Category Archives: Photography

ECLIPSED 2017

It was ALL Dave’s fault…. last year suggesting that we all meet up to watch the solar eclipse. Lander, WY was located in the area of totality… on the southern edge. Just happens that Lander is our hometown –  Tilly and I had already  planned to be there visiting my parents during that time.

Although we would be able to observe the full eclipse from our backyard… the totality would be short (30 – 40 seconds reported by  my father who did watch it from the backyard). A bit of research and I discovered the the center of totality would pass almost exactly through a favorite fishing spot of ours….  we call it “bass lake” although I have never caught a single bass there. There we would be able to experience the longest period of totality & it was only a 50 minute drive from home -ON an ORDINARY day.

 

 

We headed off at 8 am … early enough to get to the Lake, set up our site and be ready for the start of the eclipse – about 10:30 am local time. As soon as we left town the traffic was heavy . At every roadside turnout , people were already parked parked – easy chairs set up. Anywhere they should pull out into a field they were set up…

It took us an extra 30 minutes to get to the turn toward Bass Lake… which was still 11 miles north. As soon as we were 1/2 mile from the highway, the crowds were left behind. There were other people at Bass Lake but we were able to set up inner own picnic shelter…

 

The spectacle began:

First “BITE”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Crowd cheered!

 

 

 

 

 

                                                  HALFWAY!

 

 

 

The Crowd grew SILENT…

 

 

 

 

                                          TOTALITY

 

The Crowd went wild!

 

 

 

I had spent a lot of effort trying to figure out how I could watch and photograph the eclipse without damaging my camera(s)… Plan A was to ‘project’ the suns image through my spotting scope onto a poster board … but the more I experimented, the more cumbersome the set up was. Plus, keeping the suns image in the center of the poster board as the sun  moved was a pain.

I, finally went simple … a cardboard tube with a filter cannibalized from a pair of ‘eclipse glasses” … Afraid to use my DSLR I opted for my slightly better than a “point and shoot”  Lumix… besides the cardboard tub fit the lens better…

 

MY efforts were rewarded with  a picture  of the “Diamong Ring”… The sight when the suns rays just emerged as the totality ends…

NOTE: For those of you already screaming “PHOTOSHOP”!!!

 

This is the image of  my Lumix display- just after taking the shot.

 

 

Knowing I would be totally focused on the sun photos and wanting to remember the full experience,  I set up my other “point and shoot” to video the lake as the totality occurred…

 

We had taken a picnic lunch with us … so we spent a leisurely 2 hours eating and relaxing… knowing the roads would be crowded as people had begun scurrying quickly off after the totality was over…. OUR drive home would be “EASY”

I have never before driven LA RUSH HOUR traffic in Wyoming … and hopefully, never will again. 2 1/2 hours to drive 40 miles…

OH YEAH!

THANKS DAVE!

Sunrise at Arches!

EARLY this morning – GROAN… “what time is it”

Reply – “05:46”

“Should we get up?”

Reply – “I suppose… what do you think?”

“It’s cloudy… maybe rain…”

Reply – ‘as someone’s mother once said-”you can’t be a FAIR-WEATHER skier” ‘

“We aren’t GOING skiing

Reply- “Right- up we get then!”

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And so it started – shakily but after a cup of coffee we were out the door and on the way to sunrise at Arches National Park. Arriving at the entrance we could see the lights of a half dozen cars ahead of us. Guess we weren’t the only ‘brilliant’ ones.

Yesterday, we scouted out the most likely place to get excellect sunrise photos. Problem was, neither of us was quite sure where it was, exactly. LESSON: When you have a GPS, mark where you want to go AND then you can follow it back! Much more reliable than 60+ old memories. However, we found a suitable spot with 25 minutes to spare; allowing us each to pick vantage point.

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We don’t know what the official NPS name was/is but I wanted to focus my efforts on a formation that we named “ Three Maidens” (I wanted to name it ‘the 3 wenches’ but was outvoted 2 to 0 – unanimously).

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As the sun slowly began its rise, temptation to shift focus was intense.

p1010968I managed to stay focused on the Three Maidens as we reaped a wealth of beauty. And the pictures are a poor approximation of the intensity of visual stimulation. Our hearts, soared with the power of the morning.2wallsnrise4blog

Then the 3 Maidens blessed us for our patience with a mini-rainbow…

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The rest of the valley glowed.

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And then it was morning.

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Visit to Himba Village

Day 12 Dec. 24 Wednesday
We both slept well last night but woke up feeling tired and just a bit abnormal; nervous, anxious, no appetite …. but didn’t give it much thought. I had been highly anticipating this day – a visit to one of the villages of the Himba, a “semi-nomadic tribe living in scattered settlements……whose women are noted for their unusual beauty and intricate hairstyles and traditional dress…..they rub their skins with dark red ochre….” (notes taken from Kiboko’s notes). Our crew told us that they typically will shop for food for the village being visited as a sign of respect and gratitude for allowing us a glimpse into their lives. In addition, we collected more money from each of group members to add to the pot and ended up with lots of groceries ….. big bags of their staple, maize, and oil and …… I am unable to remember what else we bought. We also picked up a Himba guide who spoke some English and who was to be our translator in the village.

When we were finally ready to go, groceries packed into the ttruck, guide already in narrative mode, I started to feel sick and had to stop the bus, thinking I was going to start with what Mike had. There was absolutely no way I was going to sit on the bus and go through what he had the day before so when the offer was made to drive me back to camp, I accepted. I missed the visit but dear Claire took my iPhone and took some pictures for me …. and here they are.

2 Himba women Himba family 1_edited-1 Himba girl for drawing_edited-1 Himba mother & child Himba Village Himba woman-1

 

Mikal’s point of view:

Woke up feeling much improved … Compared to yesterday I would say resurrected would not be too exaggerated. 

Today was to be a visit to a Himba village… But on the drive Tilly started feeling symptoms similar to how I began yesterday… at least she had a choice to return to camp … Which we did… 

Tilly wanted me to go with the rest of the group but NO WAY was I leaving her  after the care she took for me. 

At least she didn’t suffer the indignities of puking and shitting roadside…

 

I never did get sick the way Mike did …. just some extreme nausea but after resting in the tent until everyone came back, we were both more or less back to normal and with the others, trooped over to the lodge for an afternoon of poolside R & R.

R&R 1 xmas treeOpuwo Lodge

It was Christmas Eve  and we had planned an evening of “Secret Santa”and so, after a relaxing afternoon, we headed back to camp to decorate  our tree, wrap the presents and stash them in the tree. We poured wine and ate sparingly of the nuts and chips on offer while we entertained each other with Secret Santa antics. Dumi, Richard and Mandhla had never played it before so it was just that much more fun. They had prepared a Christmas dinner of gammon (pork), corn on the cob and a cheese bake. We didn’t eat much but what we did eat was very fine!!

Richard told us a Christmas story about growing up with very little money …. so little that they had only bread and peanut butter for their Christmas dinner! How fortunate were we this Christmas?

Skeleton Coast 360 km

Day 9 Dec. 21 Sunday
It was early in the morning and once again, we were under way. It was a beautiful day, sunny and cool. Leaving the Sossusvlei dunes camp was bittersweet ….. beautiful as the dunes were, I was happy to bid the fine red sand (that got into every tiny space), adieu. We were looking forward to seeing the flamingoes in the coastal town of Walvis Bay and almost equally interested in the larger, German- influenced town of Swakopmund; shopping and a night in a guesthouse – funny how one’s priorities can change.

map

We stopped early into the day’s journey at Soltaire for “the best apple pie in Africa” according to Richard. Since my clothes were getting tighter and tighter every day, I declined.

Thoughts of artwork ….. sitting on the bus, taking in the landscapes, thoughts of art projects filled my mind.  I saw such a variety of greens blending together. I saw dunes of every hue, tone, and shade in the red – orange – yellow range  and visualized myself using chalk pastels – smoothing a swathe of red and adding greens. I thought of all the abstracts I could make based on patterns taken from nature.

coastal dunes

It was around 11 am and this was the landscape I was seeing. We were about an hour SE of Walvis Bay and the ocean. It was getting much cooler too … 22 degrees. Finally we were closing in on Walvis Bay and I saw signs for “Dune 7”. I took some pics of what I thought was Dune 7.white dunes

 

 

tropic

At this point, we crossed the Tropic of Capricorn and couldn’t resist the photo opportunities that presented themselves.

 

 

We lunched beside the lagoon in Walvis Bay, treated to an ever-changing kaleidoscope of pink and black as the flamingoes took off and landed, almost  continuously, on the ‘lagoon stage’ in front of us!

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Entering Walvis Bay, I was fascinated by these trees, which we saw everywhere. I never did find out the name of them.

 

Here was our first sight of the Atlantic Ocean!!

 

 

 

Flamingo Kaleidoscope

 

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mike & flamingoes

After lunch, we continued on our way, traveling north along the coast. It was only about another 30 km. As we drove, we discussed the adventure opportunities available to us in Swakopmund and decided to take a township tour followed by dinner at a local eatery called “The Tug” recommended by our Kiboko crew. Dumi made reservations for both the township tour at 4 and dinner at the Tug at 730 pm.

NadiThe township tour was great. Our leader, a member of the Ovambo tribe, went by the name of  ‘Nadi’. He picked us up in a small bus and as we drove to the township, he filled us in on some of the history of the township, how it came to be, and some other interesting facts:

  • 12,000 people are living in the township which is called the DRC (District Resettlement Colony if I remember correctly).

shantiesThe township is basically a shantytown with no electricity or water. People spend most of the day outside, using their “shanties” only for sleeping in.

 

 

shanties closeupDuring the apartheid regime, blacks were separated according to their tribes: Ovamba, Damara, and Nama. They all lived in the township but were kept separated. After apartheid was dismantled, many stayed living there – building bigger houses – it had become home.

When we got to the township, we walked along a few of the unpaved streets, where Nadi was greeted by everyone we met. He was very specific about where we should and shouldn’t walk and when it was or wasn’t appropriate to take photos. Some of the best subjects were the kids. They were as fascinated with us as we with them and happily posed for us.

township kids township girl township boys babysitters at the hairdresser

After our walk and initial introduction to the township and what we were seeing, Nadi took us to visit a an orphanage in the township.

mother and child  herero toddler

The woman we met there was of the Herero tribe; she was in full Hereo dress, characterized most by the horn-shaped head cover resembling the horns of a cow.  (The Herero people measure their wealth in cattle, as do many  other African people,  and this is evident in the  women’s traditional way of dress.) She had the sweetest toddler with her – I couldn’t resist snapping a few photos, hoping to get a good enough one to draw from. There were no there children that we could see – the other children were all off on some outing, I believe.

Our next stop was a local craft shop, supporting crafts made by women from the township where we bought a few crafts …. for us that meant baby clothes for Mike’s eagerly anticipated first grandchild.

Our last stop was the most highly anticipated one –  a local restaurant where we sampled the local fare:  spinach, pap (a traditional porridge  made from ground maize, a staple of the Bantu people of South Africa), chicken, a kind of bean mush, and Mopani worms.

bowl of worms

In the food department, I was definitely not the most adventurous of our group. I didn’t eat anything but the chicken. I tried the spinach but it was terribly gritty, the beans …. I didn’t like the taste of and the  mopani worms …. I could hardly look at them, let alone eat them.

a mopani worm

 

It was hard enough taking a picture of Mike putting one in his mouth and chewing it!!!

worm saga 1  worm saga 2  worm saga 3

Hmmm ….. ! Do you think he liked them?? Afterwards, Dumi explained to us that there are different ways of preparing the worms and that the ones he likes are deep fried. We had another chance to try them that way and then Mike liked them better.

After we had eaten our fill, we were serenaded by a local African apace vocals group. They were a group of 4 guys and not only was their music great, their energy was fantastic. They pulled a few of us up to dance and share in their fun and love of life. In this next photo of them, you can see each of them making a gesture with their hand …. it is the symbol of Namibia, in the shape of their country. The thumb sticking our horizontally represents the Caprivi Strip, the small strip of land along the northern border between Namibia and Angola, extending westwards from Namibia into Zimbabwe in the north and Botswana in the south. A great ending to a great township tour.

vocal group

vocal group member  vocal group member 2

We bid Nadi farewell and went to our respective rooms for “comfort” stops – a shower and a snooze and after a while, set off to find ‘The Tug’ restaurant at the jetty. It was packed and looked like a the recommendation was well-deserved. However, it wasn’t meant to be. Although a reservation had been made for us, somehow, the restaurant had no record of it. Apologetically and and most helpfully, they sent us off to Kuchhie’s, also highly recommended. We sat at a long trestle-like table and ordered a variety of dishes ranging from a gourmet burger to a dinner of wild game meats served with ….. the ever – present wine and beer of course. In the middle of pre-dinner drinks, who should appear but Dumi and Richard. Originally, their intention was to find us at The Tug but ended up on a kind of treasure hunt, eventually finding us at Kuchie’s. Our invitation to “join us” was accepted and the evening progressed in fine style from that point the  ‘young and the beautiful’ of our group, renamed “The Bush-Babies”,  and Jan  (our Dutch Dancer) went in search of the local nightlife. (Not sure f they found the ‘nightlife’ or became it!!!

The older and wiser of the group, Mike, Rhea and I, wandered home and trundled off to sleep.