Archive for the ‘Animals’ Category

The Guardian

November 22nd, 2012

This little guy sat in the same spot above my door for a few days, a warning to possible intruders.

It was quite tiny, measuring just a few centimeters, but that doesn’t make it’s sting any less redoubtable.

Not quite sure how it got there. I mean, yes, this a desert country, but I live in an apartment building…

More coming soon!

 

 

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Making Friends

November 5th, 2012

Some of the most extraordinary experiences I’ve had while snorkeling or diving have been with sea turtles.

They each seem to have very distinct personalities and generally extremely curious and playful. This seems to be true wherever I have encountered them (though off the coast of the UAE and Oman, the smaller turtles are generally skittish and won’t let you get too close, while in the Seychelles, they would often either ignore me completely or swim up to meet me).

I spotted this fabulous little guy swimming along the corals about 8 meters below the surface, off the coast of Grande Soeur (Big Sister) island in the Seychelles.

I swam down to meet it and together we circled back up to the surface, almost in a dance. I spent some 40 minutes or so swimming with this turtle, it seemingly as curious about me as I was about it.

More coming soon!

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Anemones

October 25th, 2012

These days, I seem to be increasingly turning my focus to underwater photography. Something about it makes it just so very attractive to me. Perhaps it is the challenge of shooting in this difficult environment, or perhaps the sense of wonder brought on by the alienness of the landscape and the life. And it must be said, the coastal waters of the UAE and Oman offer many opportunities for the adventurous.

Few species of life appear as alien as do anemones. These animals are named after the colorful terrestrial flower. They are carnivorous polyps which sting their prey – any fish which stray too close to their tentacles – with a potent neurotoxin.

These two closeups were taken some four to five meters below the surface about 10 minutes apart, during the course of a snorkeling session.

The first is a closeup of a type of anemone which is commonly home to clownfish (which, especially if you have kids, appear to have now been renamed “Nemo fish”). I love the purple tips.

I’m assuming these are a type of anemone as well. Any confirmation of this is welcome. These grow in massive domes reaching a meter or more in diameter.

More coming soon!

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Nudibranchs

October 15th, 2012

Until a perfectly normal wreck dive off the coast of Abu Dhabi I had never heard of, nor seen, any nudibranchs. Suddenly there they were: all over the sunken barge. Nudibranchs are a type of soft sea slug which are apparently among “some of the most colourful creatures on earth“. Absolutely beautiful creatures.

The bright colouring is a form of defense, indicating it would make either a very bitter or extremely toxic meal for the passing fish.

While there were two types of nudibranchs on the barge, there exist thousands of species.

While some species can grow to up to 60 cm in length, the specimens seen here only measured some 5 to 10 cm. As you can easily see from this shot below of a fellow diver taking a picture of one. If you look closely, you can make out three specimens along the bottom of the image, to center-left.

More coming soon!

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Seychelles Wedding

October 10th, 2012

I seem to be shooting a fair few weddings of late. :)

One such wedding took place on the beautiful island of La Digue, Seychelles. A place that is as close to paradise as there can be.

It was the wedding of a dear friend and wonderfully talented photographer Diane Aftimos (check out her work here). The wedding was a small and intimate (we were no more than 20 people attending) fairy tale affair. I was very privileged to have attended, and doubly so to have been asked to photograph it.

Here are a few shots from this extraordinary heart-warming wedding:

Confetti were flying everywhere when I took this shot.

The massive granitic boulders which are scattered along the beaches make for some extraordinary settings, especially with the warm light of the setting sun and the dramatic crashing of the waves on the rocks.

More coming soon!

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Spotted Ray

October 5th, 2012

This shot was made off of Oman’s extraordinary Mussandam peninsula during my first ever night snorkel session.

We jumped off the boat and dropped about 5 meters below the surface of the calm waters. Almost the moment we hit bottom, the light of my torch illuminated this beautiful spotted ray.

We saw three more rays and many fish that night, but I am most proud of this shot.

More to come soon!

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Laqlouq Snow Walk

June 15th, 2011

Summer seems to have come upon us quite heavily here in Abu Dhabi. Got me thinking about the cooler times, such as earlier this year in Lebanon, where I had the chance to go on a snow walk for the first time.

The weather was starting to warm up earlier than expected and the mountain snow was turning a little slushy around noon, making skiing an unattractive proposition.

We went to a place known as Laqlouq, in Lebanon. We got there early in the afternoon, parked the car by the side of the road, put on the snowshoes and took off up the slope.

Below are a few pictures from that wonderful day.

The snows were already beginning to melt. And to melt quite fast. Just a few short weeks before, the entire mountain side was covered with snow, but the rocks were starting to reach out to the skies again…

As were some of the thorny wild flowers…

We were aiming to get to the cross at the top of the mountain. Unfortunately, just meters from the top, I dropped my glasses! Had to watch them ski their way down the steeper slope of the  mountainside.

We headed down after them, and I ended up falling and sliding down a good distance myself. Got snow all over my lens… Halfway down we met two dogs, German shepherds, who eneded up following and playing with us all the way back to the car.

The light was fading fast as we headed back down to Beirut. The clouds hung low over the mountains, bringing fog as the air cooled and making for a spectacular sunset.

More coming soon!

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The Cowherds

June 10th, 2011

Hyderabad is a fantastic and interesting place.

We were lucky enough to have a great driver who doubled as a tour guide on my trip there. As we were driving on a highway, I spotted the ruin of a mosque rising up from the small buildings to the right of us.

I asked the driver to stop, and we entered the narrow streets and headed towards it. And there it was, around the bend. Absolutely beautiful. Overgrown with green. Small plants and flowers growing out of cracks. Hundreds of years old, by the looks of it. Neglected. Crumbling. Seeming forgotten despite the bustle of life around it.

The mosque turned out to be inaccessible. Walled off from all sides. The driver, a man in his sixties, told us that he used to come often to that neighbourhood as a child. But as sectarian troubles began to increase between Hindus and Muslims, gradually the Muslims left the neighbourhood.

Round the back of the mosque, we came across a herd of cows and goats, tied up and docile.

Turned out the Hindu family nearby were raising them. Also turned out that the family elder was our driver’s wrestling instructor when he was a child. They hadn’t seen each other in some fifty years. It was an extraordinary moment.

We got to spend a little time with the family, and eventually I was allowed to take pictures.

The elder:

The son:

Father & son:

I feel privileged to have gotten a glimpse at a different side of life in India. One not many people get to see.

More coming soon!

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Lion Fish

January 29th, 2011

Last month I went on a boat trip in Oman with a few friends. We took a dhow along the coast of the Mussandam peninsula, starting from the port in Dibba.

While snorkelling on this trip I came across three separate lion fish. Now, I’ve seen many lion fish before, but never quite like these. All the one’s I’d seen before would be peacefully floating about under an overhang, or hiding in a hole or some such.

But these three were out hunting. They were spread out, some 50 or more meters apart along a wall of coral, and swimming about in pursuit of schools of small fish.

Above a lion fish swims off in pursuit of rapidly disappearing small fish under the curious gaze of two of my buddies.

Above, a lion fish tries to close the deal. It was impressive to watch the lion fish in action. However, I was quite surprised at how slow a lion fish at full speed is. In the near 2 hours I spent in the water snorkelling near and around the hunting lion fish, I did not see a single charge ending successfully with a catch. I guess the bigger they are, the lazier they get… ;)

All pictures taken with my (very) old Fuji FinePix Z100 in an underwater case.

More coming soon!

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The Couple

January 25th, 2011

This shot of a couple of white doves was taken on my uncle’s farm in Normandy during my recent trip to France.

These beautiful, docile birds had a very sweet and gentle nature, and expressed no objection to posing for a photograph.

More coming soon!

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