I’m not a morning person, are you? Don’t you love to wake up on your own time, and then curl up on the couch with coffee and your iPad? I love those mornings especially when it is rainy or snowing.
Maybe I fell for this beautiful lion because her behavior reminded me of my dog.
#1. I could look at this face all day.
#2. Licking her paw and yawning, that’s my dog.
#3. I can’t get close to this dangerous African animal, but I CAN look at her all day with these photographs I made with my Nikon D800 and Tamron 150-600mm lens, at 600mm held steady with a monopod.
Both the San Diego Zoo in the city and the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, 30 miles northeast in the San Pasqual Valley, are exciting places to visit. The habitats for more than 2600 African and Asian animals are enormous at the 1800 acre Safari Park. You can plan ahead and book a variety of safaris, or just spend the day wandering around.
I particularly enjoyed the 6 female Transvaal lions, named for their original home in southern Africa. These lions have a shoulder height from between 3 to 4 feet, and weigh 250-400 pounds. They are powerful and beautiful animals.
I met an avocet for the first time at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. These birds sometimes live on the south east shores of the United States, but they are more common on East Texas coast and in California. I was captivated by the unique thin beak curving up. The bird is about 16″ tall and slender with delicate legs and beak. If you find it feeding in the wild, you will see it wading along the shore and in marshes, sweeping for little insects and other edible creatures.
While American avocets display a rust colored neck during breeding season, this one was purely grey and white.
Have you seen this bird? Where?
Great bird photography comes from a successful collaboration of the right location, the right equipment, good technique, plenty of patience and an ounce of luck. If you approach a target-rich environment with the right lens and practice your technique enough — you will get lucky. (I paraphrase my husband’s motto: luck comes to the well prepared.)
The nesting arctic terns on Vigur Island in Iceland (a target rich environment) are very strong, fast and quick. They are busy catching small fish and delivering the fish to their chicks on the island. They also have an instinct to attack your head, so it helps to have an assistant guard your head with a stick.
Set your camera this way: fast shutter speed to freeze action, and all other settings to support that choice: higher ISO, wide open lens, spot meter, and maybe continuous shooting. Then, my technique was very quick action: pan/focus/shoot.
It was a day multiple blessings and just one First World Problem. First, here are the blessings:
- We were on vacation in Iceland.
- The weather was sunny and warm (not typical).
- In Akureyri, we were going on a RIB (rubber inflatable boat) to observe whales in the fjord.
- Humpback whales feed in the Icelandic fjords in July.
- We had an experienced pilot and guide who have identified 150 humpback whales by name and understand a great deal about them.
- I kept my Sony a7IIr camera dry, and did not lose my sunglasses as we sped around the fjord.
So, what was the First World Problem? We got so close to Jackson the humpback whale that I couldn’t get the whole whale in my frame! I caught myself exclaiming, “Oh my, we’re too close!” and heard a voice reply, “too close?”
Well, you see, I wasn’t really complaining. I was amazed. Thrilled. Grateful.
My husband was not behind a camera, and just watched the whale, seeing his eye.