One Reporter's Opinion

Proud sponsor of The Partnership for an Idiot-Free America. Andy's random observations -- a potluck of politics, a mix of music musings, and whatever else transcends the transom. (Unless otherwise specified, all pictures are copyright of this blogger. Some rights reserved, subject to the terms and conditions specified under the Creative Commons license.)

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

I promised more soon, and for anyone reading this, I hope you clock this as "soon." Now, whilst I fiddle with the contents of my FTP directory and the previous post, I should be able to come up with something both eye-catching and educational.

So, starting from the top...

1) Donkey by the roadside. Straddling the fine line between pest and point of national pride, these creatures inhabit all of the island. There are even donkey crossing signs in Dutch, which I'm not sure has anything to do with the text "overkstande ezels." Anyhoo, here's one of them critters (or is that kritteren?):

(proper credit/copyright to my darling wife - J.C.W.)

2) A whiptail lizard, having a little hand-feeding. I was surprised by how tame they were:

3) Detail of the lizard:

...and more detail...

4) The ever-so-cheerful tropical mockingbird at the resort. Beautiful songsters, these are:

5) This is a Venezuelan troupial, a close relative of the oriole. The picture doesn't come close to capturing how brilliantly colorful that these birds are:

6) A pair of wading flamingo. Any photographers out there have hints for shooting these? I had a devil of a time at the tippy-top of my focal range on a Nikon D70 outfitted with an 80-400VR lens. The birds are so light in tone that in direct sun, you get almost total washout. And they like to stay at a respectable distance, too. If memory serves, I was shooting in spot focus mode, A priority, somewhere between f8 and f16. (Any SKBers that hang here can feed me back on the Bubba Blab, OK?)

7) The winner of the best in show among the participants in the Splash photo contest. The judge said it was the first time he'd given this award to a non-diver. I won a Suunto dive watch! Back story to this photo: I'd been shooting these birds relentlessly for about an hour. I was frustrated by what I was seeing in the LCD on the camera, so I went back to the truck to get my f3.5 24-120VR Nikkor, and put the 80-400VR away. I set the mode to "action," and wandered back towards the birds. Sure enough, they took off when I got a bit too close. I just kept my finger on the shutter and tried to follow them as best I could through the viewfinder, BLAM BLAM BLAM. I got two useful shots out of about 20. This was the best composed, even if the other shot had better detail.

8) Now, if the contest had been later, this would have been my submission:

Taken at a distance of about 2' through a Nikkor f2.8 105mm micro with flash. The iguana was cavorting around the swimming pool deck as we were wrapping up and getting ready to have a group photo taken. I managed to shinny up pretty close, and then that unmistakeable bit of felicity appeared in the form of a dragonfly. A rather thrill-seeking dragonfly, to boot.

So that's a bit of the trip in photos. Hope you enjoy!

Bon bini!

(Almost redundant here, but all photos are (c) 2005 Andy W. Please secure permission before use.)

Monday, January 03, 2005

Pictura di vakansi ariba Boneiru!

OK, I have no idea if that's proper Papiamento -- but these are selected pictures I took during my New Year's trip to Bonaire, Netherlands Antilles. For those who've not heard of it, this is a former Dutch colony (first settled by the Dutch in the late 1600s) which is today a paradise for scuba divers. As luck would have it, the scuba club that my wife belongs to makes an annual trip down there for fun, frolic, and of course, scuba. Being a non-diver, I found plenty to hold my interest, however.

First post -- mostly cultural stuff. These were selected from about 3.1G worth of digital NEFs. (I'll get around to wildlife in the next couple of days.

1) The resort: Divi Flamingo, in Kralendijk:

2) A local dog, one of the few ever encountered upon a leash. After having been there for about five days, I was beginning to wonder if anyone on the island actually owned any dogs. Sure enough. This one was checking us out from the house adjacent to the mangrove information center on Lac Cai Bay:

3) Cactus trees on the windward side of the island. These things are HUGE, and they're omnipresent on the island. I would hazard that these are somewhere in the 20' tall range:

4) Something you don't see every day just outside your bedroom window; the Queen Mary II:

5) Boats on Lac Cai. This area was pretty nifty. It's basically a large tide pool, and it's surrounded by mountains of conch shells. Not sure if these boats belonged to conchers, but it's a safe bet:

6) Darling wife standing before a fantastic vista of cactus and coral on the top end of the island near Malmok in the Washington-Slagbaai national reserve park:

7) Red skies at night, a sailor's delight. Kralendijk is a major port of call for Caribbean cruise ships -- and leading up to New Year's Eve, there was a different one in the bay every evening, although I believe that's a tanker on the horizon. Sunsets are fantastic every night, and even if it's cloudy, the visibility extends way out to at least 20 miles:

More soon.