Now 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.
There 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.
I 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.
There 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.
As 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.
This 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.
I’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.
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.
They 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.
“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.
Sometimes 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.
We 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.
I 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.
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.
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.
There is a square in which someone attends the pigeons, leaving out food and water. Julia especially liked the flying pigeon. The 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.
Julia 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].
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.
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.
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?
When we arrived in the Serengeti, it was the tail end of migration season. There was still crossing of the wildebeests going on but you would never know it. Here’s how it goes. For as far as the eye can see, there are wildebeest filling the landscape. Thousands upon thousands are grazing on both sides of the river. To look at them you don’t know if they are coming or going. And while we were there they moved in both directions. And only a few moved at a time. The reason that it is dangerous is that there are crocodiles in the river, which will take down a wildebeest and eat it. Compared to a few crocodiles there are thousands more wildebeest. Still there is a built-in fear of river crossings. They (wildebeest) don’t look, they just gather courage and then run across the river. It’s not too hard to see the crocs, but they all run. It gets even sillier when they leap and run across puddles. Ok, so this is one quintessential shot of migration that I did not capture. But I suppose that it’s ok that a croc went hungry and a wildebeest lived to leap another day.
There are some animals in abundance. Zebras are seen everywhere. They are cautious enough. One sees herds numbering in the hundreds. So taking a shot is pretty easy. It’s the idea then to get something that is other than a cute portrait or close up. You looks for patterns or groupings that are different than the hundreds of zebra pictures you have shooting each day. You never know when or if your image will show up. So here we came up on a couple of zebras wrestling. And after a few hundred shots, you have to pick one.
We found this pride near a river. The group of females and young came down to the riverbank to sun. It seems that everyone had fed recently. We laughed because this little one looked so low and heavy.
The big five… if you look them up, they are on the list of every big game hunter. We actually saw them all within one day on this trip. Amazing! Rhinos are special. We saw a few. We were fortunate. Our guide was staring off in the distance and then suddenly we tore off bouncing and throwing up a big tail of dust. They (rhinos) don’t see too well. But they don’t feel to threatened by a vehicle. So we were able to get some close-in shots before he trotted away.
The big cats are hard to see. They just don’t like to be where people are present. Go figure. It’s probably good because I have no desire to be a next meal. This early morning we arrived in the Serengeti and our guide took us straight to this spot. The evening before this leopard had made a kill. Here he was calmly munching on wildebeest. It was quiet enough to hear the bones crunch. By the next morning there was nothing left to see of the carcass. You would never have known it had been consumed in a day. Timing, it’s pretty special. We were very fortunate to have come at the right time.
When my daughter taught in Namibia for a year, we (wife) visited her in Tanzania. She had already seen Namibia, so that’s why I missed the sand dunes and lovely scenery in Namibia. This shot is one among about 15,000 images from that trip. It can get silly, but it’s a once in a lifetime trip and I had plenty of memory card space. This particular shot came when we were tearing up the road from one place our evening accommodations. The roads were under construction and there was dust so thick you had trouble seeing the road. And where else in the world are you going to have to slow down for giraffes crossing the road. Naturally, I poked the camera out and tried to grab a shot. It’s a National Geographic moment. I read where they would tell their photographers to always include people. It was more personal that way. Our driver/guide was included in the mirror as well as within the Landcruiser.
I’m slowly working my way through pictures from my archives. I’ve got many thousands. It would intimidate the average person to know how many images, I’ve culled and then scanned (tens of thousands). I love penguins. They are still exotic to me. I have a wish to go to Antarctica and see them live and in person. Considering how many things on wish list have come true in my life, maybe it’s not entirely impossible. For instance, I’ve been up in a helicopter many times and I’ve learned to scuba dive. I did these things more than once. But it’s not near the top of the list and so I take shots of the penguins whenever I see them.