Turn to Clear Vision (New York City)

During my work trip to New York City I spent an evening heading up to the ‘Top of the Rock’ in order to check out the city sprawled out beneath me. Unfortunately, for the most part I was skunked out on the weather which was overcast with a slight drizzle most of the three days I was in town. It happens and fortunately New York City is a place you can make really interesting photos no matter what the weather is like.

On the Top of Rockfeller Center I looked out at the Empire State Building but couldn’t make out the top of it nor were the views all that clear of the city below me. Still it was worth the trip even if my favorite picture thus far is one where I zoomed in on the binoculars and bokehed the city skyline off in the distance.

Turn to Clear Vision (New York City)

Top of the Rock (Rockfeller Center - New York City)

Dawn at Glacier National Park (Glacier National Park)

The colors on this one were tough as the sky was just grey as can be from the storm rolling in but yet the mountains were bursting with green since the summer was still in full swing and there had been a bit of rain in the weeks before and during my visit. Additionally, the foreground was littered with colorful stones beneath the surface of the water. Try as I might I was completely unable to get the colors to fit the way the scene truly looked in my head so I took the easy way out and converted it to black and white. I like the way it turned out though as the black and white version just highlights the violent sky and the 8-stop ND filter I used softened the water just enough to give it that feel of motion while the uprooted tree anchored the foreground.

Dawn at Glacier National Park (Glacier National Park)

Dawn in Glacier National Park (Glacier National Park)

Cape Buffalo (South Africa)

The “Big Five” in Africa are the African Lion, African Elephant African Leopard, Rhinoceros and the cape buffalo. Who the heck knew that the cape buffalo was one of the ‘big five’? I would have suspected a hippo, cheetah, giraffe or something like that but nope it is the cape buffalo. Interestingly – at least to me – was the fact that the big five are known as such because they are the five most difficult animals to hunt – it has nothing to do with safari – but yet that is the main question you will get from people when you get back…’did you see the big five?’…even though most people (including myself until the minute before we got to Africa and I Googled it) have no idea what the ‘big five’ animals are or why they are called that. So before you ask – did we see them? Nope we didn’t. We got skunked on the African Leopard which supposedly only comes out at night and on our single night game drive we were not fortunate enough to see them. Night game drives in South Africa (and probably most of Africa) are pretty scarce given the poaching situation since it doesn’t make a lot of sense to have rangers finding animals like rhinos, elephants, etc… and calling out over walkie-talkies the location only to have poachers steal the signal and go cut down the beautiful animals for their ivory (which by the way does NOT have healing powers!).

This Cape Buffalo was one of many that we saw while out on safari. However, this guy had several birds on him eating the ticks that you can see on/about his face. The cape buffalo tolerates this because the birds ultimately keep him somewhat clean and the birds love it because it is something they can survive off of….ahh the circle of life.

Cape Buffalo (South Africa)

Cape Buffalo with Birds (Safari - South Africa)

Under the Arch (Joshua Tree National Park)

A short, easy hike (0.3 miles) in Joshua Tree National Park brings you out to Arch Rock. The distance, or lack thereof, coupled with the accessibility makes it one of the most frequented areas in the park. Shaped somewhat like a brachiosaurus and stretching 30 or 40 feet across is a rock that forms what is known as the ‘arch’. Since I’ve never been to Arches National Park this is the closest I’ve been to something that might emulate that. Of course the stunning views of mountains in the distance that you get at Arches National Park aren’t accessible here since the only picture to be had is below it but I was fortunate with a nice blue sky and wispy clouds. I couldn’t decide on the color version or the black and white version so I posted both.

As an FYI…The next few weeks are going to be tough on not only posting but also on creating anything new. We have a new addition to the family – no not another human but a puppy and MAN are these little guys alot of work. Let’s hope he grows out of his chewing everything in sight phase before I lose my sanity!

Under the Arch (Joshua Tree National Park)

Under the Arch (Joshua Tree National Park)

Under the Arch Black and White (Joshua Tree National Park)

Florence in the Early Evening (Florence, Italy)

We were climbing down from watching the sunset over Florence when out of one of the windows I spotted this view. I loved the contrasting blue sky to the east with the warmer colors to the west where the sun had just dipped below the horizon. Add in the square below that was just starting to bustle with early evening activity and dinner goers, the historic cathedral and hills in the backdrop and it made for a picturesque scene. Of the places we’ve visited in Italy this is definitely one of the areas I’d love to go back to – the wines and delicious food mixed with the history of the city make it one of my favorite places we’ve ever visited.

Florence in the Early Evening (Florence, Italy)

Florence in the Early Evening (Florence, Italy)

Paris’ Watchful Eye (Notre Dame Cathedral)

I’ve always had a fondness for this gargoyle – every time I’m on the roof of the Notre Dame Cathedral I seek him out – I don’t know if it is the crazy eyes or what but compared with the others he seems just a bit ‘out there’. I cropped in tight on him this time – I wanted to make sure I focused on the eye because although it was sculpted centuries ago it is still in pristine condition and completely expressive in his thoughts.

The craziness hits me this week because we pick up a new puppy on Wednesday. As much as I’m looking forward to it I feel I’ve got a couple of endless/sleepless/eternal nights in front of me until we get the little guy accustomed to his new surroundings. Hopefully our seven year old cat is able to integrate the new companion into her day-to-day activities. She still has a lot of energy so I’m hoping they become playmates – fingers crossed that by introducing them slowly we can make them learn to at the very least tolerate one another.

Paris’ Watchful Eye (Notre Dame Cathedral)

Paris' Watchful Eyes (Notre Dame Cathedral)

Great White Shark (South Africa)

On our second day of vacation we spent the day cage diving with Great White Sharks off of the coast of Gansbaai in South Africa. Gansbaai is about a two hour drive from Cape Town so it was a bit of a hike after spending 21 hours on a plane over the two days before but my wife and I were both looking forward to it so we decided we had to do it regardless of how ‘painful’ the extra travel might be. We booked the afternoon trip (11 AM pick up) to allow us the chance to sleep in and get our body clocks back on schedule.

The boat trip was nice but we were giddy with anticipation as we approached the dive sight. As the crew churned the water we saw the sharks start to swarm and several (like this one) even lunged out of the water to make an effort at the seal looking lure they were dragging in the water. Ultimately, when we got into the cage we wished we were back on top since the visibility in the water was so poor (only six feet or so) which meant unless the shark was directly in front of your face you didn’t see much of anything.

Great White Shark (South Africa)

Great White Shark (South Africa)

During the course of the day we saw about ten sharks – ranging in length from 2 to 4 meters (~13 feet) which is about half their fully grown adult size. I think this one was right around ten feet and he moved so effortlessly in the water. It was truly amazing to watch.