Images, Thoughts on Travel, Equipment and Techniques that somehow relate to Nature & Wildlife Photography.

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Black and White

Yellowstone Church, IR Filter, B&W

Old Yellowstone Church, Colorado,  color converted to B & W  with addition of IR preset in Lightroom

Black and white photography allows us to catch a glimpse of something different, colors are replaced by shades and gradations, a million grays, pure whites, blacks and shadows so deep you can get lost in them.

Ranch windmill and clouds

Gray Skies, Wet Mountain Valley, Colorado, B & W conversion from color in Lightroom. It was already a pretty monochromatic scene, B & W brought out the detail in the sky

Film was the medium when I first began to play with black and white images. Anybody remember Durst enlargers? Well, I had an el cheapo Durst but using it was as close to becoming the sorcerer’s apprentice I have ever come. Watching an 8×10 piece of  white paper become a “picture” was pure magic. Still is, but the tech has changed.

Lone tree

Lone Tree, B & W conversion from color in Lightroom

Making images with a digital camera is more magic at our fingertips. Take an image and give your imagination free rein. Color becomes something totally different, using Lightroom, the conversion to black and white requires a click. Well maybe a little more is needed for a finished image.  Leaving the image in color and making whatever adjustments are needed to bring more life to it and then converting it in Lightroom using Adobe presets or creating your own will make you feel a little like a wizard. Contrast will make or break a lot of b & w images. Just make sure you are shooting in RAW. Light is still the deciding factor in making a great image, the cool thing is mid day harsh light can work in your favor, contrast is good.

Raven graffiti

Raven Graffiti,  another B &W from Lightroom

There is another way to get there, if there is a place you’ve never been. Infrared or IR turns our visual expectation on its head.  It can still be b & w but maybe from another universe. IR isn’t the end point, it is the starting line for inspired vision or just a place to play.

High Park Road

IR capture, converted Nikon D2X camera….Barb did all IR images

Foxtail Barley Grass

Foxtail seed heads, IR capture

Old school IR photography required IR film and an IR filter that, when mounted on a lens, couldn’t be seen through, doable but a huge hassle.  Digital cameras have an internal filter to block IR so they need a little work.  We have two digital cameras that have been converted to IR, two different internal filters.  We used LifePixel for the conversions and can recommend them, have no experience with others but there are several companies that do conversions, just make sure they know what they are doing. Why convert a camera? You would have a dedicated tool with no lens mounted filters to mess with and all functions work. What can take all of this way out of the ordinary is that there are a number of IR filters to choose from. Deep BW IR gives darkest skies and whitest whites. Standard IR is a very good all-around, there is Color Enhanced IR that brings color into the equation. And there are others. Color Enhanced IR requires a little more creativity, channel mixing, and Adobe Photoshop to get some of the results seen here.

White Canyon

White Canyon, Utah, IR with a twist…IR filter allows some color

Colorado National Monument

Coke Ovens, Colorado National Monument, color enhanced IR

abandoned adobe house

Abandoned homestead, IR with another planet’s sky

Give black and white photography a shot to see the world in a new light, or go all in and convert a camera and remake the world.

Goemmer Butte landscape

Panorama of Goemmer Butte and the Spanish Peaks, Colorado. IR black and white

Abandoned farmhouse

Abandoned farm, straight IR from converted Nikon D2X camera

Bosque del Apache landscape

New Mexico landscape, IR with Clarity Slider (Lightroom) used to soften image and make a more painterly image.

Wetland

New Mexico  landscape, IR with Lightroom and 3rd party presets used to soften image and make a more painterly image.

Wetland

Bosque del Apache wetland and sky, IR capture

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Preening Eagle

Bald Eagle [Haliaeetus leucocephalus]

Perched and waiting…..

Spring is here, the cranes are in the Valley so we took a trip down to check things out. Not many ducks around yet, the cranes were in various areas of the Monte Vista National Wildlife refuge but most stayed waaay out of range.

We got lucky and spotted this mature Bald Eagle hanging out in a cottonwood tree near the Rio Grande River. Sometimes birds of prey like hawks and eagles spend a lot of time perched, waiting and watching for something to catch for a meal. Much of that time they do very little other than pose nicely. If you wait long enough behavior happens. Well, preening isn’t all that exciting but this is an eagle and it is beautiful.

Bald Eagle [Haliaeetus leucocephalus]

This image was cropped in Lightroom. Original made with a Nikon D800 and Nikon 500mm f4 lens. 1.2 in-camera crop so lens is equivalent to a 600mm.

Bald Eagle [Haliaeetus leucocephalus]

This image same as above.


The Colors of Fall

Owl Creek Pass in autumn

Looking up the Cimarron

Yes, fall is long gone from these parts, winter has finally began to exert its dominance. If you are among the many that just don’t like winter, the cold, the dark, the dreariness of it all, here are a few images from this past fall. See, there was color in the world. (more…)


Snakes Alive!

Western Prairie Rattlesnake [Crotalus viridis]

Western Prairie Rattlesnake

The snake was in the sun, loosely coiled, relaxed.  Not all that obvious, blending with the pinyon needles, twigs and grass.  It was in a small flat surrounded by rock, granite rock, weathered into smooth shapes but still rough, mica and quartz glinting in the sun.  There was a second snake, smaller, also relaxed, in the shade a foot or two from the first.  I would never have seen it had Mark, our neighbor and the one that told us about these two reptiles, not pointed it out for me. (more…)


Official stand by WHWF on the killing of an endangered Black Rhino.

 

The word ‘Conservation’ means the following:

1. The act or process of conserving.

2. Preservation or restoration from loss, damage, or neglect.

3. The protection, preservation, management, or restoration of
wildlife and of natural resources such as forests, soil, and water.

Conservation most certainly does not mean the exploitation and sensationalizing of the trophy hunting of a Black Rhino which people all over the world are desperately trying to protect and save from extinction.

Let’s look at some of the issues surrounding this controversy:

The rhino poaching in Namibia is completely out of control. With around 65 Rhino Carcasses of a limited population found in just the last few months, every rhino life is precious and should be treated as such. Most of the animals being poached here are Black Rhino. Namibia desperately needs an anti-poaching plan that can work. The exorbitant sum of money paid by Mr. Knowlton and the Dallas Safari Club could have been used to set up a decent anti-poaching program. Despite what we are being told, there is no guarantee that this will happen now.

 

Corey Knowlton pictured above on his way to kill the endangered Black Rhino.

It could also have been donated outright to for instance Black Rhino breeding programs or projects such as @Rhino Rescue Project (for horn infusion), but then Mr. Knowlton would not have the head on his wall in a few weeks.

Another option was that Mr. Knowlton could have done a ‘green hunt’, a process whereby by the animal is darted with sedatives in order to facilitate relocation. He could still have filmed it, taken his pictures to tell the tale, with the exception that one of these precious beings would still have been alive. These options had been presented to Mr. Knowlton and the DSC during the time of the auction by an organization called Live Trophy, who offered to refund Mr. Knowlton his money, and carry all costs of relocation. A suitable, safe site to move the Rhino to had been identified and secured. These talks had been shut down by Mr. Knowlton, because in actual fact, he just wanted the trophy, or in his own words “I want to intimately experience a Black Rhino”.

The Government of Botswana has joined the ranks of thousands of organizations outraged at the fact that no other options were entertained. Botswana indicated in an official statement that they would have been honoured to take the (live) rhino into their safekeeping.
In response to statements made that the rhino was a problem animal – these PAC (Problem Animal Control) permits need to be executed within two weeks of the verified complaint. Not fifteen months later.

As per the CNN televised footage, this area was frequented by only three rhino, of which two had been identified by the Namibian Ministry of Environment and Tourism as possible targets to be shot. It now has two, and it is just not possible to be certain that this population will survive or expand. Often, the older, more dominant bulls carry the strongest genes, the same ones that nature selects to be carried over to their offspring. Now we will never know, and this specific population of black rhino might as well be officially declared extinct. It is very clear from the articles and footage of journalists attending the hunt, that this bull was still healthy and fit. After all, it took him more than 30 minutes to collapse and die after being shot.

 

 

Knowlton having shot and killed this precious endangered Black Rhino.

Mr. Knowlton had the gall to say that the hunting conditions were brutal. Actually, brutal is working for years, sleeping in tents, exposed to the elements, in constant danger of being killed by poachers, in constant hardship, under-equipped and under-valued, just to protect our remaining rhinos from being poached. Watching your fellow rangers being murdered, and the precious beings entrusted to your care being slaughtered mercilessly. Because this is the reality of what a ranger faces, every day. In fact, to earn the equivalent of what Corey Knowlton spent to kill the rhino, a ranger would have to work for more than fifty years. To put it bluntly, with this blood money, Corey Knowlton could have paid the salaries of around one hundred (100) rangers for a full year. Is it becoming more obvious where priorities should have been?

As it stands now, the USD350k has been swallowed up into the coffers of a notorious ‘Conservation’ fund which has not been forensically audited in years, and it is highly unlikely that transparency will be at the order of the day.

As for the meat being supplied to the villagers, suffice to say that it is probably the most expensive meat they will ever eat. Together with the live relocation and reimbursement option, offers were made to Mr. Knowlton to set up self-sustaining small farming practices for the villagers (including complete training and education), supplied with goats that could reproduce and crops that if correctly managed would have been able to feed them for the rest of their lives, not just for the fifteen minutes of that much-prostituted picture.

There were other options which would have made Corey Knowlton a hero in the eyes of every person on this planet who loves animals, and he was aware of those options.

The professional hunter, Mr. Hentie van Heerden, who accompanied Mr. Knowlton on this hunt, is no stranger to controversy. In 2008 it was Mr. Van Heerden who held the hunting permit for Voortrekker , iconic Desert Elephant and ‘founding father’ of all the present few individuals in small herds living in the Kunene and Damaraland regions of the Namib. This permit was bought out from him (saving Voortrekker’s life as a living trophy), and Van Heerden killed another elephant instead. It would be interesting to know how much Mr. Van Heerden has been paid for his services, as his public profile now implies ‘retirement’.

Fewer people are aware that a second permit has been issued by the Namibian MET, for the Hunting of another Black Rhino.
Michael Luzich paid USD200k for his permit. He also received permit approval for the importation of the trophy from USFWS. ‘Luzich has close ties to the person who ‘accidentally’ shot a Pregnant Black Rhino cow in Mangetti, in a highly controversial blunder of epic proportions. Is he going to follow through, or dare we hope that he may have learnt something from the Knowlton fiasco?

The fact that the US Fish & Wildlife Services approved the trophy import permits despite having been flooded with thousands upon thousands of comments opposing, is quite puzzling. The public comment period was a pacifier, as no heed was paid to any comment opposing the permit. The involvement of the Save the Rhino Trust and the WWF in this controversy is quite alarming to say the least, as is the recent admission of the Dallas Safari Club into the IUCN. It certainly seems like every animal on this planet has its price, no matter how critically endangered. Everything can be bought with enough money and political clout.

Even the life of one of only a few thousand critically endangered Black Rhino left in the world!.

©WHWF-photo by WHWF

Thought this might be of interest.