Archive for January 2012

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Wintertime just east of Portland, along the Columbia River. The “River of the West” is a constant in this part of the country, reflecting the moods of each season in its broad lower reaches. First view is looking west downriver just after sunset, and the second view is looking upriver, east into the Columbia River Gorge. This particular purplish hue is so common at dusk in the wintertime, here and throughout the West. Always looking east. View is from Rooster Rock State Park in Oregon, and the mountains in the background are on the Washington side of the river. 

Posted January 28, 2012 by MJF Images in Uncategorized

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As small waves rock my body gently back and forth in the clear warm water, and moonlight pours down over the nearby rocky shoreline of this enormous Rift Valley Lake, I wonder why it took me so long to come to Africa.  I also wonder how I could have been misled into believing Africa was only about watching wildlife.  Floating in one of the planet’s biggest and deepest lakes, I sense one of travel’s greatest pleasures coming on.  It is that rare combination of physical stimulation and a kind of spiritual awe.  I am physically stimulated by the caress of crystal-clear water that, if it were a couple degrees cooler or warmer, would not be nearly as perfect as it is.  And I am in quiet awe of the vast, blue beauty of Lake Malawi, shimmering under a full moon.  

Posted January 15, 2012 by MJF Images in Uncategorized

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Two photos of the Namib Desert from recent Africa trip. The utter emptiness of Namibia surprised me. I’m a Capricorn, so noticed this sign in the northern Namib east of Swakopmund. And the mountainous dunes near Sossusvlei are ever popular with photographers, and this area is probably Namibia’s most popular and crowded National Park (but that’s not saying much!).  The rose-colored dunes reach heights I never thought dunes could reach. I had to keep pinching myself to remind that these are mounds of sand, not mountains. It’s very difficult to climb them, especially in the heat (and when you don’t have much water – duh!).  I’ll return for longer, so I can be patient with light for those stunningly simple compositions available throughout the Namib, and also northward along the Skeleton Coast.

Posted January 9, 2012 by MJF Images in Uncategorized

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A contrast across the generations, in photos of young African women I met during my recent trip to southern Africa. The first is a pair of friends, “Ba Kalaghadi”, originally from the central Kalahari area of Botswana, and now living in the fairly westernized town of Maun.  I got to know both to some extent, since I stayed in Maun awhile.  This photo was taken along the Thamalakane River, in front of a fancy safari lodge’s restaurant. I was treating them to dinner.  You do something like this for an African woman, and look out if you’re single!

I also visited a Himba village in Namibia, and the second photo is of quite a young woman in traditional (un)dress.  I spoke with her for a bit (through an interpreter) and took many photos, since she is beautiful.  Of course she dresses like this partly for tourists, in order to make a little money.  But she also is very much influenced by older women around her, who insist on retaining their culture.  She is very naive, sweet, and playful, much like a child (though she has a child of her own).  I was charmed, to say the least.  She is torn between two worlds, and her daughter will unfortunately be much less torn, much more in the western world.  In the past decade, we’ve witnesses many traditional cultures joining the western world.  The Himba and the San, both of southern Africa, are two poignant examples.

Posted January 8, 2012 by MJF Images in Uncategorized

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This is the only time I saw a black rhino in Africa during my trip recently, and boy are they different than white rhino. Looks are actually quite similar, but personality? They are polar opposites. This black rhino was either curious about me, or angry with me (I couldn’t tell which), but I stood my ground (in the car) until he got very close to me.  He was actually traveling with one other.  I knew right away I wasn’t dealing with a white rhino, because of his demeanor, the fact he held his head up and never once grazed on grass, and because of his mouth (which is curved unlike the broad straight mouth of the white).  Note the fresh gouge in his side in the top photo, a clue as well to this being the more aggressive black rhino.  I finally left them, but not far down the road I spied a dung beetle rolling his prize across the road, and had to get out and get a video.  While I was flat on my belly about 50 feet from the car, I felt some heavy footsteps, and looked up to see my friend the rhino coming to investigate.  He was not charging, and didn’t really look like he wanted to, but I nevertheless beat a hasty retreat to the car.  This all took place in Kruger National Park in South Africa, where there are strict rules about staying in your vehicle, for just this reason I suppose.  I just could not follow that rule to the letter though.

Posted January 2, 2012 by MJF Images in Uncategorized

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Lion pride at Kruger National Park, South Africa, during my recent Africa trip.  I was very lucky one morning early, during my recent trip to Africa.  Granted I did make my own luck to some extent, by getting out of camp at first light, and by taking a route that the few other vehicles out there were taking. But I still could not believe when I rounded a corner just before sunrise to see a large pride of lions who had been sleeping in the road to take advantage of the warmth. They can do this in Kruger because no private vehicles are allowed to drive the roads at night, and even the official park night drives are finished by 9 or 10 p.m. at latest.  This leaves the lions to schedule their hunts for early evening, and their sleeping for later.  They were stretching, doing their morning business (note the puddles) and just looking a bit dazed when I came along.  I did not draw very close to them, hoping they would not leave the road too soon.  But I had about 15 minutes to watch them before more cars came, and the pride decided to leave.  Beautiful morning light was just hitting them as they walked purposefully into the bush.  I had not seen a male, until I was ready to go.  He just popped up out of nowhere and walked along the road next to myself and one other car.  The rising sun hit him square in the face, but I think I like this shot of his regal profile the best.  He was a little on the thin side, especially compared to the large female you see lagging behind the group in the first shot.  But I found this to be fairly common with larger prides.  I really think the males have it tougher than many people think, particularly in a large pride with many mouths to feed.  While the females are hunting, the male is not always just lazing around.  They have to defend their position against other males.  And they do not always get to eat their fill, perhaps because the large females keep them from some kills, to let the youngsters have plenty.  I will say the males I saw with only 2 or 3 females and no young were much healthier looking, bigger lions than those in big prides like this one.

Posted January 1, 2012 by MJF Images in Uncategorized

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