Archive for Sunrise

Baskett Slough Sunrise

Posted in Natural History with tags , , , , , , , on January 25, 2016 by chamimage
Sunrise on Baskett Slough National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon.

Sunrise on Baskett Slough National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon.

It was raining when I left home in Salem, Oregon yesterday. But, some of my best landscapes have come from stormy days so I set out for a drive, if nothing else. It had stopped raining by the time I got to Baskett Slough NWR. Fog shrouded the hill I wanted to hike and I usually like to check out the ponds first, anyway so went to the pull out at the narrows. I was just leaving when a huge dusky Canada goose blast off went up right to my left, out where this image was taken.

After a few experimental shots on the geese against the foggy hillside, none of which survived editing, I noticed the break in the clouds. I grabbed my 70-200 mm lens for a few landscapes. You can see the silhouette of a bald eagle just above the horizon on the right. He was apparently what had triggered the goose blast off. They fly over and watch for geese that can’t fly. Those geese are henceforth called breakfast. He had no luck with the geese, but as I finished with the landscapes I noticed he dropped something into the water. It was about right for for a coot carcass. Quickly another bald eagle swooped up the carcass. Then two more materialized to chase the bird with the food. While editing this image I could see the other eagles perched on trees out there.

Two weeks ago I photographed an adult eagle in the back part of the refuge. When it flew, I knew exactly where it was going by the direction it flew and found it again in an old snag on the hill I like to hike. Two weeks ago my hike produced no sightings of deer, which is unusual. I was starting to wonder if they had all died off from some disease or something, but yesterday I saw deer in every location I expected to see deer.

Stormy Sunrise

Stormy Sunrise

This image from 2006 is from the same angle, a bit tighter. Some of those trees have either fallen down or been cut. The bald eagles loved those trees so it is a shame. There is more plant growth now as the marsh is filling in, as they do. Didn’t get the color of the sun shining through a lsot this time. That was also Velvia film in 2006. That was another rainy morning when I went out, anyway.


Masai Mara

Posted in Photo Stories with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 2, 2013 by chamimage


Usually when I get an image request from my agency I find it is so specific that I don’t have the image. “A male deer in autumn with a western mountain range in the background; north of the 45th parallel and west of the Rocky Mountains. Must be a deer tick of the genus Ixodes in his left ear and he must be situated 45 degrees to the camera facing away”. I exaggerate, but not much.

This week I found out how much work it creates when the opposite happens and the image request is vague.

The request was for a vertical image of the Masai Mara for a magazine cover. No problem. I have 5,957 images from Africa. About 80% are from the Masai Mara. About 10% are verticals (I don’t shoot as many verticals with four-footed animals, which may or may not be running horizontally). That leaves something like 477 images to locate among the 36 subfolders that may contain them.

Masai Mara Sunrise

Masai Mara Sunrise

It would have helped, I decided, to at least know what genre of magazine this was for. Is the emphasis on travel, on wildlife, on birds? There was no way to narrow it down. I was allowed to submit ten images.

Marsh Pride Male

Marsh Pride Male

I just tried to submit a balance between wildlife and scenics. I decided birds were not likely to be chosen in a non-birder magazine. Not enough Mara atmosphere. That being said, my last cover shot was of a lilac-breasted roller from the Masai Mara, but that was for Birder’s World. It could have been perched on the back of a rhino and their readers would only have noticed the bird.

Stormy Mara Sunset

Stormy Mara Sunset

The above image was from the first afternoon game drive on arriving at our camp in 2010. The thunder clouds move in every day around 2 pm off of Lake Victoria in the fall. Convection currents, I’m told.

Common Ostrich female

Common Ostrich female

In the end it looks like they have short-listed a couple of rhino photos. My experience with rhinos in the Masai Mara is that they are heavily poached so they run like hell as soon as our Land Rover came into view. All of my rhino photos are from Lake Nakuru where they graze like cows along the lake shore. Lake Nakuru is a small reserve for flamingos, black rhinos, white rhinos and Rothschild giraffes. A poacher might slip in at night by foot, but any gunshot would be heard by a nearby lodge and reported. And the poacher might well be eaten by a leopard long before he saw a rhino.

Sunset, with Vulture

Sunset, with Vulture

On a somewhat related note. I quit Getty Images, so will soon have sole possession of many of my best images again, including some Masai Mara images. I recently sold three images from Italy for a sum that made me realize that my best Italy images were on Getty and I would probably be better off having them back. No more exclusive agreements for me.

On an entirely unrelated note. There was high drama at Yellowstone Park this week with a fox den in the picnic area that everyone has been visiting. A badger came along and the ensuing battle with the fox vixen was photographed by Max Waugh. See his photos at The badger made it into the den despite the fierce defense of the vixen, but the pups escaped out a back entrance. The parents dug a new den uphill and then stood vigil on the den with the badger still in it. Last report was not good. The badger picked a moment to escape the old den and made a beeline into the new den with the pups in it. It seems doubtful there was time to make a back entrance to the new den and the pups may be gone. This stuff happens every day out there, it is just not often happening in a place where we witness it. This is all being reported on Facebook so ‘like’ Max Waugh’s page (and Deby Dixon’s page) if you like that sort of thing. I wondered, at first, why the fox parents didn’t move the pups further away, but then realized the badger would have just followed them. They couldn’t travel all that far with such young pups and they would be vulnerable the whole time they were traveling. It was best to stay put and play it out the best they could.


Klamath Day 3 – Walking on Water

Posted in Photo Stories with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 17, 2013 by chamimage


This morning I saw a coyote walk on water. Okay, technically the water was frozen, but it was impressive to watch him go across a large frozen pond with a bird in his mouth. I am suspicious that the bird was not exactly gotten legitimately. He was looking around nervously like he was expecting maybe an angry eagle to show up any second, if you know what I mean.

Goose Crossing

Goose Crossing

I spent a pleasant evening with white-fronted geese. When I first stopped there were just a few close to the road. Then a few more flew in, and a few more. Before long I had an impressive flock before me. The kept kind of landing further north, so at one point I decided to leave the shadow of my car and move my tripod northward. Big mistake. The car was breaking up my outline and as soon as my humanoid shape was exposed there was a massive blast off. Some forgave me and came back, but not all.

Jumping Jacks

Jumping Jacks

I decided I liked the geese against the earth better than against the sky. Anyone familiar with autofocus knows that is easier said than done, especially with an aperture of f/6.7 and low light, but I got a few. Looking at the flight shots sure makes me jealous of those that can fly. It looks kind of fun.

At one point a bald eagle strafed the goose flock and they blasted off, thinning them out even more. It was worthwhile for the flight shots I got of the eagle.



Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle


Be Careful Out There

Posted in Travel with tags , , , on April 25, 2011 by chamimage

Frosted Grasses

This past week seems to have been all about the dangers of travel. First, and worst, were the deaths of two photojournalists, Chris Hondros and Tim Hetherington, in a rocket-propelled grenade attack in Libya. I think that most of us take those images and videos on CNN for granted, without giving adequate credit to the guys that put their butts in the line of fire to get them to us. They died doing what they love. These are not the kind of people that could survive sitting at home working nine to five. Still a tragedy, all the same. War, what is it good for?

This weekend we got news that David Duchemin, a great photography book author and travel photographer for NGO’s the world over, was seriously injured in a three story fall in Pisa, Italy while conducting a photo workshop there. He is hospitalized with broken bones and will have surgery before coming home. He will miss the extension to that workshop, which was a cruise along the coast of Croatia.

Many of us had been following David’s blog, made even more interesting with his recent decision to put his things in storage, sell his condo, and hit the road for the year in a Land Rover. He had made it down the west coast from his home in Vancouver, B.C., sprinted across the U.S., and was last seen in Atlanta before leaving for the Italy workshop. Here’s hoping for a complete and speedy recovery. His first book, Within the Frame, is a classic and worth the read. I have already pre-ordered his next book on Amazon (his fourth). Now he will at least have some time on his hands to put the finishing touches on it.

The Sunday paper yesterday carried the story of an unfortunate woman who developed intestinal bleeding on a cruise ship. The Coast Guard responded to rescue her from the ship and get her to a hospital, but her stretcher was dropped during the transfer and she fell into the frigid sea. She did not survive.

Mackay, Idaho

Being rescued is not a certainty. There is an article in this month’s Outside magazine about a travel insurance company for those who might just need a rescue. For an annual fee, you are offered a back up plan to get you out when you get into trouble out there. These guys have quite a network of trusted helicopter pilots and local fixers. They have a database to tell them where it is okay to have brain surgery, and where it is better to risk flying back the the US for that. They flew clients out of Egypt on a private jet recently, also rescuing a college field study group, for a price, on the same plane.

All of this reminds me that I am getting of an age where there are no guarantees. A catastrophic heart attack or stroke could come at a very inopportune moment and place. There may not be time to get me out. I accept that. My father once declined to go on a fly-in fishing trip with me because it was too far away from the nearest ER. I am not my father. I will never let that stop me from living. It doesn’t hurt to make a few contingency plans, just in case, but you do assume the risk when you venture out.


Best of 2010

Posted in Photo Stories with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on December 27, 2010 by chamimage


Apres l’Amour

Time once again to turn the page. In my spiritual journey I am trying to learn to turn the page every day, rather than once a year. This is an opportunity to look back and assess what happened in 2010. What worked, what didn’t. What stupendous blunders  were perpetrated and how to avoid them this year.

My Favorite Image – Which is rarely anybody elses favorite, year after year. What’s wrong with you people! I like this image above for several reasons. It is different. It has gesture, nuance. I like how it came out in Photoshop. I knew it was a favorite when a friend told me she hated it. Not that I don’t value her opinion, but the reason she hated it was because of the emotions that it created within her. It is my goal to make photographs that create emotional responses, so this one succeeded. Think about your last visit to an art gallery or museum and how few of the works there were able to move you. Tangentially speaking, if you want to be moved, forget the Louvre and go across the Seine to the Musee d’Orsay in Paris and look at the sculptures there. It took me a while to recover from that jaw-dropping experience.


African Sunrise

Most Views on Flickr – Of this year’s photos, this one was most viewed. All time views is still, and will likely always be, a wild horse, followed distantly by Maasai warriors herding cattle, an Alaska cabin, and a nutria.


Male Lion

Most Views on Photoshelter – Which surprises me a bit. Not that it is a bad photograph, but it is not much different than other stock photographs of lions. I wouldn’t have entered it in any contest. Which just goes to show that stock and editorial photographic needs are a bit different. They need a photograph that can be cropped to fit their space, and they need it to illustrate the story they are trying to tell; and we have no idea in advance what that story might be, do we?


Most Views on PhotoDeck –I started a new web site on PhotoDeck recently with the intent that it would be a portfolio site for my best and most recent work only. It has done so well I might have to make it my stock site. The photo above this that was most viewed on Photoshelter is not on the PhotoDeck site so who knows how it might have done there.

Biggest Blunder of 2010 – So much to choose from! My biggest photographic blunder was to shoot for God knows how many days on spot metering (instead of matrix) in Samburu. I couldn’t figure out why the exposures were being so difficult. I am now trying to adhere to the practice of zeroing out my camera daily, as proposed by Joe McNally. That means at the end of each day you return all of your camera settings to a default setting (for me – ISO 200, F/5.6, matrix metering, exposure compensation to zero, continuous shutter release)  so you do not shoot all day the next day at +3 stops exposure compensation or all the next morning at ISO 3200 that you used the night before (done that, too).

Best New Software Purchase – Nik Color Efex Pro. I put it off until it was 64 bit compatible. Big mistake. It is not often that something comes along that makes your Photoshop work flow better, faster, and easier. This does. Expensive? Yes.

Most Used Lens/Favortie Lens – The 600 mm VR is still my most used lens. I took it to Africa and used it about 80% of the time there. I should mention that my last trip to Africa I used the 200-400 mm VR exclusively and this trip I was trying to intentionally get a different look. But, there were many, many times when the longer lens let me photograph birds, etc that others with 400 mm lenses were unable to photograph. Moose Peterson thinks the 200-400 mm gives a more pleasing perspective for big game, but in Africa you are confined to a vehicle and can’t get physically closer (you are not allowed to go ‘off the track’, which can be open to interpretation, but the ranger had better agree and he is never in a particularly good mood). My favorite lens continues to be the old 70-200 mm VR. I haven’t gotten the newer version because I love this old war horse so much I don’t want to risk upgrading. The contrast with this lens…I can pick the photographs I shot with it out in the browser without looking at the EXIF.

Biggest Surprise – Like I mentioned, I took my 200-400 VR (still the older model) to Africa in 2007 and the sharpness was not great. I didn’t upgrade to the sharper newer version of the lens because I don’t use it enough to justify the $7,000+ price of the new lens.  This summer I experimented with Lens Align Pro, a system for calibrating the focus of your lenses using a target and the adjustment buried in the camera menus. The sharpness of that lens is improved to an unbelievable degree. I can’t discount that it might just be that the Nikon D200 body I used in 2007 was just horribly out of calibration compared to the D300 I used with the 200-400 VR this time, but I’ll probably use the Lens Align Pro with whatever new body replaces the D300 in the future before I ever take it in the field.

Best Trip – I can’t imagine a year where I went to Africa and it wasn’t my favorite trip. Of course, any year I go to Africa, I can’t afford to go anywhere else.

Best Book – Watership Down. An oldie, but a goodie. I didn’t want it to end.

Best Book About Photography – Visual Poetry by Chris Orwig. If you’ve read Freeman Patterson you have probably been exposed to much of what is discussed in this book, but Chris’s format is much more accessible for me than the ‘assignments’ approach of Freeman Patterson. Everyone has their own way of learning. I especially enjoyed the interviews with photographers the author admires. He asked them all the same five questions and the likenesses and differences in the responses were quite interesting. They were very good questions, by the way. Notice how carefully I worded this category. I did not want to give the impression that I bought this book because of the photographs in it.

Most Infectious Song – I just noted that somebody in Time magazine write that the iPod holds a thousand songs, thirty of which get played over and over on Shuffle. It’s funny because it’s true. I’ve got to stop using Shuffle (They changed it to DJ now, but it’s still the same thirty songs). In Africa in 2007 it was Elvis Costello that haunted me. In Costa Rica last year it was Carly Simon that I couldn’t get out of my head. This year, in Africa, Carly struck again with We Have No Secrets. Imagine three weeks with no music to get that out of your head. Gotta start remembering to bring that iPod! Gotta get my iPod off of Shuffle and start listening to the other 970 songs on there.

Best New Photography Gear – I already mentioned the Lens Align Pro to calibrate the focus on the lenses. They do a passable job at the factory, but they can’t calibrate your camera body for your specific lens. You can. And you can make a custom calibration for each different lens.

I also purchased a Todd Pod, which is a plate that is designed to sit atop the open roof of a Land Rover and hold your Wimberley tripod head. I used it for my 600 mm lens most of the time in Africa. It worked reasonably well and I think it improved the sharpness of my photographs over using a bean bag. Todd Gustafson, the inventor, recommends leaving it on top of the vehicle, with your lens mounted, at all times, which I found impractical, even for short distances. It was a bit tricky getting the mounted 600 mm lens and Todd Podd through the roof hole quickly without scaring the animals at times, especially with the flash mounted on a bracket. There was one Land Cruiser that didn’t work with it at all. The rubber feet fall off repeatedly, so glue them on before you leave. I had no glue and eventually lost one (over the side, I presume).

Stuff I need in 2011 – The gorillas in the airline baggage department managed to bend the Arca Swiss mounting plate on my Kirk ball head. If you’ve ever seen one of these you know they are made of tempered steel and it would take several blows with a sledge hammer to ever bend one. Bent it is. Still usable, but the plate holder tightens at a rakish angle and it should be replaced. I am lusting after the Really Right Stuff BH-55 ball head. Expensive? Yes!

My personal luggage I take on the plane with me fell apart on the way home from Africa to the point that some things, including my house keys, fell out of a hole in the bottom at some point, never to be seen again. Can’t say I didn’t get the last possible mile out of it.

Right now my TV is doing strange things to the picture and I’m tired of hitting it with my fist every half hour (hey, it works), and the refrigerator is getting really loud so I suspect photography purchases will have to wait for a while.

Leopard Cub Chasing Butterfly

Warmest Memory – An evening on Maasai tribal land watching a wild leopard cub chase a butterfly with playful abandon. Such innocence. Such joy. May your 2011 be filled with such moments.






Winter’s Grasp

Posted in Photography Technique with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 22, 2010 by chamimage

Wintry Morning

I found time yesterday to visit the local wildlife refuge. I wasn’t expecting much, just happy to have a break in the rains and go for a drive. It was a bit nippy and I captured some landscapes that make me glad for a warm fire this time of year.

Cold Dawn

I am starting to appreciate moody photographs more. Something that elicits a visceral response, a response you don’t need to think about.

Frozen Mushrooms

Or sometimes I just want to convey what I saw. What did I see in these mushrooms that caused me to stop and bother to photograph them? If I can make others see what I saw, then they will want to stop and look at my photograph. Georgia O’Keefe painted on huge canvasses to make people stop and notice her paintings, assured that they would appreciate the artistry once they just stopped for a second or two. I don’t think that is the answer for photographers. There is a lot of visual stimulation out there to compete with. It had better be something good.

Oaken Entropy

This little oak tree makes me stop and look at it every time. I don’t think I have still quite gotten to its essence, the thing that makes me look, yet. My mind’s eye can filter out that background, but I think I might need that 85 mm f/1.4 lens I’ve had my eye on to make it ignorable in a photograph.

Things to think about, Photoshop skills to polish, and books to read as it plummets to 22 degrees and we get our first snow tonight.

Africa Trip

Posted in Travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on September 24, 2010 by chamimage

African Sunrise

Back from three weeks in Kenya yesterday. Jet-lagged so bad I couldn’t see straight yesterday, but so far so good today. I started in the Masai Mara on the southwestern border of Kenya for ten days. The Mara is known for the great wildebeest migration and there were record numbers of wildebeest this year. Last year was a drought, with no real migration occurring in the Serengeti plain. How the wildebeest know what is going on elsewhere in the Serengeti is a mystery, but this year the river crossings on the Mara River were going the opposite way as my last visit and they said it was because the wildebeest were already heading back south, sensing that the rains there would come early.

Seeing the savanna covered with the wildebeest herds was an insight to what the Great Plains in the U.S. must have been like before the bison were all slaughtered. Thankfully there is no trade in wildebeest steaks in Kenya. We ate at a barbecue that offered ostrich and crocodile, but they said wildebeest had been banned after the game farm operators were caught frequenting the Masai Mara a bit too frequently. I was told poachers are pretty much shot on sight (I believe it after seeing the truckloads of heavily armed park rangers out there) so the only thing worth the risk now is rhino horn. Looking out and seeing nothing but wildebeest in a 360 degree turn around is impressive. It is hard to put that impression on film. Maybe a 360 degree pano would have worked, but I didn’t try it. Video might work. This trip finally convinced me that having video in my next camera might not be the horrible thing  I thought it would be.

After the Masai Mara I went to Lake Nakuru in central Kenya. The drive to Lake Nakuru took us through the highlands area, with impressively beautiful tea and coffee plantations. Lake Nakuru is ground zero for flamingoes (my dictionary says flamingos or flamingoes are both correct. I wish they would pick one and get it over with.) There are mostly lesser flamingoes here, but I noticed a few images that really popped and they turned out to be the greater flamingoes. They are less pink, but larger and overall more impressive to me. I will illustrate both in a later post.

Lake Nakuru is also a rhino sanctuary. I photographed only white rhinos, which graze the grasslands along the lake. The black rhinos are browsers who stick to the forest and we could not go off road to find them. Both were transplanted here to help protect and conserve the species.

Also transplanted here, and found almost nowhere else now, is the Rothschild giraffe. They look a lot like a reticulated giraffe, but have bobby socks legs (no coloring below the knee), as Mr. Rothschild, a hunter, noted.

From Lake Nakuru we went further north to Samburu. Samburu is getting into desert country. Hot desert country. We’re talking camels and palm trees. Much further north and there is only sand. There is a surprising density of wildlife in Samburu. The low shrub landscape makes getting a clear shot of the Somali ostrich a bit more difficult. Besides the usual African critters, we saw Grevy’s zebras, tons of hornbills of all type, oryx, Somali ostrich, and gerenuks. There were large herds of elephants, sometimes just outside the door. When you are sleeping in a tent you start to wonder how much you can trust an elephant being just outside the door. They make some pretty disgusting noises when that close. The majority of trees in Samburu have white-browed sparrow-weaver nests hanging in them. Some trees look like they are festooned with Christmas ornaments.

On our last day in Samburu we saw a lioness take a baby gerenuk in the morning (how she knew where it was hiding is beyond me), and followed a leopard for about two hours in the evening, culminating in an exciting successful hunt for an oryx calf. You need a strong stomach to watch the rawness of nature in Africa.

That ferocious leopard attack was another thing only video could have done justice to. Trust me, you do not want to be attacked by a leopard. We watched for the longest time as the oryx’s approached the crouching leopard and the suspense built. The twin oryx calves were only about fifteen feet away when she attacked. The oryx parents had already passed and seen the leopard and ran, but the calves didn’t notice.  One person said the attack took two tenths of a second from start to finish. I don’t know how he knows that, but I believe it. I never had a chance to push the shutter button, partly due to being so awe-struck. Two people heard the leopard roar during the attack, the rest of us did not. Like I said, it was an adrenaline-filled blur for me. I’ve seen cheetah and lion kills, but the leopard – holy cow! Even our experienced Maasai driver was still still talking about it two days later. He did such an impressive job to set us up to witness all of that, careful not to interfere with any of it. The cat did use the Land Cruiser to conceal her movement at one point. Talk about being close to a leopard! My lens wouldn’t focus that close.

After significant editing I still have 6,272 images on my hard drives from the trip so I’ll have my hands full for a few days (months, years). The images above and below are from the first morning in Masai Mara. Many more to come.

African Sunrise B&W