Readers’ wildlife photos

February 12, 2021 • 8:00 am

Today’s photos come from James Blilie, but they’re not his—they were taken by his dad. He explains below; click on the photos to enlarge them.

My Dad served in the US Army Air Force in WWII, flying a full tour of combat missions (35 when he was in) in the 8th Air Force over Germany and occupied France.  When the Korean war broke out, he was called up in 1950 or 1951.  Since he’d done his full combat duty, he was assigned to Military Air Transport, where he continued to fly as a navigator on cargo airplanes.  He was mainly based in Tachikawa Air Base in Japan; but also flew frequently into Clark Field near Manila in the Philippines, Taipei, and Taegu and other fields in Korea:  The work involved supplying US forces in Korea.

When he was not on duty, he wandered the areas around the air bases.  These photos are ones that he took around Tachikawa, Japan and around Manila in the Philippines.

I am stunned at how many great shots he got.  He was really in the groove when he was taking these. As one commenter on FB said:  He really knew how and when to snap the decisive moment with portraits.

These are, of necessity, my interpretations of my Dad’s negatives.  I think he would approve. I cropped the images, adjusted exposure and contrast, occasionally spotted out a distracting element, and spotted out the dust (some of my dust-spotting is sub-optimal).  But the final versions are quite close to the originals.

The first two are street photos from Manila in the Philippines.  These are just people he photographed in the street.  No idea who they are.

The next bunch are all from the vicinity of Tachikawa, Japan.

Scanner:  Epson V500 Perfection (current model is V600).  Wonderful scanner for precision work.

Processing:  Lightroom 5.  I am a beginner at processing B&W negatives in LR.  I may choose

a different SW package in the future.  Fortunately, LR does not modify the original images.

I have resized these in order to email them.

Readers’ wildlife photos

January 28, 2021 • 8:00 am

Please send in your good wildlife/street/landscape photos.

Today we have travel photos from Joe Dickinson. Joe’s captions are indented, and you can enlarge the photos by clicking on them.

Here for your consideration is the first of two sets of photos I’ll just call “Street Scenes”

This is a well-known pub in Edinburgh called Bobby’s Bar, named, I believe, for the faithful dog of a regular patron.Bobby reportedly hung out by the pub for months after his owner died.

JAC: I went to this pub fairly often when I did my sabbatical in Edinburgh. This is also the only pub where I found the wonderful Fraoch Heather Ale (made with heather flowers) on tap.

You will recognize this as a famous site in Chicago, the skating rink at Millennium Park with the “bean” in the background.

This is a view of the people lined up to take the elevator up the Eiffel Tower seen, I believe, from the first platform.

A refreshment stand in Lhasa, Tibet.  The fellow second from the right is multitasking by spinning a prayer wheel.

Also in Tibet, an industrial size prayer wheel installation allows highly efficient prayer while on the way, for example, to market.  Just hold your right hand at about shoulder height and give each cylinder (hexagon?) a twirl as you go by.

Still in Tibet, this is the Jokhang Temple, sort of the mother church for Tibetan Buddhism.  The idea is to process around the temple complex.  The common theme here and preceding is that prayers are activated when set in motion.  Two of my prized possessions are a prayer wheel and an elaborately decorated conch shell “trumpet” obtained in the gift shop at that temple.  Think about how, historically, conch shells made it to Tibet and you can understand why they were valued.  Similarly, we saw women at some festival proudly wearing large beads fashioned from coral. 

This is the gate to a little cottage that we rented a couple of times when attending the Indian Market and the Opera in Santa Fe.  Conveniently, those two events overlap.

These next two are the Ponte Vecchio in Florence, one at sunset and the other at night.

This is the first village first village, Manarola, when walking the  Cinqua Terre in Italy in the usual direction.

This is the front of the Pantheon in Rome. Generally, I avoid getting strangers in photos of historic or scenic views, but I think this young couple adds some interest.

This is Volendam in the Netherlands.  Again, the children playing in a boat adds some human interest.

Readers’ wildlife photos

January 22, 2021 • 8:00 am

Please send me in your good wildlife/street/people photos. Thanks!

Today’s beautiful photos come from Joe Routon, who photographed at a Buddhist monastery. His captions are indented, and click on the photos to enlarge them.

Here are a few photos that I made on a trip to a Buddhist monastery in Myanmar a few years ago. The country has many monasteries and shrines, some of which are the most beautiful in Asia.

A growing number of children have been seeking refuge in monasteries as a result of conflict in Myanmar. Buddhist monks can be ordained as young as 8. Traditional guidelines state that a child must be “old enough to scare away crows.”

The Buddhist monastic school system in Myanmar dates back to the 11th century. All Buddhist boys in Myanmar are expected to spend some time, as little as a few weeks, in a monastery. In addition to reading, math, history, and other secular subjects, they learn the basics of the Buddhist faith and earn merit, a kind of spiritual credit that will benefit them and their families in this and future lives. Schooling in a monastery is the only education that many children in Myanmar ever get, especially rural and poor children. They also receive food, board, and health care.

While most young men remain at the monastery for only a short time before returning to the secular life, some become fully ordained monks. The 500,000 Buddhist monks in Myanmar wear saffron- or rust-colored robes.

Child and adult nuns, who live in convents, shave their heads and wear pink robes.

Monks wash themselves in the monastery pool before meditation.

Monks usually follow the traditional rule from the time of the Buddha and eat only one meal a day, before noon. Eating in silence is a necessity for monks. When you eat, your mouth is used for that purpose, and talking is a distraction and impractical. There is little or no snacking outside meals.

Readers’ wildlife photos

January 14, 2021 • 8:00 am

Reader “Sherfolder” sent some lovely street photos from India. The captions are indented, and you can click the photos to make them bigger. These really make me want to get back there!

The first two photos are from Rishikesh, a man sitting on banks of the river Ganges and the Hanuman Temple.

This photo shows a farmer transporting load of leaves of meetha neem (Murraya koenigii) also known as curry tree. It is widely used in Indian cuisine as a spice, even though it has nothing directly to do with the preparation of curry.

The next one shows a cattle herder giving her buffalos a short rest at a bus stop.
The following photos show people staying overnight at the train station of New Delhi, residents of a village in Rajasthan I met on a Sunday morning, cleaners of the Amber Fort in Jaipur, local visitors to the Jodphur Palace, flower sellers, and finally the Golden Temple of Amritsar.

Readers’ wildlife photos

January 9, 2021 • 8:00 am

Please send in your photos, lest I have to pause this feature!

Today we have “street photos” from Joe Routon, and from my favorite country: India. They are also from Varanasi (formerly “Benares”), the most sacred of Hindu cities. I visited it, too, but don’t have pictures like these. Joe’s notes are indented; click on photos to enlarge them.

Since India is one of your and my favorite countries, you might be interested in including these photos that I made in Varanasi. I don’t pretend to be an expert on India and Hinduism, so I hope there aren’t too many errors in my commentary.
Undoubtedly, the most remarkable, memorable city I’ve ever visited was Varanasi, India, one of the world’s oldest cities, dating back 5,000 years. The spiritual capital of the country, it was here that Buddha founded Buddhism. [JAC: I think the Buddha is supposed to have given his first sermon near here, but am not sure that that is counted as the “founding of Buddhism.”

Located on the banks of the Ganges River, it draws millions of pilgrims every year to bathe in the sacred river.
The pilgrims believe that bathing in the Ganges will purify them and wash away their sins.

With millions of gallons of untreated sewage, pesticides, dead bodies, animal waste, fertilizer, and other pollution, the water is some of the dirtiest in the world. Efforts to clean the river are under way.

It is believed by Hindus that bathing in the Ganges helps a person get rid of sins he or she has committed in their previous lives.

In spite of the obvious pollution, we were told that the water of the Ganges is extremely pure and sanctifying, killing germs. Various scientists have tested the water and, finding antiseptic minerals, have used it to treat different diseases. Seeing the garbage and litter floating on the surface makes me wonder. [JAC: When I was there, I saw a guy brushing his teeth with Ganges water, only a few feet from the bloated corpse of a child floating by, with a crow perched on its belly]

Devout Hindus go to Varanasi to die so they can be cremated on the pyres or on floating rafts. Their ashes are then spread on the water so their souls can be transported to heaven, releasing them from the cycle of death and rebirth and freeing them from the worry of returning to life as a squirrel or a grasshopper.
The pyres burn 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with hundreds of bodies burned in plain sight each day. Estimates put the number of cremated bodies dumped in the Ganges at 100,000 per year.
Often, if a family cannot afford a proper cremation, they will dump the body into the river.

It’s an amazing place to visit and experience. India is one of my favorite countries, and Varanasi makes it worth the trip.

Readers’ wildlife photos

December 19, 2020 • 8:00 am

Today we have more “street photos” from Asia (and two from Europe) by James Blilie. His captions are indented; click photos to enlarge them.

The first bunch are all scanned Kodachrome 64 slides from my trip around the world, mostly by bicycle. We averaged about 45 miles per day (when riding) and did a total of 11,900 miles on our bikes (Nov 1990 – Oct 1992).  Egypt was part of the trip (Thailand, Nepal, India, Kenya, Egypt) we did without bikes and were “regular backpackers”.

I shot almost 400 rolls of Kodachrome, a few dozen rolls of Kodacolor print film (for showing around while we were traveling), and a few dozen rolls of Tri-X Pan black and white film on the trip.  Boy, was photography more expensive (and heavy!) back in those days!

Young man, Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt.  The town is quite touristy; but lovely nevertheless.  Right on the Red Sea:

Man with chickens and a scooter, Malaysia.  As anyone who’s been to SE Asia knows, these little 2-stroke cycles are how everything gets around there.  The amazing things I’ve seen stacked on these scooters!  I saw a family of 5 on one (Dad plus Mom plus three kids!)

Roti-man, Malaysia.  This pan-fried flatbread was our breakfast every morning in Malaysia, made in street stalls.  We got up every day at about 4 am to be riding our bikes by sunrise in Malaysia.  We wanted to be done by 11am because of the heat and humidity.  I went through 10-11 liters of water every day in Malaysia.

Young woman beside the highway, east coast of Malaysia (peninsular Malaysia):

Fish for sale in a street market, Suva, Fiji:

Street food, Bangkok, Thailand:

Tools, Chiang Mai, Thailand.  This is what happens to the saffron robes the Buddhist monks wear!

Footprints on the trail.  Annapurna Circuit trek (back when it still took 3 weeks to do), Nepal.

Nepalese umbrella, Annapurna circuit:

Dishwashing, Muktinath, Nepal.  This is why you never ate all the way down to the plate!

Readers’ wildlife photos

December 18, 2020 • 8:00 am

We have “street photography” today from Joe Routon, taken in one of his (and my) favorite countries. I’ve indented his captions and text; click on photo to enlarge them.

I’m submitting a few from one of my favorite countries to visit and photograph: India.
The Taj Mahal in Agra, India.

When in other countries I enjoy photographing the beauty of the dance, whether it be ballet, folk, or, in this case, Bharatanatyam, the oldest classical dance tradition in India.

Faces fascinate me the most, especially those of children.
There are not many places where a photographer can find such wonderful, expressive faces in colorful costumes as there are in India.

On several occasions my photos of young Indian girls have been used by organizations to help fight the rate of gender-selective abortions or the deaths of female infants in India. Fortunately, the trend is reversing. This is a poster for an event that included an exhibit of some of my photographs of girls in India.

My photo of two sisters in India was used in the United Nations’ magazine “The Interdependent” several years ago. Entitled “More Indian Girls Go Missing,” it was in an article by NY Times foreign correspondent Barbara Crossette about the plight of infant girls in India.

Readers’ wildlife photos

December 8, 2020 • 8:00 am

Today’s contribution comprises more “street photos” by Joe Routon (remember, these kind of photos count as wildlife). I’ve indented Joe’s captions. Click on the photos to enlarge them.

I’m Always on the search for beautiful things to photograph, and am including a few that I’ve taken.

This is one of my photos of Urbino, Italy, the hometown of the artist Raphael. The beauty of the surrounding countryside inspired him and was included in many of his paintings. The ubiquitous splendor of Italy makes it one of my favorite destinations.

Lake Como is filled with lush gardens and beautiful surroundings.

I have a new camera that has a multiple exposure function that allows me to combine photos. In this one, I merged my photo of a ballerina’s profile with leaves from my front yard. My title for this is “Life is beautiful! Wear a Mask!!”

Even dying leaves can grace us with simple and elegant beauty.

Beauty, dignity, and majesty are plentiful at the magnificent St. Vitus Cathedral in Prague.

A must-see in India is the beautifully constructed Chand Baori stepwell in the Abhaneri village of Rajasthan. Built in the 9th century, it’s almost 100 feet deep and has 3,500 narrow steps. My photo is in the DK Smithsonian book “Man-Made Wonders of the World.”

Readers’ wildlife photos

November 25, 2020 • 8:00 am

Don’t forget to send in your good wildlife photos. I bet many of you have been putting it off, but I’ll need them as the holidays approach and nobody feels like sending anything.

Today, Joe Routon is back with some “street photography”, which today is really diverse. I’ve indented his captions.

Here is a potpourri of some of my photo interests. This first is one that I made of a cataract surgery. The instrument in the ophthalmologist’s right hand is a phacoemulsifier, used to send ultrasonic vibrations that emulsify the cataract, allowing the particles to be vacuumed out through the instrument. The phaco, as it’s affectionately called, then inserts a new and clear lens. The procedure, which is 99% effective, usually lasts about 20 minutes and produces spectacular results, in most cases.

This is my macro photograph of an Eupatorium perfoliatum, a wildflower commonly known as the Common Boneset. This entire bundle of exquisite flowers is smaller than an M&M. Each blossom is about a millimeter across.

My favorite subject for photography is the human face, especially when it’s combined with my passion for travel. I photographed this young lady on a street in Tokyo.

What would a photographic sampling in WEIT be without the ubiquitous duck? This is eine Ente in Deutschland.

On my daily social-distancing walk I photograph flowers in the neighborhood. I think this is Clematis vitalba, also known as “Old Man’s Beard.”  I’m not a botanist, so I expect that my identification will be challenged by others on the list.

I enjoy the fun of manipulating images. For example, here’s what you get when you crossbreed a sweet gum seed pod and a potato. It appears that the bloodshot eye might be the result of the potatos early fermenting into vodka.

My final photo is of one of the main gems in Philadelphia. In the Curtis Building, across from Independence Hall, is a magnificent work of art that few seem to know about. “The Dream Garden,” a mural made of 100,000 pieces of hand blown glass, was designed by Louis Comfort Tiffany, based on a landscape by Maxfield Parrish. It’s 15 feet tall and 49 feet wide, and is breathtakingly beautiful!

Readers’ wildlife photos

November 12, 2020 • 8:00 am

Don’t forget to send me your good wildlife photos, as we run through them pretty quickly here.

Today’s photos come from James Blilie, and they’re “street photos,” which count as wildlife. I’ve indented James’s captions:

Inspired by Joe Routon’s photos today, here are some street photos I took over the years, for your consideration.
The majority are scans of Kodachrome 64 slides I shot while traveling the world. One friend and I rode bicycles around the world in 1990-1992.
First, though, a few newer ones.
Waiters, outside a Paris restaurant, taking a break before the dinner rush.  July 2010.

A view of Bourbon Street, New Orleans, LA.  April 2018.  It seemed like Bourbon Street never was quiet.  This is midday, well before the serious drinking gets going.

A sunset shot at the Champs de Mars, Paris, July 2018.

Hikers, climbing up Ayer’s Rock (Uluru).  It’s very steep, and even with shoes with good, rubber soles, there were a few spots where I was glad of the chain, leading up the ridge. We saw women in leather-soled, spike-heels going up this!  (I don’t think climbing it is allowed anymore).

Smiles on the road in Fiji (main island), 1990:

Sign-painter in old-town Singapore.  I doubt much is left of the old town.  It was rapidly going away, even when we were there 29(!) years ago.

Girl, caring for her younger sibling.  Nepal, July 1991.

Woman transplanting rice, rural Nepal, July 1991.

Boys, sleeping on the street, Kathmandu, Nepal, July 1991.

Boys with birds.  On the Annapurna Circuit trail – back when it still took one three weeks (at a moderate pace) to complete this long hike around the Annapurna massif. July 1991.  We did it during the monsoon.  We didn’t get as many mountain views as one would pre- or post-monsoon; but, aside from the leeches, we loved it.  It was warmer over the high pass and we had the trail to ourselves.  We only saw four other western parties in the entire three weeks; and two of them were solo hikers and they joined us for companionship and safety.

Tattooed young man, Bangkok, Thailand, 1991.

St. Paul’s Cathedral, London, Oct. 1991.  Pentax A 16mm f/2.8 fisheye lens.
Finally, my hands in my cycling gloves after 4000+ miles on them in all weathers. This was taken in the Orkney Islands, August 1992.  This was just before I replaced them with a new pair, mailed to me from home by my parents.