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 a little late on my photo for the week as I wanted to finish my political thoughts before I looked at the challenge. While this photo may not scream Against the Odds to you, it sure does for me. Back in October my friend Ross and I were out in Rainbow Canyon (near Death Valley) taking photos of military aircraft who often fly through that canyon. The photographic process for such an endeavour is a lot like fishing – hours of quiet boredom punctuated by moments of frenzy when an aircraft enters the canyon at high speed. While we were just sitting there waiting for the aircraft to cooperate we amused ourselves with trying to catch a photo of a kangaroo rat running in and out of the rocks that formed our perch on the canyon edge. The fact that the animals were very quick and very small combined with the reality that they can appear from anywhere to make this a very difficult photo shoot. After a plethora of failed attempts, we finally resorted with trying to bait the little fella out of the rocks. While that sounds like cheating, it still did not make for an easy shot – our “model” would still vary his approach direction and timing and also make all of his attempts with a very quick in and out run. We finally did get some pretty decent shots of the little guy but I though I’d post this one showing him on his way in to the Cheeto lunch table that we had prepared for him….
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…
I took a photo earlier this week that fits the challenge “Tiny” perfectly. While leaving the house I noticed some hummingbirds feeding on a bird of paradise next to my front porch. I quickly got my camera and got a few decent shots of this tiny, agile flyer. The colors of the hummer and the bird of paradise blended pretty nicely…..
I went on the Daily Post looking for the photo challenge but there didn’t appear to be one – instead it featured a challenge for “here and now”. Since I had just returned from La Jolla Cove where I was trying out a new camera I thought I’d post some photos of that particular here and now (from a couple of hours ago). I went to the cove with the intention of catching birds in flight but there wasn’t much going on so I just took what interested me. Here are some of the here and now photos ….that I took…..then.
The sun was out at first but there wasn’t much moving so I walked over to where the sea lions normally bask by the water and found this little guy enjoying the sun and the surf.
When the sun was still low in the sky there were numerous cormorants nesting in a tree above the cove. I managed to catch this silhouette of one of them coming in to its perch.
The light got pretty flat after a while and there still wasn’t much flying so I caught this shot of the cormorants also enjoying the crashing surf. As here and nows go, this was a pretty nice one.
We had plenty of opportunities for this “mirror” challenge while in the Arctic region of Svalbard, Norway. I chose to use this photo from a glacier bay that was being fed by 5 different glaciers. The bay contained uncountable chunks of ice floating around – ranging from small icebergs that had calved off the glaciers to much smaller pieces of ice that the glacier had ejected. This “mini-berg” had been inhabited by many kittiwakes who were preening themselves in the mirror-like reflections in the bay. A beautiful late afternoon Arctic scene….
We’re just recently back from a photography trip to Svalbard, Norway – up above the Arctic circle and in search of Polar Bears (and other creatures of the North). We had great experiences with some of the Bears including one that spent several hours in our vicinity. Of course we all took bunches of images of the great bear as she went through her daily activities. In editing one of the photos, I started looking at an extreme close up and liked the detailed effect of her face against the white of the snowy background . Its pretty unusual to get that intimate a view of a major predator but I’m glad to share this one with you.
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.
When I think of the Earth, I immediately think of the myriads of living creatures that depend on what it provides. With that in mind I stopped by a local lake to see if I could capture a couple of quick images to remind us of those inhabitants. I think they are also a reminder that all those other creatures have no ability to change how we treat Mother Earth – only we humans have that ability/responsibility.
I imagine this “other mother” chiding us all to protect our earth for the sake of her (and our) children.
I imagine these little guys telling us to take the time to get close to the earth and understand what we are doing to it. It is the most important factor in all of our lives and we treat it like a given vs the gift that it is…..
We’re getting ready for another trip and I bought a new Fuji 90mm f2 lens for the occasion. I wanted a portrait lens with just a little “reach” so I’ll be able to use it with the snow monkeys in Japan. This lens has received great reviews so I had to try it. Living only a mile or so from the San Diego Zoo has its advantages so I went over last night to take a couple of quick photos to play with the lens. The flamingos are one of the first things you see in the zoo so I used them as my test.
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??
Normally when we think of animals that defy the laws of gravity, we think of birds. While I’ve got lots of bird photos that would fit this challenge, I decided to post this photo I took today in getting ready for an upcoming trip. This little guy may not be able to fly, but the way he was running around on the branches of this tree (obviously during his lunch break), he sure seemed weightless to me……
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.
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……
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’m a little late in getting my challenge response in this week to “Symbol”. I chose the well known national animal and icon for Australia – the Kangaroo. When we went there, one of my first goals was to find a kangaroo that I could photograph. This “Roo” was near the town of Cairns, one of the gateways to the Great Barrier Reef. I actually took this photo in someone’s back yard as this mom and offspring were grazing. One glance at this iconic creature and you already know what country you’re in – a symbol through and through…..
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!
On my way back from Yellowstone I stopped along a dirt road in the Grand Teton National Park to look for bears. Didn’t immediately find any but I found a large colony of Marmots enjoying the gray day. This one was posing for me on a downed tree and there is another that you can see hiding behind the stump. Funny, shy animals that are always a pleasure to find and observe.
As someone who takes many photos of wildlife in“Motion.” I am always looking the right approach to catching that feeling. One of the primary ways of doing that is to try and freeze important parts of the scene while letting the motion blur other parts of the scene. This photo was taken at the Bosque Del Apache last year – two snow geese coming in for a landing. It was early morning so I was using a slow shutter speed and panning the camera with the geese. I was trying to capture the bodies of the geese in focus while the background and the wings of the geese were blurred by the motion.
We went to see the new Disney movie “Monkey Kingdom” yesterday – a typically impressive piece of movie making with spectacular nature photography used to tell a story of a troupe of macaque monkeys in Sri Lanka. We haven’t been to Sri Lanka but the scenery, the towns and the wildlife all reminded us of our trip to India a few years ago. I thought I’d post this photo of a slightly different species of macaques in honor of this movie. These two little monkeys were sitting in a tree just outside the entrance to Bardia National Park in Nepal. The sun was just reaching them and kind of lit up their big expressive eyes.
As an aside, I’d like to invite you to visit my new photo galleries on my smug mug gallery site – the link is http://scottseyephotos.smugmug.com. I’m still adding to the galleries from my library of images but there’s plenty there to look through already. Hope you enjoy!
I’ve posted a few photos from our 2013 trip to Alaska but haven’t used my first picture taken at dawn at Silver Salmon Creek. I think this fits the theme “Early Bird” perfectly. The sun was just coming up across the inlet with the sky and mountains on the other side showing their colors. The Bear that was out on the tidal flats was still just a silhouette but I love the mood of this photo. Every time I look at this one, it brings me back to that early, but perfect, morning.