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….
As someone who spends a fair amount of time photographing wildlife it would be easy to talk about the excitement and expectation of capturing a great image of a wild and unpredictable subject. Instead, I wanted to share a photo that is not uncommon but often overlooked – that look of anticipation and wonder on the faces of the wildlife we encounter – concerned about whether we are predators or just wondering what the heck we are doing in their domain. I chose this photo from a walking safari we did in Nepal – if that is not a look of anticipation, then I’ve never seen one…..
When I saw the subject of this week’s challenge, I thought of many photos but ended up choosing this one from a 2012 trip to Alaska. We had just landed and set up camp for a week with the Brown Bears in the Katmai. We took a short walk from our camp and watched as some of the bears grazed in the field. We eventually followed this bear as he made his way to the stream, plopped down, and immediately dozed off. He didn’t seem to mind at all that the 5 of us were nearby clicking away with our cameras – He was much too relaxed to care…
This week’s challenge was an easy one to select. While in Hokkaido, Japan we had the opportunity to visit with some Whopping Swans as they flew in and gathered around a small patch of unfrozen water along the shores of a lake. When we got there, there were only two swans by the shoreline but then they started to arrive in flights of two or up to twelve or so at a time. As they maintained their formations until final approach it truly looked like an orchestrated dance – straight out of “Swan Lake”?
I always look forward to my next photo trip – new places, new people, new experiences and of course, new challenges. I always try to envision what the photographic opportunities will be and how I will capture the shots that I want. One of the things I always use are images that I’ve done in the past that I’ve been happy with. I try to build upon that experience and formulate a plan to get even better material this time around. That process builds the anticipation for a great time to come. We are currently preparing for a winter trip to Japan to photograph the famed snow monkeys near Nagano (among other things). While the environment will be much different than my previous opportunities to capture monkey images, I’ve been reviewing past photos to inspire me for this particular trip. In particular, I’ve gone back to our India trip and looked through MANY photos to pick my favorites and to see what I like about them. A great example is this photo from the “Monkey Temple”, Swayambhunath, near Katmandu. It was taken in the afternoon so the light was getting good, this particular Macaque was playing amongst the idols, and I took numerous photos to get one that I really liked.
This has turned out to be one of favorite photos from that incredible trip to India and Nepal (to the extent that I have a large print of it hanging in my house). When I look at it, it invokes the place and time, the spiritual element of the idols, and the amazing gaze of the Macaque – almost like he is meditating or talking to his own spirits. If I can duplicate those type of feelings/thoughts with the adorable snow monkeys in Japan it will be a great trip! Hows that for optimism??
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.
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.
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 don’t know about anyone else, but I ALWAYS stop and watch the squirrels whenever I see them – it doesn’t matter that they are frequent sightings pretty much anywhere you go in the US. I was out looking for larger subjects in Grand Teton Park when I saw this little guy on the fencepost near the parking lot I was in. Couldn’t resist spending a few minutes with him and taking a few pics. Hope you like him (or her) also……
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!