Archive for Elephant

Photo Editing

Posted in Photography Technique with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 26, 2015 by chamimage
3 day old Elephant Baby

3 day old Elephant Baby

I had a recent epiphany about photo editing. In the past I have spent a lot of my time editing old folders of images that I felt guilty about not having finished with editing all of the images. The problem with that is that I have already gleaned the family jewels images from those folders so I am spending a lot of my time editing and Photoshopping my second best images.

Samburu Elephants

Samburu Elephants

That thought occurred to me as I looked at my Google Analytics one day and confirmed that Guanajuato, Mexico at night was still my most viewed image on my web site again for another week, as it has been for much of the past year. I don’t know why. But the point is that I also realized I had many more images of Guanajuato that I had never optimized.  Guilt be damned! I worked on Guanajuato images.

So now I let the fickle winds of supply and demand determine which images I will be editing, not guilt about old un-edited images. I check Google Analytics and my stock sites to see what images are being viewed, both my own site and in general. Today it was Australia, France, and elephants. I have elephants, so I’m working on elephants.

Elephant and Crocodile

Elephant and Crocodile

Being an elephant means you don’t have to bother about no stinkin’ crocodile.


World Elephant Day

Posted in Natural History with tags , , , , , , , , , on August 12, 2013 by chamimage
African Elephants

African Elephants

Happy World Elephant Day! These guys are crossing the Ewaso N’giro River in Samburu in northern Kenya. Yes, there are crocodiles in the river and no, they don’t care.

I like the Samburu elephants the best. The iron in the soil gives them the reddish pigment. They do interesting things, like predictably go to the river every afternoon. They travel in columns.

Not that elephants aren’t cool wherever you find them, but out on the savanna of the Serengeti they are just kind of there, in the middle of nowhere, eating.

Unfortunately, there is a good chance wild elephants will become extinct in my lifetime. Too much human encroachment and conflict and too much poaching to supply China with its insatiable appetite for ivory trinkets. Doesn’t seem worth it? To make elephants extinct just so China can carve ivory doo-dads? I don’t get it, either. But it’s a fact and it isn’t going away, in fact it’s getting worse.

There is too much money involved and too much government corruption throughout Africa to stop it.  Nobody with an equal amount of money from other countries has come forward to disincentivize the poaching yet. As with most of our problems, there is enough money and resources, just not the philanthropic and  political will. If Bill Gates and Warren Buffet and Ted Turner suddenly developed a fondness for elephants there would probably be trained militias armed to the teeth out there protecting them.

In fact the very arms and helicopters provided by the United States to combat rebel militias in Africa have been used to shoot elephants for extra money for the soldiers involved. Too much money involved. Rangers were confused at repeatedly finding elephants shot through the top of their head and no human tracks coming or going. Then they caught one of the military helicopters in the reserve where it wasn’t supposed to be and the light bulb came on. The United States position is that it didn’t happen. Any of the multiple times it did.

So take a moment today to appreciate wild elephants today.



Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 15, 2013 by chamimage
African Elephant with Calf

African Elephant with Calf

I’ve been struggling with emotions lately. No, not my emotions. The emotional impact of images. Specifically, naming the emotion that an image conjures.

I know it when an image moves me emotionally, I’m just not good at naming what emotion has been stirred. I have a feeling women are better at this. I’ve heard that women have way more words to describe shades of tan color than men do. I’ve also read that women speak way more words per day than men do. They have isolated a brain protein they think is responsible. It was probably not good to be a chatty male hunter in days of old. You either starved from scaring all of the game away, or attracted predators. Selected those guys right out.

The reason this has come up is that I have been working with a new stock agency that works on an image request basis rather than a catalog of images in a database (definitely the wave of the future IMHO), and they have advertising people and book publishers requesting images based on an emotion. The image above was submitted for the request for an image showing guidance or a helping hand, depicted with large versus small animals or plants or whatever.

Canadian Rocky Mountains

Canadian Rocky Mountains

Now, if you ask me for a photo of a mule deer standing in front of a western United States mountain range I’m all over it. Actually, when the requests are that specific it has been surprising to me that an image I thought I certainly would have – I don’t have. Just when you think you have all the deer images you will ever need in a lifetime, you don’t have the one you need.

I was stumped when asked for a landscape image with a sky that depicted support and reliability. What the heck kind of sky would that be? I live in Oregon. The sky is never reliable here.

Ny-Alysund, Spitsbergen

Ny-Alysund, Spitsbergen

Book publishers are always asking for gloomy shots. There are a lot of mysteries and they always want a cover depicting danger or foreboding. I submitted this one for a mystery that occurred in Sweden.  They wanted a stark, desolate rural landscape. No neighbors to rescue the poor soul, I guess.

I’m not sure I’ll ever get good at this emotions thing. The supportive and reliable sky is the only one that has completely stumped me so far. Meanwhile, I’ll continue to do better with images that make people want to go to Italy and try not to be so clueless about the others.


Old Friends

Posted in Photography Technique with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 1, 2011 by chamimage

Ford Truck

I finished my latest project, the children’s book, now awaiting translation into Hebrew, of all things, since the first publisher to express an interest is in Tel Aviv. Hopefully someone in the US will show an interest later. I will put it on Blurb, but print on demand is always more expensive per book. I have actually already personally sold one of the Hebrew books. Long story…

So, rather than dive right into another big project I always like to do something fun for a few days. I was looking at my Photoshelter site and looking at the listing they give of the 100 most viewed images. It always intrigues me as to why the most viewed images are viewed the most. Even the people that run Photoshelter wrote recently that they are intrigued and helpless to explain some of the  most popular images as well. Google ranking has a lot to do with it, which comes down to keywords. Unfortunately, I can’t get away with putting the keywords Maasai, Herding, and Cattle on every image because that blows everything else away on both Photoshelter and Flickr (just putting those words in the text here will probably rank this blog way up there). I don’t know why. Who are these people looking at African tribesmen herding cattle and why?

Anyway, one of the reasons those images are most viewed is because they have been on Photoshelter for a long time. Which led me to realize that the most eyes are falling on images that were optimized years ago and could really use an update. My Photoshop workflow has improved enormously since most of those images were optimized.

Maasai Village Chief

So I’ve spent the past couple of days re-working the most viewed images. There were a handful of images that I didn’t touch. There were another handful I liked, but tried re-working them to see if it made a difference and it didn’t to any great degree. But, in about 80% of the images the change was dramatic. Most of the older images had color casts. I color corrected them at the time, but they were awful. I now use Nik Color Efex Pro generously and most of the images benefited from my new work flow with a touch of Tonal Contrast to bring out some detail.

Lob Cabin

The black and white images benefited from Nik Silver Efex Pro.

Elephant Butt

It has been a fun couple of days. Re-visiting old images is like visiting old friends and sharing memories with them of the good old days.

White-throated Magpie Jay

Like the jays we chased all over a farmer’s field in Costa Rica during a rain shower.

Serval Kittens

Or the morning spent with the serval kittens in the Masai Mara. Good friends. Good stories.

The Monkeys Told Me

Posted in Photography Technique with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 15, 2010 by chamimage

Elephant B&W

I’ve been reading Moose Peterson’s new book, Captured, and have gotten to the part, present in every nature photography book, where a discussion is held about the importance of knowing the natural history of your subject, and how it is vital to making good photographs. Knowing something about your subject in advance is always a good idea in both wildlife photography as well as photojournalism. You need to have a way to anticipate what is about to happen so you can set yourself up to be in the right place and know when you need to be paying attention. I understood this on a vague basis until my recent Africa trip where it really paid off in very obvious ways.

Lion Cubs Playing

My lion photos from my 2007 Africa trip were pretty static. Lions sleeping, sitting, walking. My lion photographs from September include much more interaction. I learned a few things about lions. I figured out that every time two lions came together there was going to be a snuggle, a play bite, a pounce. It happens fast and if you aren’t able to anticipate it you will never capture it.

On this trip I appreciated all over again how much our drivers were able to anticipate what was going to happen. I began asking them questions and going with the flow when they decided we needed to move to another position. It is tough when you have a critter in your viewfinder and are cranking away and the driver says we should move. It is usually because they see that something is going to go down and they want us to be in position to capture it. They have a way of never explaining themselves that is a bit hard to get used to. They just offer that we should move and you either accept it or you don’t. Same to them either way. You would be best to listen to their advice, even if they won’t explain the why of it.

My favorite example was in Samburu, when our driver heard something in Swahili on the two way radio and said “They have a leopard.” Off we went. I didn’t realize at the time that the other two in our group did not hear what he said. When we arrived at the river I was bit confused, myself, because the only other vehicle there was parked and the occupants were photographing monkeys in a tree. Usually a leopard takes priority over monkeys in a tree and draws a big crowd. Other vehicles began to show up and we were all driving around looking for a leopard, and not finding one. Finally our driver stopped and shut off the engine and said “We will wait here for him.” The other two in the vehicle began asking why we were parked there and why we couldn’t at least go park under the tree with monkeys to photograph.

The driver did not explain himself so I spoke up. “A leopard is in this area and we are waiting for him to show himself. This is where we will be in the best position to photograph him and still be able to move about and not get trapped in by other vehicles.”

They wore a look of disbelief and said “How do they know there is a leopard?”

“Because the monkeys told them,” I said.

That drew cries of derision and I guess I must have been a bit disgruntled in their disbelief because I didn’t bother to explain further until that evening at supper.

“Monkeys hate leopards. After seeing a video of a leopard chasing a monkey around the treetops, and killing it, I can see why. Monkeys have evolved a special alarm call they reserve only for leopards. When we were down by the river did you all not hear the monkeys? They were vocalizing constantly. The driver that was down there knew that they were giving their leopard alarm, therefore, there was a leopard.”

Our driver was vindicated when, within five minutes, the leopard did, indeed, show up. It pays to know a little bit about leopards, and monkeys, and lions, and the enigmatic ways of African drivers.

Remember To Play

Posted in Philosophy and Spirituality with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 4, 2010 by chamimage

Leopard Cub

This is an ISO 3200 blur of a leopard cub. So why is it one of my favorite photographs of the Africa trip? Because I know it is a photograph of a leopard cub chasing a butterfly. Wholeheartedly and unashamedly putting his all into chasing a butterfly. How do we come to lose that kind of youthful abandon? Why don’t we frolic more as adults? It did my heart good to watch this guy play. At one point he seemed to have caught the butterfly with a leap and pounce. Then about four seconds went by and the butterfly flew out from under the cub.

Of course, cubs don’t know when to stop. When the butterfly was gone he went to mom and threw his body into her. It was not appreciated and he got himself spit at by her.


Leopard moms don’t seem to have much of a sense of humor. A lioness would have played. Be a lion  mom, not a leopard mom. Get down on the ground and roll over on your back and play with your cubs.

Elephant Calf

Of course, if you want to see playing, just take and elephant calf and add water. That should be good for about an hour of non-stop action. This was taken in Samburu, where there is a lot of iron in the soil, making the elephants red in color from their dust baths.


Posted in Travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , on July 27, 2010 by chamimage

Southbound Elephants

I have been so inspired reading Steve Bloom’s book on elephants that I went through my elephant photos for another look at what I had before my Africa trip in September. My images pale in comparison to those in his book Elephant. It is bargain priced ($17.55 on Amazon for a large photo book!) so must be being remaindered. I highly recommend it. He has to have the most awesome elephant photographs out there, both African (my favorites) and Asian.

Nursing Elephant Calf

We didn’t see an abundance of elephants in the Masai Mara. The ones we did see were usually in very flat light like the photo above, or were found on our way back to camp at mid day. Personally, I think this calf is getting a bit old to be nursing, still. He’s got tusks for crying out loud.

African Elephant Calf

Elephant calves are pretty full of mischief. They are watched closely by mom and aunties and you don’t want to mess with an elephant’s calf. If a calf should die there is mourning befitting any close family.

African Elephant Calf B&W

I am finding it hard to sleep now with the anticipation of getting back to Africa. Hope we find lots of elephants this time and I can get some more awesome shots that do justice to these magnificent pachyderms.

Elephant Butt

I have somehow acquired a lot of animal butt shots. but this one is pretty hard to top.

Laura Beth

I couldn’t resist throwing in a photo of Laura Beth in her lavender sunglasses in Chiang Mai, Tahiland on an elephant. The only down side to going to Africa in September is that I will miss her baby shower. I suspect her kid is going to have an interesting childhood. Do babies need passports?