31 July 2009

Jagat the photographer, Jamnagar

JagatJagat's a journalist and a fine photographer, with his own commercial studio in Jamnagar. He's also a keen birdwatcher, and at the behest of the Maharajah, arranged a visit to Khijadiya Bird Sanctuary, not far from the outskirts of Jamnagar. Lots else, too; in his generosity and apparent delight in helping and showing us his environment, he was typical of the people we met in and around Jamnagar. Thankyou, Jagat.
All content © 2009 Pete McGregor

30 July 2009

Dancers, near Kruger

DancersAfter dark at the game reserve near Kruger NP, a group of local school kids danced for us as a fund raiser. Some of the US students on the bus needed little cajoling to join in. Not wanting to intrude on the moment with flash (strobe), I dialled the ISO to 3200 and took my chances.

I wish we could all dance together like this.

All content © 2009 Pete McGregor

29 July 2009

Cape buffalo, Kruger NP

BuffaloIn Kruger National Park we saw few buffalo and most were difficult to photograph, being distant and having the low sun behind them. This, I think, is one of the better photos; it conveys something of the feeling of belligerence and curiosity underlying that confrontational look. Check out those flies, too — apparently characteristic of Cape buffalo, I was told later in Zambia.
All content © 2009 Pete McGregor

28 July 2009

White rhino, Kruger NP

RhinoLate in the evening we finally encountered white rhinos. They peered at the truck but their eyesight would not have allowed them to see the numerous eyes, human and glass, gazing back.

All content © 2009 Pete McGregor

27 July 2009

Southern red-billed hornbill, Pilanesberg

Tockus rufirostrisSouthern red-billed hornbill (Tockus rufirostris), Pilanesberg Game Reserve, South Africa.

All content © 2009 Pete McGregor

26 July 2009

Approaching thunderstorm, Nyika Plateau

ThunderstormWatching this storm approach across the Nyika Plateau, I felt grateful I had a rented car for shelter and transport.

All content © 2009 Pete McGregor

24 July 2009

Evening on the Nyika Plateau, Malawi

Nyika PlateauAs the light began to fade, I drove slowly back to camp, hoping I might see a leopard. I had to settle for this and a few other delights.

All content © 2009 Pete McGregor

23 July 2009

Sunrise, Lake Malawi

Lake Malawi

At sunrise, some were already fishing, others were still heading out.

All content © 2009 Pete McGregor

22 July 2009

Roan antelope, Nyika Plateau, Malawi

Roan antelope

The Nyika Plateau in northern Malawi is one of the best places to see roan antelope (Hippotragus equinus). This is pretty much a simple record shot, but it gives an accurate impression of these strange-looking beasts. I saw them often during my brief stay in May 2007, and never failed to enjoy the sight.

All content © 2009 Pete McGregor

21 July 2009

Le Palais Garnier, Paris

Le Palais GarnierThe Palais Garnier, home of the Paris Opera, was built between 1860 and 1875 and even to rough rural kiwis like me it's spectacular. But I think what appeals to me is not merely the sheer opulence, but that it's more than an historical monument — it's a place that still lives vibrantly through the performances that take place there and everything those performances entail.

Something a little different from my usual photo subjects, eh?
[For the technically minded, or just interested: 1/4 s at f6.3]

All content © 2009 Pete McGregor

20 July 2009

Pourangaki catchment, Ruahine range

Rain cloud over the central Ruahine, December 2007. This is where the snowgrass meets the bush; from here it's a steep descent to the delightful Pourangaki hut.
All content © 2009 Pete McGregor

19 July 2009

Steers, No. 2 Line

Winter steersWinter in the Pohangina valley. To maintain stock in good condition through the cold months when pasture has stopped growing, farmers ration the silage and hay and break-feed the fodder crops. It's mid winter now and the paddocks are looking thin; these steers, however, have plenty to keep them going for at least several months more (the ground's so muddy because they've congregated around the silage feeder). It's educated guesswork — no one knows how long the cold weather will last. Guess right and the spring pasture will be ready just as you're feeding out the last of the conserved feed; guess wrong and either you'll waste conserved feed or be forced to sell stock at the wrong time of year. A sequence of wrong guesses and the stress mounts.

This was one of the last photos before the camera failed.
All content © 2009 Pete McGregor

18 July 2009

Langur, Ranthambhore

LangurBy now, if it's survived, yesterday's child will have become something like this [Ranthambhore NP, India, 2007].
All content © 2009 Pete McGregor

17 July 2009

Baby langur, India

Baby langurMonkeys can seem so human; their youngsters even more so. On the other hand, young humans can seem so much like monkeys, especially when they happen to be small boys (I've just returned from an overnight trip in the Ruahine with a friend and his three young boys. Quite an education).

I photographed this baby langur at Ranthambhore National Park in Rajasthan in 2007.

[Note: The camera has been repaired and returned. Normal service will now resume.]

[From a comment by The Watercats: "...I'll never forget visiting a zoo when my kid was about three months old, I had her in a sling thing and gazed into a pit at a female orangutan with a baby, who she was covering with a blanket. She kept glaring up at me and then must have seen the kid, she suddenly turned round and pulled the blanket off her baby to show me, looking me straight in the eye. I showed her my baby in return and she studied her face....I was blown away, to me it was an obvious exchange of knowledge, the wisdom that is motherhood that is shared between our species... I spent the rest of the day in tears and I still cry when I think of it now.. these souls deserve so much better!"]
All content © 2009 Pete McGregor

16 July 2009

Rododendron forest, Tadapani, Nepal

Rhododendron forest

March 2007, at Tadapani on the Annapurna Sanctuary trail, looking down towards the lowlands. Sometimes the view from the Himalaya can be as beautiful as the view towards the Himalaya.

All content © 2009 Pete McGregor

15 July 2009

The view from Poon Hill, Nepal

Poon Hill
All the trekkers do it, but it's worth it. Up before dawn, then the brisk climb to the summit and the waiting in the bitter cold for the sunrise. The distinctive mountain on the right is Machapuchare (many variations of the spelling exist).
All content © 2009 Pete McGregor

14 July 2009

Elmina — the town

ElminaA photo from within the castle. A record shot, but from what I saw during my three and a half weeks there, this is how many (not all but perhaps most) of the people live.
All content © 2009 Pete McGregor

13 July 2009

Elmina castle, Ghana

Plaque & guideElmina castle in Ghana has an horrific history, similar to the nearby Cape Coast castle which Barack Obama and his family visited recently. His speech is brief, but makes points we all would do well to reflect on and remember.
All content © 2009 Pete McGregor

12 July 2009

Buffalo at Urgam, Indian Himalaya

BuffaloDomesticated buffalo are supposedly placid, but this one at Urgam, high in the Indian Himalaya, had a mean look. I kept my distance. In the background [L to R], one of the men who accompanied us on our visit to Engineer Baba, with Dr M and Mr S talking to one of the villagers. Mr S founded the school at Urgam and used to teach there, which was clearly one of the major reasons we were welcomed so warmly.
All content © 2009 Pete McGregor

11 July 2009

Conifer cone, Tapovan, Indian Himalaya

ConeNot sure what kind of conifer this is, but it was abundant on the mountainsides above Tapovan (beyond Joshimath), where it formed an open, mixed forest with rhododendrons.

All content © 2009 Pete McGregor

10 July 2009

Common (Indian) myna

The common or Indian myna, Acridotheres tristis, is native to Asia, including India. I photographed this individual at Kausani in the Indian Himalaya, and felt a curious twinge of recognition or familiarity, as this species was introduced to Aotearoa/New Zealand and is common in the northern half of the North Island. Regarded by the IUCN as one of the world's worst invasive species, it fortunately hasn't spread further south in New Zealand. As far as I'm aware, the reasons for this clear southern limit to its distribution aren't well understood. If anyone has good information on this, please let me know; otherwise, research on this might prove valuable in the eventual management of common mynas in countries where it's a serious threat to native species.

All content © 2009 Pete McGregor

09 July 2009

Rhesus macaque at Kausani

Rhesus macaqueThey seem so human, much of the time. After arriving at Kausani in the Indian Himalaya in late November 2006, I went for a wander. These rhesus macaques were abundant, and I hesitate to mention some of their other behaviours. Apparently once such incident inspired Paul McCartney to write Why Don't We Do It In the Road.
All content © 2009 Pete McGregor

08 July 2009

The Happy Hindu at Badrinath

The Happy HinduOn the day Badrinath, high in the Indian Himalaya, closed for winter, this man seemed to delight everyone, running around placing tikkas/tilakas on foreheads and marking swastikas* on anything that moved, including jeeps and buses, and on many things that didn't. He seems relatively subdued in this photo, with just a hint of his infectious good humour showing; nevertheless, I remember vividly his energy and laughter.

*The swastika is an ancient symbol that remains ubiquitous throughout the Indian subcontinent. Sadly, its appropriation in simplified form by the Nazis and, subsequently, by neo-Nazi groups has tainted its connotations throughout much of the rest of the world. A lack of understanding of the swastika's history and significance has sometimes caused unnecessary distress and ill-feeling. Perhaps this is yet another argument for the value of travelling for fostering not mere tolerance, but appreciation and respect.
All content © 2009 Pete McGregor

07 July 2009

Badrinath pilgrim

PilgrimWe were among the last to leave Badrinath after the day's ceremonies. I waited with him and several others, hoping to find a place in a jeep back to Joshimath after all the buses had left. I ended up enduring a ride of several hours crushed into the back of a jeep with a collection of other travellers and enormous, blackened cooking pots. I couldn't sit, couldn't stand, couldn't even kneel properly, but somehow survived by crouching in a corner and attempting to let my thoughts drift elsewhere. It must have worked. But meeting people like this was ample recompense for the hardship.
The following day, Badrinath would have been deserted; everyone gone for the winter, the god from the temple transferred to Joshimath. Just the choughs — those beautiful alpine crows — and a few other birds, the wind and the silence left.
All content © 2009 Pete McGregor

06 July 2009

At the camel festival

Rajasthani womanThis woman was also one of the family of entertainers at the camel festival near Bikaner.
All content © 2009 Pete McGregor

05 July 2009

Dancer at the camel festival

DancerOne of the family of entertainers who performed at the camel festival near Bikaner in January 2007.

[Note: My camera has died; the LCD, menu, and most other functions including autofocus, no longer function. I'll take it in on Monday to see if it can be resurrected, but the process, if economically feasible, might take some time. I'm effectively camera-less, so, for a while you'll be viewing only older photos. Should be plenty there to enjoy, I trust. Wish me luck.]
All content © 2009 Pete McGregor

03 July 2009


PiwakawakaA snapshot from the verandah yesterday. I've added a little fake film grain to sharpen it a bit; otherwise it's pretty much as is apart from a small crop and a contrast tweak. It seems to reflect the character of these mites.
All content © 2009 Pete McGregor

02 July 2009

Clipped camel, Rajasthan

Clipped camelThis is the rump of a camel. Some of the clipping — presumably done specially for this festival near Bikaner in January 2007 — had to be considered sheer art. Not sure if that's the camel's owner in the background, but he looks mighty pleased.
All content © 2009 Pete McGregor

01 July 2009

At the camel fair near Bikaner

At the camel fairI photographed this young man as he played a large drum during a performance at the camel festival near Bikaner, January 2007.
All content © 2009 Pete McGregor