Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Home from Peru

A whirlwind trip south of the equator. After spending 9 days at Wayqecha Biological Research Station, Gabby Salazar and I explored the Sacred Valley of the Incas starting at Machu Picchu and working our way back to Cuzco. I lost one day to illness, but it was one of our planned "down" days in Cuzco inbetween Wayqecha and the Sacred Valley. It still was not fun to experience "la tourista" first hand.. Beware, don't eat the chicken soup if you can see a chicken foot in your bowl.

The image today is a stitched pan from Machu Picchu. We got there just as the sun was rising across the mountains and the light was gorgeous. You can't take a tripod into Machu Picchu (variable enforcement, I saw one person with a small tripod) so all my pans were shot handheld. I used Photoshop CS5 and Photomerge to create this pan. After selecting the images in Lightroom 3 and playing with the White Balance and exposure on some of the images, I got the image that I wanted.

I am still sorting through the images, so I will post more (and some video) over the next several days...

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Cusco Peru

Flying into Lima, getting 3 hours of sleep and then back to the airport for the trip over the Andes to Cusco was not fun. The worst part was being stopped at Customs in Peru and being told that I had to pay a "guarantee" because of my equipment. They said they would return the money when I left with my cameras.. I've never been charged before to bring my cameras into a country and this is my 3 different continent in 10 months.. Oh well. I'll post if I get my money back.. Makes me think twice of bring a tour down here.
Altitude isn't too bad yet. I'm surprised because the altitude is 11,000 feet. I do have a headache that I get the first couple of days at altitude, but some coca tea helped a lot. I'm asking Rebecca to do a literature search on the effect of coca tea on altitude sickness. If it keeps up, I might buy some coca leaves from the street people and chew on them. And I really think I need a new pair of boots. I must have been asked today to have my boots shined at least 30 times.. And that was just going out after lunch and coming back by 4pm. I like my boots just the way they are, with character.
Leave tomorrow to go to Wayquecha Biological Research Station to meet Gabby. She called the other night from there on sat phone as internet is out. I have a feeling is still out because she hasn't posted on her web and hasn't answered my emails. This may be my last post for about a 10 days unless they get the internet back up. She said there are lots of birds and about 40 species of orchids blooming right now. Yippee.. Stayed tuned. Once I'm with Gabby and can use her MacBook to process a few images, I will post some here..
Buenas Tardes mis amigos

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

On to Peru

I leave for Peru on October 6. After Joe's 16BD. Venturing down to South America for the first time to shoot with Gabby Salazar as she embarks on a 10 month Fulbright project (see her blog at roadtoamazonia.com ). We will spend about 10 days at a biology research station in the Cloud Forest at the edge of the Andes between the Andes and the Amazon. It will be spring there, so we are hoping to see a lot of flowers and birds. Part of what I will be doing is video for Gabby to help support her project. We will then venture into the Sacred Valley outside of Cuzco for over a week. This will be more fun time with us taking images of ancient ruins and local people.
We hope to experiment some with light painting and night sky photography and I hope to come back with a number of time lapse movies, also.
I will post images when I get back on my Flcker site and also Vimeo site. Stay tuned. We may even have internet access to allow me to post images and writing from Peru..

Monday, August 9, 2010

Third Trip to LA Coast

Joe and I just returned from the third trip to the LA coast to photograph the effects of the oil spill. We were able to go out into Barataria Bay with Captain Dave Morino of Myrtle Grove Charters out of Myrtle Grove Marina. Spending 2 days on the water and seeing the areas that still have oil and damage from oil has a lasting impact on a person. This was Joe's first trip and first experience at a man made disaster. To still see tar balls on barrier islands, caked up oil and sand on the shore of barrier islands, oil coming up from digging down into the sand, oil damaged marsh grasses, bird rookeries with juveniles sitting on boom, vast expanses of bay and marsh with unknown contamination.. This all leaves lasting impression on a person whether they are 15 or 50. Boating through the areas that shrimpers catch shrimp in the canals and seeing oil in the areas makes you really wonder who's interest the seafood industry and the government has when they saw that seafood is ok to eat. They tell us that crustaceans and fish can detoxify the hydrocarbons they ingest in a matter of weeks. But what about chronic exposure, because the oil is still out there, no matter what the government is trying to say right now.. And clean up and documentation, not near as much as what they tell you they are doing.

I want everything to be ok in the LA marshes and the coast, but I don't think the government has done enough documentation of effected areas or testing of the environment or residents of the environment to know if things are safe or when they will be safe..

Just take a look at this Willet shorebird, walking around on the edges of the marsh that have been killed off by the oil.. And what effect will walking around and eating around these oily areas have on the bird population? Just a few things to think about as we try to digest the "facts" thrown at us by the cleanup team from the Gulf..

Friday, July 23, 2010

Refocus on Gulf

Life changes sometimes pull us out of current projects. Getting married on July 3 did that for me. My last trip was about 2 weeks before the wedding, but during our trip to Oregon, I didn't keep up with all the happenings on the Gulf. I did get to talk to some people about the Gulf as we went around OR and was happy to see that even as far removed as the Pacific Northwest is, people were still interested and concerned. We didn't look at a paper or the television the entire time we were gone (OK, I watched the last 20 minutes of the World Cup Finals at a winery in Willamette Valley). I saw the headlines of the capping of the well during our stop in Denver for my NANPA (North American Nature Photography Assoc) board meeting. The meeting was nonstop from the time we got there until the time we left. During that time I was elected to be the President for 2012.. Lots of work, but for an organization that works with and for nature photographers and all others who enjoy nature photography.
What struck me the most during our trip to Oregon (besides the beauty of OR coast, great wine and the Columbia Gorge) is that people are all still going about their lives as if nothing has happened. Yes, the BP Oil Spill as created havoc on the LA, MS, TX, AL, and FL coastlines. But somehow we all are still living the same way. Using oil.. Using oil products. I know that change cannot be accomplished overnight, be we need to be focused with a goal of less oil dependency and strive for more efficient ways of travel. I hear the word "Staycation" bantered around for this summer. People are staying closer to home because of the expense and, I hope, because of the environment. But we all would like to travel. We have become a global society and it will be difficult to go back to being citizens of a state or nation and not the world. Being a global society means interacting with others from around the globe. Not just on the telephone or internet, but in person and seeing the wonders of their part of the world. To this end, we need to explore more efficient uses of mass transit with less of a carbon impact. I'm still waiting to have a transporter room(think Star Trek) at home (or at least in town). I just won't be the first to use it.
As you finish this summer, think of the ways that you can help the environment.. Getting a new car? Think MPG or Hybrid. Recycle. Plan trips so your car useage is more efficient. Think of alternative sources of energy for your house or business (saw some wineries using solar power). These are just the tip of the iceberg of things we all can be doing.
I'll close with an image from Washington state that proved to me that people really do care. Even in the Pacific Northwest, people want BP to clean up its mess..

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Barataria Bay Oil Disaster

I returned recently from my second trip to LA and AL. See previous posts for images from Bon Secour NWR and Fort Jackson bird rehab facility.
The images today are from my trip into Barataria Bay. I was fortunate to have David Newsom and Tad (sorry Tad, didn't get your last name) accompany me on a boat ride into the bay. David is a director/producer/photographer from LA and Tad is a photographer/ videographer from Seattle. They were in the area working on interviews and images from the oil spill. It was a very moving experience as we saw areas of marsh that were contaminated and marsh grass dying from the contamination. I witnessed these areas 3 weeks prior and they had no contamination whatsoever.
The birds on Queen Bess Island seem to be doing well, even if the area next to the water is contaminated. The panorama image shows Royal Terns and chicks at the waters edge with rocks that appeared to be contaminated with oil. Fortunately, when we visited Fort Jackson, we only saw pelicans affected, so the terns are staying out of the oil, so far.
Dave and I talked quite a bit about the effects of oil spills, our dependancy on oil and the effect of this particular oil spill. One of the comments Dave made was about his interview with someone from the US Coast Guard who said that they didn't know how to deal with the contamination in the marshes and had no plan on cleanup of the marshes at this time. Thinking that this might could have been prevented if LA had been allowed to build their containment system broke my heart.
Dave asked if I was hopefully about the outcome. I told him that always looked at things with a ray of hope, no matter how bleak things are. What worries me is that this land might be contaminated for many generations.. This means that my future grandkids and great grandkids might not ever get to see a pristine Gulf Coast. My kids have seen it because they have been down to the Coast. When I return in August with my almost 16yo son, it will be interesting to see his reaction. He has been very vocal about the environment and to see a disaster like this up close might help bring another voice to the side of reason. In our youth lies the potential to overcome the difficulties imposed on the environment by past generations.. Here's hoping..

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Oil Soaked Pelicans

I just returned from Fort Jackson facility just above Venice, LA where all the bird rehab is taking place. Was able to go in and photograph and watch birds being rescued from a potential oily demise. It takes about 5-7 days for the entire process. They are examined by a vetenarian once they arrive. Then they are allowed to "chill" for a day or so before going through the decontamination process. This is a stressful process, so the workers want the birds to be less excited and less anxious before they get bathed. The oil itself doesn't cause extreme damage to the birds vital organs, but it does cause skin and eye irritation, so leaving the oil on them for a day or so to relax doesn't harm them. Then they go through 3 stages of clean up. First a solution is applied to breakup the oil. Then Dawn solution bath helps get rid of the oil and the first solution. Then finally a rinse bath helps get rid of the Dawn. The squeeky (well, if you listen close enough I think they squeek) clean birds then go to a drying room until all feathers are dry. They proceed back outside to a holding cage (large area with several "ponds" to sit in and play in) and there they await release. They are all tagged and then transported to FL (Merrit Island NWR) and released. Not sure if any will return. The mortality once the birds reach the rehab facility is reported as very low.
It was amazing to see all the people here working so hard and caring so much for these birds,
it is just a shame that they have been put in this position by BP Oil.
Tomorrow it is out to Barataria Bay..