"I'm going to speak my mind because I have nothing to lose."--S.I. Hayakawa

Friday, June 30, 2017

Not to worry!

To those of you who check my posts here to ascertain that I'm still alive, I will be off-line for a week as of Friday June 30.
 Not to worry.

If something occurs that interrupts my longevity, I'll be in the headlines and you'll hear about it that way because I'm going to photograph the Coastal brown bears of Lake Clark National Park.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

The Kenya Journals, Ch. 25: Tech Woes on the Masai Mara

Chapter Twenty-Five:
Technology Woes on the Masai Mara

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

Marg is frustrated with my Brownie Starflash-like cameras and my Fisher Price laptop.   So am I.  But, they serve their intended purpose and they’re light-weight, so I’m fine with them.

The little travel laptop is not a Fisher Price toy but a Lenovo, and it is a bit slow but it was the fastest I could find at the last minute.  It’s also small and light, and that is really important.  I don’t plan to do any editing of photos while I’m traveling; I just need something to facilitate the download of photos to external hard drives.

My tent at Governor's Camp.  Transferring photos from SD card to hard drive.

I’m now shooting in RAW+jpeg, and that makes for big files, so copying to external hard drives prevents the laptop from getting clogged up with thousands of photos.  One problem with technology on the Mara is the occasionally unreliable electricity, all supplied by camp generators.

As for my cameras, when Marg found out my entry-level DSLR cameras didn’t have histograms, I thought I was going to have to search for smelling salts to revive her.   Histograms are a very esoteric feature on some cameras that show in graph form how the camera is handling exposure   You are supposed to be able to look at the histogram and make exposure adjustments accordingly.

Lion love.

Why you can’t just look at the photo and tell is beyond me.  That’s what I do.   So, I’m guessing that amateurs who buy entry-level digital cameras aren’t allowed the secret key to interpreting histograms and therefore histograms are not part of those cameras.

Masai giraffes sparring.

Cub at play.

My theory goes to heck, however, when I turn on my little point and shoot camera and find a histogram.

Marg didn’t faint after all, but she did offer to let me use one of her professional-level cameras so I could see the difference.  I politely declined.   There is no way I will let someone put a borrowed $3000 camera in MY hands.  

Photographers never carry just one camera on a photo trip.  I didn’t ask, but if Marg had a camera to loan, that meant she had multiple cameras with her.   Stuff happens and cameras fail or get broken.   You don’t want to be without a camera.

I have two entry level Nikon cameras and two point and shoot cameras.  I have my big 150-600mm zoom lens on one and a 75-300mm zoom lens on the other.   One of our group was carrying a lens that cost $14,000!  

“When you’re ready to move to the next level…” Marg began, and finished by recommending the Nikon D7200 model.

Red-billed oxpeckers on back of Cape buffalo.

“I’m wondering if there needs to be a ‘next level’,” I said.   I’m not going to sell my photos.  I use them for my blog and Facebook.   For those purposes, the cameras I have are just fine.
I will, however, let you in on a secret.  When I got back to Anchorage, I stopped at Costco to pick up some groceries before driving the hundred miles to home.  Somehow, when I wasn’t looking, a Nikon D7200 jumped into my shopping cart and hid under the asparagus.

I suspect Marg had a lot to do with that.   It has a histogram.


Elephant dousing itself with dirt.

Lion cubs

This hippo is not smiling.   This is a threatening show.

A red-billed oxpecker has a symbiotic relationship with Cape buffalo. 

Zebra in marsh.

A topi on guard duty atop a termite mound.

Lioness and cubs


Serval cat.


Lioness charging wildebeest just visible at bottom of photo.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Totally Gobsmacked; Hopelessly Enchanted

I did nothing to entice this tiny red-breasted nuthatch to land on my hand and take a peanut.   Nothing.

It was entirely the bird's decision and it was not accidental.   I first noticed the nuthatch coming quite close to me a couple weeks ago when I was hand-feeding a Steller's jay and the jay left.

Then, I found when I stepped onto the deck,  the nuthatch would suddenly flutter in front of me.   It was too quick for me to reach out with my hand.

Then one day, I had peanuts in my hand and it landed, selected a nut half, gave me a look, and flew away.   This has happened at least a dozen times since.

I will be on the deck, turn around, and the nuthatch will be a couple feet from me, waiting for its treat.

With a peanut in its beak.

I encourage you to go to this site and read about their remarkable behavior:


In the meantime, know that a tiny nuthatch MAKES MY DAY!

Monday, June 19, 2017

The Lament of Avian Females Everywhere

A female greater scaup voices her lament:

 I'm so pretty....

 Oh, so pretty.....

I'm so pretty and witty and wise.....    Why did HE have to photo bomb and outshine me?


Male pine grosbeak

Female pine grosbeak

Male (foreground) and female American wigeon


Female and male pintails

Male and female Northern shovelers

Male shoveler

Female shoveler

Male Barrow's goldeneye

Female Barrow's goldeneye

Female and male Barrow's goldeneye

Female mallard
Get the idea???

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Why, yes. There has been a slowdown...

If you follow along here, you have perhaps noticed a slowdown in The Kenya Journals as well as everything else I post here.

Here's the reason:

Just three miles from my home, this road leads to treasure.
A small part of the decked timber the Forest Service has made available for firewood.

    The other side of the decked timber/

All you need is a free permit from the Forest Service.   And energy.   Lots of energy.

This is hemlock.   Next to birch, it's the heaviest wood available in Southcentral Alaska.

Because of its density, is has 22 million BTUs per cord.   Only birch is higher, with 23 million BTUs per cord.

My trusty 024 Stihl saw, still running strong.    I have a Stihl 250 Easy-Start, but it won't.   Start, that is.

Loading the truck the first day I went cutting.
My sports equipment.

The beginning of the three cords I"m allowed.   Not much, but DANG this wood is heavy.

I went back for more yesterday:

It's still a little pile, but it's nearing a half cord.   Two and a half cords to go....

You know what?    I just thought of a way to make this post SHORT so I can get back to cutting wood!   All I have to do is post this post-firewood-cutting photo: