This photo was taken on a trip to Iceland in March, the season of the Northern Lights (Sept to Apr). I learned many things while practicing my night photography on this spectacular display.
Firstly, the lights themselves look brighter in a photo than in real life. This is because to take a night photo you will use a long exposure, so the photo is a collective of multiple seconds of light put together.
Due to the long exposure of a night photo there is plenty of time to accumulate blurry movement into your photo. Essentially a tripod is your best friend so that your camera is as still as can be. Not wanting to travel with a tripod, I found a table to rest my camera on.
The lights are in the North. This may seem obvious enough to most people, but the thought hadn’t even crossed my mind. So when you see stunning photos of Northern Lights over a mountain or lake, that landscape must also be to the North of you.
They aren’t around every night or all night and to see them best, the sky needs to be mostly clear of clouds. This mysterious light display comes and goes at will, popping up and disappearing whenever it chooses. They are higher than the clouds, so clouds will obstruct your view of them. This means that to take the ultimate Northern Lights pic you needs a bunch of patience to sit up all night and watch the sky in a freezing cold environment.
Conveniently we stayed in a hotel which gives you a wake-up call when the night security person sees the lights appear. Great for us to get some sleep, but this means that the landscape you are photographing the lights in wont be as impressive as camping on the south aspect of a gorgeous mountain or lake.
This tiny little beauty is a type of strawberry dart frog from Costa Rica. They call this particular variety a blue jeans poison dart frog because the red bodied frog has blue arms and legs. The bright colors of these frogs is a signal to any predators that they are extremely toxic and should be left alone. The poison from one individual frog is enough to kill 10 adult humans. When I saw this frog it shocked me how tiny they really are, as they are generally about the size of your big toenail. It’s also amazing to me that such tiny frogs can create so much noise!
This little anole is a type of lizard native to the Bahamas and Cuba. However, it is easily spotted on many other Caribbean Islands. It is a highly invasive species and easily outcompetes other small lizards and frogs because it will eat anything that can fit into its mouth. Like other lizards, they will communicate through mostly visual displays. When angry or threatened they expand the flap of skin on their throat to display an orange and yellow warning and perform some push ups. If the threat continues, they will bite, urinate and defecate, but also have the ability to detach their tail as a moving decoy to facilitate their escape from a predator. These traits are what makes this little lizard a very skilled survivor.
During a recent trip to the west coast of the US, we couldn’t have missed this bird if we’d tried. They are out in numbers around Lake Tahoe and Yosemite National Park where conifer forests are prominent. Having spent time around Blue Jays (a close relative) in New York I think Stellar’s Jays are by far the noisiest of the two and make their presence known. In addition to numerous distinct vocalizations, they are also known mimics of the calls of other birds, animals and can also produce non-animal sounds.
It is said that Yosemite National Park is home to only one type of rattlesnake, and I was honored to meet him. This is the Northern Pacific Rattlesnake which is patterned with grey and white markings. I might be the only person that would call this the highlight of their trip to this spectacular national park. My friends were understandably horrified when I told them that this was the perfect snake to photograph – not frightened and running away nor aggressive, just happily working it’s way through the tree roots and occasionally stopping for a photo. What a treat!
Another epic landscape photo showing the colorful landscape of Zion National Park in Utah. Down below you can see the road that travels in the valley between these giant rocky mountains, which are perfect for hikers to get a scenic view of the area. It was very strange to me to be seeing a landscape that looks like a dessert, but at the same time, also a place where snow was falling. The wonders of mother nature at their best.
A sharp U-turn of the Colorado River has created this famous rock formation named Horseshoe Bend. So famous, that even I woke up BEFORE sunrise to get there (I almost never do that!) so that I could watch the colors of the landscape change as the morning sun washes over it. As amazing as it was, I would love to go at sunset so that the setting sun could appear in my photograph. It is true what they say – that sunrise and sunset are a photographers dream. It helps to have incredible scenery to capture, with all of its own rich colors, and the landscapes of Arizona are as rich with color as they come.
This pair of pelicans are very much in love. She thinks he’s tall and handsome with his dark hair and brooding eyes. He also has a funny side to his personality and often makes her laugh. He thinks her daintiness is adorable and also loves her headstrong and ambitious personality. The day they met she followed him down the river, knowing that he’d be a loyal and respectful mate. He’d also help raise the chicks and fiercely protect his family, ensuring they are always safe. They have a great life in a beautiful place called Grand Teton National Park. It is where they will make happy memories, raise a family and grow old together.
This glorious black bear mama is keeping a watchful eye on her two bouncing cubs not too far away (click here to see baby bear post). Her fur is so shiny and in perfect condition. It was such an experience to sit and watch her graze while her two babies bounced over logs and tried to climb tree trunks and clumsily fell and rolled around in the grass. She wasn’t at all concerned by our presence (don’t worry I was much further away than this picture looks!), but every now and again the babies would stop and stare at me to see if I was still there watching before going back to their rough and tumble play. How blessed they are to call Yellowstone their home.
This fuzzy little bear cub is the very essence of what makes Spring the best season of the year. Animal babies! This bouncy ball of fluff is one of two baby cubs to a mamma black bear (click here for her post) in Yellowstone National Park. She is much darker than her chocolate brown babies, but actually the name ‘black bear’ is actually quite misleading as they can come in many different colors such as brown, cinnamon, blond, grey and even white! Don’t you just want to give this cutie a cuddle? Most definitely not because mum is not too far away with an ever watchful eye on her two little bubs.