MOD Women

While Michelle Flournoy has apparently taken her name out of the running for U.S. Defense Secretary, it’s worth noting that there are currently five female Defense Ministers in NATO: Italy’s Roberta Pinotti, Albania’s Mimi Kodheli, Germany’s Ursula von der Leyen, Norway’s Ine Marie Eriksen Soreide and Jeanine Hennis-Plasshaert of the Netherlands. That’s a record.

There are also female Defense Ministers in South Africa, Montenegro, Ecuador, Kenya, Venezuela, Nicaragua and Guinea-Bissau.

Wednesday HDRs – Animals

Sometimes HDR processing works and sometimes it doesn’t seem right for the subject matter. Animals, I’ve found, are hit or miss. Here are eight that made the grade, starting with one of the tree climbing lions in Ishasha, Uganda. That photo was published in Afar Magazine. The grasshopper lives in South Africa, the parrots in Antigua, Guatemala, the silverback mountain gorilla in Parc National des Volcans, Rwanda, the ram with a view in the Taronga Zoo, Sydney, the hippo family along the Kazinga Channel in Uganda, the beasts of burden at the Mercado in Addia Ababa, Ethiopia, the horses in rural Finland, and the colobus monkey was just hanging out in a tree by the road in rural Uganda. All the photos link to larger versions in the HDR Gallery at EarthPhotos.com.

As in most cases, all of these were tonemapped in Photomatix and finished in various versions of Photoshop with various iterations of Nik software.

One other thing: EarthPhotos.com is looking a little strange as we continue to wrestle it into a fresher new format that will compliment CS&W. Thanks for bearing with us.

Animals1

Animals3

animals5,jpg

animals10

animals4

animals6

animals8

animals7

animals9

Animals – Wednesday HDR

CheetahHDR
BaboonHDR
FlamingoesHDR
GrasshopperHDR
GorillaHDR

The cheetah and the grasshopper live in South Africa, the baboon and flamingoes are from from the Tierpark Hellabrunn Zoo in Munich, Germany and the gorilla at bottom lives in Parc National des Volcans, Rwanda. More gorilla photos here. All processed in Photomatix and Photoshop. Click 'em to make them bigger. More HDRs here.

Grasshoppers and Spiders and Africa, Oh My

Working on a new e-book about the African safari experience has got me poking around into my photos from Africa. Here's one I reprocessed yesterday. It's a huge, finger-sized grasshopper from South Africa. Click it to make it bigger.

Grasshopper

And while we're in safari mode, here's a random, short bit from the upcoming e-book. It's from a walking safari in Zambia:

Rains from November to April flood the Luangwa river system, and from then until November it's perfectly dry. The water will dry and recede and force the animals into greater and greater concentrations, with more and more conflict and danger from predators, but for now, there is peace, there are lagoons for crocs to eat catfish and places for hippos to eat and live apart from the river. The grass is still green and tall and thick, and Aubrey shows us how hippos change the landscape as they come and go from the river, creating an indentation on the water's edge that grows when it rains, collapsing the soil into gullies and washing it into the river.

Other animals use the trampled paths, that extend far up onto land, and sometimes hippo trails even evolve into rivers. We set out away from the river on a hippo path old and wide enough that there's a sandy bottom maybe half a meter wide with the grass on either side. Can't see ahead of us or to either side beyond the grass and Isaac pushes on toward a stand of mopane trees.

Continue reading

Cats!

Cats The consistently interesting site Mongabay.com has a story, with photos from camera traps, called Photos: highest diversity of cats in the world discovered in threatened forest of India. If you're in for an adventure vacation, as we've just learned many people are, it ought to get you going. The site IndianTiger.org has a just-the-facts page on wild cats.

When we eventually get to track the Bengal Tiger I've already got the lodging picked out – we'll stay here.

(Photo from the Animals and Wildlife Gallery at EarthPhotos.com. You might also check out the South Africa Gallery. The wild cat in the photo is a cheetah, and the photo was taken on an afternoon game drive at the very nice Mkuze Falls Private Game Reserve in KwaZulu-Natal South Africa.)

New Year Travel Travails

Ethiopian Airlines fooled us. Last time on board it hadn't looked like an African airline. Everything worked and the plane was relatively new.

This time, boarding time of 0:05 on New Years Eve in Rome had already been moved to 1:00 on the monitors by the time we arrived at the closed, shank end of some dark terminal at FCO where the business lounge was manned (womaned) by a disinterested gum-popping young woman and a man behind a bar with old finger food under plastic. And as always, there was no information (it eventually turned out the delay had been in Stockholm where the plane had to be de-iced).

Everybody has a travel horror story, Bub. Live with it.

Yeah, but I can tell it.

By the time they loaded us up, after 1:00 we knew we were… in an unfortunate situation. A tight connection in Addis Ababa was already blown. And here was a tatty old 757 with torn upholstery in which neither the overhead entertainment system (forget about seatback) nor the reading lights, nor a few of the sixteen seats in "Cloud Nine" worked. So we just slept.

Boarding time for our flight from Addis to Johannesburg was 8:05, our boarding cards told us, and it was an hour past that as we flew into Addis. The prospects, best we could figure, were for a night in Addis with a lost hotel room at JNB and a missed flight to Namibia the next morning (which doesn't operate every day) or at best a number of hours in the Cloud Nine lounge before a routing through Nairobi.

And then, as they opened the door on the tarmac at Addis, the smiling man at the bottom of the stairs instructed us onto this minibus, directly across the tarmac to a waiting 737 and off to JNB. They'd held the flight for over an hour. Delightful. Even the torn upholstery looked better.

Except, naturally, that they left our bags in Addis. So the rest of the day we worked the phones from the U.S. to Namibia with the added challenge that it's a holiday, and this morning we've just missed that flight to Walvis Bay anyway, on the promise that those bags are flying in even now. There is no flight to Walvis Bay before our ship leaves on Sunday. Right now it looks like we'll fly to Windhoek, pick up a car from Avis and drive out to the coast.

We'll see.