This isn’t very original but its really the only one I have…..in a Llama’s eye.
Love this challenge. I’ve chosen some faces from our South America trip:
The first is of a woman in a little village in Peru. One of those “every line tells a story” kind of faces…..
and since the challenge title was plural, I thought I’d add a contrasting image. I published a picture in one of my first posts of a young Uros girl from the floating islands of Lake Titicaca – just to show that “cute” runs in the family, here is a photo of her brother – every bit as captivating.
And just because it fits well with the challenge, a picture of a young vendor outside one of the Incan ruins – with many faces.
If a PATH well taken is measured by its continued use over time, or by the traffic that has gone that way, then this is truly a prodigious path. The photo actually shows two paths: The one along the lefthand side of the photo, built upon the terraced hillside, is the final portion of the Inca Trail leading from “the Sun Gate” down into Machu Picchu (which can be seen almost in the center of the photo). Who can guess at the numbers of people (ancient and recent) who have travelled the path to this magical place?
The second one is the serpentine path coming up from the small town of Aguas Caliente to Machu Picchu. This is the current bus path that most tourists take to the monument. It is an exciting ride, especially in bad weather, and it literally keeps you on the edge of your seat. Either path leads to the mysterious and mystical city. Either one is well worth taking if you get the chance…..
So we’ve got lots of sea lions here in California – so why take photos of them “down south”? Because they are just so darn cute – no matter where they are. Take a look at this little guy who was hiding behind a little rock on one of the beaches we were snorkeling on – how can you resist that?
It was also apparent that the sea lions considered themselves the kings of the beach – whether we were there or not. Here is one of the “Royals” overseeing his realm.
And of course, who can resist watching the sea lions play in the lagoons? Between chasing eachother around, surfing the waves, and generally having a good time, they are always worth paying attention to. I managed to capture this guy shooting out of the water while attempting a get-away from his (or her) pals…
This beautiful flyer was our first real siting in the Galapagos. As we initially got on our boat and worked our way up to the observation deck, we were greeted by a male frigate “wind surfing” along with the boat. He remained with us for the entire first leg of our trip – soaring just beyond reach above the deck and providing lots of opportunity to take our first wildlife photos in the Galapagos. My wife also characterized the session as a chance for all of the photographers to compare lens sizes….as males are inclined to do.
When we arrived at our first stop the next morning we were treated to many more frigates in their environment and “strutting their stuff”. This first photo is again a male, showing off his incredibly red “pouch” for the females flying overhead.
I like the next shot of the female (red ring around the eye and white chest) approaching the male who appears to be perplexed about what to do next. In any case, we’ll leave that to your imagination.
I can’t believe I’ve made numerous posts from our South America trip and not done one on the iconic animals of the Andes – the Llamas, the Alpacas, and the lesser known Vicuna! It didn’t take long to meet a few of these guys once we arrived in Cusco – there were several of them being paraded around town for us tourists. While I took the obligatory pics, hopefully the ones in this post are more spontaneous (if only a little) than those “canned” shots. The above is as close as I came to a self portrait on this trip – if you look closely, there I am – literally sticky a camera in this poor Llama’s eye….actually I was a few yards away and using a telephoto – but it still may be the only surviving photo of me from South America.
The next one is a close up of a Vicuna – a much smaller animal than the llama and owner of the “highest quality natural fiber” on earth. I’m sure you will agree that these amazingly attractive animals not only dress well but are incredibly cute in their own right.
The last photos are ones that have been taken a million times – but I couldn’t figure out how NOT to take them. The first is a shot of the Llamas at Machu Picchu asserting their “right of way” with the tourists. It was always a delightful feeling having to back off for one of these guys coming up the stairs.
Okay, I promised you my favorite BFB photos. I’m partial to bird in flight pictures as I enjoy the challenge of capturing the right moments – so naturally my favorite is a BFB in flight ….for at least another second or two. This was taken on the island of Espanola in the Galapagos just as the Booby was maneuvering to land. It shows his/or her flying skill, highlights their famous blue feet, and shows some of the environment – why wouldn’t I like it?
The next pic shows a BFB just cruising up and down the coastline looking for food. When they find it ,they quickly transition into a guided missile and go crashing into the water to catch whatever poor fishy they are after. I guess its quite a sight when hundreds of these birds are hunting together but we didn’t have the opportunity to see that while we were there.
Once again, this post wouldn’t be complete without an image and description of the BFB mating dance. I was lucky enough to capture a single photo with the two main features of the dance. The left Booby has its right foot raised in the air. It will rock back and forth switching feet and generally looking like any geek in heat. Then they throw their head back, pull their tail up, and yank their wings into a vertical “v” as if to say “how’s this”. Not sure I can come up with an analogy to that action other than I’ve seen several San Diego Charger fans do similar things after one of Norv Turner’s “genius” offensive play calls.
No photo report on the Galapagos would be complete without a few shots of the Blue Footed Boobys. Many photographers focus right away on the feet as the distinguishing feature. I’ll buck that trend (at least for today) and start at the other end. After all, how could you resist something that looks like this….
While they are certainly flashy, it is also very interesting that they provide a means to tell the difference between the male and female Boobys (okay wise guys, I am aware that there are other ways). If you look closely the male and female Booby eyes have different sized pupils. I’m not sure which is which but you can sure tell the difference.
Okay so we’ve only covered one small feature of this fascinating bird today. Tune in tomorrow for my favorite BFB photos!
Not a line from the old Monty Python skit – a real Albatross as in Galapagos or Waved Albatross. This is the largest bird in the Galapagos with a wingspan of up to 8 ft. They are incredible flyers and can stay aloft for amazingly long periods – often without even flapping their wings. They routinely fly up to 100km from their nests just to gather food for their young. They are so proficient they can even fly while sleeping – much like several airline pilots in the news lately.
They go to Galapagos island of Espanola to mate (which they do for life) and then rear their young. They are normally found on the cliff end of the island so they can launch themselves off the cliffs to begin their flights – It is hard for them to flap their large wings fast enough to fly without this gravity assist. One of the other notable behaviours of these majestic birds is their mating ritual itself. The mating pair approach each other, sort of shake their beaks back and forth until they actually “clack” their bills together. They then open their jaws wide and throw their heads back in unison. Then repeat as necessary…. As with most other Galapagos species these birds do not appear to be disturbed by the presence of tourists even during their courting.
The third day we were at Machu Picchu started with a misty rain engulfing the mysterious city. While it didn’t offer the splendid vistas that the ruins and mountains normally present, it created a somber and dramatic feel to the place that we were privileged to experience. This first image here is one of my favorite from our 3 days. It is taken looking back at one of the first structures you encounter as you enter the site. The clouds on the mountains revealed, for just a moment, symmetrical “notches” in the surrounding hills. That image, plus the huddled visitors in the shack, created a scene I hadn’t seen in other photographs of the area and one that appealed to me in its simplicity and tone.
A second thing that struck me as I walked around in the drizzle was that the details of both the ruins and the people were obscurred just enough to render “ghosts” of images making it even easier to imagine the spirits of the ancient culture that still inhabit this shrine….
Lastly, it was impossible not to notice the magical transformation of the ruins and their surrounding vegetation by the weather. Every bush, flower, or weed was covered by the mist yielding another opportunity to marvel at the artistry that is nature.