This week’s challenge was easy for me. I’ll take you back to Tanzania on one of our last evenings there. As usual, we were still out with the wildlife at Sundown. We had been watching a group of female lions getting ready for their nightly hunt but we had also been watching a group of Elephants a few hundred yards away. I decided to try to get a ground level shot of an elephant with the sun going down over his/her back. While I couldn’t quite get that photo framed due to the brush in front of us, I kept moving to try and catch the beautiful sunset along with these gentle giants. When I look at this capture, it immediately brings back a sense of excitement (in trying to get the shot) but also the quiet calm and beauty of the scene and this magnificent creature standing in front of me….
One of the most extraordinary experiences of my life was spending time with the mountain Gorillas in Uganda and Rwanda. The entire process of starting early in the morning, hiking to their habitat in the mountains, fighting our way through the dense vegetation, and then being with these serene animals was amazing. I can’t adequately describe the feeling of catching our first glimpse of the gorillas and then sitting feet away from them as they went about their daily routine. There was something just incredibly peaceful about them and a feeling that we were sharing the morning with a friend or relative – at their place. It was at once both quiet and exhilarating – a moment of a lifetime. Pure.
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……
I don’t think that humans or even dogs are the only animals that can express themselves. We’ve seen virtually every animal we’ve visited on our trips into the wild do exactly that. Some are looks that mimic human behavior and are therefore very popular and often published. Probably less recognized but just as valid are looks and behaviors that capture the true “nature of the beast”. I took this photo of an African Buffalo in Uganda last year – you can see why they are affectionately known at “mud boys” as they go about their business and “express themselves.”
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….
Here’s my photo for this week’s challenge: “Shadowed.” This cheetah was examining a tree in the Serengeti and it cast just enough shadows to make this a dramatic photo which highlighted the incredible eyes of this svelte predator. Of all the cheetah photos we took during our trip a year ago, this may be my favorite……
This challenge was easy as I was already working on an image that fits the subject. I just purchased and received a 24″ monitor and a graphic tablet to use for editing photos – I think I was starting to go blind doing all my editing on my small, portable Macbook Air. I had chosen a photo of a leopard from Tanzania for my first edits using the new equipment. Luckily, it happened to be a Leopard descending from a tree so it will also works for this challenge. I hope you enjoy!
Well, we are just returned from 3 weeks in Europe but I wouldn’t classify that trip as an adventure. It was very enjoyable but fairly quiet and even. As a contrast, I would classify our trips to camp with the Brown Bears in Alaska or our African trips as adventures – not only because of wildness of the areas but also because you are always in the presence of animals with minds of their own. I don’t mean that these activities are hazardous – but they are adventurous and interesting because you are experiencing things so far from our normal human interactions and lifestyles. I picked this photo (pretty much at random from my desktop) to illustrate a moment that made this an adventure – a chance to witness a wild lioness “schooling” her young ones in their behavior.
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.