Swimming With The Turtles

Getting up close and personal with interesting bits of nature isn’t always easy.  As city folk, I’ve got cats, dogs, squirrels, crows, and if I see something like a raccoon, rat, or possum, that’s pretty exciting.  One of the reasons I like to travel is a chance to see something more unique.  I’d by lying if I say that Hawaii is one of my favorite places because of the animals – the beaches, warm weather, and implied relaxation don’t hurt.  At the same time, snorkeling is one of my favorite things to do out there and I like to bring my camera along.  Here’s my favorite shot from the last trip.

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Green Sea Turtles are endangered but fairly prevalent in Hawaii.  The islands are also the only place on earth that these guys actually come out of the water to bask in the sun.  Getting pictures underwater is a bit harder though.  Most of the time the are found in the super murky shallows eating algae off the rocks.  I finally managed to catch this one in deeper water in Shark’s Cove on the north shore of Oahu.

Underwater photography is a whole different bag of tricks – just like taking pictures of food, I only dabble.  First off, you need a camera.  Although some point and shoots these days are at least nominally waterproof, I prefer a specialized housing.  Canon wins by a country mile here, because they have for many years produced really nice waterproof housings for many of their point and shoot cameras that are, as these things go, pretty darn cheap.  Getting your camera underwater is just the first issue.  The second is you have to be able to actually use it.  Luckily here, your best bet is just throwing it in automatic mode – using the buttons through the housing is possible, but so cumbersome that you won’t want to do much.  Next you need good visibility.  I’ve taken pictures of turtles underwater before but most of them look like this:

The problem is that turtles and many other critters like it shallow, where sand and other muck is often in the water.  The farther you get from the shallows, usually the better.  Color fades fast at depth as well, so unless you get perfectly clear water, bright sunlight, and shallow depth, you have to play with the image after capture to try and make it look good.  People who are serious about this kind of thing buy monstrous rigs with huge flashes.  They generally scuba dive (so you can get very close to something and actually hold still, which you can’t do very well holding your breath) and well… before you take your first picture you’re out $10,000.  Not the kind of barrier to entry I’m interested in.  For now, get yourself a snorkel and mask, a cheap underwater camera and a place with good visibility and try your hand at it.

Goats Need Guidance

You might have heard a thing or two about goats.  About how they eat just about everything.  A goat herder recently told me that you fence the goats in, and then anything you want saved, you fence that off too.  I guess the 6 foot tall wood fence wasn’t enough of a hint that the juniper landscaping belonging to the folks that payed 600 grand for their townhouses next door was off limits.

Goat eating a juniper tree

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Yep.  Goats get hungry.  So it goes.

By the way, I know I haven’t been posting much.  I got this great new camera, which required me to also rebuild my computer to handle the massive files it spews, but other than that, I’ve got no real excuse.  It just hasn’t been happening.  Let’s pretend that it’s been my insistence that only the highest quality, primo shit makes it to the website.  Yeah.  That’s totally why.

Invading Horde of Brush-Eating Goats

I didn’t think I had a post for today and then something happened.  GOATS!  We’ve lived in the same apartment for upwards of 6 years with a brushy hillside behind it.  I think I can say with some confidence that it has never been covered in goats.  Until today, anyway.

The goat delivery van and the browsing horde

Goats covering the hillside and the goat transporter.

Goat BABIES!?!!

Oh yeah – they brought goat BABIES!

Goats Gone Wild

Sometimes the goats get that crazy look thing going, but hey – it’s goats.  In the city.  Eating the plants.  Confusing the pedestrians.  It was all right.

Goats getting their eat on.

Even in 90 degree temperature, they do what they’re supposed to do, and they’re going to be back tomorrow, in double the numbers, to do it some more.  Check out the gallery below for more picture.

Birds On A Wire

Pigeons on a telephone wire – classic picture, right?

Pigeons on a Telephone Wire

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Even so, finding the right shot can be hard.  I wanted the simple lines and symmetry in the wires.  Sun should be up but not right overhead.  You need some pigeons in there, right?  Well I was out shooting radio towers and I just saw this out of the corner of my eye.  Want more?  Hit the jump for the rest of the post.

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Butterflies; Artificial Habitat Makes Good Pictures

Butterfly from the Pacific Science CEnter

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Butterflies are great – beautiful, non-dangerous, and not too fast to escape the camera. The problem is that they don’t often live in Seattle, especially mid-winter. Coming to my rescue is the Pacific Science Center and their butterfly habitat. I was there for something else and didn’t have long, but I loved spending a few minutes here. The butterflies are huge, released twice a day, and aren’t too far away to take pictures of. I might go back with the right equipment in tow – knowing that they’re there rain or shine is just too enticing to pass up when the temperature is in the mid 30’s.