It’s been a while since I’ve posted, so sorry about that.  But I think I was so burnt out after last year’s picture a day that I really needed a break.  That said, for the last couple of weeks I’ve really had itchy feet and wanted to go out, but ironically didn’t get the chance.  But this weekend the stars aligned and the weather was great so I visited Woodland Park Zoo with a couple of friends (Chris Pearson and Eric Bie).

I’ve actually been there a few times with the camera but the other guys hadn’t so we took our time (without wives or kids telling us to hurry up) and got some great pictures.

Just over three months ago the zoo got some new attractions.  One of the lioness’ gave birth to a litter of cubs.  I think there were four of them in total (at least that’s what I saw) but it’s hard to say as they are tricky to follow as they are seriously fast and very playful.  So you tend to watch one of them and get totally absorbed.

The zoo had been promoting the new arrivals for a while now and people were in line waiting to see the cubs.  The cubs were outside but the only way you could see them was through glass.  To challenge us a little the glass was pretty dirty so we were worried how the pictures would come out.  But we stood in line for about 20 minutes and got to the front of the barrier by the glass to get some pictures.

Cute just doesn’t do these guys justice.  They were amazing to watch, super fun either playing with twigs or logs in their enclosure or play fighting with each other.  Mum was there too and spent most of her time pacing back and forth making sure her four new babies were OK.

In all I took around 50 pictures of the cubs, but there was one cub that really held my attention – so most of my shots were of him (probably because he was so close to me) and I ended up with around a dozen images that I really loved.  I didn’t want to over do it and bore you with loads of pictures so I selected (with Lisa’s help) the best three.

Hope you like them.

 

I’ve come the the conclusion that luck plays a big part in capturing a great picture, but then you do need to recognize the lucky opportunity and act on it to get the shot.  Yesterday was a perfect example.  There we were at sunrise on Alki beach taking pictures of the Seattle skyline and the islands out in Puget Sound with the Olympic Mountain Range backdrop.

We had quite a few photographers there and we were all standing on the sidewalk and park above the beach.  I thought it might be interesting to get closer to the beach so I could include the sand and breaking water in the foreground so I walked down to the waters edge.  Now here’s the embarrassing thing, I then went ahead and took a load of pictures and it wasn’t until I looked at the captured image on the back of the camera that I saw a small seal pup right in front of me.

Now we aren’t supposed to get to close to seal’s on the beach but the little guy was pretty close already and didn’t seem bothered by my presence.  I did have a quick look around for the mother, as they can be a little agressive if they think the pup is in danger, but she wasn’t around.

So I got down on the floor and took a LOAD of pictures.  I was so excited that I totally screwed up the first ones, but once I calmed down I got a lot of beautify images.  Now I was around 5 feet from this little guy, and in truth that was probably too close, but I was there already so took the opportunity.

After I got the shots I wanted I backed away slowly and told all the other photographers about the pup.  They then ran down to the beach and I had the park and sidewalk to myself with nobody in the way.

Now I’ll be honest, I LOVE animal pictures, but they usually require amazing patience with you sitting by a hole in the ground for hours.  And as I’m amazingly lazy it’s not really for me.  But give me an opportunity like this and I’m all over it.  I loved the pictures I got and chose this one with the little guy’s eyes open.  I think he liked the camera too, as he almost looks like he’s smiling.

Tonight the guys found a “pumpkin” tree and played in that.

You can’t come to Maui to shoot a picture every day and not post a picture of a gecko.  I mean, they’re everywhere aren’t they?  What I learned was that they are everywhere when you don’t have a camera in your hand.  But if you go out and want to shoot one, well you had better bring some patience.

I posted a picture yesterday of the gardens in the Wailea Grand Resort and Hotel and would go there every day looking for one of these guys to shoot.  The first time I found one I got all excited and pushed my lens too close and the little guy bolted!  I couldn’t believe it, it took me three days to find a gecko on a leaf for a picture and the bloody thing ran off.  So I waited, and waited and, well you get the idea, I waited a long time – unfortunately without any luck.

Next time I was in the gardens I got my opportunity again, only this time I went slower.  I started taking shots from some distance away and slowly moved in.  I guess once I got a few pictures under my belt I got a little more adventurous and got closer still.  Eventually the gecko moved but he went up the leaf and I got this shot today.

When I got back to my room, I found that photographing a gecko and photographing an “in focus” gecko were two entirely different things.  Most of my images had a nice blurry gecko but the one below came out really well.

I actually had a different picture in my mind that I wanted.  Shooting these leaves into the sun captured really beautiful colors and having a gecko on the other side of the leaf poking his head around would produce a great leaf with a gecko’s face appearing around the leaf and the silhouette of the gecko’s body through the leaf.  I even got one of these and if it had been in focus I would have posted it tonight.  That said, I’m pleased with this one.

Carter enjoyed a go on the water slide, here he is hitting the water at the bottom.

One of my favorite animals that we saw at the zoo, has to be the meerkat.  These incredibly cute (Abi’s words) big rats (my words) live in gangs or mobs of around 20 and are actually members of the mongoose family (informative eh?)  At the zoo they had an enclosure that was indoors that had an underground tunnel system for them to play in and an incredibly realistic mural, depicting their native South Africa.

They were clearly fooled by the surroundings as they seemed to be pretty happy, and based on the size of the one in the image below, relatively well fed!

It was quite funny standing there looking at them, as they were all lined up just staring back.  I’m not sure who was viewing who.  They were also standing pretty still, obviously they heard I was coming and they were all posing for portrait shots.  These little guys do look very cute, but Lisa and I decided that if you did try to cuddle one, he would probably relieve you of a finger.

Carter and Master Chief saw Abi and I relaxing in the hot tub the other day but it’s a little big for them so they made their own – in the bird bath.

Recently I visited Northwest Trek which is a wildlife park for animals that are native to the Pacific Northwest.  While there I saw loads of herbivores but all the scary “interesting” animals were hiding.  I guess the point of Northwest Trek is to see animals in their real habitat, where they have loads of places to run, play and hide.  And they hide very well.  So all in all it was a bit disappointing.

So you can imagine my surprise and delight when we went to Woodland Park Zoo and saw some of the carnivores we missed at Northwest Trek.  Now a lot of people say that zoos are cruel, that the animal cages are too small, and it’s wrong to cage and display wild animals.  Well all that may be true, but you get much better pictures.

Joking aside I feel the same way, you get the impression that all the animals are either “very sad”, or quite mad.  There is a lot of pacing up and down and I did feel bad for them.  But the Grizzly enclosure was quite large, it had a cave and small stream for the bears.  I guess the question is how much work towards conservation and animal safety and rehabilitation does the zoo do.  If a number of the animals are rescued I guess it’s better than being injured or worse.

The bear in the picture below was walking back and forth (pacing) between it’s cave and the edge of the enclosure where I captured this shot.

The guys wanted to play Mancala tonight.  Master Chief was doing rather well, much to Carters disappointment.