More wildlife from Soria. During my visit to Cañón Río Lobos I had the chance to spot some griffon vultures overflying us. Even though they were flying low, the distance was considerable and required use of telephoto. In this case, I had my old 70-300mm, but a 400 would have come fancier.
Wildlife photography is really challenging. Besides the general high-speed movement of the vultures, harsh light conditions and the dusty, hazy air resulted in a bit of softness and some extreme blue fringing at the tips of the feathers. If I ever decide to go further down the road of nature/wildlife photography, I would probably need to get a sharper telephoto lens, but in the meantime I will stay on budget and keep the old one.
In my recent visit to Soria (Spain) I got the chance to wander around the Cañón de Río Lobos Natural Park. Very different from the deeply green natural parks I visited recently in Germany or England, and even further from the tropical climates in Tayrona, this part of Spain has a harsh almost desert climate, vegetation limited to small bushes and a few trees that can endure the lack of water and the temperature fluctuations.
Rio Lobos is a well known place for spotting birds of prey: vultures, hawks, sparrowhawks, and owls. Although my visit was a very short one, I was lucky enough to catch a few shots of this little owl (Athene noctua).
Similar to another wildlife shots, this is taken with a 300mm telephoto, wide open at f/5.6. Very narrow depth of field and tricky light conditions. Fringing was very strong in the whole series of shots, even near the center of the lens, but could get rid of most of it in post processing.
One more picture from Colombia! This one is from the gardens in the Quinta de San Pedro Alejandrino, in Santa Marta. All over the place one could find trees ranging between 200 and 400 years old. On the top of on of this trees, lazily sunbathing, there was a huge iguana.
The photo is a “standard sniper shot”. Telephoto extended to the longest 300mm range, wide open so that the shutter speed woud be as high as possible. To keep it steady needed to crank up the ISO a little bit, but not too much noise came out of that.
Have a good day!
A wonderful sunset from the beach of Taganga, one of the nicest areas close Santa Marta.
After leaving the truck, we had to continue our exploration of Tayrona National Park by boat. I know, right? Me on a boat… :-/
Needless to say the sight of the aforementioned boat did nothing to alleviate my usual reluctance, but I manned up and walked it off like a big boy :-)
After a couple of days in Bogotá, went north to Santa Marta. From there I went on a guided visit to Tayrona National Park. After passing by the beach of the seven waves, this is the beach where we came out of the truck in order to continue our trip by boat. Probably the most amazing feature of all these beaches, even more than the wonderful blue waters, is how trees keep growing almost all the way to the sea.
Wish you were here? Let me know in the comments!
Upon arrival to Bogotá, after a resting sleep and a healthy breakfast we headed towards the Monserrate mountain, one of the highest points in the city, in the hope to get some nice panoramic views. The weather was not particularly well suited for landscape viewing, as it was very cloudy and rainy at times, but the walk around the mountain was still nice. In one of the gardens I spotted this little fellow battering his wings like crazy. The thing was moving so damn fast that it was impossible to take a sharp shot until he decided to take a break. This is a kind of hummingbird commonly known as shining sunbeam, or “colibrí de alas largas”, very common in the higher parts of Colombia.
Remarks, opinions, compliments and hate letters are welcome in the comments!
Yet some more Alpine landscapes. I got a bit tired of green grass and blue skies, so skipped a few photos to jump to something with a warmer light on it. After climbing all the way up to Watzmann Haus and joining the rest of the gang there, we enjoyed the amazing views and a hell of a sunset. This photo is almost as it came out of the camera, just did a bit of fiddling with the exposure and color balance.
Let me know what you think!
Going on with the Alpine hike, after sleeping in Wimbachklamm Hutte the original plan was and climbing Watzmann through the South traverse, but that is a dangerous route with many via ferrata sections, and with my knee injury I decided not to risk it, so while some of my partners went uphill I took a detour skirting around the mountain (following down the dry river) and then climbed all the way up to Watzmann Haus from the North side. Today’s picture was taken very close to the end of the valley, before starting the ascend (from 700 to 1900 meters).
Let me know what you think in the comments!
The dry river valley in front of Wimbrachklamm Hütte. The Watzmann traverse starts not far from here. I know this is lately getting too much about cheesy landscapes, just a few more days until I am done with the Alps and I will move on to more interesting stuff, I promise!
If you like the picture, drop a line in the comments!
Descending the valley in the way from Karlingerhaus to Wimbachklamm Hütte. A storm caught us up during the descent, making it kind of scary. The clouds were so close we were literally walking through them at times!
Let me know what you think about the picture in the comments!
This is the valley where Karlingerhaus lies. The third day of hiking we had an splendid weather, and after crossing through the mountain and a hard ascension, we found the house in this idilic valley, looking as if it had been taken right out of a fairy tale!
From a technical point of view, this was a plain old landscape picture. Clouds were moving really fast, casting different shadows in the mountains in the background, so I took almost the same picture half a dozen times at ten minutes interval (while cooking and dining) to be sure I would get the best looking one. I might have been a bit too hard on the post-processing for this one, but this particular landscape, as I rememeber it, really had mind-blowing saturated colors.
Hope you like it!
A little cave close to the way up the stairs through the mountain. Taking pictures inside caves is really hard. Noise was a bitch for this one.
Going on with the Alpine series, today’s pic is of a little high altitude lake, trapped between two big mountains. I kind of like the hdr enhancing of textures for this kind of pictures. In this one I might have gone a bit overtly dramatic with the effect, but I think it represents very accurately the mood around this place, everything so big and quiet and oppressive, the think grey clouds so close that one could almost breathe them…
Hope you like it!
Going on with the Alpine collection, here is the portrait of a baby black dragon we met on our way up to Mount Jenner :-D
Unlike angry ducks these little friends are very shy and will stay very still when approached, making them kind of easy to photograph, even easier than cows. Main difficulty when photographing these newts is subject isolation, as they are very small (about 10cm long, including the tail) and very close to the ground, getting a sharp focus on the subject with a nice background blur is kind of tricky. Possibly the easiest solution is to get as close as possible and get mostly everything on focus, resorting to post-processing for background blur.
Some huts in the forest not far from Mount Jenner. We planted our tents beside these huts during our first night.
Another Alps pic. This was on day 2, after climbing Mount Jenner for a warm-up (1160m, from about 600 at Königsee level) we descended to 900m again and headed south to go around Königsee and Obersee. This picture comes from the highest point of the passage between Rossfeld (going up to the right) and Mitterhutte (up at the left, already in Austria), At this point we were above 2000m, and the effort took its toll: it was descending this passage when my right knee decided it had had too much and went on a strike, forcing me to be on painkillers during the rest of the trip.
I have spent the last week hiking around the Königsee lake in the Berchtesgaden National Park, located in the German Alps (very close to the Austrian border). It has been a wonderful but exhausting trip of which I yet have to recover.
If I have to summarize some learnings from this trip in one sentence it would be: carrying a tripod (even a relatively light one) to a high altitude hiking trip is generally a bad idea. During the daily hike I could barely stop to fetch my camera and snap a few shots, let alone setting up the tripod. I was expecting for some quality night-time long exposures but the weather turned out to be quite unpleasant by night; plus, having to wake up before sunrise to get moving didn’t really encourage staying out of the sleeping bag till late!
Anyhoo, I managed to get a few interesting shots that I will be sharing in the next days (and probably put together as a collection). The first one is a part of an ascent in which the path turned into a stairway literally carved trough the mountain to get to the other side. The beautiful natural carvings and the rock textures were crying for some hdr enhance, this one is made out of three (handheld) exposures, with 2EV step difference between them. The sky is a bit blown out but this particular day there wasn’t much detail there to recover anyway.