December 29th, 2014

Snow Snout


Winter arrived here in Switzerland. With 20-30cm of snow, the dogs are having a ball. They almost disappear in the snow blanket and at every opportunity they stick their noses in the snow. What interesting smell is buried there ?

April 25th, 2014

Keukenhof 2014

For second year in a row I went to the Keukenhof in The Netherlands. As last year, Birds As Art organised a photographic tour concentrating on visiting the tulip and bulb region. The Keukenhof is only open for 2 months of the year, displaying amazing gardens and flowers: an astounding 7 million bulbs are on display. The rest of the year the Keukenhof prepares for the next year. The Keukenhof attracts nearly one million visitors, of which 80% are foreign visitors. The Keukenhof is one of the main spring attractions in The Netherlands. The Keukenhof is an amazing place to visit to photograph and use your creative skills.

The group and I enjoyed ourselves thoroughly: a summary of my photos can be viewed here: http://www.naturenotions.ch/blog-galleries/keukenhof-2014.

Part of the photographic tour is to visit some of The Netherlands’s historic sites. I only had time to visit Kinderdijk, where the above image is a true black and white image, created in photoshop using a threshold layer.

Click on the image(s) to enjoy a larger version. Click on the large image to return to the normal view.

February 26th, 2014

At the Duck Pond in Basel Zoo

As I was saying in my previous post, I went to Basel zoo to do some photography. I spent most of the time at the duck pond, where captive and wild ducks fill the pond. Some absolutely gorgeous species are kept there: the Mandarin Duck, the Smew and the (American) Woodduck. The Smew with its beautiful black and white coloring and mask was strikingly referred to as the Zorro-Duck by some young visitors at the duck pond.

The Woodduck has an amazing color range in its feathers.

To get a larger version, click on the image. Click on the image again to close the enlarged view.

February 23rd, 2014

Spring is Knocking on the Door

I went out to do some photography in our local zoo. Temperatures were mild (almost spring-like) and most animals were in a spring mood. I was photographing near the duck pond, when suddenly this red squirrel ran into a low shrub, trying to avoid an attack from a stray cat. As a result, the squirrel remained seated in the shrub, waiting for the cat to disappear. I was glad to help :). Next, the only thing I had to do was find a spot to photograph through the branches to get a clean-ish shot. Below is the result.

January 2nd, 2014

Surprise End of 2013

We went to the Netherlands over Christmas to visit friends and family. On 31 December I visited my cousin who is living in a forest region. She knew of my passion for birds and alerted me to the special guests she has in her garden: a family of a Long-Eared Owls, roosting right next door to the house in a conifer tree. In total a party of 4 owls come to roost in this tree every day, to leave for the hunt just before sunset. I had never seen these small owls before and it was very special to see them on New Year’s Eve. Fortunately I did travel with my photo-gear and was able to grab a few images of these special birds. To all visiting my blog, I wish you a happy and prosperous 2014.

Click on the image to view a larger version.

December 11th, 2013

Colorful Beauty

Common Kingfisher

Last weekend I went out to shoot at a bird-sanctuary near Z├╝rich. Anette Mossbacher from BPN accompanied me.
Star of the afternoon was the Common Kingfisher. We sat in a hide, overlooking a part of the lake. Most of the lake was frozen and the kingfisher was mostly hovering around an open patch in the ice. Now and then the kingfisher crossed to the other part of the lake and twice she positioned herself on a reed-stem in gorgeous afternoon light. Even with the 600mm lens with a 2x converter it was still quite a distance.

October 13th, 2013

Save the Rhino Petition at Avaaz.org


white-rhino-family_jock50d_26-09-2009_img_8405

Save the Rhino

John Varty, filmmaker and owner of Londolozi Game Reserve in South Africa, wrote an open letter to Cyril Ramaphosa, now Vice President of the ANC in South Africa. John basically wants these poachers, mainly form Mozambique, be treated as invaders.

The whole issue with Rhino horn is that the horn is made of keratin, the same material as our finger nails. If keratin has medicinal value (it hasn’t), biting your nails will have the same effect. Leave these animals alone !

Please join the efforts to stop this slaughter. As we speak, nearly 800 Rhino have been killed this year alone. Goto the link below and sign the petition. Avaaz has a good record of creating awareness on political levels with encouraging results.

https://secure.avaaz.org/en/petition/Stop_Rhino_Poaching_in_South_Africa_1

Below is the actual letter that John Varty sent to the South African government:

Dear Sir,

Having recently personally purchased for R18 million a buffalo bull, I know you are someone who cares about our wildlife and heritage.

My problem is this, in September 2011, I implored the President, Jacob Zuma to treat the invasion of Mozambicans who are killing our rhino as an invasion of our country.

I feel the President, like President Ian Khama of Botswana, should be at the forefront of this rhino crisis.

As from my attached letter, you will see that the war is intensifying into the private game reserves. In desperation, I have written a letter to the Minister of Defense, but I have had no response.

I find the ANC Government aloof and non-communicative with its citizens.

Can you urge the Minister of Defense to commit troops to crush this poaching once and for all.

Could you as Vice President of ANC, take this crisis into your own hands and play the role that President Ian Khama is playing. This involves appearing on TV, motivating and inspiring us who are trying to combat the poaching. We desperately need leadership!

The fire that you displayed when you were leading the unions against the big mining companies during apartheid, is needed now!

Please reply to jv@jvbigcats.co.za
Cell number: 083 6511 600

Tread Lightly on the Earth
John Varty
Co-owner of Londolozi Game Reserve
Founder of Tiger Canyons

This letter is copied to the following:
1) President of South Africa – Jacob Zuma – president@po.gov.za
2) Min Defence and Military Veterans – Ms Nosiviwe Noluthando Mapisa-Nqakula – siphiwe.dlamini@dod.mil.za
3) Min Justice and Constitutional Development – Mr Jeff Radebe – Mediaenquiries@justice.gov.za
4) Min Police – Nathi Mthethwa – zwelim@saps.org.za
5) Min Tourism – Marthinus van Schalkwyk – mbloem@tourism.gov.za
6) Min Water and Environmental Affairs – Edna Molewa amodise@environment.gov.za
7) Premier Mpumalanga – Mr David Dabede Mabuza premier@prem.mpu.gov.za
8) Premier Eastern Cape – Ms Noxolo Kiviet – nolwando.stofile@otp.ecprov.gov.za
9) Leader DA – Helen Zille leader@da.org.za
10) Cyril Ramaphosa – vice president ANC – sngubane@anc.org.za

September 22nd, 2013

Playing with Fractalius

The last couple of weeks I have been playing with the Fractalius filter. See my first post Patience how I handled installing fractalius on my Mac.

I used different filter settings to get a variety of results and effects.
The slideshow below shows a selection of images from my regular galleries. Click on a thumbnail to view a larger version or press the ‘Play’ button to get a slideshow going.

September 8th, 2013

Using Fractalius on the Sagrada Familia ?

Recently I published my images from the Sagrada Familia here. The basilica itself is a piece of art. Further processing of the images might be unnecessary. However, when I ran some images through the Fractalius filter I was quite impressed that I thought it was worth to publish them too here. The first two below are images from the scale models.

The image below is made of the altar area, where in the ceiling the light from the Maria spire gets through.

And even the ceiling comes out nice.

And finally, the sculpture of Peter, mourning about betraying Jesus for the third time.

Look at the Fract Mills post to find out how to get and install Fractalius.

August 31st, 2013

Sagrada Familia

Ceiling of the Basilica and Expiatory Church of the Holy Family

In June of this summer we visited Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, part of our visit to Spain. This visit has been on my wishlist for a long time, since I first visited the basilisk in 1987. I am not a regular museum or church visitor but I can tell you that visiting this church is an unbelievable experience. Revolutionary in all aspects. The elegance of the architecture, the design principles, the decorations and sculptures. It can only be experienced when you go there. Bear in mind that when you go, you cannot use a tripod or a flash: you are considered professional and that is in violation with ‘copyright’ rules. Funny. Also, make sure you book your entrance ticket online: you will avoid enormous queues. Below a few impressions of our visit.

Click on a thumbnail image to get a larger detailed version: click on the large image to return.