Streets of Kathmandu

Well, it’s sure been a long time since I have seen the add-new post interface. The reason was mostly due to the very poor Internet speeds we encountered on our travels…Oh, and apathy.

I am back in Canada now, adjusting to the cold,  the silence and the very speedy Internet. Despite all of these things, I do miss some of the SE Asian culture, like the 2am street noodle lady and the street market chaos.

I do have a number of photos to reject, crop and touch up so hopefully you will see a lot more posting action in the near future.

 

At first glance there is only chaos in the Kathmandu streets. Back roads and stone alleyways  move cars, school children, monks and bicycles. Vendors advertise, sell and deal. Garbage collects, and tourists stumble on the uneven bricks and concrete. Domestic animals squeak by fast much larger moving objects with determination, like they are late for some kind of appointment.

A little more observation brings an unspoken, unwritten order to the chaos. Everyone seems to know what it is, likely learned by trial and error, bumps and bruises and the occasional tire tread over your foot. After a while you get it to, the advantage goes to the fast learner.

If you are looking for interesting photographs, the streets of Kathmandu are at times overwhelming and a bit dangerous, despite all of the negatives, boredom is impossible.

Some market vendors are mobile, choosing to advertise by voice rather than sign.

 

Some choose a less active approach.

Jeff_Rhude-4369

Some enjoy a morning paper.

 

You may stumble on a sidewalk workshop.

 

 

Or an inside workshop.

 

 

 

 

Or even a furniture workshop.

 

 

 

It can even be fun to watch the garbage man.

 

Jeff_Rhude-4435

 

A number of streets are linked to religious sites, in this case Boudhanath, one of the largest stupas in the world.

An early morning visit was very interesting as it was busy but only with locals circling the stupa and spinning prayer wheels.

Jeff_Rhude-4292

 

This woman seemed content to sit on top of a stupa ledge and look over the crowd. Not so unlike my experience.

 

Jeff_Rhude-4318

 

Posted in People Tagged , , , , , , , , , |

Beachscapes – Gili Islands, Indonesia

The Gili Islands are a hotspot destination for tourists visiting the Lombok region and even the Bali region in Indonesia.

The group of three are the most visited in the area and all three have a different vibe while on the island. All three islands are completely clear of motorbikes and cars so you can enjoy the peaceful contrast to the hustle of the nearby Bali and Lombok islands.

Trawangan is where most people come to party. There are lots of bikinis, 6-pack abs and tribal tattoos. Although it tends to be a party mecca, it is a nice vibe and most people are well behaved.

Meno is the least visited of the three and has a saltwater lake in the middle of the island. Apparently Lonely Planet reported that the lake caused a mosquito problem on the island and this is why its so quiet. Later this assertion was discounted.

Air (meaning water in Bahasa, just to confuse things) is definitely quieter than the party scene happening on T. This being said the locals and tourists alike know how to have a good time. The quirky little bars along the water are the preference to any large fancy resorts and are a lot of fun at night. Dive shops are the other major sight on the island where every hotel with a pool is being used for beginner diving courses. More rustic accommodations keep you in the island groove and offer large lounger beds on the west side for watching the sunset solo or with that special someone.

During sunset, I chose to walk and photograph along the way.

 

The islands are so close together, a few people have tried to swim between them. Too bad this area is home to some of the swiftest currents in the world. The tide is also interesting in the area. We are only 8 degrees south of the equator but since the water is so shallow until about 1km from the island, the receding tide uncovers some hidden coral fields.

All throughout Bali and Lombok, the beaches are littered with traditional outrigger fishing boats painted in vivid colors.

 

 

This is an area of the world I will most certainly miss and I will be returning here in the future.

Posted in Landscape Tagged , , , , , , , , |

Blue Lagoon – Nusa Ceningan

So far the trip has been great with new experiences on a daily basis.

We made the long so very long journey via air from Vancouver almost two weeks ago and although excited we crashed quickly at our hotel in Kuta, Bali, something of an Aussie Mexico.

Kuta’s got it all, if you like to shop for cheap trinkets or sarongs, hats, baskets, or Versace handbags, not really my kind of place but I can see the appeal when you learn how cheap a flight can be from Darwin, Down Under.

Since leaving we have really enjoyed the slow pace in Lembongan and its neighboring island Ceningan connected to Lembongan by way of a rickety old wooden suspension bridge wide enough for only one scooter at a time. The first time over was to overcome the fear of falling through one of the broken wooden slats, a logical fear supported by the noise of rattling old slats bearing the weight of you and your bike. A few more times over, ripping on my scooter “The Turquoise Terror” has become a timed sport.

Everyone here has been friendly and there are four different ways to say hello in Bahasa Indonesia based on the time of day.

We have enjoyed some delicious Balinese and Indonesian food, and hung out with a few friendly locals, eager to sell us snorkeling tours or motorcycle rentals. In fact last night a young waiter at a local sports bar trusted his life to me by jumping on the back of my bike for a ride to a beach party…After serving me two large Bintangs (over 1L of beer).

Kuta was not very photogenic however the natural beauty of Lembongan and Ceningan have left me inspired and I am getting out most days to photograph hidden cliffs and crashing waves.

In a few days we plan on heading to Lombok and I will have to leave The Turquoise Terror behind, for it I will have traded some memories.

Posted in Uncategorized Tagged , , , , , , , , , , |

Wings Over The Rockies – Part II

Later on in the week, I attended a wildlife tracking seminar with Northstar Bushcraft’s Nick Furfaro. Nick is passionate about survival and tracking and this shows in his courses and talks. Although I didn’t manage to take away any interesting photographs, I always learn a lot with Nick and end up taking away knowledge that I am sure will come in handy while walking around in the bush.

The real highlight for my week was the last day I attended. Brian Keating was at both events I attended on the Friday of the festival. As an unexpected bonus, Brian and I were paired up during a “Birding by Golf Cart” event, exactly what it sounds like. We looked a bit like a group of clown cars attacking a golf course at 7am, long lenses and binoculars in hand, a really fun way to go looking for wildlife.

We managed to get a look at a number of species, and this playful Northern Flicker turned out to be quite cooperative.

A number early birders on the trip were hoping to see a Lewis’s Woodpecker out on the course. I was not familiar with this species, but thanks to the avid birders on the trip we ourselves flocked to a tree where the mystery bird had landed. I noticed the lack of pecking wood, something you would expect based on the name.

Some research has uncovered an interesting fact, that the Lewis does not often bore holes in the trees for insects but feeds mostly by catching flies out of mid air. Something of a “fly-hawk” perhaps more than a woodpecker.

 

I found myself in Radium with a couple of hours to spare before my next event. During this pause I explored a few seldom used roads in the area and stumbled upon a protected wilderness area near Wilmer, BC. I was surprised that I hadn’t heard of this area before.

A narrow pathway led me down some rolling hills winding around some small hoodoos and descending towards some wetlands near the Columbia River. The park was alive with bird life and although they remained unseen at least to me, there were some obvious signs of carnivores in the area, including an entire hind leg of a small deer.

I sat in the wetlands for about an hour attempting to become invisible and managed to get a few images I was happy with.

It was odd to end the festival in a conference room in the basement of the Fairmont Hot Spring Resort as I had been attending outside events for the entire week.

I enjoyed a tuna sandwich and coffee while I watched videos of some of Brian and Dee Keating’s latest travel adventures. While the videos played, Brian narrated the video and told us of some of the challenges carrying gear and pleading with the counter agent for a business class upgrade.

If you have the chance to see Brian speak, please take the opportunity to go. You will be happy that you did.

Posted in Wildlife Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Wings Over The Rockies – Part I

Last week I had the opportunity to visit The Wings Over The Rockies festival, a festival of birding just south of me in Invermere, BC.

I attended a few events over the course of the week and was very surprised at the attendance of the events and the knowledge and passion of the local birding crowd.

Although I would not consider myself a birder I certainly enjoy photographing various bird species, especially of the raptor variety.

The interest in the festival was to get out with some bird experts and like minded people into some Kootenay wilderness and to see if I could make some nice photos of local migratory species. I returned from the festival with some new contacts, a few nice photos and memories of some of the most passionate and accepting people I have ever encountered.

Birder or not, I would seriously recommend taking in an event or two next year.

My first event was an early morning at Burges and James Gadsden Provincial Park. Despite its beauty, this park is not well marked and coincidentally not well known, even to most locals. Ellen Zimmerman is an exception to this rule and was our volunteer guide for the trip. With her help, our eager group set out to walk along the parks’ dikes, peering through the brush lining the Columbia river looking for shapes, shadows and signs of other species.

A flock of Mountain Bluebirds was out to greet us and splashed in the puddles on the grassy field.

 

The sky was overcast and the light was soft making for some nice shadowless scenes.

 

Later in the week I met a group for another early start in Invermere. Our leader was the knowledgeable and exuberant Cathy Parkes, a local Invermere artist who promised to divulge some Bald eagle and osprey nesting sites. Cathy arrived at the meeting location with a trunk full of owl pellets she was giving away to interested parties. I reluctantly declined to acquire a pellet.

One of first stops was near an osprey nest where we watched this one tearing into some breakfast.  He later dropped the fish and it nearly landed on my car.

Although the rest of the day produced few sharable photographs it was a great time and I really enjoyed the trip.

Cathy also knew of a raven nest that we visited later on in the day.

Thank-you to all of the Wings Over The Rockies volunteers and the organizing committee. I hope to return next year and the one after.

 

Posted in Wildlife Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , |

Encounters with Canines

I spend most days with my camera, looking for interesting things to photograph. Sometimes I am in my vehicle driving along seldom used roads and at times even more seldom used “roads”. Other times I am on foot, toting a large telephoto and some extra memory cards hoping to catch some movement out of my peripheral vision.

It’s easy to be discouraged, heading home with little to show for your day. The should have and could have thoughts are playing in your mind, attempting to think yourself into improving your chances the next day.

If you keep at the early mornings and take your own advice, you are inevitably rewarded with an animal encounter that instantly flushes away all frustration and your sleepy eyes.

A little coyote in northern BC, just walking along the roadway was a nice surprise among the endless kilometres of snow covered hills. A welcome sight after several sleepy mornings without even a roadside raven.

 

Rebecca and I were driving just south of the BC/Yukon border after a great day photographing some bison when she spotted some movement on the frozen river just off the road. A better look revealed a wolf pack making their way across the river.

Any attempt to sneak up on wolves seems to be in vain as they are much better at this whole survival thing than we are.

I managed to get a few shots with a long telephoto before they disappeared behind a small island.

 

Recently after an unseasonal snow storm near the Banff and Lake Louise area, I did see something out of the corner of my eye while driving down Highway 1A. A large dark figure was trotting along a clearing out of the left side of my vehicle. I was too slow to catch it with a quick stop and shoot but I was certainly glad to have seen it.

I then moved about 1/2km from the clearing until I was able to spot another clearing. I stopped the car and turned off the engine, hoping he would emerge from the brush.

Seconds later he emerged and gave me a quick glance, not breaking a stride before disappearing again into the brush.

A rented camper travelling the opposite way passed one or two seconds later, driving quite quickly just missing the wolf.

I wonder what kinds of things I have missed by only a second or two.

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized Tagged , , , , , , , , , |

Bison of Northern British Columbia and The Yukon

A recent trip up to Northern, BC revealed that spring had not managed to visit the entire province equally. As we travelled north of Smithers the snow lining the side of the road grew closer to our vehicle with every kilometre eventually swallowing the road and erasing both the middle yellow and shoulder markers.

After some time we reached our temporary home in Iskut, BC, a beautiful small First Nations community surrounded by large lakes, provincial parks and alpine sights.

A weekend expedition arrived with much anticipation as it meant a crossing a new border for Rebecca and I both, north of 60.  The earth here is about half as big around as it is at the equator.

The landscape seems to obey provincial lines as the familiar forest thins and smaller trees are more common, allowing a much greater chance of critter sightings.

The American bison is common in these parts and it seemed they had a common pastime, sunbathing.

 

The roadways are littered with motionless dark blobs. Moving closer reveals a majestic commanding animal lounging in the sun.

Feeling the heat on your own body you can well imagine what the solar radiation must feel like on a thick coat of dark coarse hair and what a pleasure the cold snow must be on the belly.

With this kind of life, its no wonder they don’t pay much attention to us and our camera noises.

I certainly did like the look of this guy with the beard, maybe even a little envious of his man fleece.

When the sun goes down in The Yukon, there is nothing quite like a roll in the dirt to really set that tan.

Just be sure to check your hair.

 

Posted in Nature, Uncategorized, Wildlife Tagged , , , , , , , |

Eagles of Costal BC – Part 2 – Portraits

Eagles in the Brackendale area are so abundant its possible to get some great results observing different behaviour and capturing some great eagle expressions. I have photographed many eagles over the past few years and I still get a a chill and a grin when one looks at me directly with such piercing yellow eyes.

They probably wonder why I have eyelashes or how I could possibly manage to peck an eyeball from a fish with my flat mouth and smooth nose.

 

The eagle eye is especially interesting for someone who is interested in light and lenses.

Even the monster 500mm Canon lens does not compare to their ability to see fish beneath the water in moving current from 100m soaring around. Fishermen with polarized glasses have trouble seeing the countershaded salmon beneath the water.

I wouldn’t want to be a swimmer or flier around the Brackendale area during this time. How quickly some animals can turn from predator to prey.

There is really no point in hiding from a Bald Eagle. Attempting to sneak up to a spot will flush most birds and this can be a problem for the health of the animal.

It takes a lot of energy to fly and especially in lean times, this flushing can cause harm to an eagle or group. Its not worth the photograph if you are harming the very thing you enjoy photographing.

Its usually better just to wait and let them come to you.

 

Photographing wildlife is an exercise in patience. Sometimes you sit or stand in a uncomfortable position for hours at a time because you are sure that something will happen, not unlike a gambler in Vegas waiting for the next win.

 

Despite their excellent hunting abilities the Bald Eagle will tend to prefer the fruits of a good scavenge. In this case their fruit is a rotting salmon. Strange that I craved some sushi after this day of shooting. Next time I may invite the eagle.

 

 

This one made me think of 3 old men sitting on a snowy log talking about how easy the juveniles have it now. “Back in my day, the salmon in this river were alive.”

 

 

Despite their similarities, seeing so many eagles at once allows you to pick out personality traits such as shyness, boldness and curiosity. The juveniles are especially bold at times and may choose to dive bomb an adult sitting on a salmon carcass.

Sometimes you can even capture an interesting look and imagine a caption underneath.

I can haz fishburger?

 

 

Posted in Wildlife Tagged , , , , , , , , |

Eagles of Costal BC – Part 1

2013 has been a busy year and I cannot believe its already the 29th of January.

Blogging irregularly really illustrates how time can escape even the most attentive of people. I am not one of those people.

General diligence aside, I do enjoy spending time away from large urban centres, observing with great diligence, the sounds, sights and smells of natural environments. In the case of Brackendale, BC during the winter I spent some time listening for the call of the Bald Eagle, watching for interesting behaviour, and the smell of rotting salmon from the run was really hard to miss.

<themoreyouknow>In movies, the call of the Bald Eagle is almost always dubbed over with the sound of a Red Tailed Hawk. It turns out that Hollywood thinks that the shrill call of a Bald Eagle sounds like a nag of your mother in law and doesn’t live up to the majesty of the BE.</themoreyouknow>

 

I managed to come away with a couple of really dynamic images I was very happy with.

 

The light was unusually great at this time of year and I was able to capture some great images with excellent lighting. Normally the days are filled with eagles and overcast skies, flat light and early evenings. Certainly a challenging environment.

 

Its hard to believe that these kings of the skies are squabbling over rotting salmon in the river.

 

I like how this one turned out as well. A good example of some panning and probably noise from the camera come together in a nice painted look.

Posted in Wildlife Tagged , , , , |

Prince Rupert, BC, Canada

Prince Rupert is a city of about 12,000 people on British Columbia’s western coast. I would have thought that few Canadians would venture this far north simply for tourism, however once I arrived I was drawn to the charm and beauty of the region.

You may journey to Prince Rupert for the popular sport fishing opportunities and it would certainly be a great place to catch a giant halibut or salmon. Several fishing boats had returned from sea, cleaning their catches on the docks as Chris and I watched with great interest from a pub across the harbour.

Once on the water, commercial fishing boats and tourist charters alike flock to known fishing areas. Given what we had heard about the activity of the fish below, I wouldn’t think many came back disappointed.

 

 

Of course, this coast is not just home to salmon and halibut. There are many creatures that make their home in the surrounding waters of Prince Rupert. We were able to capture a humpback whale breaching just off our bow.

 

These harbour seals were cautious with our arrival as we were informed some fishermen will shoot them on sight. Seals are seen by some as competition for valued resources.

 

 

To my pleasant surprise, bald eagles are also abundant in the area and you can see them perched on rooftops and railings near the water. Eagles tend to follow the salmon run in various areas as it makes for easy meals.

 

 

For someone who lives more inland, the landscapes of a costal area are always revealing surprises and interesting objects. The snow and wind doesn’t weather objects they way that seawater does. These ocean installations must stand the test of time and the elements however they do show their weakness.

 

 

Prince Rupert is the home to a rich first nations culture and sports many museums and interesting art installations. Before the explorers arrived, the Northwest Coast was one of the most populated areas in North America. Now, Prince Rupert is ranked 26th among populated centres in BC alone. Indian Head Rock is a politically incorrect name but powerful reminder of the first people who lived here long before I had visited.

 

 

 

Interesting objects are everywhere and each urban centre holds many treasures for the interested photographer. This colour scheme and decal caught my eye and I do like how the image turned out. The nice thing about being a photographer in a new place is that it encourages you to slow your pace and examine every detail of the environment you are in. Depending on your audience, even a gas meter can be interesting.

Posted in Landscape, Nature, Wildlife Tagged , , , , , , , , , , |