Great Lesson for Anyone

This picture is not so much about the birds as it is about the memory it brings to me and one of life’s great photography lessons. It was June 29, 2006 when I was on a photo trip with Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris to Svalbard in the Artic.  I recall that there were two or maybe three other photographers near me while we were photographing a colony of Little Auks, Alle alle sitting on the tops of boulders. It was a field of boulders so we were also standing on boulders.
All of a sudden I heard someone lament, “On no! I can’t believe that I dropped it. I can still see it but I can’t reach it?” It seemed that the photographer had filled his compact flash card and was in the process of swapping to a fresh card when he dropped the card that was filled with his pictures. He could see the card 5 or 6 feet down among the boulders but there was no way to move a boulder and his arm could not reach far enough to get the card. What could he do? Several of us went over to give assistance but we all decided that it was impossible to retrieve the card. Again what to do? Perhaps a long pole with something sticky on the end would have worked but we had come ashore on uninhabited Fuglesang Island in a Zodiac. The only solution was to walk away. He would lose the card as well as his pictures.
Now to add insult to injury this was a brand new 512 MB 80X Lexar Professional compact flash card. No it is not a typo. You read it right. It was MB not GB. It was at that time the largest capacity and the fastest card on the market. I do not remember what it cost but seem to think that when it first came on the market, which was only a few weeks before our trip, it was in excess of $500.00. This was at a time when the average compact flash card was about 8 – 32 MB in capacity. A 512 MB card was a big deal and only for those people willing to part with serious money. The card was now in plain view but out of reach. No doubt the card is still there today.
My lesson learned from this man’s mistake was to NEVER change media cards, batteries, or lenses in places where if dropped, they could not be caught and retrieved.

Banff National Park

I do not remember the temperature, but it was well below freezing. In February of 2005 Margaret and I flew to Calgary and rented a car to tour Banff National Park. We were spending a few nights in Banff and I was told about a very scenic place to photograph called Johnston Falls. Johnston Falls was said to be one of the most popular summer day hikes in Banff National Park. This happened to be the dead of winter but undeterred I got directions and headed out one morning with my camera and tripod. No problem finding the entrance to Johnston Canyon which was perhaps no more than 12-14 miles from our lodging.
Banff had received more than a foot of new snow the night before our arrival so the snow plows had been busy. Parking was not a problem because the car park was partially plowed and I was the only person there. Off I went wearing high warm boots that worked well………until the trail gained a bit of elevation. I slipped and slid until reality set in. My footwear was not what I needed for snow and ice on a trail that went both uphill and downhill. Back to the car and back to town I went. Finding a sporting goods store in Banff, I explained my problem and they sold me some anti-skid detachable safety soles called Icer’s that fit over the soles of boots. I tried again the next morning and the second attempt on the trail was what I had hoped for.
The lower falls comes first with an elevation gain on the trail of about 100 feet. However, to reach the upper falls one has to manage a trail with an elevation of perhaps 400 feet. The Icer’s saved the day and in about an hour I made it all the way to the upper falls whose pictures you see here. There are catwalks affixed to the limestone cliffs that allow access into a deep canyon that would otherwise be exclusive only to climbers.
A.      Johnston Canyon upper falls in Banff National Park, Canada.
B.      A portion of the bottom of the upper falls showing water still flowing below the ice.
C.      One of two climbers on a large portion of the frozen falls.
D.     This is a broad view of the falls as seen from the catwalk.

A Rare Penguin & Seal

What are the odds of photographing a white version of a penguin and a seal on the same trip? Slim odds I would guess, but that is precisely what happened while on a trip to Antarctica and South Georgia Island.
A.      This is a Gentoo penguin, Pygoscelis papua found on Ronge Island or Curville Island. This island is about 5 miles long off the west coast of Graham Land in Antarctica. This white version is called a Leucystic Gentoo penguin. I looked it up and this is what I found: “Leucism (/ˈluːsɪzəm, -kɪz-/) is a condition in which there is partial loss of pigmentation in an animal resulting in white, pale, or patchy coloration of the skin, hair, and feathers but not the eyes. ... Unlike albinism, it is caused by a reduction in multiple types of pigment, not just melanin.” They are said to be very rare with estimates of only 1 in 10,000 like this.
B.      A normal looking Gentoo penguin at George’s Point on Ronge Island
C.      A white version of the Antarctic Fur seal, Arctocephalus gazelle found at Fortuna Bay on South Georgia Island. Note: An unusual pale, yellowish off-white to honey coloured form of the Antarctic fur seal has been known to occur infrequently within the population on South Georgia and you are looking at one.
D.     A pair of normal looking Antarctic Fur seal pups at Salsbury Plain on South Georgia Island.

A Colorful Stroll in an Old Town

This picture was taken on a splendid fall day in Tallinn, Estonia. We are in the upper area of the Old Town of Tallinn on Lühike Jalg Street. We have left St. Nicholas Church and walked through the Danish King’s Garden towards the lower part of the Old Town. On the right side of the street are the entrance door and wall lamps of Napsikamber Bar. I was thankful that the lamps were turned on.
I was using a tripod which allowed me to really fine tune the composition. I repositioned the tripod several times until I had the view I liked best. At first I did not care for the plain grey walls of the buildings on each side of the street so I moved in closer. Then I realized that the plainness of the walls was really an asset because they drew the eye towards the open gate and colorful buildings past the gate. There are no trees in view but the red and yellow leaves on the walkway are most certainly signs that the fall season has begun. I usually do not like clutter in my pictures but in this case the leaves are just enough to provide the “feel” of fall but not so many as to look messy. I was blessed with beautiful puffy clouds mixed with a dark blue sky.
What you are viewing is the final result of an HDR composition using three separate captured files. I may have described HDR before but for those new to the Picture of the Week series, HDR stands for High Dynamic Range. HDR uses software to reproduce a greater dynamic range of luminosity than is possible with standard digital imaging or photographic techniques. The human eye can see a very broad range of light from deep shade to bright sun. Not so with digital or film which have their limit. Look at the bright clouds in the picture and then look at the darkest part of the scene. You should be able to see detail in both. Without HDR that would not have been possible.
I hope this picture makes you feel like you have taken a step back in time as you contemplate what is beyond the gate on this old narrow street.

Blue Nile Falls

The Blue Nile Falls is a waterfall on the Blue Nile River in Ethiopia and the Blue Nile is a river flowing out of Lake Tana in Ethiopia. With the White Nile, it is one of two major tributaries of the Nile River. The Blue Nile supplies about 80% of the water in the Nile during the rainy season.
Blue Nile Falls is known as Tis Abay in the Amharic language which means “great smoke”.  It is situated about 25 miles downstream from the town of Bahir Dar and Lake Tana. The falls are about 1200 feet wide and 135 feet high and are one of Ethiopia’s best known tourist attractions.
I had finished photographing the falls and was walking away when I looked behind and noticed a woman making her way towards the closest viewing point of the falls. Quickly I found a vantage point and waited for her to arrive and hopefully stand still. It was my good fortune that she did so and was also wearing a red jacket to make her stand out nicely against the flowing water. Using an aperture of f/16 was not necessary for depth of field. However, this setting did allow me to use a slower shutter speed which resulted in creating a smoother flow of the water.

Gordon Kilgore is a Free-Lance Photographer who travels the world turning the simple things  into  works of beauty. Gordon has decided to share some of his work with us on a weekly  basis  starting in January of 2016. 

I have elected to post his weekly work on this site for your enjoyment. To see more of his work go to  Enjoy!!!