In retirement, I’m finding beauty in simple and common things. Common things that we don’t give too much thought or attention to, things like hanging the laundry out to dry. So here we have something that caught my eye in Cusco Peru. I liked the contrast between the colors of the clothes against the earthy clay tones of the building’s stone work. And then there was the commonality of everything being weathered and well worn.

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Posted in Cusco, Peru

America’s Cup, Emirates Team New Zealand

Got a need for speed?

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Posted in Hawaii

Hōkūle‘a, Mālama Honua

Yesterday, Saturday June 17, the Hōkūle‘a, returned home to Hawaii after circumnavigating the globe. Sailing more than 40,000 nautical miles over a three year period, the Hōkūle‘a visited 85 ports and 26 nations.

The mission of the voyage was to spread the message of Mālama Honua (caring for island Earth) by promoting environmental consciousness, fostering learning environments, bring together island communities and growing a global movement towards a sustainable world – all something we are in great need of.

Sailing without compass, sextant, cellphone, watch or GPS, navigation was done by traditional Polynesian “wayfinding” using the sun, moon, starts wave patterns, and ocean currents. And they said it couldn’t be done.  Well – they did it!

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Posted in Hawaii

Peanut Gallery

It is a real Yawner…

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Posted in Cusco, People, Peru

Amazon Queen

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I’ve spent a lot of time in boats, all sort of boats, beginning in the 4th grade with a 12’ aluminum Smoker Craft and a 5 horse Merc. Then there was a 14 foot Sea Swirl with a 25 horse Merc.  Then there was a 17 foot Glasspar with a 110 horse Merc Cruiser, which frequently failed to start. This was followed by a couple 17 foot Fiberform inboard outboards and finally a very nice 17’ Sea Ray.  There were a couple of 17 foot Thistle sailboats in there as well. During all this we became good friends with people who had yachts.

Always good to know someone with a boat, especially a yacht!

Now, here in Hawaii, there are 40 foot ocean going outrigger canoes.

With this in mind, and for the record, at the end of our first day on the Madre de Dios River in Peru, I asked our captain and his crew what kind of craft it was we were trusting our lives with. Now, my Spanish is not so great. With the help of one of our traveling companions we were able ask the question in good Spanish. At the end of the discussion, all we came away with was “boat.”  Had we been in Mexico, I would have called it a Panga.  Wikipedia defines panga as a “modest-sized, open, outboard-powered, fishing boat common throughout much of the developing world, including Central America, the Caribbean, and parts of Africa, the Middle East, and much of Asia. In addition to being used by fishermen, pangas are also popular with Somali pirates.” Good to know.

I can honestly say that some of the best times in my life have been on a boat. For sure, once again, thinking often of Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn in The African Queen, the time spent plying and navigating the waters of the Amazon River Basin to exotic destinations and ports of call easily fell into “one of the best times in my life.”

Posted in Manu River, Peru

Flyby (Black Skimmers)

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Knowing how the shot was taken, imagine my surprise when I viewed this image on my camera’s LCD screen. I was even more delighted when I pulled it up on desktop’s screen for processing.

This capture of black skimmers was taken from the bow of our river boat on the Madre de Dios River. We were traveling downstream at about 30 mph.  I know this because I judged the speed to be close to the speed I use to water ski at on Ten Mile Lake in Oregon.  This is fast for being on the water.

The skimmers had to be flying faster as they flew alongside us and then passing across our bow from the right hand side of the boat. So the boat was moving, the skimmers were moving and I was moving a bit like being on a gimbal, trying to keep my balance, while keeping the birds in the view finder as they zoomed by. It all happened in about 5 seconds.

In short, I’m amazed the birds are in such good focus with great detail visible in the wings. This is not to mention they are pretty cool birds, built for flying fast. I hope you can view this on a screen larger than your cell phone.

Here’s the exposures details:

f/8 @ 1/6400 sec, ISO 1250, Exp. Bias -0.7, 400mm

Posted in Birds, Madre de Dios River, Peru

Peruvian Portrait

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Sometimes it happens that you stall, delay, and wait for something to happen. Sometimes you have the feeling that here are all the makings of a picture – except for just one thing that seems to be missing. But what one thing? Perhaps someone suddenly walks into your range of view. You follow his progress through the viewfinder. You wait and wait, and then finally you press the button – and you depart with the feeling (though you don’t know why) that you’ve really got something. Later, to substantiate this, you can take a print of this picture, trace it on the geometric figures which come up under analysis, and you’ll observe that, if the shutter was released at the decisive moment, you have instinctively fixed a geometric pattern without which the photograph would have been both formless and lifeless.

— Henri Cartier-Bresson

Posted in People, Peru

Fasciated Tiger-heron (Diversity)

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If you’ve been following the Amazon River Basin postings you should be getting a feeling for the wonderful, amazing diversity of the area.  And I’ve only scratched the surface. Most of the images I’ve shared so far were taken either along the river from our boat or along the shoreline of Cocha Salvador and Cocha Blanco from a floating barge. When we were on each of the two lakes, we were able to drift along slowly and quietly. Thankfully, because we were on a flat platform, I was able to use my tripod. It was still a bit of a challenge though because the barge was always turning and moving although much slower than the river boat. The good news was that we were able to get right up to the shoreline most of the time.

The attached image is of yet another heron, a juvenile Fasciated Tiger-heron. This bird is VERY similar to the Rufescent Tiger-heron and could very well be the Rufescent Tiger-heron, but I’m going with the Fasciated Tiger-Heron because that’s what our field notes indicate. My wonderful Birds of Peru Field Guide notes that the Rufescent Tiger-heron has a longer and heavier bill than the Fasciated Tiger-heron. I’m thinking this is a tough call.

The foreword in my Birds of Peru Field Guide notes that there are over 1800 species know in Peru. Leafing through the guide by itself is an amazing experience all by itself. Peru is second only to Colombia in terms of bird diversity. And new species are still being discovered! Again, amazing.

Posted in Birds, Peru

Capped-Heron, Manu River, Peru

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I’m beginning to have a problem figuring out how many more images to post from our adventure into the Amazon River Basin. I mean it’s not everyone who gets to experience such a wonderful trip. And as I note on my home page, for me, a good photograph is simply one that shows the viewer something they have never seen before or takes them to a place they may never be able to visit. A valuable photo is also something one can use to recall special times in special places with special friends.  I believe these postings and images meet both criteria.

I took over 1500 frames on this trip and I’m still sorting through them, finding little jewels here and there. In retrospect, I wish I would have taken more. Part of the problem is coming up with something to say about each of the images I’d like to share. I also wish I would have taken along a tape recorder to capture the ongoing dialog from our guide who was a wealth of information – especially when any given bird was under discussion.  

Each night, before dinner, we’d huddle around a table wherever we were staying, all wearing head lamps. The lamps were all set to red so we would not blind each other. During this time we reviewed each and every bird we spotted. The review was facilitated by a really great check list provided by Manu Expeditions. In summary, we spotted and identified over 150 individual species. Again, recording these sessions would have been very cool. 

The one thing I recall about the Capped Heron is that as Wikipedia notes, “the Capped Heron is distinct from other herons, being the only one with a blue beak and face, and a black crown, with three to four white long feather extending from the black crown.” Danny, our guide, referred to the Capped Heron as being quite handsome.  I agree.

Posted in Birds, Manu River, Peru

Cream-colored Woodpecker

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While the Cream-colored Woodpecker does not carry the stardom and obscure status of an Ivory-billed Woodpecker, according to our guide, it is still relatively uncommon in the Manu Biosphere. In fact, our two boat attendees, both great birders, who have grown up on the Manu River, had never seen one before. However, BirdLife International notes that because the species has a large range and despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing the decline is not believed to be sufficiently rapid to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion. Either way, we all felt very fortunate to see one and I felt happy to be able to capture a frame without a lot of foliage in the way.  I can only imagine what it would be like to spot an Ivory-billed Woodpecker, surly the Holy Grail for birders.



Posted in Birds, Peru