A View from the Zoo

Greetings from the road to Terre Haute.  Linda and I are on our way back home from our trip to French Lick (chuckle) and thanks to being so far behind on posts this month I have resorted to using our travel time to pump a few blog posts out.  Today we have a special treat and by that I mean a guest photographer.  The first stop on our mini-vacation was to the Indianapolis Zoo.  Linda and I loaded up all of our camera equipment and headed out for a day of mirror slapping.  Later that night, Linda post processed some of her pictures for her peeps on Facebook (sigh).  I must say, she produced some amazing shots and thought I would share them with you.  Let’s start with the big cats.

That cat came out tack sharp with nice detail in the fur.  The tiger also has a look of intent as it stares down a small child with a face painting of a deer… kidding, it was actually watching his mate (below) taking a morning swim.  In truth, I would hate to be a deer that came face to face with that killing machine.  The composition isn’t the only thing that impresses me about this particular shot.  The fact that it even came out at all is a credit to Linda’s photographic abilities.  The tiger was actually behind GLASS at high sun.  One might be able to dismiss this as pure luck (hints of a certain sunflower picture), but then she pulled out this shot.

She also captured the tiger’s mate taking a swim in their pond.  Again, tack sharp (check), captivating expression (check), difficult lighting (check) with the added composition element of reflection (score).  All that is plenty enough but yes, it was taken through the very same glass protecting it from us.  She actually manually focused these shots to compensate for the false glass readings.  My only credit point is I taught her how to take pictures in full manual exposure mode which she is now downplaying as just a refresher from her 35mm Pentax days.  This is probably a good time to point out that it was extremely hot the day we were there which is probably why a cat (notorious for not really liking water) decided to seek relief in the stream.  “How hot was it?… it was so hot, even the cheetahs had their sneakers off and lounging in the weeds.”

Although not through glass, this big cat shot was nicely done as well.  It was actually in mid sentence asking us if we’d be willing to get it a slurpy (antelope flavored) to help cool down.  One of the features at the Indy zoo was to test your speed against a cheetah.  I had heard the programmed announcer (Tony Stewart who helped fund this exhibit) initiating the races which were going off about 3 minutes apart.  I was actually feeling sorry for the poor cheetah having to continually race in blistering heat until I came upon the race site.  It was just an electronic simulation consisting of lights representing the cheetah’s speed above a single lane track for the human to run on.  If those lights were accurate, that cat can move!    The heat was getting to everyone that day and most of the animals were seeking any shelter they could find in their natural pens.  The polar bear below was taking a snooze when we first arrived at the zoo around 9:15am.

Hit the jump to see a few more great pictures of wildlife at the Indy Zoo

Continue reading A View from the Zoo

Night Dwellers Part 3 – The Big, The Hairy and The Scary

So last post we brought out the big guns and showed you what the 200-400 Beast is capable of pulling in.  To contrast that, I figured I’d go all the way in the opposite direction and feature the 105 Macro glass for this post.  And the best picture opportunity for the Macro is?.. you guessed it, my porch.  Continuing the Night Dweller themed posts (here, here and here), I bring you the latest set of arachnids found late at night out here in the Midwest country.  Thanks to our toy poodles we often have the opportunity to check out the creatures that visit our house late at night.  As of late, the spiders look like they’ve been on a steroid kick resulting in some rather large specimens.  One night I stumbled on this huge spider and ran for the camera.

It always creeps me out a bit when looking through the macro glass.  The unassisted viewing reveals enough features to make your heart skip a beat, but add the full blown macro magnifications and it’s like you’re staring at creature from a bad B-Horror movie.  So there I was laying the ground taking pictures of this spider when a large moth dropped out of nowhere in striking distance from a natural predator.

This might get very interesting.  Both subjects remained very still which might have been due to my presence potentially interfering in the survival of the fittest experiment.  The small macro depth made it difficult to get both creatures in focus but it did create a nice effect.  (Yes, I had to manually fix the moth due to pet eye, but for my first attempt ever at it Photoshop it turned out pretty good).  After about 10 shots, there still wasn’t any movement between the two.  It reminded me of an Old West quick-draw, each waiting for the other to flinch.  Low and behold, another visitor showed up to take part.

The first thing that came to mind was the Mexican standoff from The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.  Unlike the Eastwood show, only one of these competitors had a loaded gun in terms of a bite and venom.  Now I am officially way beyond the  field depth for an eye level view so I moved up higher in an attempt to bring a little more focus into the shot.  The Opilione (or as we call them around here – Daddy Long Legs)  and Moth are still on the wrong end of this fight for survival, unless they can team up – maybe the moth does a 360 maneuver to land on top of the spider while the Harvestmen (another common name for the Opilione) pokes the spider’s eyes out with its long legs.  Although this might be more difficult that choreographed since the Harvestmen can’t make out images with their eyes and thus have to use the second set of legs as antennae to navigate the world.  Come for the pictures leave with trivia – what a deal!

By the way, I generally try to provide some reference for size since the macro has the ability to distort reality.  There was no way I was going to stick my finger in that mess.  Instead I tried to get the old standby penny visual in, but even that proved difficult due to my reluctance to get real close to the wolf spider.  Here is the best I could do … sorry!

I have a lot more pictures of our eight legged friends after the jump (if you dare)- most of them have the more traditional macro shots showing them up close and personal.

Continue reading Night Dwellers Part 3 – The Big, The Hairy and The Scary