Oct 052012

You might recognize this gorilla. It’s featured in a previous post in a very similar photo (Chomp,Chomp,Chomp,Chomp). I couldn’t decide which one I liked more so I processed both of them. Let me know which one you like more in the comments section.

Mountain gorilla enjoying eating something green with a big open mouth and large brown eyes surrounded by greenery in Rwanda.

Aug 082012

This little guy passed by me clinging to his mother’s back and seemed particularly interested in my camera. When she stopped and sat down he was behind her, but he crawled round to this spot and continued to watch.

Mother gorilla with back turned and baby gorilla staring into the camera surrounded by greenery in Rwanda.

Jul 282012

I’ve got a LOT of gorilla photos and I’m struggling to think of what more to say about them. If you want to know more about my experience with the gorillas in Rwanda click on the “Mountain Gorillas” in the categories to see all of my gorilla posts.

Young mountain gorilla eating while surrounded by greenery in Rwanda.


Jul 172012

My Shot on My Modern Met

A friend sent me a note today to let me know that one of my pictures has been featured in an article on My Modern Met about the Niagara Falls’ Stunning Festival of Rainbow Lights by Katie Hosmer. I love it when my photos appear on people’s websites. I normally spot them when people start linking into Traverse Earth or Flickr from the article. I think I like it even more when I hear it from people that have recognized one of my shots! So, if you spot anymore of my photos about the web, let me know! There’s no prize, but I’ll definitely say thanks.

Also, I’ve had a number of people point out that my photos can be copied from this website, or on Flickr, or on Smugmug. That’s okay with me. My images are all available under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.. That sounds complicated but all it means is if you’d like to use one of my images for a non-commercial purpose that’s fine. Just link back to me. I prefer a link back to my homepage, www.traverseearth.com, but a lot of my images that end up being used out on the web are found on Flickr and typically link back to there. So, want to illustrate a point on your blog? Go right ahead. Want to use a photo for your cover photo on Facebook? Fine by me. Just remember to point a link back to where you found it! If you’d like to know more on Creative Commons, feel free to go ahead and click the link above and explore that site.

 Today’s Photo: More Tourists

When visiting the mountain gorillas in Rwanda one conclusion is really easy to draw. Silverback gorillas are truly formidable. All the other gorillas seem intrigued by your presence. They pause to watch you as they go about their daily routines. The silverbacks, on the other hand, just seem grouchy. They don’t pay you much mind but maintain this look like they could snap at any moment. I got the pleasure of watching one charge through the bush and slap another gorilla out of the way. I thought it was incredible. Cameron and Chris had a different viewpoint; they were the focus of this gorillas mock charge. Chris happened to film a video of this on his iPhone as it careened through the bushes at him at great pace. Somehow that video disappeared before I got a chance to see it. I’ve got a theory that it’s because you could hear a whimper of fear or two in the background. Chris did admit that when he played the video back it was clear that his hands were shaking during the ordeal.

This photo was taken later, at a much calmer moment. I’m not sure if this was the same gorilla or not. He doesn’t look particularly happy with our presence there. Maybe someone had just accidentally stood on a particularly tasty plant.

Originally, when I was working up these gorilla shots, I was combining three exposures and using the ghosting tool in Photomatix to deal with the subjects movement. I was happy with the results at the time, but looking back I’m not so thrilled. Now I am using one RAW exposure. In Photoshop’s Camera RAW I adjust this exposure to simulate varying exposure levels and produce three images ranging from -2 stops through to +2 stops. This is resulting in much crisper images with far less artifacts. It also takes a lot less time.

Silverback gorilla looking seriously angry or grumpy amid greenery in Rwanda.

Something Interesting: A link for traveler’s wanting to fly for almost free

I don’t know exactly how much truth there is in this, but I think I’ll give it a go. Nora Dunn has written an article, “The Travel Hacking Cartel: Fly Around the World For Almost Free” outlining how she travels the world for almost free. I’m particularly interested in Chris Guillebeau’s “Travel Hacking Cartel“. I read one of his books on his somewhat alternative life path making money while on the move. His goal is to visit every country in the world by the time he turns 35 in April 2013. His blog is definitely worth a look: chrisguillebeau.com

Jul 092012

Okay, I’m really bad at naming photos. I used to agonize over what to call them. I’ve decided to just go with the first thing that comes to mind when I look at them. Unfortunately, on my first application of this rule the only thing I could think was, “Chomp, Chomp, Chomp, Chomp”. Not a great start. This new photo naming method may just confirm that I have the mind of a child. I’ve also come to the conclusion that I’ve got a LOT of gorilla shots and am starting to run out of things to say about them. So, if you want to know more about my take on these incredible animals, and see more photos, click on the “Mountain Gorillas” category.

How do you guys go about naming your photos?

Silverback mountain gorilla eating with teeth showing surrounded by greenery in Rwanda.


Jun 252012

I’m back home from Iceland now so can get back to my daily photo posting. It was difficult to get them done while in Iceland as any time that I wasn’t desperate for a few hours sleep I was out exploring. I’m looking forward to processing and posting the photos I took there. That being said, I’m still pretty worn out so you get a quick post today and a photo of a really cute, fuzzy Gorilla.

Cute fuzzy young gorilla relaxing amount greenery in Rwanda.


Jun 162012

Where in Iceland is Johnny (hopefully)?

I’ve written these posts in advance so can’t tell you where I actually am. I can tell you where I hope to be, if everything goes to plan. There’s actually not much to report today. I arrive at Keflavik Airport at 11:50pm. Fortunately, my travel buddy will be getting in a day ahead of me so I’ll have a bed all ready for me. But, I expect I won’t be able to resist a first photo session under the midnight sun.

Today’s Photo: Jus’ Chillin’

The first question I get when I talk about visiting the gorillas in Rwanda is, “was it scary?”

Who could be scared of this guy?

Friendly mountain gorilla having a good stretch while lying down among greenery in Rwanda

Mar 122012

HDR Tutorial!!

For those of who have been waiting on my HDR tutorial I’ve finally gotten installment one online (thank you Brooke for the gentle nudge in the comments). This will take you as far as taking photos for HDR processing . I’ll be working on the processing portion this week. I got on a pretty good roll and am hoping to continue with that momentum. Right now I’m focusing on getting step by step instructions up. I’ll be adding screen captures to make it all a bit clearer and making changes as I get questions.

Candid Moment

I concentrated on catching the gorillas eyes while photographing them. They’re so expressive and remind us how close they are to us. Despite that, I like this photo. It really gives the feeling of looking into their world, watching them go about their daily business which is how we spent most of our time with them.

Group of three gorillas in Rwanda doing their own thing surrounded by greenery


Dec 282011

It sounds cliché, but there is little in the world that is anything like visiting the mountain gorillas. The whole experience leaves you feeling like you’ve somehow spent an hour in an alternate dimension. Two and a half weeks earlier I was sitting in my cubicle in Bermuda. Now, five days before returning to work I’m surrounded by 24 wild and endangered mountain gorillas. They go about their daily business, seemingly unperturbed by your presence. But then, without warning, one of them decides to lock eyes with you. They look at you in a way that makes it really feel that they are engaging with you. Ultimately, they make a quick assessment of their new visitors. Then, as sharply as they’d turned their attention to you they continue their daily activities: munching on bamboo, cuddling with the children, or, as in my friend Cameron’s case, laying down and snoozing right beside you. Incidentally, the gorilla snoozing next to Cameron was the big boss of the group – the toughest of three silverbacks. He decided to take his nap shortly after he’d charged Cameron, who could do nothing but stand his ground. I’m not sure Cameron had the same experience when locking eyes with this guy as I did with the subject of today’s photo. I wanted to capture the moment when the gorillas calmly lock eyes with you and hope I’ve succeeded in the below photo. Feel free to post a comment and let me know what you think.

We were lucky in that we got to visit the Susa group, which are apparently the descendants of the group of gorillas that Dian Fossey lived with. It’s also the largest group and hardest to get to. On our three-week journey through Africa everyone we met that had heard anything about gorilla tracking in Rwanda told us that this was the group to see. As such, I made a point of asking our guide to try to make this happen. Upon arrival at the headquarters you are assigned a group and don’t typically get to pick and choose. He returned my question by asking if we were fit because it is hard work. We assured him we were capable with a couple nervous sideways glances. He agreed to try to arrange this but couldn’t make any guarantees.

He was correct, the walk up was tough but really made the experience all the better. Rwanda is a beautiful country, lush and green everywhere. It seems like every inch of ground outside of the national parks is farmed. Our walk took three hours and was straight up the side of a volcano. The first half of this was through farmland planted with potatoes and flowers that looked like daisies. Our guides informed us that they’re used to make insect repellent. The second half was through thick vegetation with the man in front using a machete to widen the path. The hike was an experience in itself and I intend to share a few pictures from our ascent in the future. Of course, I also have lots of gorilla photos I’ll be spreading out over the months ahead.

I’m working on adding some additional pages to the site including photography and travel tips.

Mountain gorilla of the Susa group in Rwanda locking eyes with the photographer.