Pictures from the Zoo

I went to the Zoo recently with Eva, a friend and the friend’s not quite 2 year old (then; since then, the child has become 2). While there, I took some photos, as I am wont to do. So I’m sharing them with you  all, also as I am wont to do. Because, after all, isn’t everyone’s day improved by the presence of a polar bear?

The Polar bear was definitely among the most photogenic of the animals we saw that day. In fact, there were two polar bears wandering around together. And by together, I mean at the same time, but not really ever getting around to acknowledging one another’s existence.

As everyone knows, I’m a cat person, and that extends to the less domesticated of the cats who are present at the Zoo. The ocelot, a small cat, despite a name that sounds like it should belong to a marine invertebrate, was a challenging subject. He was walking quickly, and often not where I wanted him to. Did I mention that he’s a cat?

A much easier photographic subject is the rhododendron. It stood completely still, for which I was very glad.

I’m particularly pleased with the texturing of the flowers in that photo.

In the gallery below, you can find a few more photos: Elephant, warthog, sunbear.

All in all, a day at the zoo.

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The Cats of Israel

I suspect that many of you who read my blog know that I am fond of cats. The recent trip to Israel provided a great opportunity for cat watching–and photography. Throughout much of the Mediterranean, street cats are a constant presence, and part of the urban ecosystems. Israel is no exception, and I had some fun with the camera.

This cat and I made our acquaintance in Acre. A friendly sort, he enjoyed conversing and lounging. He was, however, very clear on one point. That was his tree.

Like many of the cats, he was fairly solitary, though there were a few other cats in the neighborhood.

In other places, there were groups of cats hanging out. In Capernum, for example, there was a group of three cats who were a posse. Making themselves at home, in around, under and on top of this bench, they napped and groomed, seeming to enjoy the heat of the day. It was quite warm that day, which made it perfect cat weather.

As with everything else in Jerusalem, the cats of Jerusalem are special. They clearly regard themselves as the guardians of the city, and take that responsibility quite seriously.

Admittedly, there are some who seem a bit more, ah, engaged in the whole watching over everything than others. Case in point: this feline somehow managed to find a soft couch to use as his base of operations. Most other cats in Jerusalem were out and about, whether supervising the Western Wall crowds, as these two kittens were, or stalking the wild discarded pizza, like this leopard-like fellow.

And then, there were the cats who simply sat and supervised, whether amid archaeological ruins or a wall in the old city.

Flowers on the Way to Work

I’ve begun walking to work a lot the past few weeks, which is great. It’s about a half hour walk, which is about perfect. Sometimes, though, I take it a bit more slowly, bring out the camera, and stop and smell–or more often, photograph–the flowers. This morning wsa a morning full of flowers. 

One of the things I love about Portland is the profusion of flowers we have through the spring and summer. The variety, the brightness of colors.

Some of what I love about the flowers is the diversity of color and texture. It reminds of me of knitting, in that there are bright colors, though I find that there are colors I love in nature which I would never use in something I knit. The yellow of these sunflowers is one such example. I would never knit with a yellow such as this, but in this context, the flowers are amazing and beautiful. 

Other flowers are much more my normal color-style.

 The purples and pinks of the fuscia make me really happy. The profusion of flowers on the plants don’t hurt either. 

Roses have always been a favorite of mine, in large part for their scent. I also adore the way the flower changes over time from the tight rosebud to the open, ruffled flower. Very often the color of the flower will also change as it opens, which is a wonderful treat. 

Looking at gardens in Portland, there are some other treats: Someone came by to investigate as I was taking photos of some cornflowers and lantern flowers. There was a clear sense of ownership here, and a sense that I was photographing the wrong thing. Apparently, this feline believed that portraiture was a far more appropriate art form than landscape photography. Who was I to argue?

Nonetheless, I did take some closeups of the lantern flowers.These flowers are amazing because they just don’t seem like they should be real. 

And speaking of things which may or may not look real, I took some substantial liberties in adjusting this last photo. The colors may not be exactly what my eye saw, but I find it beautiful. There is a question among photographers and lovers of photography as to whether the goal is to produce a beauty or to accurately represent reality (at least when the two are in conflict). Most of the time I satisfy myself with beauty which is an accurate reflection of reality. This time, I wanted to play a little. 

Walking to work is for me a way to get in touch with the natural world. It’s fairly easy this time of year. Cool enough that I don’t arrive at work soaked in sweat, warm enough that I’m comfortable. Dry enough that I’m not soaked by rain. I hope I’ll be able to continue throughout the year, but we’ll see how persistent I am when the weather becomes less pleasant. Each day comes, one at a time, and I’ll see how it goes, and how the landscape changes.