Word and Image

Posts tagged “Africa



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.


We went through a jump period in my family. The Christmas before Julia left for Africa to teach for a year, she introduced me to jumping. The new digital point and shoot she had would take a sequence of shots. The playback was hysterically funny. We did this a few times. So here, high on a hill top in Tanzania, Julia jumped. I’m pretty sure she had sandals on. If you’re happy and you know it…

Bunny Ears and a Parrot


Bunny ears and a parrot. It’s a great photo op. The ears make it Easter. There were plenty of people around to get a picture with the parrot. The bird was quite calm in the crowd. You see this sort of thing everywhere and in almost every country I have visited. The exploitation and animal rights part is the subject of another political discussion. I just took the photo op.



These are the workboats for this part of the world. But like everything else in a tourist resort, people realize that there is commercial value in giving rides. And there are plenty of tourists to pay to ride. These guys would park on a likely stretch of beach and then beckon to offer a ride. I have looked into the boats and they don’t appear all that seaworthy. We passed on the opportunity.


These animals are easy to find… in Africa. They don’t seem to mind people. And they like to travel together. This makes it one of the easier photo ops. That said, it is always a challenge to avoid a shot that has been done before. Then again its hard to see the same giraffe twice. I’m not good at identification by the pattern of the spots. By the way, in spite of the long neck (obviously), giraffes have the same seven cervical vertebrae as we do. The bones are just bigger. Amazing!!

Bicycle Built for Two


To continue the story this pair passed me going downhill on the same trip. I turned from the baboon and found this young lady smiling shyly at me as she continued her trip to the valley below. Down is definitely better than riding up. Many of the one speed bikers were plodding upward on foot because the hill was steep.

Baboon – Buddy, can you spare a dime?


On our bicycle tour we passed a baboon sitting on the side of the road. No one else seemed to think that this was a bit unusual. I don’t think there was anyone there to feed him. When I stopped to photograph, a couple guys pedaling uphill passed me. They stopped to give the baboon a piece of sugar cane for the benefit of my photographs. They smiled at me and went on their way.



The Masai typically carry sticks. It is a trademark as much as the colorful shawls. The sticks have been variously used in fighting, war, herding, and ceremonial purposes. Here on the beach they were interested in selling crafts to the passing tourists. They were friendly without being too forward.

Guarding the Field

This photo is of a large field of wheat just prior to harvesting. A lone Masai guarded the field. He had a hut up on the hill where he kept watch at night. Whether he was guarding against animal or man was not clear. And what were his thoughts were in this tranquil setting?

School Boys


Ok, so we’re on a bike tour. I kid you not. It was part of the Africa experience. We eventually bike out to where we could see hippos in the far distance. I remind you again that the hippos are dangerous and we never really were allowed to approach closely. My family was ahead. I had been delayed photographing the trees full of storks. These three kids came up and posed for me. Then they raided my backpack and took all the candy. Fair trade.

Stork tree


We had passed these trees full of storks. All I could think of were babies. Actually the trees were covered with stork dropping. From a distance you would think that the trees were frosted white. Not all trees but some trees were chosen as roosts for thousands of birds. Their size was disproportionate to the size of the branches they perched upon. The sheer numbers were staggering. I guess there were no predators about.

Dhow, Zanzibar


These are small vessels. They are essentially long narrow wooden canoes with two outriggers and a sail. It is a typical vessel for this area. I saw one on the open ocean between the mainland and Zanzibar many miles from any landfall. Every morning the dhows would ply up and down parallel to the beach. It was a perfect photo op. The only problem is that they were most active at about 5:30AM.


Fishing, Zanzibar


I never did see what it was that these men netted. But they would patiently spread their net and eventually returned with some catch. The tides left many pools. And the shallow waters were warm. I guess not too many large fish were about. But there were enough small ones to make it a worthwhile endeavor to use the net.



We stayed overnight in a tented lodge. Which is to say that the tents were on wooden platforms. I was hesitant to photograph the Masai. They escorted us at night from our tented cabin armed with rifles because there was real danger walking back and forth. These same men also carried our bags back and forth. They were pretty serious looking fellows. I got up the courage to ask whether I could photograph them just before we departed. I was surprised that they all broke into big smiles. One man even opened his shawl to envelope my family. It was a spontaneous moment and the feeling of friendliness was mutual.


This thatched house was part of a resort. There is a bar and a dock well out over the water. The waters are not too deep as the tidal surge is quite large. Many parts of the beach are exposed for hundreds of yards during low tide. The guard was passing the time reading as there were no visitors at this time of day.



This was another phenomenal find in my opinion. These are soltary cats. I had seen one a few days before in the Ngorongora crater. It was the size of a dot in my image and the shy cat kept hidden among the grass. Here we drove up. This guy sat and posed. He didn’t run. He wasn’t protecting a kill. What luck!!



Chewy, maybe he was named Chewie. I never did find out. Our guide had seen this particular leopard often enough to have given him a name. The day before we had seen Chewy eating a fresh killed wildebeest. The carcass was stripped bare the next morning. Late in the afternoon we found Chewy once more in the shade of a rock. I felt so fortunate. I don’t think it’s too easy to see the big cats. We never did see another leopard during our trip.


Unlike the hippos, lions are actually lazy. So says the guide/driver who took us about the Serengeti in an open sided Toyota Land Cruiser. Toyota appears to be the vehicle of choice not the ubiquitous Land Rover that dots the NYC streets. There’s a rifle mounted to the rear bumper. A lot of good it will do if the lion is outside the vehicle and you’re inside.

Still we were told that the lions ignore the passengers and perceive them to be a part of the vehicle. This gave me a bit more confidence. You can see that we can get quite close, as the drive did not hesitate to get right up to where this big guy was lounging in the grass.

Later that afternoon we met up with another traveler who told me that a lion had tried to eat the bumper of the vehicle that morning. It made me wonder whether the lions were not too bright or whether I was the fool to have my legs so close to the outside of the open sided cruiser.


In my first and so far only trip to Africa, I was apprehensive. We would be there two weeks and were completely in the hands of a travel agent as to where to go to get the full experience. I’m the photographer in the family. My wife and daughter dabble but are not OCD. So here I would be in a photographer’s fantasy land of photo opportunities, planned by an unknown agent and accompanied by less enthusiastic photographers.

Let me preface that my family has become pretty good-natured by now. On this trip I shot more than 15,000 images. And then whittled the final 5 star images to 300. My apprehension came in the form of meeting unrealistic expectation. Would I see everything? Would I come away with the iconic images? And, with the anticipation and build up for this trip, how would I possibly be satisfied with the results.

It was akin to visiting the USA for two weeks. Could you see everything if you just hit New York, Washington, Chicago, Miami, and Los Angeles? What I can say in retrospect is that the experience was wonderful and unique. What I saw was different and yet the same. I saw zebras. But aside from the usual poses, I also saw unique behavior. We all had a fabulous time, one that I’m sure can’t be repeated … until the next time we visit Africa.

Birds in Flight

These are the bird in flight images that I can recall from recent years. I keep a database. In response to Galen Leed’s excellent work/blog, I will admit that this is about all I have on the subject. The last photo is of humans, my daughter and myself, who wish we could fly. (Shhh… my daughter shouldn’t know that I posted her picture here – camera shy.) I’ll post a story about the African photos. Bear Mountain and Nyack New York are on my other blog (Imaged Event – see sidebar). My knowledge of birds is limited. We were at a surprise birthday party in Ashburnham, Massachusetts. The guests of honor have a home on the lake and a pontoon boat. At the end of the afternoon, I climbed aboard for a spin around the lake. As we rounded a small island on the lake, a heron was startled. I happened to have my camera in hand. Serendipity. I got about four frames and hoped that the exposure and focus were sufficient.

See sidebar blogroll for Imaged Event.

Gallery, slideshow, technical tips: (more…)


I could be/probably am wrong on the identification here. We came upon this guy at a watering hole. Hippos lay in and among the waterlillies while several species of bird including storks were all around. Idyllic. This heron had caught a fish. It was too large to swallow. Other birds offered assistance, which was ignored. For quite a few minutes the struggle continued until the fish was turned properly and swallowed whole.


Zanzibar, Africa. I won’t begin to tell you what species of birds are in this photo. The word ‘tern’ comes to mind. My daughter and I were walking along the beach as the tide came in behind us. These little guys flew past as I panned and shot. Later we had to backtrack through the high tide and breaking waves. The uneven surface and slippery rocks made it a bit treacherous. I couldn’t swim while holding my camera up and  free of the sea. We made it back in time for lunch.

Lilac Breasted Roller

I love the internet. A couple of clicks and – gotcha – the identity of the lilac breasted roller. At least my picture seems to match up. These little guys are all over on the Serengeti. They flit and swoop. Early one morning just before we departed to Zanzibar, our driver was rolling across the savannah. He stopped short of these birds swooping in for a landing. It was a slow morning to find any of the bigger game animals. But any subject will do when you’ve never been there before.


Tanzania, Africa. I was fortunate to be on a real life African safari (the word means ‘journey’). And so these are African flamingoes. There are different types. These would be the ‘greater flamingo’ as opposed to the ‘lesser,’ which are smaller. Did I state the obvious? Graceful in the air, they need a running start for takeoff.