December 3, 2016
Termites have a symbiotic relationship with fungus: They cultivate the fungus underground and in their mounds for food, and the fungus (Termitomyces microcarpus) feeds off of their feces. The fungus doesn’t need any light to grow, and the warmth and moisture underground are ideal for growing.
But during certain times of the year, like at the start of the wet season when the temperatures are more moderate and the rains provide the needed moisture, the same ideal growing conditions exist outside of the termite mound—so instant mushroom gardens!
Canon 5D Mark III, EF24-105 f4 lens at 105mm, exposure of 1/160 at f8, ISO 100, handheld
October 30, 2016
Like all Alaskans, Red Squirrels need to prepare for winter. Because of a very rainy summer, White Spruce cones, the mainstay diet of squirrels, were plentiful and the squirrels have been very busy caching the cones all through their individual territories. The process involves climbing to the top of the trees, knocking the cones to the ground, then gathering the cones in places where they can find and dig them up from under the snow.
For the newborns, the knowledge involved with how, where and when must be genetic, for I doubt they learned it from the mother before she kicked them out of her territory.
iPhone 5S, 4.2mm lens, exposure of 1/120 sec at f2.2, ISO 64
September 25, 2016
When tourists drive this narrow and twisty highway through the park, there is no doubt in their minds that the road was built in the 1930s. But what they might not realize is that most of the bridges they are driving over (but can’t really see) are of a quality not seen in modern bridges--sturdily built of interlocking natural stone, rather than the steel and concrete of today.
Only when a visitor stops, as in my case, to explore the washes for photographs, do you see the craftsmanship from an era long gone.
Canon 5D Mark III, EF24-105 f4 lens at 32mm, exposure of 1/40 sec at f8, ISO 125, Arca Swiss B-1 ballhead on Feisol CT3301 tripod.
August 26, 2016
Other than whales, walruses are the largest mammals found in the Svalbard Archipelago. They are usually found in shallow waters, since their diet consists mainly of mollusks (clams, et al) dredged up with the aid of their tusks. The ivory tusks (actually elongated canine teeth found in both sexes) are also used to break through the ice in the winter for breathing holes, as well as for fighting.
For a mini Trip Report of my visit to Svalbard, click HERE..
Canon 7D Mark II, EF100-400mm f4.5-5.6L IS II lens at 400mm, exposure of 1/800 at f8, ISO 1000, handheld.
August 1, 2016
On a windswept hillside in Northern Svalbard, rotting boards draw your attention. Upon closer examination, you see that it is actually a crudely built wooden box. Peering inside, you see a skull, and realize that this is a casket. Your guide then explains that this person died in the 1600s at this Russian whaling station, that freeze/thaw movements over the years have pushed the casket to the surface, and from the size of the skull, this was probably an orphaned teenager impressed into forced labor in an inhospitable place.
Canon 5DS R, EF 24-105 f4 lens at 65mm, exposure of 1/160 at f8, ISO 100, handheld.
July 13, 2016
The beaches of the Svalbard Archipelago are littered with trash from all around the world--mainly plastic pollution, which takes centuries to disintegrate. I found it difficult to photograph on the beaches without some obnoxious red or green or blue plastic intruding into the image.This young Polar Bear--its peaceful proximity to an adult female suggesting that it's in the separation process from it's mother--appeared bored as it investigated every plastic item along the beach, either chewing on it or batting it around. Our expedition group rightfully named him "Plastic Bear".
Canon 7D Mark II, EF100-400mm f4.5-5.6L IS II lens at 360mm, exposure of 1/1328 at f5.6, ISO 250, handheld.
May 30, 2016
March in Zion National Park is an interesting time for photography--the deciduous trees haven’t started to leaf yet, so the "bones" of the trees are revealed and many rock formations are now more visible. But probably more important is the (relative) lack of tourists.
Early one morning on the tourist-free Emerald Pools trail I was able to fully photograph shallow water flowing over colorful sandstone, with the reflections of the blue sky and the morning sun on nearby sandstone walls adding to the mossy greens for a muted natural palette.
Canon 5D Mark III, EF24-105 f4 lens at 105mm, exposure of 1/30 sec at f16, ISO 1600, Arca Swiss B-1 ballhead on Feisol CT3301 tripod.
April 27, 2016
For the over 2 million animals that make the annual Great Wildebeest Migration (actually a misnomer, since hundreds of thousands of zebras, gazelles and elands join them), danger is around every corner. An estimated 250,000 wildebeest lose their life during the 1000 mile round trip, many of them at river crossing; there, Nile Crocodiles have been fasting for many months, waiting for the migration to return.
The fear of crossing the rivers is so ingrained in their collective memory that they sprint across the rivers, not realizing that they do not need to run across the crocodile-less Lake Ndutu.
Canon 7D Mark II, EF100-400mm f4.5-5.6L IS II lens at 214mm, exposure of 1/500 at f8, ISO 160, handheld.
March 20, 2016
This winter's rains in California have produced a rare "super bloom" of flowers in Death Valley National Park, the best since the last great one in 2005. After regional and nationwide media publicity that drew (and continues to) many thousands of extra visitors to the park, the roads and any roadside parking were filled with cars (and people walking among and photographing the flowers).
Canon 5D Mark III, EF100-400mm f4.5-5.6L IS II lens at 371mm, exposure of 1/400 at f8, ISO 125, handheld.
March 17, 2016
I eradicate people, and their tracks, without any regret (using Photoshop, of course!). The "super bloom" of desert flowers caused by rains in California brought many visitors to Death Valley this spring; unfortunately, many of these visitors spilled over to the Mesquite Flat sand dunes, making photography there quite difficult if you were looking for pristine dunes.
Maybe with other shots with less people and less tracks some Photoshop eradication of people from an image may be feasible, but this one will remain just a people shot...
Canon 5D Mark III, EF100-400mm f4.5-5.6L IS II lens at 321mm, exposure of 1/250 at f8, ISO 100, handheld.
January 24, 2016
At first sight I wondered why an ostrich would be sitting in the middle of the road, in the bright sun of a fairly hot day, and not looking like he was planning to move for our vehicle. Then Fadhil, my safari guide, explained that the ostrich was using the hot sand to kill any bird lice that he might have. In other words, baking them! Brilliant!
After taking several images, we dutifully drove around him, giving him wide berth, so that he wouldn’t be disturbed from this important task.
Canon 7D Mark II, EF100-400mm f4.5-5.6L IS II lens at 400mm, exposure of 1/500 at f8, ISO 200, handheld.
December 28, 2015
Another disgusting sight from my October 2015 photo safari on the Serengeti—if you look closely, the Marabou Storks and vultures are feeding on hundreds of wildebeest carcasses that are clogging Crossing #0 on the Mara River. Three weeks earlier, 14 safari vehicles interfered with a crossing, resulting in the deaths of over 300 wildebeest as they struggled in the resulting stampede.
One disturbing part (besides the carnage and horrendous smell) was that the drivers were professional guides who should have known better; I haven’t heard any follow up if they were held accountable.
Canon 7D Mark II, EF100-400mm f4.5-5.6L IS II lens at 120mm, exposure of 1/200 at f8, ISO 400, handheld.