Untamed Images Blog

    Adventures in Nature Photography

    Dead Horse Point State Park has a couple of things working against it. First, the name. Who wants to go to a park full of dead horses? According to legend, the naming of the place is derived from incidents involving actual dead horses, so if you were thinking maybe they named it after some equine-shaped rock formation, you can let go of those happy thoughts! Read about it here in the park brochure. Maybe Utah State Parks ought to engage a public relations firm to consider a rebranding. Second, Dead Horse Point State Park is frequently overshadowed by its two National Park big brothers in the Moab, Utah vicinity: Arches and Canyonlands.

    If ever you are in the area, do not let these facts prevent you from seeing Dead Horse Point. Alison and I were there last October and were so glad that we took the time to visit. The panoramic image featured in this post was captured at dawn from the Dead Horse Point Overlook, a spot perched on the rim of a vast canyon carved by the twisting Colorado River 2000 feet below, with views of the sheer rugged cliffs of Canyonlands National Park in the distance.

    Read the entire post…

    A female cheetah poses cooperatively during a rain shower in Kenya's Olare Orok Conservancy located just outside the Maasai Mara.

    Canon EOS-1D Mark IV, EF500mm f/4L IS USM at 500 mm, 1/500 sec at f/4, ISO 1600

    Admittedly, it has taken me far too long, but I have finally posted an image gallery from a trip to Southern Kenya that Alison and I took several years ago. The game viewing we experienced on this trip was nothing short of spectacular. We saw multiple river crossings by massive herds of wildebeest and zebra, predation by crocodiles, lions mating, lions with cubs, countless cheetahs with cubs, and brilliant sunsets, to name just a few of the highlights.

    I hope you enjoy viewing the pictures. Please click here to see the gallery. As always, I welcome your questions and comments.

    The jagged, rocky ridge known as "The Dyke", located in northwest Montrose County Colorado, is flanked by one of the world's largest aspen groves. In late September, 2016, the changing aspens created an explosion of color.

    Canon EOS 5D Mark III, EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM at 90 mm, 1/60 sec at f/11, ISO 100

    After talking about it for many years, Alison and I finally visited Colorado this autumn to see the aspens show off their fall foliage. We have made many trips to California’s Eastern Sierra in the fall, and while there are some beautiful aspens to be found there, nothing quite prepared us for the glory of Colorado at its colorful peak. We spent the better part of two weeks in Southwest Colorado searching for beautiful vistas and trying be in the right places when the trees were at their best.

    We had tried to visit the spot where this picture was taken a week earlier but were deterred by an early-season snowstorm that made the road unsafe to drive. Luckily, the weather and the intervening week provided the perfect conditions for the trees to reach their peak. A few late-to-turn green aspens and some uncommon orange-red aspens added depth and structure to the blazing yellow hillside and had us standing in awe at this beautiful sight.

    Don’t forget to click on the image above to view a larger (and higher-resolution) version of the photo.

    Monkey Business


    A very young grey langur (a type of Old World Monkey) pauses momentarily on a rock wall in Bandhavgarh National Park in India.

    Canon EOS 5D Mark III, EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM at 200 mm, 1/1250 sec at f/4, ISO 800

    When we had no luck with tigers, there were usually monkeys or other animals around to keep us engaged. This little guy was quite playful, bounding back and forth along the top of a rock wall near the roadside. At times he would stop and stare directly into my lens, allowing me to capture images of his expressive countenance. This youngster demonstrated an obvious sense of curiosity as well as a high degree of comfort around people in their vehicles, but he never strayed too far from the safety of his mother’s protection — just in case!

    Sloth Bear!


    A rarely-sighted sloth bear ((Melursus ursinus) rears up on its hind legs as a vehicle loaded with tourists looks on. Bandhavgarh National Park, India.

    Canon EOS-1D Mark IV, EF200-400mm f/4L IS USM at 217 mm, 1/160 sec at f/4, ISO 1600

    On our first Indian game drive (they call each game drive a “safari” in India), Alison and I were really anxious to see a tiger – any tiger. Two hours into the drive we had detected no sign of a tiger — no footprints seen, and no monkey or deer alarm calls heard. Even though it was very, very early in the trip, I was beginning to contemplate just how unlikely seeing a tiger might be. After all, we were mostly in dense jungle, confined to the jeep road, and tigers tend to be most active at night. Could we have traveled halfway around the globe on an exercise in futility?

    All of a sudden, Vijay, our naturalist and driver, announced, “Sloth bear!” I must confess: up to that point, I had only a vague notion of what a sloth bear looked like. In a strange coincidence, Vijay, who has seen countless tigers in his lengthy career, had told us story the previous evening about one of his favorite sightings. It involved a sloth bear, not a tiger. He described a sloth bear encounter in which the bear was very cooperative, even getting on its hind legs to rub its back on a tree situated right on the edge of the road. It made such a lasting impression on him that he had memorized the tree in question and has been referring to it as “the bear tree” ever since. His story was captivating, but the way he recounted it made me think that our chances of having a similar sighting were about as good as encountering a unicorn.

    In Bandhavgarh National Park, India, a sloth bear (Melursus ursinus) moves through a bamboo forest.

    Canon EOS-1D Mark IV, EF200-400mm f/4L IS USM at 400 mm, 1/320 sec at f/4, ISO 1600

    Yet, here we were: the lone vehicle in close proximity to this shaggy, black, dust-mop of an animal as it shuffled through the dry forest. Its path roughly paralleled the road, where we were able to follow it, allowing our encounter to stretch beyond thirty minutes. At some point, a couple of other vehicles joined us, but our viewing opportunities were not diminished. Twice the bear reared up on his hind legs and rubbed himself on a tree in full view of our vehicle. Was it scratching an itch? Scent-marking? Striking a pose of intimidation? It is impossible to know for sure, but at certain moments each of those explanations seemed the most apt.

    Amazingly, with this sloth bear encounter, we had seen our unicorn, or lightning had struck twice, or [insert favorite rarity cliche here] had occurred. How greedy will you think me when I admit the following: While I felt extremely fortunate to have had this wildlife encounter, there was still a voice in my head intoning, “Where are the tigers?”

    A sloth bear (Melursus ursinus) sniffs a tree trunk in Bandhavgarh National Park, India.

    Canon EOS-1D Mark IV, EF200-400mm f/4L IS USM at 200 mm, 1/160 sec at f/4, ISO 1600

    Link 7


    A young male tiger calmly stares at the camera in Kanha National Park, India.

    Canon EOS-1D Mark IV, EF600mm f/4L IS II USM +2.0x at 1200 mm, 1/100 sec at f/10, ISO 400

    We found this tiger on the far side of a large water hole on our second day in Kanha National Park. Our naturalist and jeep driver, Vinod Ayam, immediately recognized the cat as Link 7, a young male who had recently been spending time in the vicinity while trying to avoid several mature (and dominant) male tigers. Link 7 was named after a road in the park that was at the epicenter of his mother’s territory when he was born.

    After a few minutes Link 7 walked slowly to the water’s edge, waded into the water, plopped down to cool himself, and began drinking while continuing his soak. After he’d drunk his fill, he got up and briefly patrolled the earthen bank between the water hole and road before lying down on the bank right in front of us. Everything he did was in slow motion. No wonder — even though it was still morning, the temperature was climbing rapidly towards the day’s high of 110°F (43°C), making it one of Kanha’s hottest days of the year.

    He was completely at ease in our presence, despite the fact that half-a-dozen jeeps were being repositioned just yards away from him in order to give their occupants a better viewing angle. Our jeep was positioned perfectly, and I relished the opportunity to capture a frame-filling portrait of this tiger’s striking face. We spent nearly an hour with Link 7 before his siesta was rudely interrupted by the approach of one of the aforementioned dominant males. When Link 7 became aware that Rajaram, was nearing the water hole, he ran off in the opposite direction in a hurry, leaving all notions of slow-motion movement (literally) in the dust!

    A tigress on her way to water stops and stares in central India's Bandhavgarh National Park.

    Canon EOS-1D Mark IV, EF600mm f/4L IS II USM at 600 mm, 1/500 sec at f/4, ISO 800

    Alison and I returned home last week from a trip to two of India’s best National Parks for tiger sightings. Before leaving, we weren’t even sure that we’d be lucky enough to see a single tiger, given the fact that tigers spend a large fraction of their time in dense jungle and tend to be more active at night than during the day. But the prospect of seeing this magnificent animal in its natural habitat had us willing to roll the dice. As it turns out, we were quite fortunate. We saw fifteen different tigers including a mother with four older cubs still under her care.

    We increased our chances for tiger sightings by planning our trip for late May and early June. These are historically the hottest days of the year in central India, but also the timeframe when tiger sightings are most common. We endured some searingly hot days in an open jeep, were constantly covered in a layer of fine dust, and were even soaked by several pre-monsoonal thunderstorms. However, any of those discomforts were quickly forgotten when a tiger came into view.

    We both thought this might be our one and only trip to India, but it was so rewarding that future trips to see more tigers, not to mention the other Indian wildlife, have become a real possibility.

    Spring Has Sprung


    The rolling, oak-covered hills of the Diablo Range form a scenic backdrop for the burst of color provided by California poppies in bloom.

    Canon EOS 5D Mark III, EF24-70mm f/2.8L USM at 24 mm, 1/40 sec at f/14, ISO 200


    Actually, spring got an early start in our area as these photos can attest. In early March I had come across some online reports of promising wildflower sightings in Pacheco State Park, so Alison and I decided to take a quick day trip to see for ourselves. We were not disappointed.

    A reminder: you can click any image to see a larger (higher-res) version.


    California poppies decorate a hillside below a lone oak tree at Pacheco State Park.

    Canon EOS 5D Mark III, EF24-70mm f/2.8L USM at 25 mm, 1/50 sec at f/14, ISO 200


    We wound up hiking farther than we had intended, and I tired myself out carrying my camera backpack for the first time in a while, but after seeing the landscape awash in the brilliant hues of spring flowers, we both agreed that it was well worth it.


    Multiple wildflower species were blooming in early March, 2016 at Pacheco State Park.

    Canon EOS 5D Mark III, EF24-70mm f/2.8L USM at 34 mm, 1/100 sec at f/11, ISO 200



    Wind turbines and spring wildflowers create an interesting juxtaposition between nature's beauty and man's imprint on the landscape.

    Canon EOS 5D Mark III, EF24-70mm f/2.8L USM at 45 mm, 1/40 sec at f/14, ISO 200

    A silverback mountain gorilla caught in a pensive moment in Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda.

    Canon EOS-1D Mark IV, EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM +1.4x at 200 mm, 1/320 sec at f/5.6, ISO 800

    Today, March 3, 2016, is World Wildlife Day. I am taking a moment to remember one of my favorite wildlife encounters: gorilla trekking in Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park. Being close to the gorillas and watching them in their natural environment was absolutely magical.

    Superb Slug


    A Chromodoris hintuanensis nudibranch, a type of sea slug, traverses the dark sands just offshore in Tulamben, Bali, Indonesia.

    Canon EOS 5D Mark III, EF100mm f/2.8 Macro USM at 100 mm, 1/200 sec at f/16, ISO 100

    Here is one of my favorite nudibranch pictures from my trip to Indonesia last autumn. Before I started scuba diving I had no idea that slugs (of all things) could be the wellspring of so much beauty.

    Nudibranch species are so numerous that English-language common names are eschewed to prevent confusion. Thus, for sea slugs Latin names (or binomial names) are relied upon exclusively. The species shown here is Chromodoris hintuanensis, which for me is both a challenge to remember, and to pronounce!