Monday, August 29, 2011

Juxtaposition (II)

The Future of Nairobi
Canon 40D + 100mm f2.8 USM
Both "Tension" and "Juxtaposition (1)" illustrate how an image series can be used to convey a story or theme. To me, "Tension" is a drama. The interaction of predator and prey are juxtaposed with the unpredictability of nature. Weather defines the ecosystem with its predictable patterns, yet it can be a foil to the animals that must endure it.

"Juxtaposition (1)" plays with both language and imagery. Here, the first three images are about a day in the life of a tropical species. This icon of Costa Rica always brings a smile to my face and those who have a chance to see them. Similarly, the elk portrayed are whimsical to me. The young bull filled with forage contrasts with the unique form of mature hind quarters. From my perspective, this juxtaposition is just funny.

Today, I offer a single image for Juxtaposition number 2. I will let you draw your own conclusions about how juxtaposition defines this story. 
©2000-2011 / Bruce & Tamy Leventhal. All rights reserved. No image on this site may be used without permission.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Juxtaposition (I) act or instance of placing close together or side by side, especially for comparison or contrast. 
Compulsion for a compulsive

...a play on words or “clever” juxtaposition between a noun that describes an obsessive state of being with the adjective that describes one who can’t stop. Much like my dog who is compelled to chew her bully-stick to the bitter end, I (the compulsive) am compelled to experience the nature of nature through a lens.
A lifetime of conflict between my left brain (the empiricist) and my right (the whimsical imp), has forced an uneasy truce. Though anatomically similar, these two halves connected by the fibrous corpus callosum respond to the world in very different ways. The right brain feeds on the abstractions in life, the color of nature and the risk in adventure. In contrast, the left seeks order, calculates outcomes and clings to rules. 
Two adjacent halves cooperating to meet the needs of the one, while competing to define the identity. The brain is the ultimate juxtaposition, ...pair of a kind but of a different suit.
Henri Cartier-Bresson (HCB) is a master of juxtaposition. Single images with multiple elements tell a story about a moment in time. Famous for capturing the decisive moment, HCB juxtaposed action with geometry, and emotion with time. Far be it for me to emulate Cartier-Bresson’s style, as his genre is very different from my own. Yet, the goal of seeking a juxtaposition within and between images is a compelling idea. Throughout the week, I will share some juxtapositions, these images will appear as triplets, pairs, or isolated pictures. In some cases the stories will be painfully obvious, while in others, they will be obtuse. Nonetheless, my goal is to challenge myself and stimulate you to see the juxtapositions in photography and life.

©2000-2011 / Bruce & Tamy Leventhal. All rights reserved. No image on this site may be used without permission.

Monday, August 22, 2011


Images from the crater... 
Waiting for the drama to unfold...

All pictures displayed were photographed at Ngorongoro Crater - Tanzania
©2000-2011 / Bruce & Tamy Leventhal. All rights reserved. No image on this site may be used without permission.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Up North Photo Diary

Wide View - Bear Head Lake State Park, MN
Canon 5D markII + 15mm f2.8 Fisheye @ f8

After what felt like an endless winter, it's been a summer for the record books. The moderate temps, intermittent rains, and stormy skies have been my ingredients for photography. We've traveled to the tropics, ascended mountains, and driven extreme distances to capture new memories. This summer has been kind to my inner artist, and the adventures it seeks. To feed this beast one last time, we headed north for the solitude of the deep woods. 
A Downy Summer, MN
Canon 40D + 100-400 f4.5L @ f5.6

Thoughts of the "A-Job" are now beginning to resurface from the depths of my cerebrum. My left brain is whispering to me... be responsible, be prepared, be the scientist right brain, the muse, is fighting to hold back the inevitable. It clings to control by a thread. This creative continues to corrupt my thoughts by seducing me with dreams about adventure, photography, and art. Sadly, the battle will soon be over and the left brain will win like does every September. I will be transformed to "Lev," the biology teacher, and relegate my moments of creativity to weekends and holiday breaks. Until that time... I will continue to let my right brain pretend to be the master of my thoughts and enjoy what remains of my "endless" summer.
Sunrise Reflection -  Bear Head State Park, MN
Canon 7D + 300mm f2.8IS L @ f4
Cinnamon Sow, MN
Canon 5D markII + 300 f2.8IS L @ f2.8
View from the Canoe, MN
Canon 40D + 100-400 f4.5L @ f5.6

Sunrise Dock - Bear Head Lake State Park, MN
Canon 5D markII + 50mm f1.4 @ f16
©2000-2011 / Bruce & Tamy Leventhal. All rights reserved. No image on this site may be used without permission.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

A Life Cycle in the Rainforest

Dendrobates auratus - Canon 5D markII + 180 f3.5L 
Organisms adapt to the environment as a result of selective pressures. Here the phrase, selective pressure, refers to the sum of ecological factors that influence the survival of an individual. These individuals exist within a finite niche. Ecologically, a niche includes an organism’s conspecifics (members of the same species), competitors, predators, mates, food, space, and so on. These factors define the “n-dimensional space (niche)” of the organism and influences the way a population adapts and evolves through time. 
Green and Black Poison Dart Frog - Canon 5D markII + 180 f3.5L 

The green and black poison dart frog, Dendrobates auratus, is uniquely adapted to its rainforest habitat. Skin secretions contain a potent venom, pumiliotoxin-C, which cause unsuspecting predators to regurgitate the distasteful meal. Rather than wearing a cryptic camouflage, this frog announces its presence with bodacious color. Like the monarch butterfly whose bright orange and black patterns are impossible to ignore, the neon green frog with black stripes hops unencumbered throughout the forest understory. Ubiquitous within the leaf litter, once you find your first green and black frog, you begin to see them everywhere. 
How can this be?
Montane Forest - Canon 40D + 300 f2.8IS
Unlike most frog species, this frog is diurnal. Ever present during the daylight hours, the bright colors are a key adaptation. Known in evolutionary biology as aposematic coloration, high visibility acts as a warning. The neon green yells, “Don’t mess with me ...I’m poisonous!” Yet, the eggs and tadpoles of this species are quite tasty. Given the opportunity, fish, turtles, snakes and birds will snack on the protein-rich larvae and thus reduce the overall fitness of egg-laying adults. Unlike their parents, the pre-frog progeny lack the poisonous trademark of mom and dad. In biology, Biological success is defined by fertility, and those who have babies that have babies are considered to be evolutionarily fit.
What is the poison dart frog to do about its tasty eggs?
Flowering Bromeliad - Canon 7D + 300 f2.8IS
In a world where role-reversal is rare, the male poison dart frog bucks the trend. Male frogs call out to females and induce the ladies to lay a tiny clutch of eggs in an ephemeral pool of water. With each new day, there is a new female and new eggs. The male tends to each clutch waiting for the tadpoles to emerge. As eggs hatch, the tadpoles climb onto the back of their father where they will hitch a ride. One by one the male ascends a tree and transports the froglets to a place where no fish, turtle, or bird will hunt. He seeks a pool of water within the leaves of a bromeliad. These epiphytic relatives of the pineapple attach to branches of trees and are repositories of the daily precipitation. It is here that the tadpoles emerge and feed, hidden from the eyes of hungry predators.
©2000-2011 / Bruce & Tamy Leventhal. All rights reserved. No image on this site may be used without permission.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

My Twist On Icons

In short, today’s post is a brief interpretation of icons. Our brief road-trip to Wyoming and Montana collided with the peak travel season. There’s no irony here, I’m a teacher and most of my adventures overlap with this peak. I’m off, my students are off, the weather is moderate and we all want to get away at the same time. So, as I’ve shared previously, we hitched the pop-up (mobile photo-lab) to the Jeep and raced west for 1500 miles. Our campsite bisected the road between the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone, and we were prepped for some amazing photographic opportunities. 

Monday, August 8, 2011

Upon further review...

Sunrise in the Geyser Basis - Yellowstone NP
Canon 5D mkII + 50mm f1.4USM
Upon further review... What was I thinking?

When I Googled the directions from my home in Stillwater to the Flagg Ranch, the internal siren should have fired in my brain. 
Lower Falls - Yellowstone NP
Canon 5D mkII + 50mm f1.4USM
Estimated drive time: 19 hours, 42 minutes. I read and reread the mapped directions, repeated the drive time, “19 hours, 42 minutes,” and even dragged out the road atlas. With the aid of my trusty index finger, I traced the route ...Hwy 36 East to Interstate 94... Fargo (ya, you betcha), Bismark, and Billings. From Billings we would head due south on Hwy 90, make a few rights, lefts, and bingo ...National Park city! We had seven days off and we were determined to see some real mountains.  
The Rising - Yellowstone NP
Canon 7D mkII + 300mm f2.8L IS
I should have respected the estimate... 19 hours 42 minutes, but much like the climate change deniers, I refused to believe the data... Clearly, it was subject to interpretation. Google did its mapping thing, spit out directions, and calculated a distance. But these estimates are dependent on many variables. If I drove fast, made only a few stops, and left early, we could beat the Google hypothesis. 
Sunrise on Jackson Lake - Grand Teton NP
Canon 5D mkII + 17-40mm f4.0L
Upon further review, much like the climate change deniers, I was wrong. With only seven days off, we spent 22 hours driving to Yellowstone and 22 hours driving home. Need for sleep required an intermediate campground on the way to and from Wyoming, and this left us with only four days to see the parks. 
Tree Plague - Yellowstone NP
Canon 7D mkII + 300mm f2.8L IS
Now that I am in edit mode, I know that I need to visit these places again. The finite schedule required fast analyses, and forced us to shoot and run. With no time to study patterns or retrace our steps, the quality of our work suffered. Our self-imposed time limit quieted the creative muse, and we are now left with little more than memories. Yes, we went to Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons, but we did not really see these places...
©2000-2011 / Bruce & Tamy Leventhal. All rights reserved. No image on this site may be used without permission.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Road Tripping Through Ecosystems #7

Incoming Storm - Theodore Roosevelt National Park, ND
Canon 5D MarkII + 17-40L @ 17mm

This will be my final post in the "Road Trip" series. With so many images produced in a short period of time, it's been a challenge to select a few to share. Ironically, the final image is among the first taken during our most recent trip West. After eleven hours of pulling the pop-up across Hwy 94, we arrived at the campground in Theodore Roosevelt National Park. We were beat, but the RV required our attention, and the rains were quickly approaching. By the time the trailer was set and coffee brewed, the Park Ranger knocked on our door. "You know about the severe weather, right?" she asked whimsically. We looked at each other and then at her with tired eyes and said, "no." Looking around the campsite, I queried... "where's the shelter?" The ranger paused, glanced at the Missouri River, the mountains to the rear, and road to the campsites, and stated... "We don't have one."

No time for small-talk, she walked towards some other campers to share the hollow warning. Unfazed, we finished our coffee, and grabbed the gear. I'm no fan of severe weather, but I love the soft light produced by the sun's rays bouncing throughout an ominous sky. The winds were whipping, and my tripod was whistling a tune as air passed through its legs. I braced rig with the weight of my body and took fewer than ten images that evening. The wind was so intense, it almost toppled my gear. As rain began to pelt my face, I succumbed to fatigue and retreated to the camper. The picture above is a composite of three exposures. The wind-whipped grasses serve as a contrast to the rigid mountains that stand fixed awaiting the impending storm. 
©2000-2011 / Bruce & Tamy Leventhal. All rights reserved. No image on this site may be used without permission.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Road Tripping Through Ecosystems #6

Bull Moose - Grand Teton National Park, WY
Canon 7D + Canon 300 f2.8ISL w/ 1.4x converte

Why don't they call two Meece?
Five days following our travels through Teddy Roosevelt, Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks time has made me reflective. Our journey traversed 2500 miles and 54 hours of Jeep time. We inaugurated a pop-up RV, survived severe straight-line winds and endured searing afternoon temperatures. While I'm sure that time will temper my thoughts, I can comfortably claim that I've never worked so hard to see so little. The landscapes are spectacular, my country has stunning beauty, but the distances between here and there are immense. I won't call it a disappointment, but Yellowstone was not the safari I expected... 

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Road Tripping Through Ecosystems #5

Selva Verde - Caribbean Slope - Costa Rica
Canon 7D + 300 f2.8ISL + 1.4x Converter
The noise, "yo-YIP a-yip a-yip," broke my trance. I was transfixed by the red-eyed tree frog clinging to a vine, when the cry pierced through the air. Ditching the macro gear, I grabbed my tripod, a telephoto, and camera to make a run towards the nest. A pair of chestnut-mandibled toucans were courting. These aggressive nest robbing, lizard eating, fruit licking birds were engaged in a moment of tenderness. An icon of the rainforest and cereal box celebrity, these toucans were among my favorite finds while road-tripping through the tropics. 
©2000-2011 / Bruce & Tamy Leventhal. All rights reserved. No image on this site may be used without permission.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Road Tripping Through Ecosystems #4

Ficus Buttress - Hacienda Baru on the Pacific, Costa Rica
Canon 5D markII + Canon 15mm Fisheye
When we traveled to Costa Rica earlier in the year, we knew that this would be the first of three summer road trips. I've driven throughout the country in the past, and have reflected on the fun and challenge of tropical roads here. Confident from my prior excursion, I decided to rent an AWD vehicle and drive from coast to coast. Many of July's blogs (greetings, venomous tale, megalopygidae, one-eyed monkey, fifteen years later) showcase images from the Caribbean Slope near or at the Selva Verde Lodge. In contrast, today's post is of a Ficus sp. tree (fig) that we found along the Pacific Lowlands. I first photographed this tree in 2009, and planned my return visit before we left the country that year. This is a survivor. It is an ancient fig whose buttress peaks at nearly two meters. The giant with its web-like roots has survived to "see" logging and floods in what is now a secondary forest.

To produce this image, I bracketed my metered exposure by one-stop; taking a total of three pictures. With the Canon 5D markII and 15mm fisheye lens mounted to a Gitzo carbon-fiber tripod, I positioned the legs to shoot vertically at ground level. I worked slowly to frame the image to ensure that the tripod legs would not be visible. While this might sound obvious, it is no easy task when using a lens that has a 180 degree field of view. In post process, I exported the three files into Photomatix Pro to generate an HDR image. This software examines the three exposures and combines them to produce the widest dynamic range possible. The effect allows the picture to exhibit detail in both the highlights and shadows. Finally, I opened the HDR file in Apple's Aperture 3.x and converted the final image to black and white.  
©2000-2011 / Bruce & Tamy Leventhal. All rights reserved. No image on this site may be used without permission.