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.

Sep 042012

If you follow me regularly you’ll know that I had pretty much all of my camera gear stolen in Italy. If not, you can get the details here. I’ve now got an insurance check in hand and am trying to figure out what to buy. It’s a bit weird starting from scratch. I was dead set on buying the new 5d mk iii, but now I’ve looked at it I can get a used 5d mk ii and 7d for less than the cost of a mk iii. So, I’ve decided it’s not worth it. The two cameras compliment each other well, and the improvements I was interested in from the mk iii are covered by the 7d. Plus, if I accidentally drop one off a waterfall I’ll have a backup camera with me. With that decided I have to figure out what to get as far as lenses. I will be getting L-series lenses and had hoped to get them used from BH Photovideo to stretch the insurance cash as far as possible. Unfortunately, there aren’t many used L-series lenses available at the moment.

So far, I’m confident I’ll be buying another 14mm prime lens and a 24mm-70mm lens, though it’s looking like I’ll have to buy the new version of the lens I had, at a premium as it’s just been released. My big dilemma is with the longer lens. I had a 70-300mm lens, but now I’m considering switching that for a faster 70-200mm lens. That would allow me to really freeze motion, but I’m reluctant to lose the reach. So I think I’ll be buying an extender as well, which will effectively extend my reach to 400mm. I just hope I don’t get too disappointed by the drop in performance and image quality the extender causes.

Today’s photo was taken using my old 70-300mm lens. It, combined with the big, full frame sensor in the 5d mk ii, allowed me to get a nice tight photo of this guy, and then crop in even closer for a portrait.

Close up portrait of mountain gorilla eating against a green background 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.

Aug 012012

This guy has featured in a  few of my previous photos. Click the “mountain gorillas” category to see a few of his different emotions… including grumpy, really, really grumpy.

Silver back mountain gorilla sitting and seeming deep in thought 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 272012

Late Night Tonight

I’ve decided to stick with my rule of not posting photos from the same country two days in a row (I know I’ve broken it in the past), but I’m desperate to work up some of my Iceland photos. I expect I’ll be up late tonight doing just that. On top of that I was in the middle of redesigning the site when I had to take a break to travel to Iceland. I really want to make a little more progress on that tonight.

For those of you patiently waiting for my tutorial, I did make a lot of progress before leaving. I find I work best on the weekends when I can really dedicate a lot of time to it. I’ll be putting in some more effort this weekend.

Today’s Photo: The Journey

Canoeing down the Lower Zambezi makes use of the old cliché “the journey is half the fun” really come into its own. Drifting casually down the river (while carefully keeping your limbs in the canoe) is punctuated by moments of intense activity and excitement. A lot of the time this is brought on by hippos hanging about in the shallows. The problem posed here is that when hippos get scared they head for deep water. So, if you’re in between the hippos and the deep water, you’ve got a problem. As a result, the approach is simply a bold game of chicken, in which you steer straight at the hippos in an effort to move them into the deep. Other exciting moments resulted from elephants coming down to the water to drink and play, which Chris and I may or may not have gotten dangerously close to. Other times the excitement was that we had an opportunity to get out of the canoes, whether it was to eat lunch, make camp, or go for a swim in a “safe” stretch of river. I say “safe” because, when asked, our guide said we were safe from crocodiles in the shallow water because we could fight off a crocodile there. Now, I don’t know about you, but in my opinion, if I’m having to fight off a crocodile I am already in serious trouble!

This photo was taken at one of the calmer moments as we floated through a narrow channel of the river. I’ve changed my approach to photos with moving subjects. Rather than trying to combine three different exposures I’m working with one RAW. Using Photoshop’s RAW converter I create three images by adjusting the exposure of the original. Then I combine these three images using Photomatix. This way, I don’t have to deal with loads of ghosting issues. If you look through my gorilla photos by clicking the category to the right, the last few have employed this method and you should be able to see an improvement over my earlier attempts.

Two canoes floating through a narrow channel of the Zambezi River on safari in Zambia

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.