Every year a gathering takes place in the Bosque Del Apache in New Mexico. Thousands of Sandhill Cranes and Snow Geese migrate to the ponds and fields of the wildlife refuge to enjoy the winter. Every morning there is a repeating ritual where the geese and then the cranes take off from the ponds and head for the fields to graze. In the evening, they return to the ponds for protection from the predators such as coyotes. This early morning photo shows the geese taking off in the background as the cranes huddle, watch and await their turn to launch. Its a spectacular sight that is well worth the trip to witness….OBTW – there is also a “gathering ” of avid photographers close by to document the daily movements of the birds.
I’ll stick with the idea of autumn as a transition as we just got back from NYC and happen to have a few photos of the fall color. We don’t really get much of seasonal changes here in San Diego. Even though the temperatures will change, the range always stays pretty comfortable. We spent a week in NYC and it ranged from the 60’s all the way into the 30’s which is frigid to us SOCAL folks. We really enjoyed the chill in the air as we wandered all over the city and went to a number of Broadway plays. One of my favorite city places is always Central Park and at this time of year the leaves are changing and the whole park is lit with brilliant yellows, oranges and red. I took this photo early on one of those crystal clear mornings that provided lots of color and contrasting shadows for everyone to enjoy……
I’ll post a rather small “Victory” for this week’s challenge. We were in Kauai, Hawaii a couple of weeks ago in a house right on the beach with beautiful breaking waves. I have always been enamored by the ocean and can sit for hours just watching the ever changing views of the surf. What I have never done is try to capture a decent picture of the surf as kind of a stop action landscape. I took many photos that week trying to get something that expressed the beauty and the power of the crashing water. I kind of like this this one as I can almost hear the sound and smell the salt spray – I hope you enjoy it also.
When I think of “Ornate” I always reflect on the cathedrals and monuments that I’ve had the opportunity to see around the world. One of the most incredible is, of course, the Taj Mahal in Agra, India. I could easily have picked many of the pictures I have of that monument but I thought I’d take a slightly different view that many people don’t even know exists. The “Taj” is surrounded by an equally incredible compound that is amazing by itself. The entry points and corners are marked by large, very ornate structures that would be attractions all by themselves if they weren’t just an “appetizer” for the Taj. I chose to show one of those main entryways here. It is impossible to describe the detail of these building but I hope this at least gives you a taste. For context, the white domes that can be seen on the left side of the photo are the actual Taj Mahal…..
We have been very lucky in “treating”ourselves to a couple of recent trips (hence my lack of posts). We first had the opportunity to go on a short notice trip to the Baja in Mexico to spend some time with Whale Sharks.
These incredible creatures come in close to the shore in the Sea of Cortez to feast on the plankton in the water. While that is great for the giant fish (not either whales or sharks), it is horrible for underwater photography due to the lack of visibility caused by the plankton. This photo was taken from our boat which was about 18 feet long – this whale shark was longer than the boat – about 22 feet in length.
From the surface they appear to be hardly moving but when you get in the water to snorkel with them, you quickly realize that they are hard to keep up with and that they can disappear in seconds with one flip of their enormous tails or by just sinking down into the cloudy water.
In any case, it was a tremendous treat to spend some time with these very gentle giants. I’ll post some other photos from our lodge tomorrow and explain a little more about this wonderful trip.
India is not exactly a place that I would classify as “Monochromatic.” Virtually everything is awash in color as well sound and aroma. I did recall this photo that I took inside one of the temples in the ancient city of Khajuraho. In contrast to many modern (western) places of worship, the areas inside are small, intimate, and intended for private reflection and meditation. This Indian woman was enjoying a quiet moment inside the temple early in the morning before the throngs of people began to show up. I thought the light coming through the window reflecting against the wall and onto her face made an interesting scene. The tone of the light, the walls, and her face all blend into a single pallet and resulted in one of my favorite photos from this incredible place.
In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge, “Today Was a Good Day” I chose to show the end of the day. A week or so ago, we took a short (1 and a half hour) trip out to the Anza Borrego State Park for a one night mini vacation. We stayed at the beautiful Casa Del Zorro in Borrego Springs but we spent most of the evening out in the desert to take photos of the sunset and then the Milky Way. Here are a couple of shots from that trip.
We drove out to a deserted area of the desert and never saw another person. This was a nice little canyon to watch the sun fall below the mountains and create this nice sun star over the cactus.
Another angle at sunset highlighting the local fauna.
And finally, the main event – the incredible views of the Milky Way over the desert. This was actually taken about midnight – the end of a very nice evening and day.
Living in San Diego, I try to get down to Comic-Con for at least one day to see what kind of lunacy is going on there. This year, my wife and our next door neighbors came with me to take in the unusual sights. As we were walking down the main area of town where all the costumed characters roam, this “little piggy” jumped out and approached my wife. By the look on her face, you can see why this guy deserves to be the subject of “Creepy” ….
I had to think a while about “Beneath Your Feet” before I came up with a photo that kinda met the challenge. I finally remembered this photo I took a couple of years ago at a local beach. In surfing, it is VERY important to keep something beneath your feet. Unfortunately, this poor guy was unable to do that and ended up with only air beneath his feet while the rest of him was beneath the wave. I titled this one “the Agony of De-Feet” in honor of the famous lead in to the old sports show, the Wide World of Sports.
There are many things that inspire me to take photographs – a dramatic sunset, a beautiful landscape, an iconic view of the world, an infectious smile, or just a scene of everyday life which captures the feelings of the moment. With all of that being said, the single reason that I got back into photography was to be able to capture nature at its best – through the amazing wildlife that we are privileged to share this planet with. On this week when there has been an overwhelming outcry against the senseless killing of Cecil the Lion, there was only one choice for this week’s challenge, “Inspiration.”
I’ll add my voice to those that are appalled by this act. While there are certainly greater evils in this world (poverty, hate, oppression, and many more), the killing of this noble beast (and the countless other killings of endangered animals in the name of “sport” or commerce) is a very poor reflection on our society. How can one look at a creature like this Lion from Tanzania and not worry that there are supposedly civilized human beings out there that could willfully deprive future generations from this incredible source of Inspiration and awe.
In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Close Up”, I decided to go back to a close encounter from Africa. This little cat (full grown female Cheetah) is staring down at us through the top window of our safari vehicle. I had my smallest lens on and it was still almost too close to focus. She was a perfect companion and made no threatening gestures at all as she spent about 10 minutes on our roof surveying the countryside for prey……
Here’s my entry to this week’s challenge “Half and Half.” I took this photo last week at the San Diego Zoo. I was there late in the afternoon hoping to get a photo of a young jaguar cub with some dramatic lighting and shadows. The photo that I liked was one in which the cub is partially in the sun with the background in shadows. It turned out that there is close to equal parts light and dark – half and half kitty……
I’m a little late in getting my challenge response in this week to “Symbol”. I chose the well known national animal and icon for Australia – the Kangaroo. When we went there, one of my first goals was to find a kangaroo that I could photograph. This “Roo” was near the town of Cairns, one of the gateways to the Great Barrier Reef. I actually took this photo in someone’s back yard as this mom and offspring were grazing. One glance at this iconic creature and you already know what country you’re in – a symbol through and through…..
In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge “ROY G. BIV”, I took this photo yesterday as we were flying into Anchorage Alaska. We were approaching the landing and flying low over a series of ponds and creeks with the sun coming directly across the water. Between the water’s reflections and the polarizer on my lens, it produced these beautiful effects on the water – a nice fit for this week’s challenge.
I recently went to Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks precisely because they were “Off-Season.” It was too late for the ski season in Jackson Hole but not too late to get some nice photos of the Grand Tetons. This is shot of one of the very famously photographed mormon barns with the Tetons as the backdrop. You can see the snow is going fast but it is a beautiful sight on a clear spring day.
The second photo is also of an oft-photographed area – Oxbow Bend in the Grand Teton Park. During the fall color season there are hordes of photographers at this spot hours before sunrise to catch the colors. I was pretty much alone as I took this photo. Since it didn’t have the advantage of the fall foliage, I chose to make it a B&W and just feature the scenery and reflections.
There are few scenes as “Vivid” as a sunset over the red rocks areas in Utah. This photo was taken towards the west (obviously into the sun), just as the sun was going down behind the landscape near Dead Horse State Park. At that instant the colors in the sky and in the orange rocks are incredible. This photo is “blown out” by the sun flare but I think it still portrays the drama of the scene and scenery.
Two weeks ago I had a great experience “On the Way.” As I was leaving Yellowstone and beginning my journey back home to San Diego. I was driving through the Grand Teton National Park in the evening before a planned stopover in Jackson, Wyoming. I saw a couple of gravel/dirt roads that looked like they needed exploring so I took some time out from my transit to see if I could find some wildlife. At my first stop, I found some Marmots that I posted a photo of earlier this week. On a second dirt road, I went into the woods as far as I could before running into a large “pond” in the middle of the road. Not having a four wheel drive, I turned around and went back the way I came in. I wasn’t expecting to see anything as I had been on the road only 5 minutes before. As I came around a corner, I saw this nice surprise – A grizzly sow with cubs.
They were also “on their way” so I didn’t have long with them but I did get a few quick shots. Here is a view of the cubs as they were leaving – I love that the one cub kept looking back to see what I was doing. This “on the way” interlude made both of our journeys very memorable!
Once again I am late in responding to this week’s challenge: “Intricate.” You have all seen photos of the iconic opera house in Sydney, Australia. It is easily recognizable by its intersecting graceful arches. Have you ever wondered what it looks like on the inside? This is a photo from the lobby of one of the several performance venues within the complex. The architecture is just as incredible from the inside as it is on the exterior. The arches are all formed out of reinforced concrete but with many supports and stringers providing the structure. All of those supports create straight lines which intersect with the arches at a multitude of different angles. The complexity yet beauty of this structure amazed me and I hope you find it interesting also. Have a great weekend!
I had lots of options from our recent trip to Australia and New Zealand for this challenge, “Afloat.” We spent a lot of time under the water as well as floating above – on a cruise ship, aboard a dive boat, and even on a small zodiac. What I ended up choosing was a photo of a school of Dolphins that we saw in the Bay of Islands, New Zealand. I took this photo looking back into the sun so many of the details were “blown out” by the glare. I took out even more water detail when I processed the photo and ended up with this version which I think looks like the dolphins are “afloat” in the air instead of their normal watery environment.
Here’s my response to this week’s challenge “Blur.” Photographers frequently use a narrow depth of field to isolate the subject from the surroundings. Its a great technique unless you happen to get the focus point just slightly wrong and catch perfect focus on another portion of the photo while the subject is just a shadow. This is one of my favorite examples of that happening. I was trying to take a photo of a tufted puffin in Alaska who was taking off directly away from the boat we were in. The puffin was my intended focal point but I missed and got some of the “spray” from his hopping take-off instead. I still like the photo as it catches the action as well as a crystal clear image of where the puffin used to be…..