Tripping the Light: Blog http://trippingthelight.zenfolio.com/blog en-us (C) Tripping the Light paoningyu@hotmail.com (Tripping the Light) Thu, 11 Aug 2016 06:58:00 GMT Thu, 11 Aug 2016 06:58:00 GMT http://trippingthelight.zenfolio.com/img/s12/v178/u998196036-o134443783-50.jpg Tripping the Light: Blog http://trippingthelight.zenfolio.com/blog 120 80 Lions versus Hyenas http://trippingthelight.zenfolio.com/blog/2016/8/lions-versus-hyenas Etosha National Park, Namibia

On the second day at the park we were on the last leg of the day long journey. It was close to 4pm and we need to leave the park by 7pm. It is for safety reasons as in the dark we can run into a huge elephant or a black rhinoceros. Our guide suggested we visit one last watering hole before leaving. All of us were really tired from shooting animals just standing there or a leopard with his dead prey up in the trees. And most of us was looking forward to our own watering hole back at the lodge! An ice cold beer would do us fine!

ETOSHA NATIONAL PARK * NAMIBIA

On arriving at the watering hole we saw about 4 female lions with their catch of the day; a kudu. A large antelope of Namibia. Two of the lions were devouring the kudu while a third one was having a drink. The fourth lion was a distance away.

ETOSHA NATIONAL PARK * NAMIBIA

So we set up on the opposite site of the watering hole (in the vehicle of course) and took some photographs. One lion at a time was taking turns at the kudu.

ETOSHA NATIONAL PARK * NAMIBIA

Most of the animals stay well away from the waterhole knowing that as long as the lions fed on the kudu they are quite safe.

ETOSHA NATIONAL PARK * NAMIBIA

While one is eating the other was keeping watch. The lions were taking their own sweet time about it too.

ETOSHA NATIONAL PARK * NAMIBIA

Another lion was laying down some distance away while the zebras watched. The zebras feel no threat as long as the lion' is focused on the dead kudu.

ETOSHA NATIONAL PARK * NAMIBIA

The zebras must be glad that today was not their last! The lions were sure taking their time. Maybe it was a Michelin star watering hole with great dining options. Two lions were just walking around the perimeter of the watering hole, taking their time,

ETOSHA NATIONAL PARK * NAMIBIA

This lion looked full and lazy. She was just sitting there away from the kudu. Her tummy looks like its full of kudu!

ETOSHA NATIONAL PARK * NAMIBIA

This lion have rested enough so he is going back to the dining table to take a another bite at the kudu. He too, is taking his time.

ETOSHA NATIONAL PARK * NAMIBIA

The watering hole is one of the most dangerous place for animals. The predators like the lions knows it. That is one reason the attack of the kudu occurred near the watering hole. Another is that they could have a drink during the feast on the kudu.

ETOSHA NATIONAL PARK * NAMIBIA

Everything was going great for the lions. Suddenly in the distance near the tree line this creature appeared. It is one of the most dangerous animals in the world. And in a pack, their ability to bring down large prey is well documented.

ETOSHA NATIONAL PARK * NAMIBIA

Driven by the smell of death, hyenas are very good at hunting for dead prey. This was when our guide told us to hold on to our seats and get our cameras ready. Ready for what? He said that what we are about to see he has only seen 5 times in the last 20 years as a guide. Some people come every day into the Park for weeks and they would not be able to see this. The next thing we knew was that the hyena started howling. Have you ever heard a hyena howl? The hair at the back of my neck stood up! Within a few minutes another hyena came out of the tree line. He too began to howl.

ETOSHA NATIONAL PARK * NAMIBIA

Then a third one appeared, and a fourth and then a fifth and so on. The howling was getting very loud.

ETOSHA NATIONAL PARK * NAMIBIA

More hyenas appears from out of the tree line. They were all howling at the same time and within 10 minutes of the sighting of the first hyena, 16 of them were now out of the tree line.

ETOSHA NATIONAL PARK * NAMIBIA

A hyena is about half the size of a female lion. And if they go one on one with a lion, they are no match. But with 16 of them and they are hungry as hell, we now have a live show! The lions know that their time may be up and they moved away from the edge of the watering hole towards the carcass of the kudu.

ETOSHA NATIONAL PARK * NAMIBIA

Even the other animals know something is about to happen. They were all at the tree line waiting for the action to begin.

ETOSHA NATIONAL PARK * NAMIBIA

One of the lions kept watch while the rest of tried to eat as much of the kudu as they can swallow. They all knew that their chances of having the kudu to themselves are getting slimmer as the seconds ticked away.

ETOSHA NATIONAL PARK * NAMIBIA

The smell of death from the kudu is making the hyenas more anxious. And from where they were standing the feast taking place was just too much to bear. The carcass sure look delicious from where they were standing.

ETOSHA NATIONAL PARK * NAMIBIA

The lions sure looked worried. The one standing watch looked towards the rest and seem to say "Would ould you guys please hurry it up, I am getting worried!".

ETOSHA NATIONAL PARK * NAMIBIA

The confrontation begins. The hyenas were sizing up the situation and the lions were roaring to intimidate the hyenas.

ETOSHA NATIONAL PARK * NAMIBIA

After a few rounds of staring, growling and howling by all parties concern, the lions decided to charged at the hyenas.

ETOSHA NATIONAL PARK * NAMIBIA

Here you can see a lion going after a lone hyena. The hyenas are no match for the lion in terms of speed. 

ETOSHA NATIONAL PARK * NAMIBIA

And very quickly, the lion gains on the running hyena.

ETOSHA NATIONAL PARK * NAMIBIA

The lion catches up to the scrambling hyena and takes a bite of its back.The lion almost tore off the hind leg of the hyena. It managed to struggle free but was bleeding badly. Hyenas are tough animals. So this one survived the attach and got away with almost everything intact!

ETOSHA NATIONAL PARK * NAMIBIA

Hyenas always hunt in packs. And a pack of 16 hyenas will overcome even a bull elephant according to our guide. And the hyenas are very coordinated during an attack. So a bunch of them will surround a lion and take turns at her. No one can watch their back, so the lions are almost helpless in the face of this forms of attack.

ETOSHA NATIONAL PARK * NAMIBIA

The final assault begins. Between the roar of the lions and the howl of the hyenas the sound created was deafening. You also wouldn’t want to get in the middle of this. I was using a 600mm lens to capture the scene. If you are really brave, buy a Leica with a 35mm and do what Robert Kappa says “If your photographs are not good enough it is because you are not close enough”. I somehow think Robert wasn’t anywhere near a fight between a pride of lions and a pack of hyenas! The lions were frantically eating as fast as they could. They know the hyenas will overwhelm them soon.

ETOSHA NATIONAL PARK * NAMIBIA

I can understand why you need to drink and take a piss even in the heat of battle. But to drink and piss into the same water is just disgusting. Hyenas are such disgusting animals!

ETOSHA NATIONAL PARK * NAMIBIA

The lions still protect their prize catch for the day. They will also eat as much as they can. They do not know when they will eat again but they know they will have to give up the carcass of the kudu to the hyenas soon.

ETOSHA NATIONAL PARK * NAMIBIA

The hyenas were attacking the lions in every direction. Even from the edge of the watering hole.

ETOSHA NATIONAL PARK * NAMIBIA

The lions retaliate as best they could under the circumstances. They were just outnumbered.

ETOSHA NATIONAL PARK * NAMIBIA

Once the lions got distracted, a lone hyena took the opportunity to take a bite of the kudu. Now that is what I call teamwork!

ETOSHA NATIONAL PARK * NAMIBIA

But the lone hyena did not get away with it. Within a few seconds the lions were all over him.

ETOSHA NATIONAL PARK * NAMIBIA

And within seconds all Hell broke loose. The lion was attack from the side by his henas friends.

ETOSHA NATIONAL PARK * NAMIBIA

Hell hath no fury like a lion trying to keep her kudu kill. Even with a hyena biting her backside the lion puts up a hell of a fight. I am not sure if his face shows pain or fury!

ETOSHA NATIONAL PARK * NAMIBIA

As the entrails of the kudu lay nearby, it is the fight to the finish for the lions and hyenas. Their survival depends on it. Who knows when their next meal will be.

ETOSHA NATIONAL PARK * NAMIBIA

I am not sure if she is roaring due to her wounds from the two hyenas that is biting on her backside or she is just trying to get a bite of one of the 5 hyenas surrounding her. The hyenas are not only ferocious but their tactic to divide and conquer was just superb to watch.

ETOSHA NATIONAL PARK * NAMIBIA

But somewhere along this timeline the lions knew their feeding on the kudu has already come to an end. Better retreat than suffer more pain. Leave to fight another day is the best strategy now.

ETOSHA NATIONAL PARK * NAMIBIA

Darwin was right. Only the fittest will survive. The hyenas made sure that whatever is left of the kudu was theirs.

ETOSHA NATIONAL PARK * NAMIBIA

The feeding frenzy begins for the hyenas. The kudu is a big animal and there is surely enough for all. If you notice in the photograph, there is a small light brown fox at the top right hand corner. He is an opportunist. Whenever the hyenas and lions are fighting and they get distracted, he goes in to take a small bite of the kudu! 

ETOSHA NATIONAL PARK * NAMIBIA

As with all battles, the soon be vanquish will mount a last effort to claim what is theirs. The lions did just that, but the hyenas is not going to give it up so easily.

ETOSHA NATIONAL PARK * NAMIBIA

Clint Eastwood in the movie Magnum Force said “A man’s got to know his limitations”. Apparently this lion doesn’t. Going up against 8 hyenas is not going to go well for her.

ETOSHA NATIONAL PARK * NAMIBIA

Injured and bloodied from the fray, the lion attempt to retreat. She need to make a huge effort to get out of the mêlée. She did managed to free herself from the attacks in the end.

ETOSHA NATIONAL PARK * NAMIBIA

Hyenas are known scavengers; they will eat anything. Entrails of the kudu are best!

ETOSHA NATIONAL PARK * NAMIBIA

Now that the big cats are gone, even the smaller foxes partake in the feast of the kudu.

ETOSHA NATIONAL PARK * NAMIBIA

It really doesn’t take a long time for 16 hyenas to strip a kudu bare.

ETOSHA NATIONAL PARK * NAMIBIA

The lions after regrouping can only look from afar what the hyenas were up to. At least they had their share of the kudu. They will live to fight another day. Maybe the next time they can bring along a male lion. Our guide told us that it could have been a different ending if it was 4 male lions instead of female lions. For now the law of the jungle prevailed. All in all it was a wonderful day at the Etosha National Park!

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paoningyu@hotmail.com (Tripping the Light) Africa Etosha Namibia fight hole hyena kudu lions national park watering http://trippingthelight.zenfolio.com/blog/2016/8/lions-versus-hyenas Thu, 11 Aug 2016 06:50:45 GMT
Tibet: A Land of Trials and Tribulations http://trippingthelight.zenfolio.com/blog/2012/7/tibet-a-land-of-trials-and-tribulations Tashi Delek,

 

Tibet is a strange land. It is a mixture of surreal landscape, devoted Tibetans, the iron fist of the Han Chinese and monasteries built on high hills devoted to the teachings and propagation of Buddhism. Tibet, as historians have recorded, is focused on the history of Buddhism. This is partly due to the pivotal role this religion has played in the development of Tibetan, Mongo and Manchu cultures.

 

Tibet is situated between the ancient civilizations of China, India and Nepal. It is separated from the former by the extensive mountain ranges to the east of the Tibetan Plateau and from the latter two by the Himalayas ranges. Tibet is nicknamed "the roof of the world" or "the land of snows" because of this.

 

I will not dwell further into history as I believe this is not a history blog. I can say from visiting Tibet, that the Dalai Lama and the monks in Tibet used to be the spiritual advisers to the Han emperors.

 

I almost did not make it to Tibet on the account that the Chinese closed the border following an incident in Barkhor Square where 2 monks set themselves on fire. This is known as self-immolation. Thankfully, a last minute reprieve from the Chinese authority allowed citizens from certain countries to travel to Tibet. While the visa was issued for Tibet, certain regions were still out of bounds for foreigners like Rongbok Monastery (highest monastery in the world) and the Everest Base Camp trek.

 

The journey began from Kathmandu, traveling along the Friendship Highway between Nepal and Tibet. We passed the border towns of Nyalam and Tingri. Border towns are an interesting place. Devoid of all the plush facilities offered by hotels and shopping malls, this place transcends you to the bare basics of living. But with that you can see the scenery as shown by the photograph below. This was shot using a Hasselbald Xpan I with a 45mm f/4 lens on film. I took this shot because it showed how wide and beautiful the plains of Tibet are. The horses also made a very good subject against this backdrop. This was the plains of Tingri right behind our resting place for the night. While the  hotel was literally a hole-in-the-wall (parts of the wall and ceiling in my cubicle was falling off!), this setback was quickly forgotten when I gazed upon the stunningly picturesque views of the plains! I often wondered how beautiful Tibet would be in person and now I know. The trials and tribulations of the journey was well worth it, even though I suffered from altitude sickness.

 

Horse

 

Cow & Sky

 

The people of Tibet lived mostly in the villages. Lhasa has only 4 million people, with 3 million of them being Tibetans, and the rest of the population being Han Chinese. We left the border towns of Nyalam and Tingri, and headed for the larger towns of Gyantse and Shigate. Along the way we stopped at a typical village scene as shown in the photograph (left). This village, by the way, is the village of our Tibetan guide's grandparents. I believe that in every village, we'll see mountains and fields like this. They live on the upper level of a mud house and below you can see that they rear cows as their source of food. With such scenery, I truly believe that the Tibetans have found a paradise high up in the Himalayas. The photo with the cows in the foreground and the beautiful mountains in the background says it all about the rural life in Tibet. If you want dramatic colors of blue sky and clouds make sure you have a polarizer attached to your lens. Turn the polarizer till you see the blue sky becomes bluer. 

 

Pussy in Monastery

 

I bid farewell to my guide's grandparent's village and headed towards Shigatse, the seat of the Panchen Lama. It is the second largest city in Tibet. The afternoon was spent at the Tashilhunpo Monastery. I found this cat exiting a door at the monastery (right photo) and I thought it would make a good subject for the colorful door. Sometimes opportunities arise out of sheer luck; one must be prepared to shoot quickly without having to fiddle too much with the camera. So setting up the camera for the environment that you need to shoot in is of utmost importance. Walking the small alleys of the monastery I was looking for subjects that ranged from monks to cats. Typically, I would set the f/stop to f/5.6, ISO to AUTO and mount a 70-200mm lens on a crop camera. If you are prepared, you won't miss much.

 

No Cocaine!

 

Again this is true for the photograph on the left. Walking around the Tashilhunpo Monastery was a delight in portrait photography. I observed this monk sitting in the door way snorting a powder like substance through one nostril and exhaling the remaining powder through the next. Since it was evening and the sun was setting, the direction of the lighting was perfect. When he snorted out the powder through the other nostril I took the shot with the setting I mentioned  above using my 70-200mm lens.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leaving Shigatse, we journeyed towards Gyantse and Lhasa. The first stop was the Kunbum Monastery in Gyantse. For some reason, most of the monasteries we visited were built on a hill or on the slopes of mountains. Perhaps it was because it is in a defensive position. Or maybe, it was just nearer to God. In the past, the monks from each of the regions acts as warriors for their own Lamas. This is the Kunbun Monastery, near Gyantse. Taken with a Hasselbald Xpan I, it shows how hard it is to climb it. I stood on a nearby hill which overlooked the city of Gyantse to take this photo. The photo following was taken at the same spot but in the opposite direction. It depicts the town of Gyantse from the hilltop.

 

Kunbun Monastery Gyantse Town

 

The journey to Lhasa was long. The roads were deserted, unlike most cities. The views of the mountain ranges were a stark reminder that we were in the land of very thin air. Altitude sickness was still a major hurdle to get over. However, with breath-taking views like these, the discomfort of the altitude sickness was momentarily forgotten. A lone car in the distance gives you a very clear perspective on how vast this land called Tibet is. I have never seen skies more blue than those in Tibet. Just standing here on the highway, I felt a sense of spirituality. If God made the earth, I think he made Tibet first!

 

Lonely Highway

 

Yamdrok Lake

 

After a long ride, we arrived at Yamdrok Lake. It is one of the highest lakes in Tibet. As we were getting ready to take photographs of the lake, the weather was getting inclement. The photo below was a long exposure shot of the lake with a Lee Big Stopper filter. It took about 20 seconds for the exposure. Long exposure shots are not that difficult to execute. Just expose for the scene, set everything to manual mode on your DSLR, set it to 10 stops (or less if you don't have a 10 stop filter) lower than usual, and push the shutter. Wait for the required time and look at the scene. Adjust exposure manually if you feel the scene is over or under exposed. Less than 10 minutes after this photograph was taken, it began to pour. (And it really poured!) On the way down from the lake, parts of the road were flooded quite badly. Fortunately we had a very experienced bus driver who was able to navigate the roads well.

 

Double Rainbow

 

And as the bus made its way down on a long and winding stretch of the road, a double rainbow appeared over a Tibetan village that the bus just passed. Stepping out of the bus in the rain, viola!, this gorgeous scene was captured! Our Tibetan guide Toplar says that it is good luck to see this and I believe that there is some truth to it, as the days ahead did bring much opportunity for great photographs. To shoot a rainbow, put your camera into spot metering mode and meter the rainbow. That's all. Depth of field is important, so set your f/stop to anywhere between f/8 and f/16. Don't worry; you are shooting into the light so there is plenty of light. Take the shot!

 

 

 

Arriving in Lhasa helped with the altitude sickness. Also it was the 6th day of the trip and more or less we had become acclimatised to the altitude.  However rapid movement is not encouraged as there is still a lack of oxygen at 3600m. The first sight that greeted us was Barkhor Square. Just a few weeks earlier two monks self immolated between the two poles that decorated the square. Security was extremely tight; we had to go through airport style metal detectors to reach Jokhang Temple. Below is a shot taken from the roof of Jokhang Temple on a Hasselbald Xpan I using Fuji Velvia 50 film. Film is just as easy to use as digital. Just expose for the mid-tones and you are done. If scanned on a dedicated film scanner you can get the resolution of a 40M pixel camera on an Xpan. You can see the details in the photograph below.

 

Smoke Gets in Your Eyes

 

Prostration

Asking

 

Despite all of life's trials and tribulations that the Tibetans have endured, they remain fervently religious and pious. Scenes as depicted by the 2 pictures are enacted everywhere in Tibet and more so at the Jokhang Temple and the Potala Palace ground. The day begins with prayers and some of them carrying prayer wheels will walk 3 rounds of the Jokhang Temple or the Potala Palace early in the morning before their daily chores. Looking through my lens I can't help but feel the earnestness of their prayers, can't help but wonder if they're praying for their sick children or parents? or for missing loved ones? or for a good harvest? Whatever their reasons are, I admire their commitment to their faith. I recommend a 70-200mm lens set to f/5.6 for such candid shots. Waiting for that decisive moment is what makes a good street shot; so plenty of patience as well as an eye for opportunity is required to do street photography.

 

 

Enlighten Monk

There are just too many beautiful things to show on Tibet , it would be a great injustice if I claim that these photographs tell it all. This is at best the prologue to a great story.

 

I will end this travelogue with an opportunistic shot of a monk in Drepung Monastery. We had just descend the flight of stairs from the roof when one of the photographers noticed a wonderful beam of early morning rays coming into the stair well and lighting the area up. Photographing just the rays would be wonderful but with a monk as a subject would be fab. So we invited one of the monks to sit on the stairs as the light hit his face. The shot on the right was it. The best way to take a shot like this is to meter the monk's face where the light hits using spot metering. This will ensure you do not lose the details due to over exposure. Since the area where the monk was sitting was quite dark, set the camera at aperture priority, open up the maximum aperture of your lens and look at the shutter speed. Make sure the shutter speed is at least equal to 1/(focal length of lens) to prevent camera shake. If not boost your ISO. Take the shot!

 

Finally, let there always be light shining on the people of Tibet. May they live free and may they be allowed to practise their beliefs. This final image best describe what I feel for Tibet. Early morning light on the Potala Palace where for centuries the Dalai Lamas of Tibet guided their people. May the light continue to shine brightly on their spirit of resilience and faith. May their trials and tribulations be a beacon of light to all of us.

 

Let There Be Light

 

T'OO-JE-CHE

Cheers and see you all again on another photography journey.

Pao

 

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paoningyu@hotmail.com (Tripping the Light) http://trippingthelight.zenfolio.com/blog/2012/7/tibet-a-land-of-trials-and-tribulations Tue, 31 Jul 2012 06:47:29 GMT