Readers’ wildlife photos

July 28, 2021 • 8:00 am

Thanks to the readers who are keeping this feature afloat, but I always need more photos, so please send in your good ones. I know some of you have them!

Today we have “street” photos from Joe Routon, whose captions are indented. Click on the photos to enlarge them.

This series is of the ubiquitous selfie. Some psychologists say that taking selfies lowers self-esteem, and some say that it raises self-esteem. Some write that they can be harmful, mentally and emotionally; some say they are beneficial. Whatever—they’re a part of our lives. Here are a few that I’ve made on trips.

They’re a wonderful way to capture and remember a special moment, such as this family before the Duomo in Florence, Italy.

Visiting tourists pose for a selfie in Balboa Park, San Diego.
A remembrance of a special meal in Germany.

A keepsake from NYC.

In Florence, with a selfie-stick.

This photo, taken by my wife, shows me foolishly photobombing a selfie in the Vatican Museum in Rome. There’s no fool like an old fool.

Readers’ wildlife photos

July 7, 2021 • 8:00 am

Today our wildlife is H. sapiens, and the photographer is Lewis Lorton, who photographed the doings at a Fourth of July Parade in Washington, D.C. Here, then, is a slice of Americana.

Lew, formerly in the military, is now a professional photographer, and you can see his website here.  His captions are indented, and you can enlarge the photos by clicking on them.

I am a street photographer and a retired Army officer.  When I lived near Washington, DC, I tried to attend every July 4 parade that I could. Inevitably it was hot and humid but, just as inevitably, the crowds were happy to be there to take part and to see everyone else.

Each parade starts with a color guard from the military ceremonial units based near Washington followed by the precision-marching ceremonial units themselves.  The color guard is traditionally led by an Army Lt. Col. with officers from the Army, Marine Corps, Navy and Air Force. each of the rank of Major or equivalent.

Both those marching in the parade – and the crowds – are a remarkable display of Americana.

The Washington and Northern Virginia area has a large collection of ethnic minorities from recent immigrants, and these groups have colorful floats and bands.

One signal characteristic is the number of children that take part, the care in which they dress and the obvious affection within the families.

Floats and bands and displays come from all over the US and represent all that we like to think represents the good part of the US.

My attitude towards photography, particularly street photography, is that a ‘good’ picture should be more to the viewer than just a reproduction of what the lens sees and the sensor captures.  A good photo should engage and resonate with the viewer and give some idea of what the photographer was seeing, thinking or feeling. A good photograph should be a window into the world the photographer sees.

Readers’ wildlife photos

June 11, 2021 • 8:00 am

Send in your photos, please! Today’s batch of travel photos comes from reader James Blilie. His comments are indented, and you can enlarge the photos by clicking on them.

Here’s another group of street photos that I took. All of these were taken on my bicycle trip around the world in 1990-92.

All are scanned Kodachrome 64, shot on a Pentax LX camera with various Pentax A-series and M-series lenses.  I now own none of this equipment except the original 1978 K-1000 camera that was my first camera and a replacement Pentax M 50mm f/2.0 lens, just like the first lens I had.

Young man on the Big Island of Hawaii, cast-net fishing.

Group of sugar cane field workers, on the road in Fiji (main Island of Viti Levu).  They came out of the fields to this bus stop, carrying their big cane cutting knives.  They seemed rather intimidating; but were teddy bears.  They are posing with my friend’s fully loaded bicycle.

Young boy, Fiji.  He was the son of the right-hand man of the owner of a campground we stayed at. I imagine he has children of his own by now.

View of the old town in Singapore, 1991.  I doubt much is left of the old town now.  I hope they saved at least some of it.  Singapore seems to be mainly chrome and glass.

The nieces of the owner of a home-stay (like a B&B in the US) where went spent a night in Peninsular Malaysia, along the east coast highway.  They are looking at the photo prints of the USA that I had brought with me plus some photos from New Zealand and Australia.

Young man showing how much cargo is transported in Thailand on those little 125cc motorbikes, seemingly the national mode of transportation.  Sungai Kolok, Thailand

Scenes in traffic, Bangkok, Thailand.  The motorbike taxis are amazing.  I shot the photo of the young woman on the back of one of them to remember how these women would perch on the back, never hanging on, as they zipped through traffic, dangling a sandal from theirs toes, unruffled by all of it.  The second shot is at a taxi stand.

Swimmer, Chao Praya River, Bangkok Thailand:

Shipping with United Parcel Service, Bangkok Thailand.  Same brown paint on the UPS truck! Same brown uniform on the UPS driver.  We sent our bikes onward from Bangkok to Denmark, knowing that we weren’t going to bicycle in:  Thailand (beyond getting to Bangkok), Nepal, India, Kenya, and Egypt.

Finally, public transport in Kathmandu, Nepal.  I have no idea how people survived this kind of thing. We rode in some (sardine-) packed matatus in Kenya; but nothing like this!  We either walked or got taxis in Kathmandu.  The bus trip from Kathmandu to Pokhara in 1991 was pretty exciting. [JAC: It wasn’t much different when I did it about ten before that. If you’re on a long-distance Nepalese bus, try to get onto the roof and hang on; it’s less crowded and the scenery is great, though of course it’s not exactly safe.]

Photos from my constitutional

April 18, 2021 • 3:15 pm

Here are two photos from my afternoon walk through Hyde Park.

Why is the street in front of our local shopping center lined with garbage trucks? I suspect it’s to form a barricade in case of rioting over the shooting of Adam Toledo, 13, by a cop several weeks ago. The bodycam footage was released by the city on Thursday, and one could interpret it as the shooting of an unarmed suspect whose hands were up. It in fact was such a shooting, but it happened so fast (less than a second) that it’s not clear whether the cop violated protocol

Something not scary but sweet: a three legged dog being taken for a walk by its three-legged owner. It had trouble walking and was probably old, as it had to stop and rest every minute or so. The patient owner rested, too. How nice to save an animal like this!

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!