Monterey drifter

Ok, after the last post I promised myself the next couple would be short - though I hope you enjoyed the interview with Thomas Hawk!  I caught this image of a jellyfish at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, which is an awesome place.  If you are ever in the area, be sure and check it out!

Jellyfish - Monterey Bay Aquarium

Jellyfish are interesting, right?  They are the original drifters.  Talk about being laid back - they just float around and let the current lead them where it may.  If they bump into some food, good for them.  As humans we are so conditioned to “make things happen” and to “get it done” that it is hard to imagine living this way, but it obviously works for them.  They don’t even have brains or a central nervous system, so they are sort of like the oceanic version of a zombie.  But hey, there are a lot of them, so they are doing something right!

Anyways, they are fun to watch and I enjoyed hanging out with them at The Monterey Bay Aquarium in Monterey, CA last week.  It’s a great aquarium and I was happy to make a return visit since it has been 10+ years since my last visit there.  I have seen a lot of cool shots of jellies over the years, but never had any to call my own.  Going in, this was one thing that I really wanted to photograph, but it’s kinda hard you know?  It’s really crowded and hard to get close, and of course it’s fairly dark in there, except inside their tank which is a bright blue, they reside behind really thick glass - oh and did I mention they are in constant motion? - so I went with a very wide aperture and high ISO -  f/5 and ISO 1600, -1EV and 1/30 of a second, to be precise - and was able to capture some decent shots.

I also spent some time snapping a bunch of other creatures, and will see about sprinkling those guys into the blog as well.  But, I have so many “scenery” shots that more of those will come first!  And tomorrow, a fairy tale village sort of thing!

Grazing through the apocalypse

Ok, I know this image is a little crazy but I was just having fun here, so forgive me for exiting the bounds of reality for a minute!  This is something I took a couple of years back at Yellowstone, while on a trip with 2 of the coolest guys you could ever meet.  We had a heck of a great time, and I took lots of photos on the trip.  I just came across this the other day in my library, and thought I would give it the HDR Efex Pro treatment.  I was sliding things here and there and just having a great time while in my own little world of software - hopefully you have experienced that joy yourself, firsthand.  Anyways, I just thought it was a fun shot, nothing serious, just fun.  Hope you get a laugh or something out of it!  Thanks for looking!

King of the hill

These are some of my new friends.  I met them at a beach in La Jolla, CA.  Aren’t they awesome?  All kidding aside, I watched these creatures frolic to and fro and never noticed the time passing.  One even came in real close and was rubbing his head on a rock, barely 10 feet from me!  It was awesome and I got a lot of shots that day!  If you are ever in SoCal, I recommend a visit to La Jolla - you will not be disappointed!

My favorite neighbor

So this little guy seems to have taken up residence in a tree (along with his family) just across the street.  I have seen him several times lately, and have tried to get close enough to take his photo - to no avail - until today.  He happened to be eating a worm in the street and was content to just sit there for a bit.  I initially took shots from some distance, assuming he would take flight when he thought I was too close (and eventually he did) but I was able to get within about 20 feet of him!  I kept inching closer and closer, and sat down on the curb and fired away.  

Does anyone know what kind of bird this is?  Via a Google search he appears similar to a red-shouldered hawk and also a merlin, but I really have no idea.  Any help on that front is appreciated.  One thing I know for sure - my wildlife photography skills need some work, and I probably need much different equipment.  Either way, it's fun to get pretty close to a creature this beautiful.

Rhino at rest

While walking around the San Antonio Zoo, we came across the rhino enclosure.  I think rhinos are interesting - they seem somewhat prehistoric to me.  Anyways, this guy was just standing there when we first arrived, and I tried to get some shots but nothing was too exciting.  Anyways, he meandered about for a short while and then plopped down for a nap.  I was able to walk to the other side of his enclosure to get this shot.  Zoom in a little and presto!  Doesn't it seem like zoo animals are always napping?  I guess they get bored just like we would if we were cooped up forever.  One day I would love to visit Africa and get some shots of real wildlife, doing whatever they do in the wild - probably napping!

Red-tailed hawk

The red-tailed hawk is a beautiful creature, and my favorite bird.  I have seen them a couple of times in the wild, but never had my camera handy.  In this case, we were at a NatureFest of some sort in a small town outside of Austin, and there was a gentleman there who rescued injured birds of prey.  He had an eagle, several hawks and some owls too.  He had actually trained some of the birds and did demonstrations, showing their skills in catching moving objects and things like that.  It was pretty interesting and I was glad to have my camera on me that day. 

Dinner in Yellowstone

We spent the entire day in Yellowstone National Park, which is not nearly enough time honestly, as there are many sites and it is a sprawling place.  Nonetheless, it was fabulous.  At one point we arrived in the Lamar Valley, which is billed as the Serengeti of the North, and totally lives up to it billing.  Wildlife seems to be everywhere.  We encountered this coyote just by the side of the road, happily crunching on this hapless varmint and completely ignoring us.  I guess when tourists are gawking at you daily you become a bit numb to it and realize they are not a threat.  Anyways, he enjoyed his meal, we enjoyed watching, so I guess everyone was happy.

Single image at f/11 and some minor adjustments in PSE and Aperture.


Sleepy bear

Recently we went to the San Antonio Zoo down in San Antonio, TX.  It's really a nice zoo and a good way to spend the day.  This grizzly bear was one of the first animals that we saw.  When we first arrived, he was in his pool taking a dip, and was pretty hard to see.  I could just barely catch the top of his head bobbing around, which just wasn't going to work as far as photography goes.  We kept walking and due to some good luck had to double back by his enclosure.  When we did, he was lumbering about, slowly making his way around the area and he finally settled down right in front for a nap.  I was pretty jazzed and had the camera working full speed.  

This is a single exposure, taken at f/6.3 and 0 ev.  I did some adjustments in PSE around Contrast and a little color fix in Aperture and that's it!

Coyote in the wild

Driving through Yellowstone, especially the Lamar Valley, it is darn near impossible NOT to see wildlife.  There are animals everywhere.  I imagine it is like being on the Serengeti or someplace in Africa, except with snow.  In this case, we were driving along and this coyote literally ran across the road in front of us.  Of course, we all immediately dove for our cameras, so I am not sure who had the wheel at that point, but the chances of hitting another car are slim to none when you haven't seen one in hours.  This guy ran up the snow embankment after crossing the road, and I figured my chance to capture him was gone, but he came through some brush and into a little clearing, and...paused.  It was great.  It was like he wanted to get his picture taken, except that he didn't look at us.  I guess he smelled dinner on the wind, and who doesn't want a warm meal when it's so cold outside?