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  • Kruger National Park – Day 1, Part 2
  • Kruger National Park – Day 1, Part 1
  • Gullfoss
  • Thingvellir, Iceland
  • Even more Aurora
  • St. Patrick’s Day Geomagnetic Storm
  • Geysir / Strokkur
  • Iceland – Glacier Lagoon
  • Snowmass Rodeo, 2012
  • Venus Transit 2012
  • Last batch of Swiss pics
  • Paragliders of the Alps
  • Moonrise over the Eiger
  • More Bombay Hook
  • Another Bombay Hook sunrise
  • Christmas cactus in black and white
  • Christmas Cactus
  • Making of the ‘Ghost’
  • Mount Rainier in black and white
  • Switzerland
  • Jinshanling Great Wall
  • Beijing
  • National Geographic Explorer
  • Fourth of July…. 2010
  • Spring trip to Yosemite
  • Santa Fe Aspens
  • 2011 Washington DC Cherry Blossoms
  • Aurora
  • New York
  • Ordering prints
  • Waterfalls and Polarizers
  • So close
  • San Francisco 2010 (mostly)
  • Bald Eagles
  • Bombay Hook Sunrise
  • Bern, Switzerland
  • Fall in the Shenandoah
  • Balloons!
  • Corfu, Greece
  • Article usage
  • Beckapalooza
  • Snowmass Rodeo
  • Pismo Beach Surfing
  • Little Blue Heron
  • Snowy Egrets
  • Horseshoe Crabs
  • Wild Ponies of Assateague
  • More Yosemite
  • Half-Dome
  • Cherry Blossom Festival

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    Kruger National Park – Day 1, Part 2

    While lost in the elephants, a retired couple drove up beside me and said, “you have quite a view!” The gentleman remarked that he had never seen the elephants up in the rocks, and I was lucky to experience it so close, before driving off. Before leaving myself, I switched my D600 to video mode and took a brief movie of the closer part of the group. You can hear the image stabilization noise on the lens, as I forgot to take my finger off the focus (I’m such a noob). The troop was about 100 feet away.

    After a while I decided to see what else Kruger had to offer, and wound my way to the other side of the hill. There wasn’t much going on, so I turned around and drove back to see what my friends the elephants were up to. As I drove up I saw to the left of the road mama and a baby, and to the right, the bull.

    I paused to consider my next move.

    Now, placing myself between a mom and baby elephant and their highly protective bull seemed like a bad idea, and while not violating the letter of the ranger’s advice to not get eaten, getting sat on by an elephant appeared to violate the spirit of the warning. But if you look at picture of the bull, you’ll notice what I saw – the pair was to the left and ahead in the road, and the bull would have get around that log. I was pretty sure he couldn’t jump it. So I did what any sane photographer would do: I proceeded to slowly drive up to mom and baby, with the intent to get a nice closeup.

    Before I had even reached them, thunderous stomps, branches being broken in rapid succession, and a very angry “Bbbbrrrrrrrmmmpt!” induced me to floor it and rush 30 feet ahead. Behind me I saw the bull standing right where my car had been just a second earlier. Spry guy.

    I also failed to get a decent picture. Mission: failed. But you can see they were perhaps just 10 feet away, and it was a neat experience I won’t soon forget. Here’s the sequence I shot as I zipped past the pair:

    What might have been… I continued down the dirt road, retracing my route down the hill, towards a small watering hole. I would run into the very same couple I had just talked to, and they would share with me a cautionary tale about messing with angry elephants.

    Kruger National Park – Day 1, Part 1

    Kruger National Park is a wildlife lover’s dream. It’s long been on my ‘bucket list’, and piggybacking on a trip to Cape Town I was fortunate to spend an afternoon and 1 full day immersed in the wilderness. Equipped with my 150-500 mm Sigma and my workhorse 24-85mm Nikkor, I was ready for some wildlife photography!

    I entered the park driving a stick rental car, on the ‘wrong’ side of the road, through the Numbi gate. A gruff guard toting an automatic weapon told me to check in with the ranger – “Welcome to paradise” he said – after which I walked across the street to a stand and purchased the “Kruger Park Map & Guide”, with a very helpful map of the park, and a checklist of all the animals one could (be expected to?) see. Beyond that, neither the brochure nor the park ranger gave much guidance on what to expect. It was very much, “Welcome to the park. Don’t get eaten.” With that sound advice, I punched my first night’s stay (Pretoriuskop Camp) into my iPhone, and started driving.

    First contact!

    As Kruger is a huge – bigger than Connecticut! – natural wilderness area, I expected animal encounters to be few and far between. Lion Country Safari this was not. But in less than 5 minutes, I spotted some Zebra just a few feet into the brush off the side of the road, and excitedly started snapping. In retrospect, looking at that first picture, my enthusiasm was obviously misplaced. But I was was the lone human being within many miles, with wild Zebra just a few feet away from me. I am embarrassed to admit that I spent far too much time trying to catch a glimpse of Zebra butt through gaps in the brush. A few minutes later I spent similarly embarrassingly long time with a herd of impala, also known as the Kruger ‘Big Mac’ – because they are so common they are the snack of choice for the park’s carnivores.

    An hour later, after spending some quality time with a Red-Billed Oxpecker (Example), I came upon a dirt road that led up to a small loop (Route S-10) around a nondescript, rocky hill. You can see the hill in the second picture below.

    After making this turn to the right of the hill, I saw a beautiful Greater Kudu, and then turned a corner to see this:

    A beautiful, stunning, bull elephant, eating grass amongst the rocks. And he wasn’t alone. Just behind him, generally elusive and adorably wrinkly, with tiny tusks, a toddler elephant. And behind the toddler, a herd of maybe 12-15 elephants. Just hanging out on the side of the hill, for me to enjoy. Leaning out my window, with the herd maybe 100 feet away, I clicked off hundreds of pictures, and was in heaven.

    Twenty minutes later, the bull would be chasing me down that very dirt road. But I’ll save that story for part 2.

    Gallery of Kruger photos

    Gullfoss

    Another set of Iceland pics, likely the last, this time from one of the most amazing waterfalls in the world. I visited three separate times, but you’ll only see pictures from the first trip. That first day was bitterly cold, windy, and snowing. Not ideal for taking pictures, although I gave it my best shot.

    The third trip was specifically timed so I could get the rainbow. Search for ‘gullfoss rainbow’ and you’ll get about a zillion pictures. I couldn’t leave Iceland without adding 1 more to the list. Knowing how rainbows are formed, I calculated what I thought was the best time to stop by. Another cold and windy day – I’m not sure there’s any other kind in Iceland – but the sun was out and I got a shot. Not spectacular, but good enough to add to the list. They might benefit from some judicial photo editing, and I might return to them again in the future.

    I think I ended up with some decent photos, and the waterfall truly is amazing and a must-see in person. But compared to standing under the aurora

    Gallery.

    Thingvellir, Iceland

    I’m not sure how to pronounce, or even spell, Thingvellir (Þingvellir), but it is a beautiful, peaceful place smack in the middle of nowhere. A snowstorm had just passed through the morning I went, and the combination of scattered clouds and snow covered scenery made for easy picture taking.

    It was during the editing of these photos that I discovered the ‘sunlight’ filter that is part of the Nik Collection (also makers of the indispensable Snapseed iPhone photo editing app). It applies light into the shadows, helping make the image softer, without taking away sharpness. A simple effect, but highly effective. It is especially beautiful when applied to portraits.

    Click here for gallery.