “from the car” photos from India. The common thread here is that they are both candid shots of motorcycle riders. This first one is of a young lady passenger on the back of a cycle in a small village outside of Agra, India. This is one of those inadvertent shots where the subject (the young woman) was highlighted by someone or something passing in front of my camera on the left side – adding a nice blur to that side of the photo and putting all the attention on the girl.
The next photo is of a young couple on their motorcycle in an intersection in Varanasi at night. We sat in the SAME SPOT in that intersection for at least 10 minutes with absolutely no movement in any direction. This couple were just outside our car window so why not capture them for posterity…..
A pretty easy challenge having recently returned from India and Nepal. I’ll focus on the Indian Hindu culture this week and their relationship with their temples. As you may or may not know the Hindu religion has millions of gods – each signifying some aspect of life. This can be mystifying to a Westerner but we were lucky enough to have a wonderful guide (and friend) to help us understand this rich, complex religion. There are millions of temples throughout the country. While some are very large and ornate, the vast majority of them are small, private shrines which can be found anywhere. They can be as simple as a small altar or even a rock with a place for a candle and other small offerings. Our guide visited numerous altars in the course of his daily activities. He would stop our car at a roadside temple, leave money or other offerings at small temples in the backstreets, or just bow to show his reverence anytime he saw an altar we were passing by in our travels. We were also impressed when, to honor his wife’s birthday, our guide went to the market and bought numerous small packages of food which he then distributed to some of the poorest of the poor in the city. It was obvious that his faith was very important to him and that he “lived it” everyday. In Varanasi, the local guide told us that there were over 70,000 temples in that town alone – having walked the back streets and alleys of that town, we certainly believe it – you basically couldn’t round a corner without seeing another altar. My photo for today is one of the small temples we saw in Varanasi – just big enough for a single person at a time – I was lucky enough to capture a smiling holy man peering out from the shrine.
P can be for Pink or for Pig ….your choice. Taken in a field in India while we were photographing birds. For some reason, my wife loves pigs of all kinds so I always end up with Piggy shots when we see them. Hope you enjoy this as much as she does…..
Here’s another portrait from our trip. This one is from the famous Buddhist temple of Swayambhunath in Katmandu – also know as the monkey temple due to the large number of macaques that frequent this temple high on one of the city’s foothills. This little fellow was peeking out from among the golden statues which adorn a ring of prayer wheels in the center of the complex.
This is one of my favorite photos from our India trip. We visited a small “village” which was nothing more than a few families who had taken up residence on land which was owned by the government and the lodge we were staying at. We were told this is not uncommon and that there are many, many people living this way. What was interesting was that these people (and the many people who live in the various shanty towns around India) are not counted in any of the census numbers for the country and that no-one has any idea how many of them there really are – so the 1.2 Billion number for India’s population is probably shy by millions. These folks live with their parents on a parcel of land that they have cleared and now use for small crops and grazing for their few cows and sheep. Their home was made of local wood for the frame and then covered with mud and topped with a thatched roof – certainly not luxurious but it was very functional. I think you’ll agree that both this young mother and her child are gorgeous!
There are always many signs of change all around us so it is a little hard to pick out THE example of change to post. I chose this photo from Yellowstone park last May because I think it shows a few examples of change – of greatly different magnitudes.
First and foremost, this buffalo is dealing with the huge changes that come with his new parenthood. While the responsibilities differ according to species, all fathers have to deal with the fact that their lives will never be the same. On a much smaller, but still important level, you can see by “Dad’s” coat that the seasons are also changing – meaning a shift in diets, dangers, and an exposure to many more humans in the coming months!
One of our goals in going to India was to visit some of the National Parks/Tiger Preserves to photograph Tigers in the wild. Our entire trip was somewhat in question due to the fact that the Indian Supreme Court had placed a ban on tiger tourism for a few months until they were convinced that the tigers were being properly protected. This ban resulted in much stricter limits on the numbers of visitors to the reserves and rules on which areas of the parks were open to tourists. Our itinerary had 3 preserves – Satpura (which has tigers but they are RARELY seen), Bandhavgarh (the most likely place in India to see tigers), and Bardia in Nepal (a growing population of tigers but sightings are rare). As expected, we did not see a tiger in Satpura but we did get to meet predators like this marsh mugger crocodile…….this one was about 15 feet long.
We also saw several species of deer (which provide much of the tiger’s food source) including the largest variety, the stately Sambar .
When we got to Bandhavgarh, we were very excited that we had 3 plus days to look for tigers. We started our searches through beautiful areas in the early mornings yielding scenes like this with the sun sifting through the trees and morning mist.
To make a long story short, we saw many signs of tigers, heard them roar, came close to sightings, but we got down to our 7th and final game drive without seeing one. On that last morning, we got special dispensation from the park director (whom we had met a few days before) to allow us in all areas of the park to maximize our chances on our last outing. The morning was again beautiful but again no tigers as we approached the time of day when the tigers normally sleep. At about 10:00 we heard of a recent sighting so we decided to go see if we might catch a glimpse of a female tiger who had been seen. As I said, it was getting late so we sped across the hilly and rocky terrain – many times flying out of our seats – toward the area of the sighting. When we arrived there were 3 or 4 other jeeps (actually Toyota Gypseys) there but we were told that the tiger was still moving in the area. Within just a few minutes, she popped out of the brush and gave us some open looks at her – absolutely spectacular animal! Its hard to describe the feelings we had upon seeing her after being disappointed for several days.
We spent about 10 minutes watching this incredible cat – we still don’t know whether she had just eaten or whether she is pregnant but she definitely had a protruding belly. It was a great morning!
A few days later, we got to Bardia Park in Nepal (in the flat part of the country) where we had several choices of how to look for wildlife – we could do the normal game drives in a Land rover, go on the back of an Elephant, OR we could walk with our guide. We decided to do all three – a game drive on the first day, an elephant safari the second afternoon, and then two days hiking. The game drives were nice (very few people in this remote park) but uneventful. The elephant safari was amazing – first just getting on and riding the giant beast but then seeing the incredible power of the animal as it literally just created its own path through extremely dense forest by just knocking down or uprooting trees! I could show you the typical tourist shot of us on the back of the elephant but I like this one MUCH better….
While there are many other stories and photos to share let me again cut to the bottom line. We spent the last two days in Bardia doing walking safaris – beautiful jungle and just an amazing feeling being on foot with all the predators around (We had a “close encounter” with a leopard and actually had to run from a pack of wild elephants) but those are different stories….. We again got to the last hour of our last hike when we started to hear “alarm calls” from the deer and monkeys which provide an indication that there is a tiger in the area and moving. We sat back from river bank to watch the other side of the river where the calls were coming from and a few minutes later, we caught the sight of a big male tiger just at the edge of the forest. I got off a couple of very quick photos (we were a long way away) before another group of people arrived (in bright clothing and talking loudly) in back of us causing the tiger to retreat into the jungle. What could have been a lengthy and open sighting by the river was unfortunately interrupted but I did get this one last capture before the big guy left…..
So I was kind of stuck around the house this morning because our elder “child” (dog) CJ is not feeling well and we have to keep her quiet. I was sitting in our back yard and taking some photos of hummingbirds with a lens combination that I haven’t tried before when I noticed some bees on a pepper tree that we have. I don’t have a macro lens but I figured I could kill some time trying to catch a bee in flight with my handheld telephoto. I didn’t get any great shots but thought you might be interested in this one – taken at 1/4000 sec. The yellow sacs on the bees back legs are called honey baskets – where they store the pollen after collecting it…..
Once again from India, a place known for its amazing colors - Things that caught my eye due to the color theme (or themes)…..hope you enjoy.
and then, a complete change of pace for the color Blue – the incredibly colorful Indian Roller. This is one of my favorite photos from our trip – a Roller caught in mid-launch against a pale blue afternoon sky…..
Here’s another of my favorite people photos from India. I took this photo while we visiting the Satpura National Park and staying at the spectacular Reni Pani lodge. We had the opportunity to visit a small “settlement” where a few families had set up homesteads on government and private land near the National Park. They had also cleared some of the land for their cattle and goats. We visited this family in their home of wood and mud construction. When we were there we met the matriarch (featured in the photo) as well as at least two more generations of women. We didn’t get to meet any of the men as they were working at a local town. We were extremely lucky as I’m not sure you could find a more photogenic group than these ladies. The Mom in the photo is thought to be about 70 years old and she was stunning with her necklace of antique coins and her numerous tattoos. The entire family was very gracious towards us and seemed to enjoy having their photos taken – especially the younger ladies and their kids. I’ll eventually post more from the photos I took of this family – I’m sure you’ll agree that they are all very beautiful and full of character.
Any of you who have seen yesterday’s post know about all the things that were going on in the train station. I have an additional photo that I want to share. A few days after we were there, I took a photo of a monkey sitting on a log in the jungle that looked like he was waiting for a bus or a train. As I had just bought and started to experiment with photoshop, I cut him out of that photo and placed him in a photo I had taken at the train station – sitting on a bench between two bags. I showed that modified photo to our guide who really enjoyed it so I decided to continue to put other animals we had seen into that train station photo. I didn’t take much time to do any of the edits so its not very professional but I think its fun anyway…..hope you do too. Here’s the final photo of the train station with its “special guests”…..
PS – there are seven different animals inserted into the station…..got them all?
Okay, its probably not often that a small train station becomes a highlight to a trip but this one certainly did. We were traveling between two national parks and had to catch a train in the small town of Pipariya. When we arrived at the station we were alerted that the train was going to be 3 hours late but there was a “potential” for one coming sooner. Since we wanted to be ready for all options we went to our assigned platform – my wife and I going over an elevated stairway to cross the tracks while our guide and our luggage went down and across the tracks. While that seemed unusual at first, we found that was the normal way that the locals crossed the tracks. During our 3+ hours in the station, we saw children, holy men, and even 80 year old women (dressed in saris) cross the active train tracks. This first photo shows that they weren’t the only ones on the tracks – there were dozens of goats on the tracks who would just move over to the other tracks as the trains would come (sometimes speeding) through.
The other thing that struck us a little unusual was that the goats weren’t the only animals occupying the station. Here’s a picture of Dee waiting alongside of another of the locals waiting for his train…The interesting thing was that this cow was on a platform between two sets of sunken tracks – I still don’t know how she got there.
….and what would a train station be without a monkey or two? I first saw this guy on the tracks but then he came up on the platform and enjoyed a handout of crackers from one of the young girls in the station.
Of course what would a train station be without people rushing around trying to catch their train. In India style though, the men are always loaded down with baggage or other goods and the women are always spectacular in their colors…..
I should probably mention that while we were in Pipariya, every train going in the opposite direction (to where we were going) were PACKED! Every spare inch appeared to be occupied with literally dozens of people hanging off the boarding platforms of each train. Those trains were all headed towards the Kumbh Mela – the largest religious gathering on the planet. The “main event” of the Kumbh Mela was attended by approximately 80 million people this year. Here’s a look at one of the groups of people waiting for a train going in that direction – remember, these folks are waiting to get on a train already packed to the ceiling with fellow pilgrims!
In any case, I hope that you get the impression that there was not a boring moment in the 3 hours we waited on the platform. There was always another scene, another group of people, or another “happening” to keep us occupied. We also got to better know our guide during that wait (and the train ride afterwards) which set the stage for the rest of the trip. It has turned into one of our fondest memories of this incredibly memorable trip. Before I leave, I’ve got to share just one more Monkey picture. Immediately before our train arrived, I saw a baby monkey walking along a fence while its mother was walking along on an iron railing above him. They were not quite in line at the time but I thought it looked like they would “synch up” right in front of me. Luckily, this was the result….
I normally don’t keep very close to what the Challenge host has posted as an example of the challenge but today I think I’ll stay on the spiritual theme – especially after our experience in India. This theme is very appropriate when talking India and the Hindu religion as individual enlightenment and reincarnation are such cornerstones of their faith. We were lucky enough to spend a few days in Varanasi – where thousands upon thousands of Indians make a pilgrimage each year to visit, bath, and pray by the Ganges River. This first photo is of a holy man praying while standing in the Ganges. He was totally immersed in his faith and appeared totally at peace despite the throngs of people around him.
To give you an idea of the crowds, this is a photo from a boat on the Ganges looking back at the evening Aarti or prayer ceremony. Again, thousands of people show up every night to join in this ritual. At the main Ghat on the Ganges there are 9 priests conducting the ceremony in unison. You can see one of the holy men in this photo in the lower center of the picture waving the smoking urn.
The last photo is of an Indian man at sunrise on the Ganges. He managed to find a solitary perch above the river to meditate on. I thought his face was a perfect expression of his faith and his belief in the future(s).
Hi Everyone. I thought I’d post another portrait from a small village in India. I took it on a cloudy morning in the country. She was actually in the middle of town with numerous people around. I’ve experimented with some processing tools on the background of this image but she is pretty much as I took it. Hope you don’t mind my “artistic license”.