Essays / s /


One of the great things about any wildlife trip is that even if you're out to find one thing (in the case of India it was tigers) you always see tons of other interesting life to photograph. There's always time to kill when you can't find your main target, so a decent amount of time is spent with other animals. Having not been to India before, I read a little bit about what other wildlife to look for, but mostly I got to know more about the tigers. Well, here's what I know now: the place is loaded with peacocks. They're everywhere - scattering from the roads as you pass by. It was mating season, so they were on full display. Being a sucker for shiny objects, I was thrilled to see them all of the time. There are a couple of species of deer, sambar and spotted deer, which are the main food supply for the tigers. There are extremely shy sloth bears which are unique to India, leopards, (chased a couple, but no pix) wild boar, jakals, hyenas and lots of exotic birds. Who knew? Well, I would have... if I had read little more.
Peacock on display
A herd of sambar deer frightened by a nearby tiger. India
Spotted deer
Parakeet on a perch


The main focus of my last trip was to photograph tigers in two of India's national parks: Ranthambhore & Bandhavgarh. Easier said than done. Most of the wildlife I've tracked has been in Africa, and although there were a lot of similarities, there was one major difference - tigers seemed to be a bit harder to find than African cats. Out of the 14 game drives we did, we had 4 tiger sightings. Others saw more, some saw less. What we saw was terrific, but you tend to forget that these are really dangerous animals, and you get used to being near them. We were unfortunately reminded of that one day when we got word that one of the park rangers was killed close by by a large male tiger. It was a very sad day, and it made the news all over the country. Managing the wildlife and visitors in parks is a hot topic in many places, but this brought a lot of issues up for the Indian government.

I went to India in the summer season ( you may have heard of their recent heat wave). In summer the brush is less dense, so the tigers have fewer places to hide and the heat will often drive them out to cool off in the shrinking amount of watering holes. That's where we found them. In the morning as it got hot and in the late afternoon they would come out to drink and cool off. One family of a mother and her cubs in Bandhavgarh was a particular favorite - we saw them twice- once by a lake and another time finishing off a meal of spotted deer. It was a great and interesting trip with a couple of amazing encounters. Here are a few highlights:

Recent tiger tracks on the road.
Looking for water.
Two cubs fighting.
A cub plays with its mother.
Mother and cub.

Gone Fishin'

I have a lot of posts ahead of me here after returning from India and Myanmar. Two extraordinary countries, and two extraordinarily different countries. I was only in Myanmar for short time, with a couple of days each in a few places that interested me. Actually other places interested me more, but even though things have opened up there in the last few years, the government still decides where it's permissible to go. In other words, they don't want you to go where they're still doing horrible things. It made for some interesting discussions with my guides. One of the spots I made it to was Inle Lake - a beautiful lake located roughly in the middle of the country. I went there primarily to check out the fishermen who have some interesting methods of getting their work done. It's really interesting to see what happens when relatively isolated people pass down their idiosyncratic ways of working. These fishermen use very small hand made canoes, and need both hands free to work their nets, so they've learned to row with one of their legs wrapped around an oar. They row with one of their legs while unfurling their nets. Once the nets are down, they slap the water with bamboo poles to scare the fish into the nets, then row again to pick up the nets and grab their fish. They repeat this until the sun goes down or they have enough fish. These guys worked really hard for a very small return. There weren't a lot of fish, nor were they very big. They get a few cents per fish back in their villages. Here's a few photos of these fellas at work:

A fisherman slapping the water with a bamboo rod to scare fish into his net.
Setting the nets.
Gathering the last of the nets for the day.
A fisherman uses an old school wooden fish trap at sunrise.


I've been to Bali more than most other places I've visited. Sometimes only for a couple of days on the way to remote dive spots in Indonesia, sometimes for longer stays. I've been going there every couple of years for over two decades, and aside from the growth and changes you would expect anywhere, I always find something new and different. Not new like a new building or something, more like a new old thing that I missed before. For a relatively small island, there's a lot to experience. Ancient culture mixed with modern civilization and a lot of tourists. You can be in the middle of nowhere watching rice farmers working the paddies, and walk into a tiny store with the fastest wifi you've ever had. You can also be in the more urban areas and have to stop for a religious procession walking through the middle of heavy traffic. It's a weird mix, but always fascinating. I'd really like to stay a few weeks sometime to really get a handle on the place. I was there again recently and stayed a few extra days to visit a couple of new/old spots and look around. Here are a few photos from my most recent trip.

A woman going to a temple ceremony in Bali.
Gamelan players in a Balinese village.

Two Seasons, One Island

As far as tropical islands go, Mexico’s Isla Mujeres is a pretty sleepy one. The primary mode of transportation? Golf carts & bicycles. It has nice beaches and some good restaurants, but maybe because it’s small and close to bigger or more exciting places like Cancun or Cozumel, it seems to have avoided a lot of the craziness and big development those places are known for. The real action is in the water. In January it’s Atlantic sailfish, and in August it’s whale sharks. Different fish. Same water. Same sleepy island. In the winter months the sailfish show up to chase schools of sardines that come into the area. It’s high energy stuff, with sometimes dozens of sailfish attacking a bait ball. At one point, we counted 48 sailfish around us. They move fast, and it’s a workout to keep up with them. We were prepared to dive, but most of the action happens at the surface, so all we needed were snorkels. Same thing in August with the whale sharks. The whale sharks come in for big fish spawning events in the summer. The water gets thick with fish eggs and plankton, and the whale sharks come in to scoop them up. They’re slower moving than the sailfish, but the excitement of getting in the water with them is the same. Their size makes up for their lack of speed. It’s plenty of excitement. And besides, you can sleep back on the island.

Whale shark, Mexico.

Sand Blast

Ok, so the first thing you need to know about the Namibian desert is that it's huge. It goes up the entire coast of Namibia - longer than California by about 300 miles - and stretches inland up to 100 miles. It's not just big that way, it also has the tallest dunes in the world. So... it's huge. It's also old. It's considered the oldest desert in the world. I don't know how they figure that out, but who am I to argue? But, before I get all Wikipedia on you, what you really need to know it that it's absolutely amazing to be there. In Sossusvlei the sand is pink/red/orange, in the north it is golden. The shear volume of sand is mind boggling, and for a photographer it's the kind of place you can stay in for days and never run out of stuff to shoot. Here's a few images to give you an idea.

Sossusvlei, Namib-Naukluft National Park
Sossusvlei, Namib-Naukluft National Park
Marienfluss Valley, Namib Dessert
Sossusvlei, Namib-Naukluft National Park
Above Sossusvlei, Namib-Naukluft National Park