Fiscal Shrike in Tanzania Bush
There were so many beautiful birds we spotted on our recent Africa trip and … so many that I didn’t capture on camera. The ones I was able to capture, were not always photo sharp, to my dismay. But still, they provide wonderful memories. I so love birds and hope to get better at capturing their distinct beauty.
“Everyone likes birds. What wild creature is more accessible to our eyes and ears, as close to us and everyone in the world, as universal as a bird?”
Nature historian David Attenborough
Lioness, Ngala Wildlife Preserve, South Africa
This lioness from the Birmingham pride had just risen from her suckling cubs when I noticed the wound on her nose, probably caused from a scrap with another lion. It’s a wild wild world they live in with no guarantees that they will see tomorrow.
Impalas, Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, Kenya
One wildlife animal that was plentiful on the Kenya plains were Impalas. We saw so many, we began calling them “McDonalds” due to their rear-end markings that looked like the McDonald’s logo. And secondly, because they are the fast food item for lions, leopards and cheetahs. So it became a standard joke every time we saw an impala herd we spoke out “Oh look, there’s some more McDonalds!”
Most baby impalas are born mid-day as this is the safest time to give birth since most of their enemies are resting. Unfortunately, half of newborns are killed by predators within the first few weeks of life. A fascinating fact that our guide shared was that impala mothers can delay giving birth for up to a month if weather conditions are harsh, such as during the wet season. But upon looking up this fact, it is more a myth than reality. It is believed that to cope with poor conditions, impalas may choose to abandon or abort their young rather than risk their own lives to look after a lamb whose likelihood of survival is marginal at best. A sad reality on the plains of Africa.
Venice Fishing Pier, Florida
After living here in Florida for two years, I had not yet visited the Venice Fishing Pier down in Venice. So last week hubby and I planned a late afternoon trip to the Venice Rookery and then on to have dinner at the Venice Fishing Pier while waiting for sunset. Since it was mid-week, I thought there wouldn’t be much of a crowd. Well, I was wrong! What a zoo! We were able to grab a last table at Finn’s upstairs as nothing was available at Sharky’s on the lower level, who had a very long wait list. It was 6:00 mid-week! We took time at dinner and afterwards went down to the pier to scope out best angles for photos. It was only after the sun went down, that folks began to leave, clearing the beach. And in my opinion, the best time for photos.
I am such a rookie taking sunset photos with my big camera. Once I uploaded the photos at home, I was not pleased with any of them. The one above was salvaged with much editing (see notes below). I see that our Club has an upcoming field trip to the pier so I’m thinking of joining them and getting some tips on how to take sunset photos. I just hope it’s not as crowded!!
Photo: Nikon D810, Tamron 70-200, ISO 800, 1/13 sec at f/13, 70mm, Exp. Comp. -1.75 EV, Lightroom + Luminar edits
Snowy Egret, Anna Maria, FL
This fellow had a challenge on a breezy day balancing on a pier piling hoping to snatch some discards from a fish being cleaned on Rod and Reel Pier in Anna Maria. He was never lucky, though, as the fisherman tossed the remains to the pelicans below. For this week’s theme of “Balance” where the left and right halves of an image draw the eye equally, I used this image as an example of an ‘imbalanced’ image where the visual weight of the egret is on the left where your eyes are drawn primarily, with nothing on the right to counter the ‘imbalance’ of the photo. Had there been a fish in the egret’s mouth or another egret’s head popping up from the right lower corner would have helped put this image into a more balanced pose, making the difference of a great shot versus an average one as is this one.
“How To Turn Anything Into Something Else”, Mural Arts of Philadelphia
Having been a Philadelphia resident for 11 years prior to moving to Lakewood Ranch, I would frequently come upon one of the over 1,300 murals that paint Philly’s downtown landscape. The Philly Mural Arts Program is an anti-graffiti mural program bringing professional artists and graffiti writers together to create new murals in the city along with involving and educating children in the arts.
With some free time this past weekend while in Philly, I took a tour of some of the works in Center City. The image above particularly stood out with its bold colors and background story. I thought it served as a perfect illustration for a metaphorical “Door” theme, where one can open it into “an ever-changing world.”
The mural development paired 13 artists and students ages 10 to 15 over the summer of 2011 to develop the concept. Below are some excerpts that explain the design:
“Though the images in the mural appear strange and whimsical, they hold a mirror to the world the kids inhabit in real life – there are systems of travel, places of danger and places of rest, spaces of darkness and of light. There are factories that pollute the water, and there are portals that hold new possibilities. A dragon’s back turns into tracks and supports a freight train, a lemon transforms into a bird taking flight, a boat becomes a whale, and scissors’ arms break apart to sprout separate individuals. This was aptly summarized by 10-year-old Marquis Fabii, (ultimately becoming the title of the mural), How to Turn Anything Into Something Else.
“Together we made a world that is at once a version of the one we inhabit, the one of which we are afraid, and the one for which we hope.
“Towering over everything in the top-right corner is the many-muscled Kira, a direct representation of a drawing by Big Picture student Shakira Lowery. Kira is the strongest woman in the world, has flashlight eyes and sees through darkness. She casts a guiding light on this new, uncanny place. We decided to use Shakira’s image as a welcoming beacon for folks on the sidewalk and as a tribute to the strength and creativity that is demanded of us all as we set out into an ever-changing world.”
Reticulated Giraffe at Water Hole, Lewa Wilderness Conservancy, Kenya
Before our safari, I was unaware that there were different varieties of giraffes. To me, they were all the same … beautiful, long-necked creatures. As I was searching for an image for this week’s ‘Rule of Odds’ (where an image is more appealing when there is an odd number of subjects), I thought this image of a mother, daughter and baby were a good example versus had it only been mother and baby. These are Reticulated Giraffes with their striking and crisp geometric patches, with males being darker as they age.
Below, although a nice image, I find not as interesting as the one above. But it does provide an example of the difference in giraffes. These are Masai Giraffe, whose irregular brown patches are on a yellow-buff background whereas the Reticulated Giraffes’ pattern is much more crisp. Just another little interesting fact I learned from our wonderful guides in Kenya.