Winterland

I am just three days away from my around-the world move back to the United States, so I've been busy packing, sorting, organizing, and freaking out! But I'm going to surface from my moving-induced panic to share a few more photographs from our last trip to Finland.

As part of our overnight dogsled adventure, we trekked through deep Finnish forest, seeing a wilderness untouched except by winter. I could have spent hours photographing all the landscapes, but that wasn't an option.... I was riding on the back of a dog sled! So to take any photographs, I had to balance on the sled, take my hands off the steering, and hope to time up a good composition. And that's what I did.

I carried my Leica M240 under my heavy down jacket to keep it warm, retrieving it whenever I saw a photographic opportunity ahead. I used the 28mm f/5.6 Summaron lens, which was a great choice given it's small size to sit under my jacket, wide field of view, and large depth of field. Rattling off snaps as we whooshed past on the dogsled, I hoped there was something in focus and well composed in the mix!

Focusing a rangefinder is already a two handed task, and it's certainly complicated when a dogsled is involved, but I was able to zone focus and get sharp images--- much to my delight! 

Quick Shot: Sunset at Coniston

I have now been to England's renown Lake District twice - exactly a year apart - and my photographic experiences could not be more different between the two trips. The first time I went was the first experience I had shooting a Leica rangefinder and the weather was terrible. This time, I took the Leica SL and my Hasselblad 503CX and the weather was perfect. I really can say that I've had a chance to point my cameras at every conceivable weather pattern in the Lake District.

Since the weather was so perfect, I spent every evening setting up the camera for what I hoped to be a spectacular sunset photograph. I'll elaborate on my experiences with the particular sunsets in another post, but today I wanted to share an image from my last night in the Lake District. We decided to setup at the northern end of Coniston Water, a popular site with day travelers, but on this night, I had the whole lake virtually to myself. I mounted a neutral density filter to the front of the lens and took a long exposure, resulting in the flat water that reflects the pink in the sky beautifully. Although it's not a brilliant neon sunset, I love the soft pink light that filled the sky and water.

Shot on the Leica SL with 24-90mm lens, 36 stop ND filters, and Gitzo tripod.

Quick Shot: Orthodox

The Orthodox Jews are one of the not-so-subtle reminders that Israel isn't like most places in the Middle East. Traveling to the Jewish quarter of Jerusalem and seeing the Western Wall (aka the Wailing Wall) and meeting some of the wonderful people there was really a powerful experience.

This man was sitting in a shady spot not far from one of the most special sites in Judaic history - the Western Wall. He invited me over to and said a prayer for me. I thought it was very symbolic for this area of the world - one of the few places where several religions have fought for years to defend their holy ground. And although I am sure he knew I am not of the Jewish faith, I appreciated his outreach and goodwill gesture to pray for me. It touched me as a compassionate human to meet someone so kind and it helped restore my faith in humanity - that maybe one day the good people of the world will outnumber those full of hate.

Portrait made with the Leica Camera SL and 24-90mm lens.

Quick Shot: Lost in Paris

"Lost in Paris" - this was an interesting double exposure on film. I was trying to merge some of the architecture and landmarks of Paris into a single image and was hoping to do so without any people in it. I stood ready to fire the shutter on one of the images for several minutes in the rain, but people kept walking into the frame. So I waited. Eventually, a little girl walked into the scene and leaned up along the glass of the Lourve pyramids. I fired instantly.... the girl was exactly the subject I needed!

The resulting photograph is perfect - here's all this Paris architecture, with a little girl looking lost in it all.

Day 6-7: Serengeti National Park

Rather than repeatedly offering play-by-play accounts of the animals we saw on safari in the Serengeti, I’m going to mix things up by instead offering a recap of the highlights from Days 6-7, which were spent in the Serengeti National Park. These days brought us virtually all of the animals seen in the Serengeti-  the exception being a rhino. We had almost forty lions, leopards, cheetah, gazelle, giraffe, elephant, hyena, warthog, crocodile, hippo, etc etc etc!

Some of my favorite moments in the Serengeti:

  • One of the roads we went down took us into the middle of a group of hundreds of Zebra. It was probably the biggest concentration of a single animal we observed outside the wildebeest in the north. As far as you could see were zebra, even spanning across a small river. The funny part was listening to the zebra; they make a "he haw" sound like a donkey, but when hundreds of them do it simultaneously, its a sound unlike any heard before. It became dubbed the zebra song and we enjoyed hearing it from smaller groups elsewhere.
     
  • The gazelle are particularly amusing when you watch them move. While their normal process is to just walk like deer, they have this very funny jump / bounce that they will do whenever they are moving faster (like when our truck approaches). It looks like someone attached springs to the bottom of their feet!
     
  • Lions are very lazy. Very lazy. They make my house cat look productive! In the Serengeti we saw several lions that decided to nap in the shade not under a tree, but under the shade of a safari truck. As a result, we had several lions just feet away...... talk about surreal!
     
  • Speaking of lions, they normally hunt in groups and we had a chance to see a failed lion hunt. There were three lions involved; two sat on the horizon near trees while the third was closer to us and sat in the middle of the field. A group of gazelle unknowingly walked between the group, making them in prime location for a hunt, but the lions were not successful in stalking the gazelle. One of the gazelle realized what was happening and they sprinted away before the lions could make a kill.
     
  • We saw other cats, including a cheetah, in the Serengeti. The funny thing about the cheetah was watching it be harassed by a much smaller warthog when the cheetah started to mark its territory. Apparently Puma felt differently about who owned the territory and, undeterred by the size difference, the warthog chased the cheetah out of the area. It was unexpected interactions like this that made the Serengeti so interesting!

The end of day 7 took us to the northern Serengeti where we began our quest for wildebeest migration.... stay tuned!

Going (Temporarily) Offline

Greetings friends! I will be going offline temporarily and won't be posting any new quick shots or blog updates for about a week - we leave Monday for the United Kingdom and will obviously have lots of chores to attend to before I can get back to shooting. I've spent the last two weeks as seen below - working from the floor of our house.... it really isn't very comfortable!

I will be posting lots of updates as soon as I can, but until then, so long!