Seven days of nature photography: Day Five

When I think of ‘nature photography’, I tend to think of wildlife on a big scale – photos from an african safari or pictures of birds taken by people with super long lenses. Looking through my photos to pick seven, I don’t have many of those. I’m a happy amateur who has standard lenses and doesn’t see much big, rare wildlife (although I will end with Ethiopian wildlife).

But nature is everywhere.  Weeds grow in the cracks of concrete paving slabs, birds twitter in the street and cats prowl – everywhere, toomuchwhere!

I think it’s a minor miracle that even in an urban space, we still see bees. This photo was taken in the rooftop garden of the Queen Elizabeth Hall of London’s South Bank. I was so chuffed that I managed to get it in focus (ish!) with it’s tongue in the flower.

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Seven days of nature photography: Day four – have a koala

Day four of seven days of nature photography. Have a koala. Taken in Brisbane way, way back in 2011. I wouldn’t want to hold one but they sure look cute curled up! This one is in black and white, as it emphasises the textures, whereas colour distracts a little from that.

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Seven days of nature photography: Day Three

Day three of my seven days of nature photography challenge set by Moth Clark, I dug out my one and only true sunrise photo. I was in Myanmar on a boat trip along the Irrawaddy River and the sunset had been spectacular the night before. But the dawn was even better. I took many shots and waited for this fisherman to float right into the beams of the sun across the water.

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Seven days of nature photography: day one

Today I was nominated by my friend Moth Clark to take part in a ‘flood Facebook with beauty’ tag game. He challenged me to post seven nature photographs over the course of seven days.

Moth is one of the best unpaid nature photographers I know. His photos of birds, in particular, are stunning, so I recommend you follow him on Twitter, where he’s just begun to share his pictures publicly.

In the meantime, here’s my first photograph. It’s nice to flick back through albums and be reminded of photos I love. I’m not a particularly good photographer of the natural environment, as I don’t have special lenses or even a tripod, but I manage okay and I do love this close up of a ladybird, with its shallow depth of field.

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Going gaga on GoGo – in the Simien Mountains

Day three in the Simien Mountains was a day of expanding joy. It took us higher than the first two and the views were astounding. In the lead up to the trip, when I had been day-dreaming of being in the mountains of Ethiopia, these were just the views I had envisaged.

I jumped for joy up there.

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Here are my best pictures from the morning. I don’t really have the right lens for wildlife or birds but I think I’ve done okay.

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We had a long trek ahead of us in the afternoon, so I had a wee ride on the mule for a while (we had to hire one for medical reasons in the morning). I have always been quite sniffy about riding on a mule; as I gave myself a rest and gently plodded along, I began to shift my view on that. So restful!

Alas, we reached a point where the mule had to go back to its village and there was no escaping the long, hot path uphill.

There were more lovely views up there and every now and again, our guide pointed into the far, far distance and claimed our campsite was in view. He promised us a shower when we got there – with hot water. As the afternoon wore on, he urged us to speed up but we didn’t really understand why. But we did our best and as we clambered the final long push downhill, we found ourselves singing ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ for some bizarre reason.

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Eventually, we arrived at camp. To our huge disappointment, all the hot water had been used. All of a sudden, we twigged why our guide had been urging us to hurry. There was a limited supply of water in the tank. Instead, we had bowls of water – not quite the same but at least we got clean.

A lammergeier was floating overhead, so I had to race to get dressed again and grab my camera.

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Feeling slightly disgruntled for about 10 minutes in that weird way that comes with the privilege of having running water back home, we took ourselves off for a stroll to look at the view on the other side of the road. We lucked out – first, a great big old Ibex strolled into camp just as we were about to leave and then, when we crossed to the viewpoint, three gelada monkeys were huddled together on the cliff edge, giving me one of my favourite gelada shots of the whole holiday.

The perfect end to a perfect day.

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Ethiopia: Further into the Simien Mountains

A year ago, I had a month to go before travelling to Ethiopia. I was bouncy with anticipation and eager to get going. There were mountains to hike in, wildlife to see, coffee to drink.

I don’t know what happened when I returned; I failed to blog about the trip beyond my arrival and initial sight-seeing (Gonder) and my first day in the Simien Mountains. It wasn’t through a lack of enthusiasm. I had a truly fantastic time and one that I want to remember forever.

I’ve decided that it’s never too late to blog about a travel experience. There could be someone gearing up for a trip to this magical country now and who will find my posts useful. Or maybe someone just fancies looking at some cracking photos of Gelada Monkeys for a few minutes. You may simply enjoy travel blogs and stories. Whoever you are and however you have arrived here, you’ll find me blogging about Ethiopia for a while so that I capture the memories before a whole year goes by.

In this episode, we join our intrepid writer as she begins her second day in the Simien Mountains. I’d like to remind readers of our wonderful guide, as I’d like to think that he might get enquiries. Eshete Berju of Travel Simien really was a star.

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It was cold and barely light. Sunrise in the Simiens comes slowly. The ridges on the other side of the gorge were hiding the sun but the light was changing. Gold was beginning to light the grass and I bent down to capture the moment with a few photos. The air was so, so pure.

On our second day in the mountains we hiked for about 14km. It doesn’t sound much but when you’re tackling some steep uphill sections and still acclimatising, it’s tough! Tight chest, short breaths, pumping heart. It’s a vile feeling, as I felt as if I were a wimp and unfit but the minute I got onto the flat or downhill, I was right as rain. But it’s worth it for the views, the seclusion, the wildlife.

In the morning we saw buzzards and a young lammergaier.

It was hot that day. Or hot enough to make us very glad indeed to find out that our lunch spot was by a river. Tempted though I was to jump in, I resisted and instead, stuck my head under a miniature waterfall – half a metre of delicious, cold water.

Happily we saw more gelada monkeys. It’s a fantastic daily occurrence up there.

The afternoon was tough and when we reached our second camp – Gich – we had reached 3,650m. It was still early when we got to camp but as it was near a village, there was a good deal of people watching to be done. Locals gathered and children played on the high open high. It was easy to sit and watch, taking shot after shot as the light changed. Here’s a selection.

Here are the best photos from that second day.

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The next day was spectacular. We went up to Mount Gogo and experienced the views we had dreamt of before we set off. More about that tomorrow!

travel, pics & assorted thoughts from Carole Scott

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