Word and Image

Animal

San Diego Zoo

_DSC7227It’s world famous! Until I had been to Africa, this was pretty good. Now that I’ve had a completely different experience in the wild, this zoo is and interesting series of images in retrospect. If you isolate the animal and the background, you might convince yourself you are in the African veldt._DSC7315 It’s like going to the aquarium. You can get a shot but you know it was from behind the glass in a tank._DSC7171


Greased Pig

_DSC6160It’s another event I came across at one of the Maine County Fairs. Throw a series of pigs into a pen and let kids try to catch one. Each kid gets a bag and the mission is to put a piglet into the bag. It’s pretty chaotic. Everybody wins. There are enough piglets, one for each kid. Cute? This is a lot of piglets all crowded around to feed from mama. They make their money/profit on the lottery to pick which kids get into the pen. I’ve heard of greased pig contests ….


Bullriding

_DSC6592http://rodeo.about.com/od/bullridingfaq/f/bullbucking.htm

Nothing is done to intentionally hurt the bucking stock.
This includes binding of testicles (a popular lie spread by certain groups against rodeo), drugging, beating, burning, etc.

It’s written in “bold” on the website. Where did I see this? In Maine in the autumn of 2007 at a county fair… It was a serious competition for points. It was not a mega event. It occurred on a very chilly evening in the dark, a highlight of the evening’s activity.

I arrived early to ‘scope out the venue and pick the best place from which to get photographs. I brought a flash expecting to need the extra light. I was really to far away to be in an ideal position. At the earlier hour of sunset the bulls were peacefully standing in the coral, perfectly docile and crowded together. To look at the bulls you would never consider them to be a ton of angry bucking muscle.

_DSC6594If you look closely there are two ropes. The first is for the rider to hold dearly hoping to make 8 seconds and get a score for a ride. The rope wrapped around the bull behind the rider is (not?) attached to the testicles (remember it’s bulls not cows). Whatever the rope does it certainly gets the bull’s attention. Riders are thrown and they are injured. This means an ambulance is on standby. Some of the riders now wear flak vests and crash helmets. It’s not too western looking but it’s a bit more protective. Stomping usually doesn’t involve head injury, mostly broken bones. I make this assumption because, by my estimation, access to a competent neurosurgeon is not high on the priority list. But please keep in mind no animals were hurt in the making of these images.

 


Camel Ride

1805 30 Julia DavidTo my kids: I bet you don’t remember this.

We didn’t go to the Bronx Zoo too often. But once upon a time we went and the kids took a camel ride. If you think about it (as I am right now), it’s kind of silly. Collectively, J, David and myself don’t remember this at all (I bet – see above). Otherwise somebody should have spoken up when they were here in December. I got the picture; they don’t remember. Who’s old now?


The Trip To Nowhere

IMG_3095David read about a place called Al Wahbah. There’s a crater of uncertain origin that is said to be a great place to visit. It is in the geographical middle of nowhere._DSC4903

I mean we drove until my calculated ‘drop dead’ time. J was leaving and we had to return in time for her to be at the airport. No crater!! The roads have no signs, signs in Arabic, and no one seems to have heard of Al Wahbah. No amount of stopping for directions helped.

Directions, me, never. But the kids have no qualm about asking. My motto, “As long as you never put the car in reverse, you are never lost.” Well, you make do with what is at hand…. We found a sand dune!? (one not too large one)_DSC4484

There was another side benefit; we had a camel experience. The last time J was here we saw a camel from a distance but never up close. This time we were face to face, nose to nose. Yeah! It was an alternative happy ending. And did I say that we more or less drove right up to the camels._DSC4989

 


Nudibranch

IMG_2624Now that I recognize the anatomy, I can say that it’s a nudibranch. I would otherwise I would have called it a snail. It was slowly moving along the bottom all stretched out and vulnerable. It’s soft bodied and seemingly unprotected. I have to credit Farid on seeing it. He is the best finder. I’m always missing things. And to think he wears glasses but doesn’t wear them when we dive. I have to ask him next time, whether he is wearing prescription lens on his mask. I found out that they make them but I don’t actually know if he uses a pair. He sure does find some great things.IMG_2625


Nudibranch

IMG_3792 aThere are thousands of different ones. We were down at about 90 feet. At this depth, color is almost monotone. It’s funny because my eye still sees color or at least I imagine color. When I get home and post process, it is amazing how much color is missing. Here’s where it is imperative to use flash. The problem is that my mind thinks faster than I can change settings. Flash requires changing back to daylight white balance setting. Well this critter doesn’t move quickly so I had a chance to get some shots. There is a strong tendency to overexpose. All too often the exposure is not quite right so I am thankful that digital gives me the opportunity to shoot more than one image.IMG_3793 a


Another Mystery

 

IMG_2517 bI don’t know if this is plant or animal. It is attached to the coral. I have not seen this until now and on this particular night dive we saw several. I can’t find an example in any catalog yet. I got a few pictures. The first were partial images. The larger picture was fortuitous. I had just shot a fish image and noticed the subject in my LCD. So I backtracked and shot several more to come up with something sharp. They look a bit dangerous. The rule is not to touch anything, that might sting or bite. Good rule.

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Plant or Animal

IMG_2141 aThere are some pretty amazing things you find. So far there are some things I have been unable to identify. I keep trying and eventually I may be enlightened. This is a shy plant(?) which is seen sticking out of the coral. It retracts and is completely hidden whenever there is a threat. You have to swim up slowly in order to get a shot.

IMG_2469 aAs an aside the Red Sea is so named because of the red coral. It doesn’t seem so red because underwater the first color that is lost as you go deep is the color red. But at night with a flash and restoration of the natural colors, I cannot understand the naming of the Red Sea.

IMG_2503This other object is or maybe a nudibranch or not. It is something I’ve only seen at night and it is certainly hidden under the coral. But I’ve looked during the day and you don’t see this. It’s tiny, pretty, and so delicate looking.IMG_2504


Four in One Day

_DSC2522 copyI’ve been on a dive binge. It’s my chief hobby right now. For those of you in colder climes in the Northern Hemisphere, I have almost forgotten that it’s halfway to Christmas. The weather is colder and the frost is on the pumpkin. I lived in Maine for a time. All the while I was hoping to shoot a moose. I gave a medical talk and mentioned that I had finally shot a moose and one son of a gun actually asked me how it was to shoot it (with a gun). That got me to thinking that I should refrain from literal language (or stop talking to NRA Republicans).

Up until this particular day I was, shall we say sadly and completely unsuccessful. I had loads of advice from locals about how and where to go. Perhaps they were just playing around with a city guy? Up in the wilderness of Maine, way up past Millinoket, and near to Mt Katahdin my travels brought me on a journey and a last ditch search.

Yes! I passed three photographers idly chatting, tripods deployed, and telephoto lenses pointed off toward a far point on the lake. Their wives were with them. They pointed to a brown dot on the horizon hidden in the trees and told me it was a moose. They had to tell me because we were too far to identify anything except that it was animal not plant. Yeah!? This was a non starter.

Pretty much resigned to defeat I continued through the park on this cloudy day. Two cars were parked on the side of the road and I sensed there might be action. Walking into the woods I saw my first moose no more than 30 feet away calmly munching on whatever it is that moose munch. The first photographer was decked out in hunter clothes and appeared to be a real photographer. The other was an idiot approaching the moose from uphill. He had a maniacal grin and was edging down with a simple point and shoot camera. I felt sure this dude would soon be killed when he disturbed Mr Bullwinkle. Moose don’t see well and when startled they can make an awful mess in a hurry. It helps to stand behind a tree since it might help that the tree will slow down an angered moose. (Let it be a big tree.) I turned to the first photographer to ask about an exit strategy and he replied the moose in front is not the problem. It’s the three behind us that I might want to take care to watch. I regret not taking the picture of that idiot photographer on the uphill side. But then again he never did get hurt either._DSC2610 copy

The other bull moose and mama with baby were more interesting. None of them cared that I approached but I did so cautiously and kept to staying behind the trees. The first photographer and his wife came up to stand with me. He stayed behind and began to make his city version of moose calls. Meanwhile his wife stood next to me sharing my tree. This couple had driven to Maine that day to participate in a moose photography class. The just happened to be wandering the woods. Meanwhile they didn’t realize that they had hit the photographic jackpot. My exit strategy quickly formed. If the fool behind me wanted to make moose calls, it would be his wife I would push out from behind the tree in the event the any of the moose made a charge. It pays to think ahead. My presumption was that he didn’t like his wife too much since I had only just met the couple. Oh, and she didn’t know how to use her camera and asked me to shoot some images for her. My reason to photograph anything is to know that I shot the image myself. Otherwise who needs another picture of a moose. And remember when I say shoot, its photograph not gun._DSC2590 copy


Camels

_DSC2036 copyThey aren’t too photogenic. So the color helps. I apologize for the tree sticking out of his head. We had stopped momentarily. You know. …when everyone is running in four directions and the driver will say, “Get back on the bus,” at any moment. So I was standing and just doing a 360 degree click around with my camera. Later we parked again and I had a longer moment to get another shot of another camel. Anyway the color is for the tourists._DSC2056 copy


Baboons – Behind the scenes

_DSC1703 copy

_DSC1719 copyIt’s an interesting group. You just see the ‘troop’ hanging out…literally… a behind the scenes look. They are fed from the roadside. Otherwise there doesn’t seem to be much reason for them to hang by the roadside. I know the argument against feeding the animals and making them dependent on human processed food. It seems that folks are not yet conscientious. Parenthetically, I was surprised when we dove last week and one of the dive masters pleaded for the divers to respect the Red Sea and its coral, which was dying. _DSC1769 copy

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Camel Petting

_DSC1377 copy“You touched a camel!!” my daughter exclaimed when I shared this photo. We had searched vainly for a camel to photograph when she visited in March. Yes, Julia. I got right up in its face. Actually, the camels, especially this camel, were quite used to people and did not hesitate to come right to the fence and allow me to touch it. This guy has probably been fed by many visitors in the past. I don’t know… but one could guess. No, he wasn’t smelly, and yes, I used a wipe to wash my hands. One of the nurses was carrying one and pressed it into my hand after the shots._DSC1424 copy


Porcupine

_DSC1363 copySometimes I surprise myself. It’s always a problem at the zoo to get a shot without the distracting cage. I like the juxtaposition of the head and tail, obviously not the same porcupine. Call it coming and going. Otherwise this shot would have been in the discard folder.


At The Zoo

_DSC1346 copyWe arrived at the zoo. Simon and Garfunkel, it ain’t. It was early and we were the only group, the only people, visiting. It was pretty small and to me, pretty lame. I admit that I did not see this picture first. It was on the internet when I was doing my homework on Taif and it’s sights. Dogs!… from USA! Imagine that??!! They do not like dogs in Saudi Arabia! They are considered unclean. Cats, yes; dogs, no! But there was even a cage with cats. Meanwhile a stray cat wandered by…  You’ve got to be kidding me, right?? Please don’t stick your fingers inside._DSC1345 copy


Baboon

_DSC1693I was invited to go to Taif. Twenty eight nurses, two husbands, and me. We got to a mountain called Al Hada and were greeted by a tribe of baboons which sit along the roadside and wait to be fed from the passing cars. If you look on google earth there are lots of photos of the area and the baboons.

There’s a difference in taking a picture and looking at one. I don’t think I have taken anything unique, but it is mine. I shot it. And, I was there. That, I guess is all the difference.

We stopped here for about 15 minutes. Most of the nurses were too timid to get off the bus. They were afraid of the wild baboons. I cajoled and some of them got down. We had (at least I did) a great photo op. You could approach so closely that there was no need for a telephoto lens. Earlier at the zoo in Taif we had seen baboons behind two layers of fence. There was no photo op there. But here we were face to face. I just didn’t have the nerve to try and pet one.


Hound

IMG_2640 copy

Last day in NYC and Julia and I were looking for a restaurant we’ve yet to try. No luck today either, it was closed. Lunch was just done. as we walked by, I got low and shot the hound at dog level. The dachshund barked and the owner appeared. It was my only shot.


Goats

_DSC0653 copy

It’s the side of the road in the hills of Beirut. I’m shooting through the moving car window in the passenger seat. It seems that I never really get the ideal shooting situation. But if I did, perhaps we’d never get to where we’re headed. It really was not countryside but city. So to me this is a novelty… unexpected as much as cows would be unexpected on a  New York City street.


Pigeons

_DSC0402 copy

There is a square in which someone attends the pigeons, leaving out food and water. Julia especially liked the flying pigeon. _DSC0400 copyThe pigeons took wing because a feral cat wandered through. Though emaciated, it made no effort to get a pigeon meal. The pigeons weren’t taking any chances. _DSC0410 copy


Camel Hunt

IMG_9899 camelJulia visited recently. When I first came to Jeddah in December 2011, I passed a series of roadside vendors selling camel milk. Herds of a dozen or more camels were stretched out along the roadside. It’s said that camel milk is healthy for you. Then they told me it’s unpasteurized and can lead to interesting infectious disease. That quenched my desire to give it a try. Julia and I made three unsuccessful road trips to the area that I remembered. I even [and I never do] asked for directions. No! No luck. the best we could do is see some poor decrepit camels behind a cinder block wall. It was OK with Julia, she’s ridden a camel in Africa. Me, I’ll look again when David visits.

Oh, the camel? It’s a silly Photoshop trick the kids taught me. Actually, they hold their hand up and pretend that the camel in the background is in the palm of their hand [perspective, not Photoshop]. I just took a camel on the other side of the wall and cloned it on her palm. After all her pose was all set up for me [except for the camel].


Follow The Leader

IMG_9403 copy

I haven’t been diving in a few months. It’s winter here and Farid says the water is too cold. That would be 77 degrees in the water. The nights are in the 70’s. And the days are their usual hot sunny 90+. So what’s cold? In NY it’s 40 degrees outside and 38 in the water. In the summer I wait all season for the pool to reach 80. Hey! It’s warm enough to scuba! But anyway for the first time in months we go to the beach with his kids. I actually got a pretty good burn on my back from the sun. The first thing Farid did was declare the water too cold after he dipped his toes at the beach’s edge. We dove anyway. One tank about an hour and the water was chilly but not at all annoying.

Later we got into the water with the kids. Rather, Farid suckered me into wading out with the kids, one hand on each. And then he sat and refused to come in. What a laugh. But the weather is so good mostly that you complain if it’s not perfect. Relatively, Silva, Farid’s wife, said the day was poor because their was a little haze and sand in the air. Geeez! Well anyway, the fish were happy to see us.


Lizard

_DSC8318

After the first, I saw this species many more times. They are almost like iguanas in that they stop when you approach. They wait to see if you are a threat and then move off if you come closer. With a big lens you can actually get a pretty good close-up.

 


Lion Cub

_DSC6511

Once we saw a lion and I got my fill of shots, the goal was again to capture some unique behavior. It’s not like every moment a lion is yawning. They mostly lie about and sleep. There aren’t really any predators above them in the food chain. So eat, sleep and then get up to hunt again.


Croc

_DSC7640

Look, there’s a croc sunning on the island in the middle. It’s not that fast, I think. And it’s easy enough to see. And you could walk up about 10 yards along the riverbank and cross there. And then you wouldn’t be eaten. No, they are all gathered here. They will cross here. And they will be lunch … or not. Dumb?


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