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.
Puffins are camera shy, as they flee when they see you coming — unlike many seabirds that I’m accustomed to in Florida. As soon as I spotted one, tried to creep a bit closer, framed the shot and focused — off it went. Most of my photos that afternoon on Vigur Island were shot a second too late. Charlie and I were a persistent team; he was holding high sticks to ward off the Arctic Terns who are apt to attack your head. He was watching the long grass in the hillside for puffin nests where the puffins briefly land to feed their chicks, and acting as my spotter.
“Over there,” Charlie whispered to me, pointing. I crept closer with camera poised, hoping to focus and shoot before the puffins took flight.
I kept my shutter speed high and my lens wide open, trying to freeze action on a flying puffin at the very least. I was working hard to get a good puffin shot before leaving Iceland. Having seen puffin photos in all the shops, I knew how cute the little birds are!
At last our teamwork paid off, and I captured this image of a puffin with a beak full of fresh fish for the chicks. The Nikon D800 with 70-200 lens and a 1.4 teleconverter gave me a sharp image even though we were about 10 meters away.
My friend Tamra is leaving for a cruise to Alaska this week. I hope she gets to see lots of Alaskan Wildlife as we did when we sailed on Silverea’s Silver Shadow in 2004. We loved watching bears grab salmon from the stream and eat them, leaving leftovers for the bald eagles near Wrangell. July is a great time to visit Alaska.
Whales were bobbing and breaching as well near Juneau, and in Sitka, we observed some colorful starfish.
As for me, I’ll be departing for Iceland this week, where I hope to photograph the Puffins as well as many waterfalls and volcanic landscapes.
The detail and delicacy of a spring peony is best described not with words, but with a photograph. The New York Botanical Garden has a long, luxurious peony bed, full of different colors and varieties. Visit the Botanical Garden on your next visit to New York City. Easily reached on the D train or by Uber. The gift shop is inspiring, too!
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Chihuly glass sculptures, installed in many prominent American botanical gardens, ostensibly aim to imitate nature. How do you compare these sublime towers of glass at the New York Botanical Gardens to a nearby stalk of blooms?
Inside the neoclassical pavilion, I found this simple and elegant stalk of blossoms. It is rather understated, you might say, but similar to the sculpture in its overall shape and repetition of blossoms up the stalk. Here the colors are more muted, not bold, primary colors the sculpture has.
Inside the pavilion shown in the first photo is a more fanciful Chihuly tower sculpture that reminds me of a Dr. Seuss illustration. It is white with pink polka dots, and its spokes curl like snakes. Symmetry is no longer the operative word. We might say this piece shows more personality.