This is one of my favorite captures from our Africa trip. It was taken in early morning sunlight which gave the lion a great glint in the eye. Couldn’t think of a better picture to illustrate the forward look and promise of a brand new year. Best wishes to all for a Healthy and Happy 2012!
Living in San Diego, we’re a little “challenged” for winter photos so I had to dig into the archives to find some from last year’s ski trips. This first one was taken near Lake Tahoe. We were driving to a ski area when I noticed a coyote in a field. With my current fixation on wildlife photos, this one says winter to me….
But then again, as a skier, I had to include one other photo taken at the Solitude Ski area in Utah. It tries to capture the skier’s dream of being able to cut that first set of tracks in the deep powder on a crystal clear winter morning run.
So here’s the 4th member of the Big 5 – the Cape Buffalo. These large beasts are pretty imposing and although they look kind of docile, they earned their reputation as a dangerous animal. Wikepedia says that they still gore and kill over 200 people a year (sounds high to me). Whatever the stats are, the buffalo’s stare is enough to tell you not to mess with them. This one, like most of the larger, slower moving animals we saw, had a red billed oxpecker feeding on the parasites that live on them. I was lucky to get a shot with both faces prominent in the frame…..
The yellow billed hornbill. There were many, many incredible and colorful birds in South Africa but I really like this one. Its imposing bill and wonderful plumage are part of it, but those eyes are what makes the difference. No matter where we found and photographed them, the eyes seemed to be peering into yours. Hope you get that feeling from this pic…..
You may already know this, but they are striped so that, when in a group, they look like a large striped mass that a predator cannot distinguish as separate animals to plan an attack. The second reason is that although they stand out to us against the African background, their main predator, the lion, is colorblind and the zebra’s stripes blend in with the grasses and brush. I thought this photo was a good example of the first type of camouflage – the two zebras standing end to end look very much like one single animal and it is hard to figure out which way it is going to move as it appears to have two heads.
We went for a short walk around the neighborhood last night and found a house with an extraordinary display of christmas lights of all kinds. It was a high voltage extravaganza that defies description. It drew a crowd of spectators and was a nice place to experiment with the lights and the faces. In looking at them, I liked the colors of the originals but somehow thought they might also be good B&W shots. What do you think?
And, as always, I couldn’t resist taking a dog picture….
In keeping with my current Africa theme, I thought this one fit pretty well for two interpretations. The fact that youngsters are always trying to get between objects – in this case the baby was running in between Mom’s legs. And more importantly, the bond between Mothers and Children – no matter what the species. Have a tremendous Holiday everyone!!
We had been looking for Baboons since we arrived in Africa. They inhabit the rocky coast line near Cape Town but we only got a quick glimpse of them as there were government road workers nearby who didn’t want us out of the car to take any photos. The baboons down there are well known for stealing any kind of food they can find and they can even open car doors if left unlocked. So we didn’t get a good look at any baboons until our second day in Kruger. This intent looking gentleman was the “leader of the pack” and kept a good eye on us as we watched the group.
If you’re familiar with African safaris, there is always a lot of hype around seeing/photographing the “big 5” – it is in virtually all of the advertising for these types of trips. The big 5 are, in no particular order, the elephant, the rhino, the lion, the leopard and the cape buffalo. What many people don’t know is the origin of the term “big 5”. It is actually a term used by game hunters to describe the 5 animals that were the hardest (and most dangerous) to hunt on foot. In today’s world it is much more commonly used to gauge whether you’ve seen the animals that you “should see” on a safari. It is actually very misleading as there is so much more to see than these 5 animals. In any case, today’s photo is a pair of white rhinos. Our guide told us that it actually started out to be called the WIDE rhino but people misunderstood it and it turned into the white rhino. This photo was taken at dusk and there were actually 3 rhinos in the group. They seemed to be a little nervous that we were there and kept rearranging their formation. The White Rhino (count this as number 3 of the big five in our virtual safari….).
Thought I’d take a break from the Leopard photos for the sake of variety and post a few of another favorite African creature – the Giraffe. These large, sometimes gawky, sometimes graceful creatures seemed to be plentiful in our area of Kruger and we saw many of them over 3 days. The interesting thing is that even though they lurk above many of the brush lines and on the level with many of the trees, they can be amazingly difficult to spot – because of their spots….This first guy wasn’t too difficult as he was clearly above all of his surroundings and framed against a dull sky – allowing us to get a good facial portrait.
As with many of the other animals we got to see some family groups with youngsters. This next photo just looked to me like a mom talking to her daughter about something that she wasn’t thrilled with. I’m sure they were just enjoying their breakfast but I’ll always interpret it as a conversation….
As I mentioned yesterday there were two young male cubs together. Our guide Michael said that they were probably about a year and half old and were still with the mother. We caught a glimpse of mom but not enough to catch a photo. I did manage to get the two cubs together for a brief moment before they split and had us jumping around in the Land Rover to keep track of both of them. Do you think there’s a family resemblance?
I thought I’d send this out today as its a gorgeous morning in San Diego and I’ve been anxious to share this with you. This is the first picture I took of a young male Leopard we met on our first morning game drive. We were actually out searching an area for some wild dogs when a park pickup pulled along side and said that there had been 2 leopards sighted ahead. Another mile or so down the road and there he was….sitting up high on a hillside overlooking the road we were on. Most Leopard sighting are pretty fleeting and short but we had some great views! PLEASE take the time to double click this one – he has an amazing face up close.
Be aware that I took ALOT of photos of this guy and his brother so you’ll probably get bored by them eventually. I just marvel at our good fortune to have spent some quality of time with them – hope you enjoy!!
While we were checking into our room, we heard a some shuffling sounds on the roof that we thought might be a monkey but we couldn’t get a clear view of what it was. That was cleared up the next morning after our (5:00 am!) wake up call and our first cup of coffee on the lodge deck. This little guy came down out of a tree and posed for us before he went off to forage for food. This is a Vervet monkey – very cute!
Looking at that adorable face, its easy to forget that they are wild animals. This second view is of a mother with a child just to show that they do have some teeth that deserve respect!
I apologize for another quick post but I remembered that I might have another, more recent reflection self portrait. This was my first attempt at photographing the Christmas window at Bergdorf Goodman in New York City last week. Its interesting, at least to me, that I showed up in the dark shade of the photographer’s hood in the window scene. Yep – that’s me in the pink baseball hat – just above my watermark. Sorry for the second post….
This isn’t very original but its really the only one I have…..in a Llama’s eye.
Thanks to those that wished me well on my cataract surgery yesterday – It was an EXTREMELY interesting process and so far it seems to have worked very well – if anyone wants to know more about the experience, I’d be glad to share.
In any case – back to Africa! My model of choice today is the incredibly attractive Kudu – a large member of the antelope family. This is one of the best looking animals on earth – large and regal with amazing spiral antlers. Add to that the fact that they are incredibly agile and graceful jumpers and you have one impressive beast. They are plentiful in Kruger and if you’re lucky you can see them jump over obstacles as high as 10 feet! This particular male was posing for us on our first game drive – hope that you are as impressed by the Kudu as we were!! As always, please click (or double click) on the image to enjoy the close up of this magnificent animal!
Hi everyone! We’ve returned from the wilds of Africa (and New York City) a little road weary but armed with a tremendous experience (and a few thousand pictures) and memories. I still have lots of things to do to get the photos arranged as I had a major problem with my portable hard drive that I stored my photos on (both operator and hardware issues). In addition, I’m scheduled to have cataract surgery tomorrow morning so I’m a little preoccupied with that prospect. Given all that, the trip was incredible and I’m anxious to share our captured moments with you!!
With all that we saw and experienced, its hard to figure out where to start. So, as Julie Andrews sang in the Sound of Music, I’ll “start at the very beginning as thats a very good place to start”. We flew from Cape Town to Johannesburg and then on to Kruger National Park which is in the North Eastern corner of South Africa. Its a HUGE park encompassing over 7500 square miles. After an hour and half drive from the Nelspruit airport, we were about to enter the park when we saw our “greeting committee” – two elephants cavorting in the Sabi River. We got out of the bus while our driver checked into the park, quickly broke out the cameras, and have these images to show for it.
The photos don’t do justice to the majesty of these animals in the wild. In the following days, we had numerous up close and personal encounters with elephants so this won’t be the last you see or hear of them.
That’s it for the first post but please come back as I think I’ve some incredible shots and stories that you will enjoy!
We took a quick day trip out to cape point and the cape of good hope with our new friend and guide, Faizel. He showed us many things and explained much about the history and nature of South Africa. I thought I’d start out the wildlife part of this trip with a picture of a Bontebok taken just a few hundred yards from the point itself. As you can see, he was grazing along a pretty spectacular piece of land.
We’re off tomorrow to Kruger Park and the real safari part of the trip. Hope you enjoy this taste of things to come. Thanks for a great day Faizel!!
I got a peek at what the weekly challenge was before we left this morning for Robben Island where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 18 years. I didn’t know what I would see that said waiting to me until just before we left the island to return to Cape Town. This photo is of a young black male about to “wait” to get back on the ferry boat. More importantly, the photo in the background is of a group of political prisoners “waiting” to be ushered into their new home. The juxtaposition of the freedoms that the young man of today enjoys against the price of freedom that the prisoners paid jumped out at me. The young man might still be “waiting” if they hadn’t made that tremendous sacrifice for what they believed in.
So after what seems like 273 time zones, both “tropics”, the equator, Washington DC, Senegal, and Johannesburg, we finally made it to Cape Town South Africa. I’m not one who can sleep on airplanes so I was pretty well beat when we got to our very nice room at about midnight. What I can’t figure out is why I conked right out but then woke up at 3:30 unable to re-enter slumberdom…..Oh well, its just one of the joys of long distance travel. So this morning we went up the tram to the major local landmark – Table Mountain. It is a great ride and we got there just as the clouds were rolling in and the wind started picking up. At about that same time, we ran across these ferocious little creatures the DASSIEs! Now you may not recognize them for what they are but their closest relative is the African Elephant – all in about the size of a house cat! Now that is quite a jump – I’d love to see one of their “family dinners”…..