This photo selection is mostly intended for photos which have not been included in the blog posts. They might be either from trips not covered on this blog or photos just not included in the posts … as I have way too many to be posting all the ones I like. I make no claim as to the artistic or technical merit of the photos, they are simply ones that I personally like for one reason or another.
Please note that most of the photos can be viewed at a larger size by opening in a new tab (right-click).
10.13.2017. Today I've chosen a black and white depiction of a lion cub at Kwai Concessions in Botswana (part of the Okavango Delta region). Last year I played around a bit with converting people portraits I took in Namibia into black and white. Since returning from Botswana this year (not quite two weeks ago at this posting), I've tried converting some animal "portraits" into black and white. It's just for fun, to play around; I pretty much don't know what I'm doing, haha. I think in truth, it's just an excuse to spend time with people and animals I love, albeit on a computer monitor. We spent the better part of an afternoon game drive, until it was dark, with this cub's family. I will probably write a little Tuesday Tale or something about that episode. If you follow me on Facebook, you will likely know of my fondness for capturing animals with their tongues out. So this photo obviously has that going for it, but in this case it's a utilitarian tongue! Being put to adorable use. Cats bathing ... I dunno, I find it really cute and relaxing to watch.
10.06.2017. Today's Friday Photo is an anomaly in that it was not taken by me, but is instead a photo *of* me. But it's surely my favorite photo taken of myself. This is at the world-famous Victoria Falls, on the Zambia side. Erik and I took the "Devil's Pool" tour, which is only doable in the low-water season. There is a small pool formed by a natural rock wall at the edge of the falls which you can swim to with a guide from Livingstone Island. You can peer over the edge of this pool and see the entire drop of the falls -- 100 meters (approx 300 feet) -- down to the Zambezi River below. A double rainbow fills the space between you and the river, and the colors in it shimmer in the water spray like the northern lights do in the sky. I can't adequately describe the exhilaration of looking over the edge of the falls to the river below. I am not the sort of person who yells out in times of adrenaline or exhilaration ... I generally let my chest swell in silence. This was a rare occasion in which I was so inspired by the awesome experience as to yell out, "Woo-hoo!" I asked the guide, "Do you ever get tired of this?" And he said, "No! Every time, my heart pounds."
09.01.2017. Today's Friday Photo comes from a few days ago, August 21, when I traveled to Wyoming in order to witness a total solar eclipse from inside the "totality zone." Erik and I drove about 5 hours from our home in Colorado to Esterbrook national forest land near Glendo, WY. Amazingly, arriving in the evening before the eclipse when the forest was already brimming with campers everywhere (there were no designated spots you had to stick to, you could park and pitch anywhere), we managed to find a super lovely spot to park our 4-Runner and camp out (we slept in the back), secluded from other campers so we had some visual privacy, and yet a wide open sky above us. We had a little over two minutes of totality during the eclipse, which is about the quickest two minutes I've ever experienced, there was so much to see and notice and to try to take in and process. It was an experience like no other, and I don't think it's really possible to describe adequately, so I'm not going to try. This is the primary reason I wanted to take the effort to go into the totality zone -- I'd heard many times that witnessing 100% eclipse is entirely different from even as much as 99%. Why? How? I wondered. So now I know ... and it's absolutely true. I highly recommend taking a little effort to go to a totality zone if there is ever one reasonably close to you. This photo was taken during the totality time, when the sun was 100% covered by the moon, just a very slim band of white visible around the moon. During these two minutes, the horizon took on sunset colors. Witnessing it was a pretty sight, and so strange to have descended instantly. But after I got home and downloaded and processed the photo, I realized it was like a rainbow on the horizon -- bands of different colors stacked up on top of one another. Amazing! I just snapped this pic with my little point-and-shoot camera; I didn't bring any fancy cameras or spend more than a few seconds taking photos, with such a limited amount of totality time, I wanted to spent it experiencing it, not documenting it.
08.25.2017. I love the narrow alleyways of European medieval cities. And of the typical features in those cobblestone alleyways, the one I like best is the way bridges are built over the alleys ... sometimes they are open walkways and sometimes they appear to be more like living quarters with windows and doors. This is from Mesta village on Chios Island, Greece. It'd be fun to be able to give my address not as "I live on ABC Street," but as "I live *above* ABC Street!"
08.18.2017. Today's triple-header Friday Photos (since I didn't post last week) are not ones you're going to hang on your wall (nor am I), but they crack me up. The Friday Photo section isn't about posting what I think are "good" pics, but just ones I like that might not be in other articles on the blog. If you follow me on Facebook, you'll likely know at least one thing I love about two of these photos -- the toddler tongues! In the first pic, also just the expressions, especially of the kid on the right who's looking at his pal like, "what on earth are you thinking, looking up like that?" Or some sort of astounded thought in a disapproving way. haha. OK, I'll work on describing that caption better. The following two are rejects as "good" pics for lack of nice focus, but obviously the first one is adorable with the tongue hanging out, and the second one is adorable for such a look of wondrous joy ... clearly tickled at whatever the person in front of her is showing her (I don't remember the details).
08.04.2017. Today you get a TRIPLE photo contribution! Woo-hoo. I've missed a number of Fridays this summer owing mostly to website issues and I will soon miss a bunch more owing to travel. I had occasion to look back through my pics from last year's Botswana trip. I found some that I like but that I consider second-tier photos in terms of technical quality. They weren't included in my feature articles, but I processed some to share here. Might share more next week, as I'm headed back to Botswana in a month and will have a whole new library of pics (and I'm anticipating a huge library). So these are, respectively, ostriches, a steenbok, and a giraffe who managed to nearly completely hide himself in a tree, all taken in Central Kalahari Game Reserve during the rainy "green" season. (see the feature article HERE)
07.21.2017. Today's photo is titled, "Green." I could say more, but I don't really think I need to. It was taken in the old quarter of the beautiful medieval village of Pyrgi on Chios Island, Greece. The defining feature of this village is the black and white etched designs on the exterior of the buildings.
07.14.2017. Can't help but put another little mountain goat from Mt. Evans up for today's photo. As I'm so fond of capturing animals with their tongues out, this was a nice little addition to my collection ... I think the critter is cute and the bi-color tongue is interesting, and I think he has a funny little expression. Hope he amuses you as much as he did me. :)
And just for hoots, I'll throw in a couple extra ... mamma mountain goat tongues! :)
07.07.2017. And Friday Photo is back ... until my next journey. :) Today's adorable creature comes from my 'hood in Colorado, a couple hours' drive away from me at Mt. Evans -- whose summit you can reach on the highest paved road in North America. The road, I'll be honest, is scary as hell, but it's worth the amazing views and the mountain goat and mountain sheep herds. I just visited at a time when the baby mountain goats are still small and super furry, but growing up fast. It's difficult not to reach out and grab one and cuddle it, as they look so cuddly. I'm sure mum wouldn't mind at all .....
06.09.2017. Today I'm posting one from my own neck of the woods. Not far from my house on the way north to Estes Park (near Allenspark). I was driving to Rocky Mountain National Park to check out the opening of Trail Ridge Road. I've driven past this church a hundred times and never stopped to take a photo, though I often pass carloads of tourists stopped along the road taking photos. On this day, the contrast of the snow-streaked mountain with the dark, brooding sky behind the church struck me, and I decided to pull over and grab some shots (since I was going to RMNP, I had my camera with me). So this is St. Catherine of Siena Chapel (also known as the Chapel on the Rock). It's part of Camp St. Malo, where I went as a kid in 6th grade, I remember, to learn about forests and trees and stuff. I'll confess a secret, which is that I have been calling the church St. Malo for decades now, and in writing up this little ditty I decided to Google it for any interesting info and subsequently learned it's actually named St. Catherine of Siena! haha. Mount Meeker is the geologic backdrop.
For its history, I refer you to text from scenicusa.net: "During a quest to find the impact site from a falling star in 1916, Monsignor Joseph Bosetti came across a large rock formation just east of Rocky Mountain National Park. Stirred by the Biblical phrase upon this rock I will build my church, Bosetti soon began to envision a church perched on the rock he had just discovered. As with many dreams, Bosetti's lack of funds delayed construction for nearly 20 years. During this time not only did Bosetti keep his dream alive, but struggled with the Colorado Highway Department to keep his rock intact. Eventually, land for the church and retreat center was donated by Mr. and Mrs. Oscar Malo, and Denver architect Jacques Benedict transposed Bosetti’s dream to paper, and it was completed in 1936."
06.02.2017. There are numerous tiny orthodox churches on the island of Chios, Greece. This is the largest church on the island, in the middle of the medieval town of Pyrgi. I chose it for today's Friday Photo not because it has any technical merit at all -- it's just a straight-forward shot looking straight up a wall -- and not because there is anything particularly interesting about it, but simply to express my love for my wide-angle lens. This is at 10mm. It's just such a fun lens in Europe, being able to fit in so much architecture. The shot's not very crisp because the shutter speed is 1/40 and I don't have the steadiest hand. But I just like how much fit in the shot.
05.19.2017. Today's Friday Photo is from Recoleta Cemetery in Buenos Aires, and I chose it because of the trippy reflections. It takes a little patience to parse what you're seeing (I like when a photo has that quality). It's of doors to a mausoleum, and reflected in the glass behind the metalwork are other mausoleums behind me, I especially like the way the Celtic crosses are sticking up into the blue sky. I'm reflected twice, at the left side of each door.
05.12.2017. A kitty! How many photos of kitties in villages on Chios Island, Greece, do you think I snapped? Well, your guess is as good as mine. We'll round it to: a lot. :) This kitty appeared to be blind. He was super friendly and would come toward the sound of our voice, but if we put our hands in front of his face he didn't react at all, and he had just kind of a blank stare. He sure liked to be petted, though. He was living in an abandoned house in the inner medieval village of Mesta.
03.31.2017. Major throwback here ..... This is a photo from my first trip abroad in which I ever had a digital camera. I don't even know what the resolution is, but something we would find laughably low now. I think it was a Canon S40? Anyway, a pretty early-model point-and-shoot digital camera. Which I thought was so dang cool how you could see the photo yourself on the screen right after you took it! A paperless Polaroid. This to me, not being a very "techie" person, seemed like the realm of sci-fi technology. I don't even know if the fuzzy focus here is due to the operator (me) or simply the low resolution. I think it remains a pretty darling capture of these two little girls regardless of its low technical merit. We were watching the endless Semana Santa parades (for Good Friday) in the streets of Antigua, Guatemala, when I took it.
03.24.2017. From Antarctica, of course. It's a photo that has grown on me. The more I look at it the more I like it, not because the photography is so great but because the ice is neat the way it's wearing away into creases and holes, and I like that the special glacial blue color is so present -- that spectacular form of blue that I've only ever seen in ice and snow. I also like the gray, almost purplish, sky contrasting against the snow. Because of the flat reflection and the dark bits of ice in the foreground which could almost be mistaken for rocks, it kind of looks like this is in shallow water instead of the deep ocean.
03.17.2017. I was thinking what could I post today that is green or Irish or saintly. I've been to Ireland, but that was back before I had a digital camera ... my pics are all on film and would need to be scanned. But wait, that was also before I was into photography -- Erik was the official trip photographer back then. Saints? Never met one that I know of; met some holy people but that's not the same thing. Green? Well sure, tons of green landscape photos, but probably most of my faves are somewhere on this site already. I was actually traveling on St. Patrick's Day one year and saw a hell of a green show in Iceland; if you haven't read about it, check it out here: "Green is the Theme." So in the end, I'm posting another photo from 2017's February trip to Popoyote Lagoon in Ixtapa. A small green heron playing peek-a-boo with me. See his little head poking out from underneath his wing? I'm really quite fond of this photo, to be honest. I didn't realize what I'd captured until I was looking at my pics at home at the full size of my computer monitor. I thought it was just the back of a bird stretching his wing, then, oh wait! A little head!
03.10.2017. What I like about today's photo is the complexity in the passing time represented. Notice on either side of this dilapidated window are shiny marble walls ... so first there is the contrast in the old, weathered facade surrounded by the quality marble. This is a window in the door of a crypt in the middle of a wall of crypts in the middle of a city of crypts, in the Recoleta Cemetery in Buenos Aries, Argentina. So this crypt has obviously been long abandoned, there are no more family members of the deceased therein to tend to its upkeep. There's quite a lot going on, if you notice ... the once-smooth and sculptured facade has mostly crumbled away but the windowsill remains nicely intact. You see the brick and rock construction exposed where the cement facade has fallen away, and some of that is now being consumed by moss. Most of the glass panels in the window are missing, a couple of the empty panels are boarded up (on the right), while a curtain blows aside through the open panel on the left. The rusted ironwork yet with the 4 colored pieces ... I guess those are made of a different metal. The rusted wire wounded around the two window sides to lock them together, presumably after the original lock was no longer adequate. I'm sure it was a lovely little window in its day. And while the decay makes for a visually interesting picture, what it really tells you is that the inhabitants inside are forgotten. I wouldn't say it's sad; it's just the way it is.
02.24.2017. Today's Friday Photo comes from my little Popoyote lagoon in Ixtapa, Mexico. Because it's so small, I sometimes wonder to myself as I'm walking down the beach toward it if I will see anything new or interesting any more. But silly me, of course I do! When I'm on safari in Africa, my favorite photos to capture are ones in which two or more different species are hanging out together in the same shot. This year, I saw this roseate spoonbill bird and an iguana on the ground near one another. (I had never before seen a spoonbill bird on the ground, by the way, only in the trees.) I thought it would be great if they would wander close enough to each other to fit into the same frame. So, I stood there and watched them, waiting, waiting. I happened to be standing on a little wooden platform that is the primary viewing area for passersby, and whole groups of people came and went while I stood, arms leaned on the railing, holding my camera, watching, waiting, watching, waiting. This is why I love going there by myself, because I can indulge in the patience that I have to stand and watch an animal for ages until it does something interesting. If Erik or anyone else had come with me, I would have catered to their boredom and left much sooner. But my patience paid off. It's no award-winning photo, but it's exactly what I wanted ... a spoonbill and iguana in the same shot. Looks like the spoonbill is giving the iguana what-for and the iguana's looking at me like, "do you see what I put up with?"
02.17.2017. Last week I was in warm, sunny Mexico with very slow internet connection, so I didn't post. But now, let's vault back to Antarctica! 'Cause that's what I'm still about these days, haha. I think this trip will glow in my mind and photo selections for longer than the typical trip. Here is a seal. I'm sorry I can't identify which kind. The common types we saw were the crab-eater and weddell seals, so it's surely one of those. We saw a couple leopard seals, too! (but this isn't one) and elephant seals on the beach. It was difficult to catch them swimming in the water because they move quickly and they dive under and then you have no idea where they will resurface. I caught this guy from our zodiac just as he had closed his nostrils to dive back under the water.
02.03.2017. Today's Friday Photo comes from Antarctica ... icicles on an iceberg. I don't think there's really much more to say about it. I like it. :)
01.27.2017. I chose today's Friday Photo from our trip to Tierra del Fuego National Park in Ushuaia, Argentina. The landscape could be very dramatic. I think part of what makes this landscape so dynamic and appealing to me is there is often such a variety of components in any one shot -- rugged, craggy mountain peaks; ocean water that's sometimes calm and reflective, sometimes turbulent and moody; big, wide skies with a continually changing palette of clouds; damp, mossy forests to walk through next to the coast; very interesting rocks along the shore, often covered in very colorful lichens, and their shapes and topography are fascinating.
01.20.2017. A penguin and a camera ... seems appropriate for a Friday Photo. This gentoo penguin was so funny to watch ... the camera isn't mine, somebody else had set it there on that little tripod and presumably set it to record and then walked off to watch other penguins elsewhere. The penguin spent a long time eyeing the camera. At first, he seemed suspicious of it. Then he became rather enamored with it. He walked back and forth in front of it, looking at it from all angles, sometimes just standing and staring intently at it. He started to walk away a couple times, then turned around and came back to gaze at the object of his crush. Somebody is going to have some pretty cute footage on their camera.
01.13.2017. I chose today's photo for its iconic depiction of what it's like to travel by ship along the Antarctic Peninsula -- I took this from the deck just outside our cabin window. To me, this is the stuff of dreams ... those dreams that take place in fantastical settings and when you wake up you wonder how on earth your brain conjured that landscape. From what I gather talking to other sleepers, my dreams do actually seem to be rather more rich and elaborate and complicated than the average person's. I don't know if it's because I see a lot of the world and that influences the richness of my dreams, or if my dreams influence me to go out and find landscapes in the "real" world to rival my dreamscapes. haha. In any case, this ... this Antarctica world is the most sublime and perpetually surprising landscape I've been in. And it changes from second to second ... as you pass an iceberg, each angle, each perspective looks different. It's not like you can look out your window once and see this and say, "Oh, I've seen those icebergs now." No! It's akin to watching clouds -- the only difference is the clouds pass by you and in the ocean you're passing by the icebergs. (Although, to be sure, icebergs clip right along at their own speed, like little ice ships in the ocean.) The other component of this photo that was typical to our time there is the sky -- the low, thick bank of clouds and the clear sky above. This was very typical lighting.
01.06.2017. This was taken while riding in a zodiac (motorized rubber raft) in Wilhelmina Bay in the Antarctic Peninsula. It may not be the greatest photo in the world, but I imagine it's obvious why I like it ... on account of the lovely display of icicles. Perhaps it's worth noting this pic was taken a week before summer solstice. (Antarctica's summer ... which is in December.) Rather different than what summer solstice looks like in my yard. :)
12.30.2016. The last Friday Photo for 2016. I'm posting one from a cemetery, but it's not a metaphor for the death of another year, haha. I just love taking pictures of locks and doors. This is from the Recoleta Cemetery in Buenos Aires, Argentina. I'll surely share a lot of pics from there eventually, as it was a fascinating place and unlike anywhere else I've ever been. The caskets are all contained in family crypts which are like little houses on a street. They have doors and windows and keyholes and locks just like a house does. A lot of the keyholes on the doors have dried flowers stuck into them, as in this photo. I think it's picturesque.
12.23.2016. There was a big gap in the Friday Photos because I was off adventuring in Argentina and Antarctica over the last month. Just started looking through my pics last night. This one stood out to me as a fun one. There is something especially amusing about penguins in pairs. Took this photo, appropriately, on Penguin Island in the South Shetland Islands, which are generally covered in penguin rookeries. We saw a few types of penguins while in the area, but these guys, the chinstraps, were my favorite because they look so happy. That black "chinstrap" kind of looks like a drawn-on smiley face. Especially when they're walking toward me with their arms out in that adorable penguin posture, they look so jolly and happy on their way to somewhere in their busy little lives.
11.18.2016. I like this photo, which may seem unremarkable and mundane to everyone else, because of the emotional landscape that it illustrates to me: lonesomeness. Which is different from loneliness. The lone orxy (aka gemsbok) at the edge of a vast salt pan in northern Namibia (Etosha National Park). I just envision him trekking alone across the expanse. I guess the flat and monotonous terrain of the salt pan gives it the lonesomeness ... a lone critter in a dense forest or jungle, or alone on a mountainside with topography, somehow does not portray the same emotional landscape to me. Don't really know if I can explain why. But here is to me a portrait of the epic kind of lonesomeness. And any photo that speaks to me on an emotional level beyond the visual, is one I tend to like.
11.11.2016. This is the Loretto Chapel in the old heart of Santa Fe. It's a small and simple chapel, typical of most older ones in the region ... I personally haven't seen them, just photos. We went to a history museum in Santa Fe and saw the simplicity of some. (p.s. traveling hint ... if you go to Santa Fe, the museums in the old square are free entrance after 6:00 pm on Friday nights in the off season, and one Friday per month in the tourist season.) Anyway, here a couple photos from inside. There is a swirl of miracle and mythology surrounding the spiral staircase. You can read more about that here if you're interested on the chapel's website.
11.4.2016. Erik and I spent last weekend in Santa Fe, an area I'd never been to before, and a friend recommended checking out the Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument on our way to visit them in Albuquerque, as it's between these two cities. And it was a marvelous recommendation, indeed. It's a small area but full of wonderful and wondrous geology, a slot canyon, and expansive views from the mesa top. You can hike the two loops in a few hours. I'll surely post more pics from it in subsequent Friday Photos. :) This is a terribly interesting, kind of crazy tree in the canyon shortly before it narrows. It seems pointedly alive, almost alien-esque, reaching out with its roots, crawling toward you. And it managed to grow so perfectly straight, like heaven is pulling it up with a string.
Me sitting in a hollow in it roots on the other side of it.
10.21.2016. Well here's one to contrast the photo from 9.30.2016 ..... I love cemeteries of all sizes, of all types of grandeur and humility. I liked the large cemetery in San Juan (9.30.2016) being next to the ocean. This tiny cemetery is next to the ocean, as well, in Iceland. This was on the Snaefellsnes Peninsula. I love its barrenness, it's placement between tall snowcapped mountains and the enormous blue sea, the humble crosses and stones. Very different from the tightly packed graves in San Juan of marble with elaborate statues on top and mausoleums. Although it took up far more space on my camera card to photograph, between that one and this one, I personally would far, far prefer to be set in the ground in this wide open space.
10.14.2016. This is one of the benefits of a personal blog -- being able to publish photos not acceptable to social media. I think these woman are stunningly beautiful. Their silky skin, their radiant smiles, a moment of genuine personality shining through. These are some San women who are part of a "living museum" in Namibia. Most of the time you photograph them they are relatively demure and quiet, demonstrating their culture's ancient knowledge and skills. Very friendly the whole time, but mostly they are "on the job," so to speak. But here they busted loose for casual photos to smile and be themselves. I really like this photo. You can read more about these people and their living museum in my post, "Ancient People in an Ancient Land."
10.7.2016. I'm going with "adorable." Kiddo in Okahandja, Namibia. Eager to be friendly at a distance; shy when you get closer. This is cropped in to reflect the "friendly" distance. :) Took this at the artisan market where we met and interviewed Chief Petrus for The African Witchfinder.
9.30.2016. Cemetery on the ocean shore next to an old fort at the portal to the New World ... Old San Juan in Puerto Rico. Cementerio Santa Maria Magdalena de Pazzis. I love cemeteries. This one is lovely for so many reasons. But I feel wistful looking at it knowing that some day all those people who are interred in the earth will surely be washed out into that beautiful blue ocean. It gives me a sense of sadness and freedom at the same time. This is a good pic to look at large! (click right on it and open in a new tab)
9.23.2016. Lake Dillon in Summit County, Colorado, is a large high-altitude reservoir, man-made to supply the capital city, Denver, with water. Below lie the ghosts of old mining towns and ranches. Though, hopefully they came up to the surface to haunt the islands in the lake rather than continue to live drenched beneath its surface, with only fish to haunt. It makes for a beautiful morning kayak in the crisp autumn air. We went with a guide through Kayak Lake Dillon, putting in the water at the Frisco marina. I like this photo because it captures my own motion in the scene with the tip of the kayak heading into the lake, and of course I always like a photo with reflections in glassy water.
9.16.2016. It's common to catch your own reflection in the eye of an animal you're photographing, but usually you're just a small dot in the middle of their eye; if you've taken the pic from a vehicle, then mostly you just see the vehicle in their eye or the landscape behind you. But this one kind of amuses me because there I am positively looming in the front corner of the rabbit's eye -- the big white blob. Typically, one is taking photos of animals from far away with a zoom lens, but on this day I was using a wide-angle lens, with 22mm being the "zoomiest" setting, so I was literally very close to him while he stayed admirably still. You can make out the scenery behind me in the rabbit's eye, as well -- the land and the sky, but the second photo shows you a better view of the landscape I was in -- a magical little geological gem in eastern Colorado, the Painted Mines Interpretive Park. (which is why I was using a wide angle lens!)
9.2.2016. Today's photo comes from near my house, actually, about 1.5 hours to drive here on a 4x4 route, which I've written about before, Kingston Pass. We try to do the route at least once a year. Yesterday we finally got out for this summer's trip, which at that high altitude, it looks more like autumn already, with the gold and red tundra grasses. It's a very pretty drive if you can get there with a proper 4x4 vehicle, or these days if we run into anyone else on the road they're often on ATVs. I included also a photo of our beloved 4Runner (named Chewbacca) who takes us on all the fun 4x4 adventures in our home state.
8.26.2016. I chose today's Friday Photo for the personal experience that came with obtaining it. Very few photos from this scene came out at all, but I think this one is OK and portrays somewhat the idyllic, magical feeling that in real life defined this experience. This was in Bwabwata National Park in northeast Namibia, with the film crew for The African Witchfinder. Berrie had obtained a permit for the guys to film inside the park. There was just one sandy track to drive down, technically only for 4WD vehicles, but Berrie handled the Berrie Bus (our minivan) like a pro. Unfortunately the bushes and trees were so dense lining the tracks, that hopes of seeing any wildlife seemed pretty slim unless it jumped right into our path; we just couldn't see beyond the woodland growth next to the road. We stopped after awhile and discussed whether to keep driving on this track, not knowing how far it went, or to turn around and go back to try to get more interview footage. We decided the latter, but then Berrie said, "Well let's just drive forward to that spot up there to turn around." We drove forward for one handful of seconds and suddenly there below us briefly opened up a view into a grassland valley with a little lake, tall grass and about 30 elephants. This was the largest herd of elephants I'd ever seen in my life. I haven't been to East Africa where the big herds typically are. I can't even tell you how magical it was, and we were all beside ourselves. But that open view was only a few feet wide, just a hole in the dense wall of bushes. A secret window to Eden. We decided to get out of the van and climb a dirt mound in hopes of getting a better view. Yeah yeah, some of you will be scolding us. I accept your scolding but don't regret the decision! The elephants were way far away in the valley, it was our only hope. So up we went, but it was still difficult to see over the bushes, it wasn't a terribly high mound. But at least we could glimpse them. Mally asked if I wanted to climb on his shoulders to see better. I completely thought he was kidding, and I kidded back, "Sure, that'd be awesome." Next thing I knew, he'd bent down and grabbed my ankles and was hoisting me up on his shoulders! So I could try to get some pictures. Poor guy must have been miserable holding me up there, but it was indeed awesome. I wish I had more to show for it, but here's something, anyway.
8.19.2016. Today's Friday Photo I chose for a few reasons. It's from China, which by now, is a trip quite far in the past, but still one of the most adventurous and influential trips when Erik and I traveled for nearly a month on our own. And there are lots of pics I like from it. :-) But I chose this one because I look at a lot of photos on Facebook these days from either individuals' travel posts on their timeline or photo page, or in travel photography groups, and I get a little bothered when the photographer, or their fans in the comments, make rosy assumptions about the subject, stated with the confidence of an actual fact, with virtually nothing to base it on. Especially with portraits of people the photographer has met for all of two minutes who know they're being photographed. It's the judging-a-book-by-its-cover thing, but in reverse of the typical judgment. But I'll rail more on that later, I'm sure. This is an example of a place looking so idyllic, so tranquil, and I bet nearly everyone looking at it is going to think they wouldn't mind being there in that scene. But if you were actually there, you would be trying to leave as quickly as possible, as Erik and I did. I stopped to take this photo because it is an undeniably pretty shot, but you cannot infer the entire situation from it. Erik and I had rented bicycles for a day from Yangshuo to explore the area; this village we rode through is called Fuli. Can you guess why we wanted to leave so quickly?
The thing the photo does not tell you is that the water there was putrid-smelling. It smelled like a sewage pond. I only hope to god that's not where the woman filled the buckets of water she's carrying on her shoulder pole. I don't know the source of the odor, but we pedaled past it as fast as we could. Visually lovely, olfactorily horrendous.
8.12.2016. From the Nxai Pan in Botswana. This Friday happens to be World Elephant Day, so I'm posting one of my favorite elephant photos. I made this the wallpaper on my computer, actually. Often I explain what I like about a photo I choose for Friday Photo. But as with last week's, to me this is completely self-explanatory ... beautiful elephant walking toward me with a colorful background (so many of my other elephant pics have brown or gray landscape owing to the wintertime season in which I'm visiting them).
8.5.2016. Taken in Kaokoland, Namibia, near Epupa Falls. Darling daughter of one of Ndjinaa's caretakers. (read Ndjinaa's story here) What more is there to say? You're welcome for the smile she has just put on your face.
7.29.2016. In the absence of having learned the name of the place featured in last week's Friday Photo, this week's, from the same place, is titled "Door to an Unknown Church." haha. I don't know the name of the church or even of the town it's in. Just that it's near the Rhine River outside Frankfurt, Germany. I'm afraid you can't always consider my travel blog a font of knowledge. :-) Sometimes I just travel. But I think that's OK ... not everything has be catalogued with labels and words, sometimes just images are fine. I think it's a sweet door for a church.
7.22.2016. Today's Friday Photo is really just evidence that I spent an afternoon along the Rhine River outside Frankfurt, Germany. The evidence is lacking some crucial accompanying information, like what this place is called. I had a 9-hour layover in Frankfurt in February, so I hired a private guide through Tours By Locals for the afternoon. He picked me up at the airport and we were to have a day of driving along the Rhine, visiting some historical sites and wine tasting. It ended up raining most of the day and became very gloomy. One of the main stops on our itinerary the parking lots were full and we had to park a good 1/4 mile away from the buildings and it was pouring rain, so we decided not to stop. At the wineries we stopped at, we took too much time tasting the wines and missed the last tour at the castle that was supposed to be the highlight of the trip. So in the end, this sweet little abbey complex was pretty much the only historical site we visited. Otherwise we just drank a lot of wine (particularly me) and talked a lot ... my guide was a very compatible conversationalist. I didn't write down the name of this place and it didn't get committed to memory. So ... somewhere near the Rhine River outside of Frankfurt, Germany, lies this.
7.15.2016. As much as I am passionate about traveling abroad into the big, wide world, I'm very fortunate to live where I do in Colorado. My new favorite place to get away to for "mini-vacations" is about a two-and-a-half hour drive from my house (sans traffic), in Buena Vista. There are many beautiful spots in this area that you can hike or drive or 4x4, plus white-water rafting, fishing, camping, hot springs. As Erik and I are partial to 4-wheeling, this last trip we took there we checked out some jeep trails that were both beautiful and challenging. Here's a shot from inside our much beloved 4-Runner. I feel like I should make a post about Buena Vista someday soon. If you want to visit and need a house to rent or a company to white-water raft with, send me a message!
7.1.2016. What I like about this picture is the anachronism of princess Kaviruru in her elegant traditional clothing, jewelry and exotic hairstyle walking across the kraal carrying a spoon. She is the quintessential illustration of the Himba culture, daughter of the chief of the Himba in Namibia, and a beautiful young lady ... holding with such an air of reverence a very mundane representation of modern "civilization." You'd almost think she was participating in a solemn ceremony, presenting a sacred spoon. I'm sure in reality she's simply unenthused about transporting this utensil across the kraal. Click on the pic and view larger to better appreciate the detail in her clothing.
6.24.2016. Young male lion in Etosha National Park, Namibia. My second visit to Etosha, but it was on a whim, altering our schedule of filming The African Witchfinder to finish a day early in the northern Kavango in order to swing through Etosha and grab some footage of some more Namibian landscape and hopefully wildlife. The film crew, Mally and Toby, had never been on an African safari before. It was the middle of the off-season and wildlife is typically scarce along the tourist roads and water holes, as it's the wet season and the animals can find plenty of water elsewhere in the vast reserves of the park. We went out on an early morning game drive and had the incredible fortune of spotting a group of four young male lions. Because (owing to the off-season) we were pretty much the only people on a game drive in that area of the park, the driver decided to treat us and he left the sanctioned road to drive up closer to them. (it was still a road of sorts, just normally closed to vehicle traffic) He said, "Take your pictures quickly, then we go back." We could practically reach out and pet them as the lions lounged in the golden dawn light. It was really a special experience.
6.3.2016. This little kid in the Himba village I visited twice near Epupa Falls cracks me up in this pose. To me, he looks like a budding orator, about to launch into a finely-crafted and impassioned speech, or standing at the edge of the stage delivering a Shakespearean soliloquy.
5.27.2016. One of my favorite shots from my two trips to Dang Jia Shan village in northern China. The trip that opened my eyes to the world more than any other. This is Pan-Pan. She's all grown up now, but this was the first year I met her. While her sisters and cousins were all clamoring to leave the village for city life, Pan-Pan said she actually preferred life in the village, cutting hay and napping in the fields with the sheep. She wrote me a few letters because I paid her schooling fees for a couple years, and in one she told me how she fell asleep until after dark, when she woke up the stars were shining down on her. So she got up and walked home. What glorious freedom the peasant children do have ... can you imagine if a 12-year old girl was out past dark unaccounted for at home here in America, there'd be a nationwide alert and the poor girl would probably be grounded for a year after she got home. Pan-Pan had no desire to give that up and move instead to boarding school in the nearest township. I empathize completely with her but still felt she should have an education, then she could do what she liked. I paid two years of schooling for her and would have continued until her graduation, but she dropped out of school after those two years and moved back to her village to help her parents with the farm work. For many reasons, I really treasure this photo.
5.20.2016. Wildebeest. I've tried to get decent pics of wildebeest for years and it's just very difficult because their faces are so dark. Had some limited success in Namibia in 2014 but the background around the wildebeest was very dull ... mostly just brown dirt. I like this photo because you can see its face pretty well and it has a much more pleasant background with lush green grass and springbok joining in the feast. Believe it or not, this was in the Kalahari desert. During the rainy season.
5.13.2016. Seagull Squadron 1. I just like how the two birds are flying in formation with such intent looks on their faces. Ixtapa, Mexico.
5.06.2016. This is one of my favorite moments I managed to capture during my second trip to Namibia. Berrie had taken on a young man in a stick fight -- that episode in itself will warrant a multi-photo presentation sometime -- to the great amusement of the kids who were hanging around at that time (and to our crew as well!). After they ended it and laid down their sticks, this boy picked up the one his Himba cousin had been using and started wielding it like a Ninja, fighting an imaginary enemy. In this shot, he jumped off the ground with it between his legs. To me, it looks like he's playing Harry Potter riding around on a broomstick in that game they play (quidditch or something). And the look on his face is just manic. I barely got him in my camera sights in time to catch it. It's not the most crisp photo, but I think I got a really fun moment. Fun to me, anyway.
4.29.2016. Africa is so full of very large and exotic and fantastical animals that the small and common ones get overlooked photographically. My guide in Botswana had been saying to me for a couple days in the Central Kalahari Reserve that she was surprised we hadn't seen any ground squirrels and she really wanted me to see some. I thought, "a squirrel? so what." I have boatloads of squirrels in my own yard I could take pictures of anytime. (though they are quick and nervous little critters who can be difficult to capture!) But I should know by now that I always end up eating such thoughts and feeling like a clod for thinking them. For one thing, all creatures are interesting and often cute in their own way. But beyond that, these guys, South African ground squirrels, were not at all like the ones I have at home. They remind me more of meerkats. One afternoon we watched a few of them gathering materials and squabbling and playing out a whole little drama on the ground below us. I thought it was so cute the way they stand on their hind legs like the meerkats.
4.22.2016. While I do not care for spiders themselves, I do admire their webs. Saw this one sparkling in a ray of sunlight in the dense El Yunque rain forest on Puerto Rico. If I were another spider wanting to buy that spider's pad, I wonder if it would be considered a fixer-upper because there are a few large-ish holes in it, or if it would be pretty prime real estate because overall it's got a lot of square centimeterage and looks to be sturdily built. I dunno, maybe the holes are artistically purposeful. I just don't really know how these things work in the arachnid world. But rays of sunlight are spare in the rain forest, and to find such a well-built spherical web sparkling right in the middle of one was a little moment of delight. Go ahead and open the pic in a new tab to see it at larger size. :)
4.8.2016. I'm sure this one will make it into a post about Botswana someday, but it could be awhile before I get one up. So I'm sharing this one early as it just makes me so happy. There was a pride of 13 lions sprawled out near the road in the Nxai Pan -- three of the lions were actually even lying right in the middle of it. We could presume they had probably eaten earlier that morning because now they were mostly sleeping and not much inclined to move. But this one young lion went around to every other lion and nudged their head with his, and pawed at them a little, trying to get them to play. A couple lions complied with the paw and rolled around with him. The affection and sociability between the lions in a pride was so sweetly illuminated through this young one's behavior. When I look at this photo now, it just almost makes me cry to think how fortunate I've been to witness such encounters in the wild. Lots of people have seen way more animals than I have, or probably ever will, on safari. But even just one encounter like this is enough to strike an incomparable joy right into the middle of your heart.
4.1.2016. Full length shot of a photo I posted on Facebook while "in the field" in Namibia. There I cropped the photo up so as not to get in trouble with Facebook's nudity rules. But I wanted in fact to share the photo of her in full. Recently married since I photographed her two years ago, she now has an elaborate headdress piece to signify her marital status. I just think she looks so lovely, sitting in the shade of a tree ... and that head piece is something else!
3.25.2016. Having just returned from safari in Botswana, I haven't looked through all of my photos yet, but I think this is the one I will be the most excited about, because I have been wanting a capture specifically of oxpeckers on a giraffe's neck and face. I've seen other photos that I've rather coveted depicting this, and I always thought how swell it would be to get one of my own. This was the third animal I saw my first day on safari, so it was early on and using a new lens.
2.19.2016. Another pelican for you ... as I mentioned last week, I am newly smitten with them, this colorful variety in particular. It will probably be awhile before I'm able to post here again, as I'll be traveling. But I'll be excited to post an article about all the birds I saw in Mexico last week, though it won't be until sometime later this year.
2.12.2016. I just snapped this pic the other day in Mexico. I was fascinated with these pelicans ... being a landlocked girl, I haven't spent tons of time getting to know ocean birds. I was very surprised at how colorful they were and how much personality they managed to convey. This guy was too close to my boat for me to fit all of him in the frame, which surely would have made a better photograph, but I still like the sense of motion that comes across and the bird almost seems just a little surprised to find himself in the air.
1.29.2016. Today's photo I chose from pictures I took a fair number of years ago while visiting Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada. The town of Chemainus is a seaside community that is renowned for its Mural Project. You can read details about it HERE if you like, but in a nutshell, it was a revitalization project for the town as it teetered on the brink of survival during a recession. Now Chemainus is a tourist destination to see its huge murals painted on the exterior walls of many of the buildings. They're really quite spectacular. I guess what I like so well about this photo is that the mural's reflection in the water seems kind of mystical because the actual painted mural on the wall is barely visible ... the sun was shining on the wall and the slow shutter speed required to capture the bronze sculpture in the shadow overexposed the mural and completely washed it out. However, it was perfectly exposed for the reflection in the shadow. I really liked the sculpture of the boy with the lantern and wanted to capture it with the mural. That was a bust, but the reflection in the water saved the photo and actually makes it ones of my favorites. (I posted another of my favorites in 2013 ... scroll down to 11.01.)
1.15.2016. A door I came across in a cobblestone alley in Cadaques, Spain. Maybe you know by now I have a fondness for doors! Here I like the color; I like the stone frame; I like the tiny rusted keyholes (there are two) and rusted door knocker. Alleys, especially in Europe it seems, are often an excellent treasure trove of interesting doors.
1.08.2016. Ummm 2016?? I can't believe I just typed that! I didn't have a particular photo jump out at me from my archives today to post, but I took some fun ones just in my own backyard this morning. So I traveled about 15 feet to walk across my balcony to catch this guy on a still and quiet snowy morning ... a great horned owl. He's a pretty cool critter. I woke him up, so he's a bit sleepy and grumpy.