Kids and the Camera

Photographing kids in many less developed countries is just fun.

Girl in Hammok
A young girl in a hammok on her family’s farm

Young children exhibit a certian innocence. Before the cultural and religious baggage of any society forces conformation. Before the struggles of life have ground away the hopes and dreams. Like so many I find this innocence captivating, a feeling that the world would be a better place if we all were a bit more childish.

Alas, we trudge through a world far darker, all we can do is marvel at those who still possess this childish innocence and maybe capture a fleeting glimpse in a photo to remind us of what could be.

This innocence seems to last longer in developing countries. Less exposure to media? Less access to technology? These things have negative aspects, but it is not all negative. Children just seem to remain children for a little while longer.

Students at the GSM near Masaka, Uganda
Students at the GSM school near Masaka, Uganda

And kids usually love to be photographed, in many places around the world they come running whenever a camera appears. Prepare to take a photo of a couple kids… In the first photo there are two… Take the next photo and there are four kids in the pic… Then six… Then twelve…

What? If this continues the 16th photo will have 65,536 kids… It is wise to stop taking photos before geometric progression leads to a massive overpopulation issue, or implodes the local space time continuum.

Shy
A child shyly posing for the camera in Tierra Amarilla, Nicaragua

Rule… You have to show them the resulting photos. Take a few photos then put the camera into preview mode and turn it about to show then the last photo you just took. Better if it is a phone or tablet with a big screen. The result is smiles and giggles all around.

Kids at Kazinga
Kids come to see what we are doing at the fishing village of Kazinga, Uganda

And then there are the poses. Posing for the camera is apparently required. Various hand signs and tilts of the head. Poses obviously learned from whatever media is available, perhaps music videos, or local satellite TV, many appear to be from anime.

Where did you learn that pose? Nevermind, I do not want to know… Modern media has begun the process of stealing away the innocence.

Mauna Loa Awakens

On the way home in the eve the red glow dominates the horizon. Going to work the next morning it is the plume on the skyline. The eruption is ever present.

The 2022 eruption of Mauna Loa on the second day
The 2022 eruption of Mauna Loa on the second day

When moving to the island fifteen years ago I had looked at the mauna and thought to myself… One day you will erupt, will it be during my time on the island? This though has occured to me many times in the intervening years… When hiking the lava flows in the saddle, when driving up and down Mauna Kea to work looking across at the many flows streaking the flanks of Mauna Loa. How many times have I looked up and wondered when? One day.

That day was Sunday, November 27th, 2022.

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Mauna Loa Awakens

I am not certain what woke me up at one AM, but I was awake. Before going back to sleep I decided to check the satellite photos to see if I might get some telescope time before dawn. But what I found online had me totally awake and grabbing a couple batteries for the camera.

Mauna Loa has awoken.

I was soon driving out from the house to a point above the village with a clear view of the mauna. The whole southern sky an angry red over the village as I drove. I did not have to drive far, just a couple minutes from the house where you can find a clear view. Pulling off I set up the camera and shot.

I was not the only one out, half a dozen cars could be seen stopped along Waikoloa Road to view the eruption. The whole mauna is lit up red and it looks like the west flank is erupting, not just the caldera as Civil Defense currently insists. Just the clouds lit up on that side?

Life is intertesting.

Mauna Loa Eruption from Waikoloa
Mauna Loa Eruption from Waikoloa
Summit Webcam of Mauna Loa Eruption
A summit webcam view of the new Mauna Loa eruption showing an active rift across the caldera floor.

Update: By dawn much of the caldera has flooded with lava. Scale is hard to see in the photos, you have to recall that the caldera is almost two miles across and three miles from end to end.

Mauna Loa Caldera Eruption
The Mauna Loa caldera eruption at dawn Nov 28, 2022

Update 9:11am: The eruption has already migrated to a series of fissures on the northeast flank. The typical Mauna Loa eruption script is a summit caldera eruption followed by a flank eruption a few days, or a few weeks later. We have just seen that happen in a few hours.

I am including a couple photos here taken by a co-worker as she commuted across the saddle this morning at dawn. You can already see the lava flows making their way into the saddle…

Mauna Loa Eruption
Mauna Loa Erption at Dawn, photo by Marcela Balleza
Mauna Loa Eruption
Mauna Loa Eruption at Dawn, photo by Marcela Balleza

The Elephant’s Eye

Two days of safari had resulted in no good images of elephants. There were plenty of elephants around, it is simply that I had experienced no close encounters, those I had seen had remained distant, across the fields or on distant hillsides.

Elephant
An elephant visits the Kazinga Wilderness Safari Camp at Katunguru, Uganda

Well? There was one moment with elephants right on the road in front of us… But photos of an elephant’s bum disappearing into the brush? Not what I was hoping for.

Thus as safari day two ended I returned to the lodge with good lion photos, lots of hippo and antelopes, some nice birds… But no good elephant shots.

As I walked to dinner I noted one of the other guests on the dirt road in front of the lodge. Curious as to what had their attention I wandered out as well camera and telephoto lens in hand. I had taken the telephoto rig to dinner because you just did.

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Finding the Lions

Lions are a big deal around Queen Elizabeth National Park, one of the reliable places to see them. A couple well known prides maintian territories that are quite accessible to the safari tours, making the park a must for the usual package safari tours.

An older male lion (Panthera leo) in Queen Elizabeth National Park, Uganda
An older male lion (Panthera leo)

These typical tours advertise a three or five day tour of Uganda’s wildlife, making a whirlwind tour of western Uganda and the various parks. They may stop at Bwindi NP to view the gorillas, Kibale NP for the chipanzees, and Queen Elizabeth NP for the lions.

Perusing the many online safari advertisements it becomes apparent that top billing in Uganda goes to the gorillas, nearly every tour package highlighting the primates. Gorillas may be the goal of foreign travelers, but for local tourists, most from Uganda or other East African countries, it is the lions they come to see. For those who grew up here it is the lions that hold the fascination and mystique.

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Electrical Hazard

Over the last week at work we have been preparing an unused part of the facility for use. We need a place for an industrial freeze dryer and a walk in cooler. But first we had to clear out a massive pile of junk that had accumulated, and do demolition on a lot of old equipment and piping to remodel the space.

A burned and melted power receptacle
A burned and melted power receptacle

Demolition? Break out the sawzall! We used a big sawzall, a small pile of saw blades, an angle grinder with a diamond cutoff wheel, a bit of muscle and a lot of sweat to get it done. The pile of trash accumulated rapidly along the fence, old lumber, a lot of PVC pipe, and a lot of rust… A big dumpster will appear later.

Rust. This close to the ocean everything is badly corroded, do not even try to release the old bolts, just pop a fresh battery into the angle grinder and let the sparks fly. The 20 amp sawzall does not use batteries, good for the thicker pipes and framed walls, it rips through PVC like butter.

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