A “flight” of sandhill cranes take off from the Bosque Del Apache in New Mexico. It was a beautiful still morning and the Sandhills were taking off in small groups like this one. The view across the still pond added to the scene.
This is also a good place to note that we are also taking off on another adventure. More to come….
I immediately thought of our visit with the mountain gorillas in Rwanda when I saw this week’s challenge, “Serenity.” Serene is the first word that always comes to mind when I think of that visit to these incredible and gentle animals. It was a rare privilege indeed to be able to spend an hour with this family as they went about their normal routine….
For our last day in the Tetons, we planned on getting up very early in the morning and proceed to a well known photographic viewpoint at OxBow Bend. We got up well before the lazy sun and went out to watch the morning spectacle. When we arrived at “the Bend” we joined the other photographers in the dark. Almost immediately, we began to hear the loud bugling of the Elk through the morning mist. It was both eery and beautiful and it seemed to be coming from all directions – some close and some more distant. A lovely song to accompany our morning coffee. As it turned out, the part of mother nature’s staff in charge of sunrises was still asleep and the scene we anticipated never materialized (clouds and wind)…. 😦 . We were disappointed but the sound of the Elk calls more than made up for it and is something we will always remember.
A little later that morning, as we drove through Yellowstone National Park we spotted a huge male Elk wandering across a shallow pond. I jammed on the brakes at the next pull off and we walked quickly back to catch a photo of this majestic animal. When we reached him (at a respectful distance), he was out of the pond but he was bugling frequently as he searched for a mate. It was a thrill to put a real face to the calls that we had heard in the dark earlier that morning. It was a perfect autumn scene – even more so for the sounds rather than just the sights we photographers are always seeking.
I always look for interesting signs while in unusual places. This one caught my eye in Varanasi, India – along the banks of the Ganges River. How can you not buy tea or rent a boat from this proprietor? After all, he guarantees “No Problem”!
We’re off on the road again and arrived in Jackson, Wy on Sunday. It wasn’t a very pretty day but as night approached, it became very still and quiet. We had made our way to a beaver pond but it was too late and too dark to photograph animals so we just enjoyed the scene and took a few long exposure shots of the mountains and the fall foliage reflected in the ponds…..
OBTW – the Beaver’s den is shown in the foreground of the photo.
I haven’t posted many wildlife photos lately so I’ll use this opportunity to highlight an animal that depends on its endurance to thrive – the African Hyena. Hyenas are not the fastest, strongest, or stealthiest predator out there – but they are one of the most successful. During our trip to Africa this winter, we got to watch these under-rated hunters in action on several occasions.
The first Hyena we saw was in Uganda – it walked right by our vehicle in the early morning and was not at all concerned with our presence. We then watched it and several of its friends try to corner a group of Kob. This photo shows one of the Hyenas in hot pursuit of the herd. While we did not witness the end game of this encounter it was obvious that the Hyenas were just wearing down the Antelopes until they could get a shot at a weak one.
When we got to Tanzania, we saw an entirely different tactic, a single Hyena going after a small family group of gazelles. It locked in on one of the babies, and despite the best efforts of the parents to protect it, just waited until the young one tired out and finally made its kill.
I’ll spare you the graphic final moment of the encounter – you get the point.
I’ll end with one last interesting Hyena photo. On our last morning in Tanzania, a group of six Hyena surrounded our vehicle and wouldn’t leave – they circled the car and examined us all very closely. I took this photo out of our top hatch so that you can see how close they were and the attention they were giving us.
When we finally drove off – they ran after the truck for quite some time…..not sure what we would have done if they followed us to the airport…..
While we were walking around on a beautiful afternoon in Vienna, we were surprised by an a-capella vocal group who just got out of a bus and started singing – a beautiful Austrian tune with some yodeling thrown in. As we were listening to them, I couldn’t help but notice another face joining in the group from the background – not nearly as melodious or inviting – but a pretty funny juxtaposition…..
In case you were wondering what the group sounded like…….I videoed the last part of their beautiful song……
I was lucky on this week’s challenge. We were walking this morning in the little German town of Donaustadt on the Danube River. We weren’t looking for anything in particular, we were just enjoying this out of the way little town. As we went by the front of a house that was under construction my wife pointed out what she called “a dead teddy bear”. That is exactly what it looked like…..it was lying there, a little worse for wear, looking like it had been laid to rest. May this frayed little bear rest in peace….
Here we are on the Rhine River in Germany. This was on our first day of cruising with many, many small towns and castles sprinkled among the grape vines that cover the rolling hills and mountains. A beautiful place and a lovely day. Much more to follow………
A quick post to say that we’re on our way overseas again – this time to Europe and a river cruise on the Rhine/Main and Danube Rivers. It’ll be a day or two before we get connectivity again so I figured I’d post this photo to signify we are getting ready for takeoff as this is published. Before you ask, this is a composite photo made up of the sunrise over the field/mist and an inflight photo of a Great Blue Turaco. I took both photos in Uganda about two days apart. I thought I’d combine them to get an interesting subject on a spectacular background. Hope you enjoy and forgive the photo manipulation on my part……. I’ll post again soon from Germany.
My across the road neighbors, Steve and Nancy, have four dogs of their own but they routinely “adopt” other dogs from the shelter until good homes can be found for them. They are clearly doing wonderful work. A short time ago, they asked me if I could help them get their foster “children” adopted through my hobby of photography. They said many of the adoptions are done through the use of websites but that the quality of the photos of the subjects left something to be desired. I readily agreed because I love dogs (as my own two can tell you) and really enjoy photographing all animals – it seemed like a great match! So we started setting up short photo shoots for the dogs and so far it has contributed to several adoptions.
I’m going to switch gears and start with Steve and Nancy’s current foster, Ginger – a wonderfully sweet dog who loves to be up close and personal with people and is a joy to be with. Her only issue is that a few weeks back (before she became a foster) she was hit by a car and lost her front right leg. Only a few weeks later, she is her normal happy self and she is getting around like she never needed four legs! Here is my photo/painting portrait of Ginger that I took yesterday.
As I said to Steve this morning, this next photo catches her “putting her best foot forward”…..
I started with Ginger because she is still available for adoption, and if you are interested, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. PS – we are in San Diego.
I’ll go back a little and introduce you to Holly – another available sweetie with a story. Holly is being fostered by some other friends and her story is that she was very nearly euthanized as she was blind! Luckily the attendant at the shelter could not bring himself to carry out her sentence and Holly was saved. She has since had cataract surgery and can see again. She is a beautiful and happy dog …..and she is also still available. Send me a note if you might be interested in adopting her!
I’ll end by introducing you to a couple of other recent friends who have since gone on to new families. This is Cassie who just got adopted a few weeks ago – how do you beat that for photogenic?
And lastly, let me introduce you to Farrah. As a youngster, I was always dreaming of a date with Farrah and my friend Steve arranged it for me! It was different than I had dreamed of but Farrah is still quite the poster girl …..
So this is the look I got from our dog CJ when I told her that she was going in to have dental surgery this morning. She was very upset that she couldn’t have breakfast and that we were going to take her to the dentist to have a couple of teeth removed. I had to explain that we were bad parents for not taking better care of her teeth but that she would feel better after the surgery. She didn’t believe it…. but she went along with us anyway. The young lady who checked her in was very nice and explained everything to CJ but she was still pretty nervous. We felt terrible leaving her there and will be very anxious all day as we wait to hear how one of our children has come through the surgery. Its going to be a long day.
Had to dig a little for this challenge. This photo was taken in the downtown market area of Katmandu, Nepal. This woman and many others filled an entire square with their pottery. Everything from these basic clay pots to much larger and ornate pottery. A pottery factory based on 100% human manufacture.
I was feeling strange that I hadn’t posted a wildlife photo for a week or so……so…..I thought I’d post a different lion cub interpretation. This was one of 3 young lions hanging with her mother in the North Serengeti. In looking through my photos I noticed one where she was looking directly at us – I processed it as an old style portrait which almost looks like a pencil drawing. I then restored the original color and tone of both the eyes and the nose. I kinda like the way it turned out…..
Just a quick post today. On the way from Queen Elizabeth National Park to our Gorilla adventures we passed by a herd of elephants feeding in the forest. One was intent on getting his food from the highest places he could reach. I thought it made an interesting picture with his trunk kind of blending in with the tree trunks……
Once again, I thought I’d try to show a little different take on the subject of the Challenge. In this photo there is little doubt where the focal point of the story is……the Cheetah of course! But of equal interest is the fact that it is sitting on our safari vehicle observing us like we were in a miniature zoo. We all knew that it was a special moment by the fact that our wonderful guide ( who had never had this happen before) kept lowly muttering ” there’s a cheetah on my truck…..there’s a cheetah on MY truck”
So the truck is also part of the object….but I also think that the fact that the cheetah was thinking WE were the object is interesting….but she didn’t have a camera.
On our third day in Uganda, we proceeded to Queen Elizabeth National Park to continue our safari. We entered the park in the late afternoon and began to see many of the iconic animals of the African plains. Mike and Katherine (our friends, neighbors and traveling companions) had never seen many of these animals in the wild so it was wonderful to share their introduction to the safari experience.
In particular, Katherine has a special affection for elephants so it was wonderful to be able to share her reaction to seeing our first elephant of the trip. As African elephant sightings go, this one was not noteworthy – it was a single male and quite distant from the road we were on. That being said, Katherine was ecstatic and her enthusiasm excited us all. I thought I’d share a photo of that first elephant here so that maybe you can imagine seeing this majestic animal walking free for the first time.
We continued through the park enjoying the lovely afternoon/evening until we came upon a few safari vehicles stopped by the side of the road. We were told that there was a pride of lions about 100 yards off the road relaxing in the high grass. We could actually see a tail of one of the lions as it wagged above the grass. After waiting a while for the lions to stir, we continued on our way but returned a short while later to see if the lions would start their evening prowls. We watched patiently with numerous other safari vehicles for over an hour as the sun started going down but there was no movement. Then, all of a sudden, one of the vehicles decided to drive off the road and proceed directly at the lions who, of course, were roused from their sleep. To our astonishment, the vehicle then began to actually chase the lions around, rampaging through the grass at about 20 mph and circling to pursue the lions as they tried to avoid being run over.
After about 5 minutes the vehicle finally returned to the road and rejoined the other observers. As I said, we (and our guide) were incredulous at this behavior and we began to discuss what we could do to try and prevent this type of issue for the future. We finally decided to talk to the Uganda Wildlife Authority at one of the park entrances. They were very interested in the report (and my photos of the event) and they took down my contact information. A few days later I received a very nice email from the senior UWA officer informing us that the driver had been fined and that the incident would be used to deter other guides from harassing the animals. We were extremely impressed that the park officials had taken quick action and that they had taken the trouble to let us know that they took this situation seriously.
As dusk fell, we continued to hope to get a glimpse of the pride beginning their evening hunt but they may have been spooked by the encounter and never appeared. We were a little disappointed but we were treated to this scene as we departed – not a bad way to end a nice day……
Sometimes a picture IS worth a thousand words…..
This was taken in Banhavgarh, India after one our safaris. This young lady was peeking out of a gated compound – don’t know whether it was a school, a home, or what. What I do know is that she stood out by her splash of color and her luminous smile.
When most people go scuba diving, they focus on big things of interest – turtles, sharks, rays, etc….. One of the things that I love to do is to just find a nice little patch of coral and quietly observe the local community at work. You can see families, predators, cleaning stations, and all kinds of other everyday behavior – all in an environment that is as foreign to us humans as aliens from far off galaxies. For todays challenge I thought I’d show a snapshot of one of those communities in Fiji – nothing unusual or exotic – just a community going about its “business”.
My normal tuesday walking partners deserted me today so I thought I’d take my camera and spend some time at the beach. It was immediately after a storm so it was pretty quiet down there today as the clouds started to clear. I saw a single runner go by so thought I’d highlight her on this beautiful morning…..
Well, it looks like our artificial political crisis is about to end. There has been billions of dollars of damage to our economy, much hardship to all of the people affected by the government shutdown, a needless hit to our reputation as a credible world economic leader, and a large amount of angst worldwide. All of this resulting in a very short-term agreement and one that was essentially approved by the senate (with the president’s support) over a month ago. Throw in the fact that most of this was driven by representatives of a very small percentage of the American people and this becomes even more concerning. Congress really needs to re-evaluate how the process is meant to work versus how it was allowed to collapse this time in order to avoid the next crisis – already scheduled for just a few months from now.
I’ve chosen this photo of an American symbol, the bald eagle, for todays post. My selection was guided by two intents:
1) to remind my countrymen and their representatives that we are all Americans and should be joined by our values, our heritage, and our place in the world to work together to solve the hard but soluble problems that confront us as a nation, and
2) this particular eagle did not appear to be in a very good mood but I think it reflects the feelings of the vast majority of Americans that we are disgusted with some of our elected “leaders”. While the eagle has the option of flying out, killing something, and eating it…..we only have the option to exercise our right to vote – and I, for one, will.
I really enjoyed Ming Thein’s article – it was a great intro on what to look for and a good checklist of things to think about. I especially agree with the idea that it is best to spend some time in whatever environment you are shooting to understand the subjects, their behavior, and how they interact with the environment. As someone who spends a lot of time trying to make good captures of wildlife, this approach and the patience that goes with it (not normally one of my strong points), is critical. Interestingly enough, I read an article yesterday from a noted street photographer who said exactly the same thing. The other thing that I liked was Ming’s thought about eliciting an emotional attachment. The photo that I chose for this weeks challenge (I think) demonstrates at least those two aspects of my photography. This is a pretty simple photo of a Momma Bison and her calf but there were THOUSANDS of opportunities to take this kind of photo (and I admit I took numerous shots that didn’t do what I wanted them to) but this is the one that I was looking for. I wanted to capture the quiet and comforting relationship between mother and calf because 1) it is probably the only way to make these imposing animals actually look “cute” and 2) it immediately invokes a happy emotional reaction in humans that we feel for most youngsters and their families – independent of species. From a technical view it may not be a great photo – but it made me happy when I saw it and it still makes me smile when I revisit the scene. I hope you enjoy it also…..
In honor of the day, I thought I’d post this cute capture of a mother and her young one. This was taken alongside a road near the Satpura National Park in India.