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2016
12.01
A camel-thorn acacia grows next to the Etosha Pan, Etosha National Park, Namibia.

A camel-thorn acacia grows next to the Etosha Pan, Etosha National Park, Namibia.

The Etosha Pan is a large dry lake bed in Namibia, which due to heavy mineral deposits forms a dry salt pan. The name “Etosha” comes from an Ndonga word meaning “great white place”. While the pan rarely sees water, it is surrounded by savanna and sparse forest, teeming with wildlife. The pan is 75 miles long and just shy of 3,000 square miles. Here you can see the white expanse of the pan stretching into infinity.

A blue wildebeest wanders out alone onto the Etosha Pan, Etosha National Park, Namibia.

A blue wildebeest wanders out alone onto the Etosha Pan, Etosha National Park, Namibia.

Occasionally the wildlife that lives at the edges of the lake bed wander out onto it to gather surface minerals, making up a portion of their diet. A blue wildebeest is dwarfed by the vastness of the pan.

The lake was fed by a large river about 16,000 years ago when glacial melt caused the formation of many such rivers. At some point tectonic plate movement changed the course of the river, and the pan dried up to its current state. The only time it sees a few centimeters of water is due to heavy rains, but this is a seldom occurrence.

Herds of plains zebra and springbok visit a waterhole for a morning drink, Etosha National Park, Namibia.

Herds of plains zebra and springbok visit a waterhole for a morning drink, Etosha National Park, Namibia.

The area surrounding the pan is dotted with waterholes which support a wide variety of wildlife. This area is protected within the boundaries of Etosha National Park, which completely surrounds the pan. Although I only spent one full day here, that glimpse of wildlife photographic possibilities will surely draw me back.

2016
11.28
A female indian boar stands watch over its baby, Mudumalai National Park, India.

A female indian boar stands watch over its baby, Mudumalai National Park, India.

One of India’s less attractive wildlife is the Indian boar. While these guys won’t be winning any beauty pageants, I found them quite cute in their own way. We were lucky enough to see several mothers with babies, and it was fun to see them cuddling and nursing.

An indian boar stands in a forest clearing, Mudumalai National Park, India.

An indian boar stands in a forest clearing, Mudumalai National Park, India.

The boar that I photographed were fairly deep within the forest. I came across several of them in a clearing, basking in the morning sun.

An indian boar roots around on the ground, Mudumalai National Park, India.

An indian boar roots around on the ground, Mudumalai National Park, India.

These animals provided a good example of the results I’ve been able to get using the 50 megapixel Canon 5DSr for wildlife. While I bought the camera primarily for landscape work, I’ve found that for wildlife portraits (slow moving, non-action shots), nothing can beat its resolving power. I’m not going to print any of these shots wall sized (though I could!), but it is pretty amazing to be able to zoom in on the monitor to see the fine detail of the boar’s tiny hairs.

A young indian boar stands next to a tree, Mudumalai National Park, India.

A young indian boar stands next to a tree, Mudumalai National Park, India.

It is always fun to photograph new species in the wild, however “ugly” they might be.

2016
11.23
A tufted gray langur poses on a rock, Mudumalai National Park, India.

A tufted gray langur poses on a rock, Mudumalai National Park, India.

One of my most challenging subjects from my recent India trip was the tufted gray langur. Any animal that has a mixture of very light and very dark colors is an exercise of balance. It takes just the right kind of light, and the perfect exposure to get enough light to see details in the dark areas, while making sure not to blow out the highlights. In the case of the gray langur, I had to make sure the black face was bright enough, while the white hair surrounding the face still rendered in fine detail.

In the portrait above, I was fortunate to have diffused afternoon sunlight directly lighting the face. This helped keep the contrast of the scene low and caught all the details of his solemn expression.

A tufted gray langur clings to the top of a tree, Mudumalai National Park, India.

A tufted gray langur clings to the top of a tree, Mudumalai National Park, India.

The langur seemed to live more wild than the ubiquitous macaques. They have extremely long tails, as can be seen in the photo above. Gray langurs have superior eyesight which allows them to sit in the tops of trees to watch for predators from a distance. They are often seen near herds of chital, as each species can warn each other of approaching predators. In fact, one morning in Mudumalai National Park, we did hear the treetops go wild with monkey calls. About 30 seconds of waiting earned us the growling of a tiger in the thick underbrush. We never did sight the tiger, but the langurs certainly alerted us to its presence.

A tufted gray langur sits on the ground for a portrait, Mudumalai National Park, India.

A tufted gray langur sits on the ground for a portrait, Mudumalai National Park, India.

In all, I only spent a few short moments with these monkeys. In the future, I hope to capture active interactions between family members, as I have in the past with macaques. The unpredictability of wildlife always gives me reasons to keep going back for more.

2016
11.21
A non-breeding male lacks the black face and beak of a male in breeding colors, Windhoek, Namibia.

A non-breeding male lacks the black face and beak of a male in breeding colors, Windhoek, Namibia.

On my very first morning in Namibia, I woke early to photograph any song birds that happened to visit the garden of the bed and breakfast in which I was staying. I was quickly rewarded with sightings of both male and female southern masked weavers. In general, female birds are usually harder to identify than males, which tend to display more color and distinct markings. This identification was made more difficult by the fact that even the male that I saw was in non-breeding colors, looking much more like the female.

A non-breeding male lacks the black face and beak of a male in breeding colors, Windhoek, Namibia.

A non-breeding male lacks the black face and beak of a male in breeding colors, Windhoek, Namibia.

The first two photos here are of a male, while the last is a female. Although the male’s colors are similar to the female, it is distinguished by its red eye. In breeding season, the male has a black face and beak (giving the species its name), looking very different.

A female southern masked weaver lacks the black face of the male, Windhoek, Namibia.

A female southern masked weaver lacks the black face of the male, Windhoek, Namibia.

These weavers did not hang around for long. I had a total of about 30 seconds with the male (which is why cameras with high frame rates are vital with bird photography!). The female perched for a few brief seconds before she was off to the next spot.

2016
11.18

India 2016

An indian peacock walks through short grass, Mudumalai National Park, India.

An indian peacock walks through short grass, Mudumalai National Park, India.

I’ve finished processing my photos from a short trip to India last month. Here is a gallery of some of my favorite shots. It was a whirlwind trip through the southern state of Tamil Nadu, visiting Mudumalai National Park, Ooty, Coimbatore, Azhagappapuram, Nagercoil and Kanyakumari. These photos were shot over the course of four busy days. Click each image to see the next, or use your keyboard arrows to navigate.