Ape or Orc?

Ape or Orc?

Location – Galerie de Paléontologie, Paris, France

This museum houses hundreds of amazing skeletons, and is well worth the visit. However, it’s frankly overwhelming and pretty cluttered, making it difficult to photograph.

This fierce-looking skeleton, which was tucked away in a dark corner, stood out to me. I believe it’s an ape skeleton, but to be honest, I can’t be sure, because I’m not an osteologist, and the place was like a Noah’s ark of skeletons.

As I try to imagine flesh on these bones, I can’t help but be reminded of the orcs from the Lord of the Rings, or the monkey skeleton in Pirates of the Caribbean. It looks vaguely human, but for those teeth. I love the moody lighting in this shot, the murky green tones, and the pose of the skeleton itself. It almost looks as if it is emerging from the shadows, stalking you.

Sure Footing

Sure Footing

Location – Joshua Tree National Park, CA, USA

I went to Joshua Tree to photograph the plants, rocks, and the night sky, but I ended up preferring this mid-morning photo I took of a rock climber at Intersection Rock.

I spent a good fifteen minutes watching this fearless woman top-rope climb up this formidable rock face. It’s steeper than it looks in the photo, and even though there are ropes for safety, they were pretty slack, and she wasn’t relying on them to help her ascend. She remained focused on the rock, and seemed comfortable and sure of herself. Here you can see her reaching into a little pouch on her waist belt for some more chalk for grip.

I’ve done a little rock climbing myself, but I’m pretty far from being able to tackle something like this. It’s so tough on your fingers, and the rocks can be really sharp. It was also pretty hot that day, and there was no shade to be had.

So if you go to Joshua Tree National Park, don’t neglect to watch the rock climbers. It’s amazing to see them inaction.

Botanical Glow

Botanical Glow

Location – Jardin des Plantes, Paris, France

I took this image of my gorgeous wife, Eva, while exploring a greenhouse at the botanical gardens in Paris. It was an overcast day, and there was beautiful soft light streaming in through the roof, and bouncing off all the greenery.

I like how Eva is framed by the plants and the rear doorway in this shot, and her pose and expression is natural and relaxed. The way the light is falling on her face is also really pleasing. I can’t take any credit for her style or makeup - that’s all Eva.

Cones of Idyllwild

Cones of Idyllwild

Location – Idyllwild, CA, USA

I discovered this quirky little mountain town while visiting nearby Coachella Valley, and ended up spending all afternoon here. The area was originally inhabited by the Cahuilla Indians, and has a fascinating history. In more recent times it was a logging town, and later opened up to tourism. There was once a sanitorium for tuberculosis patients, later an Arts Academy, and today the small community is frequented by rock climbers and PCT thru-hikers.

Magnificent pine trees can be found throughout the town, and all over the hillsides, and I spent hours wandering the quaint little streets and popping into various shops.

At some point I visited the Idyllwild Historical Society Museum, but to my disappointment it was closed. So, I explored the attached gardens instead, which is when I stumbled upon this collection of oversized pine cones artfully arranged on the rear doorstep of the museum, and beautifully side lit by reflected light.

I have to go back.

Frustrated Hunter

Frustrated Hunter

Location – Montclair, NJ, USA

This majestic red-tailed hawk visited our backyard this spring, hoping to catch a squirrel that was drawing attention to itself on a nearby tree trunk. We watched the hunt unfold from the terrace as the two danced around the tree trunk, and the squirrel came dangerously close to being caught.

In the end, there were just too many branches blocking the path to the squirrel, who was in his element on the tree bark. Once the hawk had lost the element of surprise, and couldn’t get enough speed to successfully strike, it eventually gave up and perched on a nearby branch, still watching its prey, which is when I took this shot.

Just look at those talons!