A HAPPY FEET ENCOUNTER

I have never seen a penguin in person, not even in a zoo…so imagine my excitement when my cruise to South America took me to Puerto Madryn, Argentina where a colony of Magellanic penguins live. These cute and adorable animals have been the subject of many Hollywood movies and my personal favorite is Happy Feet. During my excursion I was hoping the penguins would perform a dance routine but all I got was a waddle. LOL! Anyway, I went wild taking photos of these lovely creatures imagining myself as some National Geographic photographer. Some playfully posed while the others were a bit shy and hid inside their burrows. My favorite photo is the one above of a parent and child sharing a tender moment of connection when their beaks touched. Penguins are supposedly great parents…they even starve for weeks just to protect their chicks while the other parent go hunting for food. It was such an exhilarating experience standing close to these beautiful creatures. By the way, I kept my distance and zoomed my lens in order to capture these photos. I visited two penguin colonies and will feature the other colony in another post.

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ORANGE BEAUTY

I found myself standing in front of an orange flamingo with a dilemna on how to photograph such a lofty animal. I didn’t want to photograph the entire bird from head to foot and look like the poor bird’s yearbook photo so I tried squeezing my creative juices to capture the beautiful bird in a different way. My first few shots failed to give justice to the majestic animal before me until the flamingo started twisting its neck to pluck on its feathers at times burying it’s head out of my view. I immediately focused my lens to the flamingo’s body capturing more details from the symmetrical and asymmetrical patterns of the feathers, the elegant curves of the neck to the fading colors from rich orange to ivory white. These close-ups allowed me to capture the flamingo’s private moment without intruding into it’s personal space.

TALE OF TAILS

Last week I found myself in foggy, rainy and chilly Alaska for a 7-night cruise in America’s Last Frontier. When one thinks of Alaska, nature and adventure immediately comes to mind as well as its hostile environment, which can be frightening and exhilarating at the same time. One of the cruise’s excursions I signed up for was a photography tour in a rain forest, the Mendenhall Glacier and some whale watching. My post today will feature photos I took during the whale watching, which was quite an experience in itself with the rain and fog providing an additional challenge. We were herded into this small boat (big enough to sit 14 of us) and was brought to an inlet where other boats were already stationed waiting for the next sighting. Apparently, when one boat sights a whale, the other boats get radioed on the location so everyone gets to view the whales. Otherwise, we get a refund if no whale is sighted during the tour. Our guide/instructor taught us how to capture the flukes (whale’s tail) by observing how a whale dives down. He told us to focus on the dorsal fin stating that once a whale dives and exposes its dorsal fin, the tail will definitely come out for a wave. True to his words, we were able to witness and capture a good number of whale tails. I’m sharing below five more of the many tail photos I took that day.

Note the dorsal fin above as the whale attempts to dive…the tail came out after this.

SAFAUXRI

I have always wanted to experience a safari adventure but when friends told me about camping out in the wild I immediately crossed it out of my bucket list. Camping for me includes hot showers, plush towels, soft beds and 24-hour wifi access. Thankfully, Disney had me in their thoughts when they built an African safari at their Animal Kingdom park in Orlando, Florida. The 15-minute tour takes you through forests and grasslands filled with “free roaming” animals for an Out of Africa experience.  The photo above was taken at the grasslands sections with these rhinos crossing behind our tram. Luckily, I was sitting on the last row thus providing me an unobstructed view of a great photo opportunity behind me.

STRIPES

imageNo, I didn’t have to use a telephoto lens to take this picture. In fact, my subject is just two feet in front of me curiously staring into my camera lens. This friendly zebra is one of the more than 1,000 animal residents at the Fossil Rim Wildlife Center in Dallas, Texas. The park is a 1,800-acre center where animals roam freely and visitors drive their own vehicles through rolling hills and grasslands. As my brother-in-law drove us through the preserve, this zebra came up to my side of the vehicle, gamely posed for the camera then stuck its head inside the car.  My sister and nephews went wild petting the zebra while feeding it with food bought at the park’s ticket center. This park reminds me of Disney’s Animal Kingdom Safari, except here you get to drive your own car, roam at your own pace and feed the animals.

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