Animals with Personality

I’ve been reading lately about the prevalence of traits we think of as human traits in animals. The idea of animal “personality” is problematic by anthropomorphic definition. But still. Here are a few creatures we’ve met down through the years. For me, it’s hard to imagine them not having personalities.

Click them for bigger versions at EarthPhotos.com.









Fan Photos of Istanbul in Huge Week for Turkey

This is a fateful week for the beleaguered Turks. Next weekend Turkey will vote in a referendum on whether to extend significant new powers to President Erdogan. With war on its borders, terror in its biggest cities, a tourism industry in collapse, a tenuous agreement with the rest of Europe over refugees, spats with individual EU governments ginned up for electoral advantage, an astounding 40,000 jailed after the attempted coup last year, well, Turkey has no shortage of challenges.

In spite of it all, Istanbul remains one of the world’s five greatest cities (In no particular order, mine are Istanbul, Hong Kong, Paris, Sydney, San Fransisco. Yours?) So I’d like to reprise a few fan photos of Istanbul in the good old days. Click them to make them bigger. And there are hundreds more photos from Turkey here, in the Turkey Gallery at EarthPhotos.com.

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Outside the Grand Bazaar. Through that gate and down in the bazaar, march in and get yourself thoroughly lost. Wander for half a day. I once asked around for the Afghan section and came away with three fine pakols, tailored to my head size, from a milliner from Kandahar.

 

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Again, the Galata Tower in the center back. Ferries like these ply the Golden Horn and the Bosphorus over to Asia, carrying commuters to work at dawn.

 

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The fabled Haydarpasha Train Station in Kadaköy, on the Asian side of the Bosphorus. On arrival from London via the Orient Express, from here well heeled tourists could travel on to Ankara, then Kars, then Baghdad and Teheran.

 

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Day labor at the break of dawn. Happening every day in the Grand Bazaar.

 

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The Blue Mosque.

 

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This is seven photos stitched into a 180 degree panorama. Each photo consists in turn of seven exposures combined into an HDR image. We are looking west into the Golden Horn at dawn, the Bosphorus Strait at our backs. See each end of the Galata Bridge on the far left and right.

 

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Here is the Ortakoy Mosque in a trendy part of town some way up the Bosphorus on the European shore, the bridge behind leading to Asia, on the far side.

 

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And Taksim Square, foreground. Gezi Park, a green space and the focus of the protests a couple of years ago, is just below and behind this vantage point. From here you can see past the Golden Horn and out into the Sea of Marmara. From this vantage point the Bosphorus, to the east, is just off to the left.

 

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Here is the fabled Golden Horn, with the Galata Tower across the way. The Bosphorus is out of the frame on the right, the Sea of Marmara behind the photo and the Black Sea at the end of the Bosphorus at two o’clock from here.

And while we’re in the region, here’s a link to one of the chapters in my first book, Common Sense and Whiskey, about a trip through Turkey’s eastern neighbors, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia.

More Vintage Moscow

The other day I shared a fascinating color photo essay at RFERL.com, from Moscow in the 1950s. It prompted me to seek out what photos I could find from my 1986 trip there. Here are three.

First, opposite the Kremlin, across Red Square, was the cavernous government-owned GUM department store (Глáвный универсáльный магазѝн), translated as “Main Universal Store:”

I stayed that trip at the massive Moscow Hotel (Гостиница Москва) just outside Red Square on Manezh Square. Here are the amenities on the desk in my room, circa summer 1986:

And here is the view from that room onto Red Square:

http://www.earthphotos.com/Countries/Russia/i-sHCjdqB/X3

Over Under

On the occasion of publishing my new book about the Arctic and far north Atlantic (Out in the Cold, cover, left), here’s equal time for the southern hemisphere, a few favorite shots from Australia, each of which you can enlarge by clicking on the photo. Many more in the Australia Gallery at EarthPhotos.com.

 

A detail of the Sydney Opera House.

The Katherine Gorge, south of Darwin.

Sydney.

Sunset on Cable Beach, Broome.

Watson’s Bay, New South Wales

Greenland from Above

When you fly between Halifax, in eastern Canada, and Keflavik, Iceland, you cross Greenland at a much lower altitude than on the big mainline intercontinental routes. If you’re lucky enough to catch a clear day, the view of Greenland is spectacular. Betting that most people haven’t had this particular opportunity, I thought I’d share some of what you might see. In case you’d like to examine what’s going on on the ground (nothing human), each of these five photos links to a much larger version on EarthPhotos.com. They’re from inside a jet, mind you. When we’re able to charter a helicopter and hang out the window, I’ll let you know.

In my new book Out in the Cold (published within the week), we befriend Inuit bone carvers to learn about the fearsome Greenlandic totem known as the tupilak, and camp with an itinerant Italian musician who dreams of building the island’s first luxury resort, among other adventures in Greenland. I’ll put up a link to the book as soon as it’s available. For now, enjoy the view above Greenland:

This top photo is from a smaller plane, a Bombardier Q400 turboprop, leaving Tasiilaq, Greenland for Reykjavik. The rest are from the IcelandAir Haifax to Keflavik flight.

Photo Preview

My new book Out in the Cold should be live on Amazon next week so I thought I’d send us into the weekend with a photo from each of the countries in the book. All these are clickably linked to higher res, much larger and more enjoyable versions at EarthPhotos.com.

Meanwhile, between now and next week, here’s a little text from the book:

Saint-Pierre et Miquelon: France in North America
Svalbard by Snowmobile
Naked and Freezing in Iceland

The photos:

This is the tiny little idyllic town called Tjørnuvik, on the island of Streymoy, Faroe Islands.

Here is Iceland’s famous Gulfoss, looking good full of snowmelt in June.

Tasiilaq, the administrative hub of east Greenland.

The super friendly, perfectly-sized city of Halifax, Nova Scotia.

And the object of our quest to Svalbard, 800 miles from the North Pole. A total solar eclipse.