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….
I’m not sure that this really fits the subject of this week’s challenge but I liked this photo and I could stretch the meaning to fit……
This is a shot that I took during a “sundowner” happy hour overlooking the Serengeti in Tanzania. The sky was incredible but the only prominent point of interest was a single Acacia tree not far away. Those trees are frequent subjects of African sunset photography so it wasn’t very innovative from that aspect. What struck me about the scene was that the tree’s canopy was totally mirrored by the clouds just above – perfect semi-circles. I decided to take a photo where the subject was dead center in the frame – something I rarely do. I set my aperture to try and catch a sun star as the sun emerged below the clouds but above the tree. I had my camera on a pocket tripod so I was lining the shot up as the sun and clouds moved – as luck would have it, at the perfect moment, I could see a perfectly round lens flare forming as the sun reflected off the center of my lens. I snapped the shot at that second to catch this additional highlight to the symmetry of the scene – it is faint but hopefully apparent in the photo – forming a perfect circle around both the tree and the sun. An experiment in composition with a little help from mother nature.
We have just recently returned from a wonderful safari trip to Tanzania. When I saw the subject of this week’s challenge, I immediately went to this photo. I took this after one our first days in the wild at Tarangire National Park. We were staying at a wilderness camp with just my wife and I, our guide, and 3 beautiful people to take care of our every need in camp. I selected this photo as it captures many glows – the fading sunglow on the horizon, the star glow appearing in the darkening sky, the moon glow almost directly overhead, and the glow from our campfire embers both on the ground and reflected in the massive Baobab Tree above. This is a scene to remember for many years to come.
First, I’d like to apologize for my lack of posts lately – no particular reason other than my utter dismay at our current political state. For my entire life, I have been proud to be a citizen of this country. I truly believed that this was the greatest country on earth – a beacon of freedom and democracy that stood as an example to other countries. That feeling was consistently validated during every one of my foreign travels – people routinely expressed their admiration of our liberty and our institutions as they lamented their own country’s corruption and inability to serve “the people”. In six short months that admiration has turned to scorn and ridicule as we have swiftly lost the credibility that was dearly earned through our (mostly) principled behaviour on the international stage. At the same time, here at home, our white house occupant continues to offer empty promises to his electorate (he never speaks of the majority of the country who didn’t vote for him) without a clue on how to achieve them. Somehow we are supposed to believe that his imagined victories over his enemy of the day and his unending placing of blame (on anyone other than himself) is a good substitute for actually serving the nation. In his own words, it is indeed “sad”. Sorry for the rant but I thought I’d express my dis-satisfaction before turning to more positive thoughts.
One of the most satisfying experiences in my life of late was a 16 day trip down the full length of the Grand Canyon. Believe me, at least some of that satisfaction was due to the lack of communication with the outside world and a respite from the White House’s fright show. But one of the other extreme joys was the opportunity to take morning hikes in the canyon. Often these hikes led us upward to incredible vantage points and vistas where the sheer beauty was overwhelming. Combined with the exertion of climbing and rock hopping up the trails, we were treated to that wonderful feeling of physical well-being at the same time we were experiencing the wonders of mother nature. I chose this particular photo from one of those hikes as a great example of that satisfaction. I actually left our hiking group at this spot just so that I could enjoy the solitude, quiet, and magnificent view here as the sun started to fill the canyon.
I just recently returned from 16 days on a Dory trip down the entire length of the Grand Canyon. The trip was remarkable with changing scenes and moods around every bend in the circuitous meandering of the river. I’ve chosen the photo above as an example of one of those fleeting scenes. The sun just peeking over the canyon, the clouds providing some change overhead, and the quickly advancing rays of the sun greeting the canyon and a dry wash littered with rocks – all of these added to this quick flash in time – never to be seen again in this exact form. I was glad I was able to capture it and keep that morning alive in my (and hopefully your) mind.
Last October as I was driving home from a little time in the desert and the Sierras, I stopped along highway 395 and took this morning shot of the Sierras near Lone Pine, California. The cars were whizzing by me as I framed the shot so I didn’t spend a lot of time to get it right. The lava rock and a few scraggly sage bushes were the only foreground I could use but I still liked this photograph because of the mix of the rocks, the face of the mountain range, and the dramatic clouds above. To me it is a simple photo but one that catches the essence of “Earth”.
I must admit that I was tempted to just post a picture of the guy that currently occupies our oval office…
I thought that might be a little crass so I opted for a different interpretation for this week’s challenge: Dense. I took this photo from a small boat off one of the largest Ghats in the holy city of Varanasi, India. Tens of Thousands of people gather every night to participate in the prayers led by the holy men along the banks of the river Ganges. Our guide told us that during the religious holidays, Varanasi is the densest population center on the planet. While I cannot verify that information, our attempt to exit the area after the prayers certainly had to go through one of the densest and most chaotic traffic jams I have ever seen.
Just did a quick search to find a photo for this week’s challenge. While this may not be the best fit, this guy seems to be enjoying his green surroundings…… I took this in the very early morning at one of the stops on a European River Cruise a few years back. I found this statue on a wall just off the empty main square of a beautiful little town (can’t remember the name right now). I loved the look on his face, the natural flora, and even the bikes parked nearby. I still find this photo relaxing and a nice reminder of that solitary morning.
Feeling lazy so I’ll take the easy way out this week and choose another photo from Edinburgh for this week’s challenge, atop. This is a fairly regular view from “atop” one of the hills surrounding Edinburgh. Although it is a normal view for postcards, you can understand why it is popular as it gives you a nice vantage point for the primary sights of the city. In particular, the clocktower on the right centre of the photo is on the beautiful Balmoral Hotel, to the right of that is the Scott memorial (to Sir Walter Scott), and to the left is the Edinburgh Castle high on another hill. I normally don’t like to take views from above cities (skyscrapers or observation towers) because they seldom provide a view into the character of the city. I think this view is different in that it is not high enough to hide the character of the main buildings and it provides a nice overview of where everything is……
I should mention that the memorial in the foreground is to Dugald Stewart, a Scottish mathematician and philosopher of the 17 and 1800s.
I hate to climb on the church related responses to this challenge but we recently had the opportunity to do some photography in and around St. Giles cathedral in Edinburgh, Scotland. It was a rainy couple of days so I was able to get some external and internal shots of this beautiful church which dates back to the 1100’s and was rebuilt in the late 1300s after a fire destroyed much of the original structure. I am not normally drawn to take lots of photos of cathedrals but I found this one to be very photogenic and we also used it as a refuge to stay out of the downpour.
I took this first photo not long after we arrived in Edinburgh. There were actually quite a few people on the rainy streets but this long exposure “ghosted” most of them out of the picture. Even though the photo was taken over a period of about 50 seconds, the two ladies in the foreground kept chatting for the entire time so they were captured along with the cathedral. I liked the context they added so I didn’t reshoot the picture or try to remove them in processing……
The next photo is of one of the main chambers of the church. The lighting was low but dramatic and yielded just enough color to make the stone building seem warm on this stormy day. Any time I am in a historic place of worship such as this one, I cannot help but to try and imagine the different ways the people lived during the lifetime of the building and how their hopes and dreams differed over time while at the same time remaining fairly constant in theme.