After visiting Gaudi’s ongoing work, La Sagrada Familia, we made our way to his famous park. It was mid afternoon as it had taken us a long time to figure out how to get into La Sagrada Familia without spending well over an hour on a line. Once we got there I got frustrated pretty quickly, it was crawling with people everywhere! So, we went for a beer.
As you drive from Livingstone to the Victoria Falls, there’s a moment, before you get there, where you can see the mist reaching for the sky directly ahead of you. When you enter the park, before you feel the mist, you can hear the falls roaring in the distance. Before you can see the falls, you feel the air get moist and see the mist swirl around you as you pass the gate. Then, you stop, and your jaw drops as you see the massive curtain of water tumbling into the rift stretching ahead of you. But, this is just the beginning. The gorge continues on and on as you continue to walk. Eventually you reach the end of Zambia, totally soaked to the skin, camera gear screaming for mercy, and the curtain of water disappears into a cloud of mist where it crosses the border to Zimbabwe.
It was at this point that I stopped and watched three tourists, far more prepared than me, with a guide and ponchos, gaze upon what is considered one of the seven natural wonders of the world.
Anyone who checks regularly for my daily update may be wondering what happened to me. It’s okay, I didn’t fall off the face of the Earth. While having lunch on Friday I realized that I had the opportunity to go to Wembley for the England vs. Belgium game. Coupling that opportunity with the fact that my travel buddy to Iceland was in London, I found myself spending Friday night on a plane. I had packed my laptop so that I could keep up with my daily posts. Unfortunately, in my haste to pack I forgot my external hard drive, where all my photos are located, and as a result couldn’t upload anything! I’m back in Bermuda now, after a great weekend, and had planned on making amends by uploading a whole series of photos. But, it’s late now, and I haven’t finished the photos I had planned on uploading, so you get a normal post today and a larger one tomorrow.
Something Interesting: Imperial History of The Middle East
I’ve decided to start adding interesting things that I find on the internet to my daily posts. It should provide a few more minutes of entertainment if you’re looking for a distraction at work. I’m not going to set out to do this on a daily basis, I’ll just upload bits and pieces as they strike me as interesting. I plan on keeping the topic travel and/or photography related. However, already today I may be stretching these topics a bit.
This link (click here) is to an animated map showing just how much turmoil the Middle East has experienced throughout history as it takes us through the various empires that ruled the region. I figure the geography and history of a region is closely related to travel, so have decided it just about fits the “travel” topic. Let me know what you think of it in the comments section below. I was particularly shocked by the extent of the Mongol Empire!
Going forward I think you’ll find the “Something Interesting” part of my post below the daily photograph.
Today’s Photo: Lake Kivu Contrast
I saw this scene developing and thought it would make for a pretty funny photo. All those tourists in their bright orange life jackets contrasted with the local fishermen on their way out for a night of fishing. The tourists had arrived at the Paradis Malahide on a bus tour. They ate lunch and then set out on a boat to explore Lake Kivu before piling back on their bus and taking off.
On my recent trip to Africa, each of the five of us had one thing we really wanted to do. Soniko’s one thing was an elephant ride. I didn’t find it that appealing until we got to Livingstone. Then, for some reason I decided it had to be done. So, off we went, along with Chris and Shannon. When we arrived the head guide told us that all but three people would be riding tandem. A man there with his two daughters was quick to jump on the opportunity to ride solo. He was quickly followed by Chris and Soniko. My slow reactions meant I had to share with Shannon. Nothing against Shannon, but having your own elephant would have been pretty cool.
In the end, this worked out in my favor. As it turned out one of the elephants allocated for Soniko and Chris didn’t feel like going for a walk that day. They don’t force these massive animals into anything. So, Soniko and Chris ended up sharing an elephant. I have many close-ups of this situation that I don’t think I’ll release to the world. It’s hard to look good when you’re riding tandem on an elephant with another dude.
Despite this, in a way they were lucky to get their elephant. As Shannon and I trundled along at a comfortable pace we heard a crack from behind us. Chris and Soniko’s elephant had just ripped a branch off a palm and was tearing away in the wrong direction – nimbly crushing the branch with ts trunk. Our driver (no idea what you call the guy steering the elephant) told us that their elephant tended to misbehave and preferred going where it pleased. It became clear they were in for the more exciting ride. The guides had taken the head elephant, along with the solo man’s two daughters, to bring Chris and Soniko back to the herd. This never really happened and gives rise to today’s photo.
About halfway through our trip all the other elephants did as their drivers told them and we all waded through ankle-deep water. That’s elephant ankle depth. As usual, Chris and Soniko’s elephant did its own thing. She had spotted a shortcut and there was nothing that could change her mind – she was going to swim across that river. This photo captures the moment as their driver is attempting to help Chris get his foot back in the stirrup. They’d had to lift their feet as high as they could to keep them out of the range of crocodiles.
This was a tricky photo to take and process. I shot three exposures hand-held. That’s not necessarily a problem, but it became more difficult due to two factors. First, I was on the back of a lumbering elephant. Second, the elephant was facing the wrong way, placing these guys over my right shoulder. To overcome these issues I zoomed out a little further to account for the bouncing camera and set a larger aperture than I’d have liked to speed up my shutter speed. I felt like I’d turned my upper body so far that my shoulders were perpendicular to my hips. It hurt, but going home without this picture was not an option.
In processing it quickly became clear that the pictures were far from aligned. I had to put faith in Photomatix’s auto align to fix this for me. It did a pretty good job except for the island on the left. This was completely blurred out. I wish I’d noticed the issue before my last check of the picture. Masking this area out didn’t look quite right, so I started from scratch. I actually used the selective ghosting tool in Photomatix to fix this. I also used this on the trees in the background, just to be safe, and of course the moving elephants.