Huntington Library and Botanical Gardens

Huntington Library and Botanical Gardens San Marino
The Conservatory in the Botanical Gardens

A Great way to spend the day around Los Angeles for Art Lovers and Botanical Garden fans.

Not far from Pasadena in San Marino you will find the the Huntington Library and Botanical Gardens on 120 acres of well keep grounds. not counting the work that is being done on the ground at the time.
First off I’am not the library and art collection type of person, however I did walk through most of the indoor exhibits, but at a faster pace than most stopping at the more well know bits “Gainsborough’s Blue Boy and Lawrence’s Pinkie, Gutenberg Bible on Vellum. (well cultured now you say)

Bamboo and Graffiti in the Botanical Gardens
Bamboo and Graffiti

The Botanical Gardens part that I liked the most was the Chinese Garden and the Australian Garden, there was an abundance of wildlife to check out, from local resident birds to the hummingbirds buzzing around in front of us, and the lizards that were scurrying across the walkways and between the cactus, stopping for a quick look up and then carry on their way. Not a bad way to spend 4 hours or so.

Koi fish and lilies in the ponds at Botanical Gardens
Koi fish and lilies

Next time. I would go on a weekday with gates opening at 10am. Take a zoom lens for the hummingbirds and Lizard. Tripod and my Gopro for some time-lapse. the photos here were taken with a Sigma wide angle 17 – 70 that I was testing and using for the first time. (very pleased with it)

The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Botany Science

The Wildlife Around Us

Over the last month we have had this Coyote coming into our back yard for the shade. As long as you are on the tractor or using the mower he just walks pass and takes his spot under the trees for the hottest part of the day.

California coyote in our yard
California Coyote

Another visitor is the the Red Tail Hawk that can be seen in the mornings hunting squrriels around the property

Red tail hawk resting in tree
Young Red Tail Hawk

Red fox on the Hunt

Zanzibar

Zanzibar the spice island

Just off the coast of Tanzania. (Dar es Salaam) Zanzibar is one of my favorite spots to hang out in. You have the resorts in the North (Nungwi) or you can stay in Stone Town. Where ever you end up staying, swap around so you experience both places. You can catch the ferry from Dar es Salaam and enjoy a 1 1/2 ride across. Inside with Air/con or outside on a bean bag, once you get there fill out the paper work. Stamp the passport and you are in. To fly over it takes around 40 min great views of the islands. when we landed on this occasion they never looked at our Passports.

Having a drink at the Resort in Zanzibar

One of the Resorts Near Nungwi, Zanzibar  

 

 

 

If you are going to be going to one of the Resorts in the north of the island you can catch a taxi van just out the front of the ferry terminal ask around. Prices can very.
Once there you have beaches, diving, swimming, Cold beer and great food. Dinning next to the ocean you can look down and see lion fish in the clear water below. When you are tired of doing that GO AND DO a spice tour which I would recommend as this what Zanzibar is know for.

Stone Town

Staying only 10 min from the ferry Terminal at the Safari Lodge the place was clean handy to every thing and they do breakfast, With a Labyrinth of walk/bike ways, Stone Town was a great place to get lost in (in a good way) from the Spice market to the Fish and Meat markets too the Tinga Tinga paintings that can be found down every street.

Man pushing bike through streets in stone town Zanzibar
Streets of Stone Town, Zanzibar

In the evenings you can find locals cooking seafood on the waterfront. Try the octopus. cooked as you watch. as you walk along the waterfront you will come across the road tunnel once through, there is a ATM to your left that can be used. if you take the next street to the right and walk down to the beach and you can find them making boats by hand. Taking the street to the left. You will pass Freddy Mercury’s birth place and some bigger shops. The little park on you right has a ATM in it also. At the end of the street there is Africa House great place to watch the Sunset and have a cold one, check out the smoking room.

lady feeding Tortoises in Zanzibar

Catching a boat on the beach in front of Mercury’s Bar. Out to one of the local islands. (Bawe Island) Were you can feed some of the Tortoises they have there, ranging from the young and small to the big and old.

 
local boy on the beach in Zanzibar smiling at camera
local Boy, Zanzibar

Things to Remember

Ladies look at what the local woman are wearing before you go out in your little shorts and tops it’s ok in the resorts but when in the towns cover up a little and you wont get the funny looks.
Carry water.
Enjoy the Local People their culture and the great food.

Home

Western Fence Lizard

Western fence lizard sitting on a post
Male Western Fence Lizard

 

Western Fence Lizard

 They are called Western Fence lizard. Pacific Fence lizard or California Fence Lizard. Whatever you like to call these guys. They make great subjects to photograph. As they sit on their tree stump or rock soaking up the the morning sun. The males do their pushups to impress the ladies. You can get quite close to them and over time they don’t seem to mine you being around.
       On this particular day he was out sunning himself. Trying to impress everything that walked passed. After setting up the tripod and camera this little guy seem to get more friendlier and came out for longer periods of time enjoying the spotlight.
       I was using a Canon 7D and Sigma 50 to 500 zoom lens for these shots, photos taken in the morning around 8am, Setting ISO 800 | 500mm | f/14 | 1/400     

 
 
male western fence lizard on tree stump
Male Western Fence Lizard
 
 
  Larger photos can be seen at Wild Frog Photography 

Gorillas Of Rwanda

 

Female Gorilla of Rwanda
Female Gorilla Rwanda

Mountain Gorillas Of Rwanda

If there is one thing that should be on your bucket list it is seeing the Gorillas in Rwanda or Uganda. When you are sitting in the middle of a group of 25 Gorillas its the biggest buzz in the world. zoo’s will never be the same again.

volcanoes National Park,Kinigi HQ

Hiking along stone fence in the Volcanoes National Park

Getting There

Starting here at Volcanoes National Park, Kinigi HQ, Rwanda. After check in and a short talk, We were then divided up into groups of 8, put into 4WD’s and taken to the group of Gorillas that was assigned to us, our group were lucky in that our drive was only around 40min before we reached the start of our hike. some groups had  an 1-1/2 hour drive. Walking through farm land until we arrived at Volcanoes National Park boundary fence, a very long hand built stone wall to stop the Elephants from crossing over on to the farm land.
Climbing over the fence you enter a dark and wet Bamboo forest, hiking up hill on a muddy, stinging nettle filled animal trail, we climbed steady for the next hour before we reached the armed guides that follow and protect the Gorillas every day. Stopping for a drink and a bit too eat we headed back into the Bamboo again, after about 10 min, rounding a corner there were 2 Gorillas sitting on the trail, walking pass them we come across the main group of adults with babies, feeding and playing, with one very big male Silverback in the middle.

Silverback Gorilla sitting down in bush
Silverback Gorilla Checking Us Out


Once we started interacting with them they became very relaxed around us, coming in close and just sitting next to you, at one point a young female took a hold of my ankle and move may leg to one side so she could walk passed, a baby was playing up in the bamboo making it bend over above our heads for a closer look.
Taking photos in the Bamboo, The light was not the best due in part to the overcast day and the thickest of the bamboo, but every now and then the sun came through for us letting you get in come nice shots. When we first got there (you only have 1 hour with the Gorillas) taking photos was on every one’s mind which was great, but looking back now I wished I have spend more time just watching them “next time” After our 1 hour and 10min yes we got an extra 10min, it was nice down hill hike back out through the bamboo forest.

Looking up in Bamboo forest in the mountains of RwandaBamboo covered hills of Rwanda
Bamboo Covered Hills Of Rwanda
and 
Looking Up from the Trail

You can check out more photos of the Gorillas we used Africa-in-focus to get us there and back, small groups only,they also did all the bookings/payments for the Gorillas etc which have to be done well in advanced.

 
 
Baby Gorilla Playing on Male Silverback Gorilla
 
 


Or watch it on YouTube Here
Baby Gorilla Playing on Silverback Gorilla

 
 



 

Small Cameras are Great

swimming in the clear water's off Zanzibar
Swimming in the Clear water’s off Zanzibar (fujifilm XP)
 

Small Cameras are the Best

         Traveling for 6 months in Africa (Self drive and Tour Operator) We wanted a camera that you could carry everywhere, besides your main camera and this is what I came up with, a Fujifilm XP water/shock/dust and freeze proof, great for your pocket, I even carried it in my boot sock. walking around in towns/cities you stand out and scream rob me if you have a big DSLR hanging around your neck (with a group it’s safer ) and I have seen this happen on a number of occasions and even warned one guy not to take his camera into town, he came back without it and had only just started his trip.
     With this camera we only used 2G cards just in case it did get taken, so we wouldn’t lose to many photos in one hit (cards are cheap)   

Sand Dunes of Sossusviei in Namibia
Dune 45
The Sand Dunes of Sossusviei in the Namibia Desert (fujifilm XP)

Dune 45 in Sossusviei, part of the Namibia Desert was another great reason to have a camera of this type with you. SAND

Namibia -Angola river float
floating down the river between Namibia and Angola
Namibia / Angola river Float (fijifilm XP)

What ever brand you choose it is a must have camera on any big or small trip, the benefits outweigh the negatives.
Keep it in your pocket, your sock, or down the front of your swimmers
It’s better to have something than nothing.  

Burrowing Owls of Yuma, Arizona

Burrowing Owls of Yuma Arizona.

On my visits to Yuma Arizona. I alway take the time to find the burrowing owls that live close to were we stay and get some photos. In November the little family group that lived next door were doing fine. But by Christmas they had moved out due to the work that is taking over their living space.When I checked out another area close by, we found 8 birds happily standing in front of their holes. Willing to model. The only problem with this spot was the light. It would have to be an afternoon shoot.I prefer the mornings, something about the light at that time. The light was not strong on this day due to low cloud. 

Burrowing Owls (Athene Cunicularia) 

At this location they don’t seem to mind you been around if you move accordingly. After setting up my tripod and camera. I got around 40 mins of good light before the sun hit the clouds and it was over. If you can’t take photos Hang around and watch these little guys. It can also be just as rewarding, and give you ideas for the next time. When you  are in Yuma Arizona or the state of Arizona. Keep an eye open for the Burrowing Owls.

Gear: Canon 7D sigma 50-500 and a tripod.

 
 
 
Afternoon
Burrowing Owls Of Yuma Arizona
Burrowing Owl in front of burrow