Thanks for stopping by The Adventurer’s Grotto Blog, this is where I update most often and where you can read about my adventures in the field, get the latest updates for the alligator documentary “Birth of a Predator” and get to know a little about me too. This page is the heart of the website but there is plenty to see and do while you’re here. Best place to start is my bio and home pages and then from there it’s up to you! Comments and suggestions are always welcome so feel free to drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. Enjoy your stay here but watch out for the occasional gator crossing…
November 30, 2013
Okay guys, I’m back! Had a few busy weeks and had to take care of some things so apologize for the lack of updates. While I can’t promise there won’t be a hiatus every now and then I can promise I’ll let you know when it will happen from here on out. The holidays are a busy time and these last few weeks have been crazy! So without further ado let’s get started…
First off I have some very exciting news to share. Wildlife Photographic magazine is featuring my work in the November issue which is available in the app store here. You can can get a one month free subscription to view the current issue and check out some of my gator shots as well as an article I wrote on my adventures photographing alligators. Way cool to be featured and it’s nice to know I’m on the right path.
While you’re browsing in the App Store check out my friend Bill Gozansky’s Field Guide now available on the app store. I may just purchase a copy this weekend as I Bill is a friend of mine and I value his tips and insight on various photography techniques and equipment. Somebody owes me a lunch if I do. Seriously though it’s a great app and one of the features that I really like is that you don’t need to be connected to the internet to use it if you’re out in the field making it a true field guide and very handy to have on your iPad.
Although I didn’t get a chance to film or photograph any gator nests hatching this year there have been several opportunities to photograph some hatchlings. The photo above is now one of my all time favorites and I didn’t even know I had the wasp in the frame until I saw it on the computer. There was a nest of wasps around the little guy/gal and it was constantly trying to catch one so I snapped a few frames hoping for the best and I got it!
I’d like to take a quick moment and mention a fundraising piece I’m donating. The photograph above is called ‘Rue’s Rainbow’ and is available in my gallery at Fine Art America. This is a fundraiser and 100% of all profits go to Dachshund Rescue South Florida. This is an organization close to my heart as my three doxies were adopted from DRSF and are all rescues. ‘Rue’s Rainbow’ is available in several sizes as a print, framed print, canvas wrap, metal print, or as greeting cards.
Experimenting with different types of photography brought me back to the Hillsboro Lighthouse for another full moon rising above the ocean. This time I decided to trek up the beach and get closer to the lighthouse to see and photograph it from a different perspective. One of these days I’ll take the tour they offer one Saturday each month.
I also had the opportunity to photograph my friends Brian and Diana at sunrise on the beach a few weeks back. Diana is a dancer and is one of the nicest people I know. While I’m still getting my feet wet with lifestyle and “people” photography, I’m enjoying learning new techniques. Every time you step out of your comfort zone is another opportunity to learn. Knowledge is power and I try to learn and do new things as often as I can.
Birth of a Predator continues chugging along as I’m now in the long process of cataloging and organizing two years worth of video. Lesson learned…next time I do it as I go along! I’ll be filming in North Florida and maybe Louisiana in the coming weeks and then a couple of time lapse shots and I’m done. Then it’s off to the editor in the U.K. and hopefully the film will be ready next fall. An Indiegogo fundraising page is coming soon and I’ll keep you posted on that. Visit the Birth of a Predator page here and make sure you share share share! If you haven’t already check out the video clips on the page for a sneak peek at the film.
That’s about all for now, I hope you all are enjoying your holiday weekend and I’ll be back next Friday with a brand new blog. Wednesday’s travel blog will return after the first of the year with lots of great travel ideas and amazing destinations!
The Bucket List Travel Blog – October 8, 2013
- when traveling with a companion, pack some of each others items in opposite luggage; that way if one gets lost, you have a back up
- if traveling internationally, enroll with the state department your destination and timeframe; http://travel.state.gov; this way they can contact you if emergency situations arise while in that location
- leave a copy of the itinerary and passport with friends and/or family back home; any travel documents that could get lost should be copied and left at home and also carry extra copy with you in your purse or luggage
- when exchanging cash, use the ATM; leave the travelers cheques at home(pay to buy/pay to use); you get the best exchange rate through the banks ATM and the fees are nominal
- leave the real jewelry at home; if you must wear it, bring the fake stuff
- check with your cell phone carrier about roaming, text and calls from the country being travelled to; there are many apps that use WIFI to make free calls back to the US; i.e. Magic Jack, Viber
- pack a small first aid kit with you that includes band aids, ibuprofen, decongestant, tummy help and hydrocortisone just to name a few
- if in a dicey area, where a money belt, time your site visits to avoid crowds and lines and never leave your drinks unattended
- tip hotel housekeeping staff every day; about $2.00 USD per day
- learn a couple of phrases in the local language; thank you, please, I’m sorry, where is…, how much…
- call credit card company before traveling to alert them to your travel and that the card will be used while away; keep international number available
- check on overseas medical coverage
- check weather
- download helpful travel apps; i.e. Packing Pro, Trip It, Weather Channel, Tip Calculator, Currency, Translator
The Bucket List Travel Blog – October 1, 2013
Photo credit: www.rollins.edu
Photo Credit: costaricapages.com
Photo credit: www.wunderground.com
Photo Credit: under30ceo.com
The Bucket List Travel Blog, September 17, 2013
Let’s Discover the Amazon River!
Image from http://www.iahrmedialibrary.net
Image from http://tuckergirl2013-biome.blogspot.com
Image from stuffpoint.com
September 13, 2013
This week I finally got a chance to get back to my favorite type of photography….wildlife! Heading out in the early morning reminded me of what I love about nature photography. There’s an excitement and thrill about nature and wildlife photography that’s hard to explain. You never know what you’re going to see and then when you do….it can happen in a split second and then the adrenaline flows and you hope to capture “the shot”. Whether it’s an Osprey diving into the water for a fish or an alligator lunging for prey, wildlife and nature photography (for me at least) is the most exciting. While I was out the big gator “George” out in the Everglades happily posed for some photos and while I do see and photograph him all the time opportunities to photograph him up close happen few and far between. Even though I have several photos of him every picture is different and tells a different story. Check out his “photoshoot” below:
The George the Alligator 2013 Photoshoot
Spent the weekend in Orlando so I missed posting Friday’s blog but I did get some nice shots of the Orlando skyline. I love Orlando and it’s nightlife and arts scene. When I took the photograph below it was after midnight but there was still plenty of activity and music happening. Love it! I’ve lived there twice and would definitely live there again. Downtown Orlando also includes the historic Church Street along with plenty of bars, clubs, restaurants, and taverns. Not to mention plenty of live music both indoor and outdoor.
I’d like to take this opportunity to introduce a brand new guest blogger for the bucket list travel blog which will now be on Tuesdays. Her name is Candace Andreozzi and in addition to being a travel specialist she is also a friend of mine and will be helping me out from time to time and the best part is…she can help you get to the destinations I write about.
“Looking for the trip of a lifetime?? Are you the adventure traveler; like to climb those distant mountains, swim with Beluga Whales or take a photo safari down the Amazon or across the plains of Africa? Or would you like to kickback and visit the sands of Tahiti, Easter island or Australia and sip cocktails while indulging in a relaxing massage? Maybe cruising is your thing. If it’s on your “bucket list”, it’s on mine and I can help you achieve your travel dreams. I sell the world!!”
You can contact Candace with any questions at email@example.com.
Downtown Orlando Panorama
So there you have it folks! Hope you all have a great weekend and check back here on Tuesday for the next blog! BTW if you like my work, prints are available in the Gallery Store and a portion of each purchase is donated to helping causes that actively help wildlife. Also “Alaskan Killer Shark” is still playing in the screening room so if you have a few minutes stop by and check it out. See you soon,
-Mark Andrew Thomas
August 30, 2013
It may not be the official end of summer but for many people Labor Day weekend is summer’s last hurrah. Looking out my window I can see blue skies and sun and if it stays this way I’ll try to get out and photograph some wildlife this weekend! Hard to believe that the holiday season is just around the corner…
One of the things I always forget to mention here is that if you like this blog PLEASE share…whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, or any other social media platform. Of course I would love it if anybody wants to purchase a print but my main focus over the next year will be the “Birth of a Predator” documentary film and I need to start generating some buzz for this film.
You can turn off the site music using the music player on the sidebar.
If you’re not familiar with it then head on over to the official page for a complete rundown on the movie. I’ll have a dedicated site within the next few months. This is a project over two years in the making and I’m really looking forward to getting it out to film festivals, distributors, and nature centers.
Short blog today! Enjoy your weekend and have a safe holiday If I get out this weekend I may be posting some minor updates here and there before next Friday’s blog.
August 23, 2013
This week I was up near downtown West Palm Beach and decided to photograph a few locations including the city skyline and the photo which appears above. Once I found a good location and had a good view of the city I set up my tripod and took several exposures as the sky grew darker. The resulting photograph which you can see below is about six exposures combined into one image. A touch of HDR toning was added to bring out a little more detail and color.
My first love will always be wildlife photography though and that includes my film! If you haven’t yet been, visit the “Birth of a Predator” page here on this site to find out more about it. Filming resumes this fall when I get up to North Florida and Louisiana…a few more scenes to film and then we should wrap up by early October. REALLY excited to get this film out there!
A new film is now playing in the screening room “Alaskan Killer Shark” from NatGeo will be playing all month long so head on over and check it out if you have a few minutes to spare. It’s been a busy week so I’m heading off to the couch to watch a movie. Catch up with you next week!
-August 16, 2013 – The Sky Is Falling
The highlight of my week this week was the Perseid meteor shower which took place in the wee hours of Monday and Tuesday of this week. I did manage to get a few meteors as they streaked across the sky but I was a little disappointed as well. Of course these things never live up to the hype with their promises of 50-100 meteors per hour but it was still pretty cool nonetheless. I set up my camera on a tripod early Tuesday morning and was out from about 2:00 a.m. to around 5:00 a.m. and I have the mosquito bites to show for it. Not to mention some other mysterious creatures that bit the shit out of me. I have bites all over but thankfully the itching has stopped. Next time I think I’ll travel to Northern Florida where there is much less light pollution…even out at Loxahatchee there were lights to the North which interfered with the visibility which is why the clouds are so bright near the horizon. The photo above was heavily processed to bring out the stars and meteors, not something I like to do very often but in this case it was warranted and serves the photo.
Although the meteor shower was cool, what was really fun was realizing that I had enough exposures to create a star trail photograph which you can see above. I’ve never tried this technique before and I’m pretty happy with the result. It’s not perfect but hey…not bad for a first effort! I’m really looking forward to trying this again and perfecting it. I think I’ll wait for cooler weather and less mosquitos though There’s also a few meteor showers coming up although none are supposed to be as impressive as the Perseids were. I’ll still plan on being out for those if weather allows.
Some of you may be wondering where Wednesday’s travel blog went to. I haven’t forgotten about it and in fact I have an article already written and ready for this upcoming Wednesday. I have a friend of mine in the travel industry and will be coordinating with her on some interesting destinations and bucket list travel ideas. At the end of each blog I’ll be providing you with contact information and other resources which I feel will be better than just providing a general website about the destination. Much better to direct you to someone who can actually help you get there! Have a great weekend and I’ll see you on Wednesday for the relaunch of The Bucket List Travel Blog. See you soon…
August 10, 2013 – Burrowing Owls & Light Painting
Most of you who read this blog know that I love experimenting with different kinds of photography techniques. My first love will always be wildlife and nature photography but at the same time I don’t want to pigeon hole myself into one kind of photography. Painting with light is something I’ve been fascinated with for some time but haven’t had the chance to get out and actually do it. The other night I was out in the backyard with my dogs when I almost walked head on into a huge spider web with an equally huge spider sitting in the center. I always use a flashlight in the yard as it’s rainy season and poison frogs are a very real threat to small animals. My dachshunds are too curious for their own good so I prefer to err on the side of caution. Anyway, with flashlight in hand I surveyed the web and noticed the different textures and shadows as I moved the light around highlighting different sections of the web.
The next day I went out and the web and spider were gone. Later on that evening though, I noticed she was busy constructing her web again so that night I went out with a tripod and a tiny maglite. I took about thirty 6 second exposures, each time brushing the light back and forth over a different section of the web. When I was done I recombined the images in photoshop and layer by layer the picture began to come to life. This could have been done with a single, longer exposure but the results wouldn’t have been the same. Combining several exposures brings out shadows and details that would have been lost on one or two exposures.
I’ve been wanting to get down to Brian Piccolo Park for awhile now as they are home to a large population of burrowing owls. Seriously, they are everywhere and don’t seem to fazed by people playing softball or landscapers mowing the grass. Each nest is surrounded by tape and wrapped around posts sticking out of the ground which makes it easy to find them. Move too fast though and they’ll disappear back into their hole. Really glad I got the chance to see them and planning on another visit when the lighting is a little better.
If you’re new to my site be sure to check out the gallery page, store, and the screening room where a new film premieres every month. Worth a look if you have a few minutes to spare. I’ve tried to design this site so that there is plenty to see and do. Also check out the Birth of a Predator page for updates on my documentary film and all the latest. That’s it for now…have a great and safe weekend and I’ll catch up with you next week!
Blog Entry July 26, 2013
Welcome to the weekend once again! This past weekend I went out to the Hillsboro Inlet Lighthouse to take some pictures of the full moon. Before I talk about that I wanted to point out a really cool app for anybody who likes landscape photography. if you’re a serious photographer you’ve probably already heard about it. It’s called the Photographer’s Ephemeris and it’s available in the app store for your iPhone or iPad. I only recently heard about it and it’s something I’ve been looking to find for awhile now.
The Photographer’s Ephemeris will tell you where the sun or moon will be in relation to where you will be shooting. As an example I went to the Hillsboro Lighthouse a few months ago with the same intention…to capture the full moon as it rose over the lighthouse as I had seen in many photos from my local photographer friends. When the full moon appeared over the horizon it was beautiful but there was only one problem…it was rising way off to the left nowhere even close to the lighthouse and I ended up having to photoshop the moon in. Not that there’s anything wrong with that and photographers and artists do it all the time. I firmly believe photography is an art form and there is nothing wrong with adding elements via photoshop to bring a vision to life but it wasn’t what I going for in this particular instance. I wanted it “live” so to speak.
My photoshopped and HDR effect moon
I knew the photos I had seen online weren’t photoshopped because a couple of them came from a friend of mine who has a point and shoot and edits with iPhoto which doesn’t have that capability. Gosh, why are we even friends??? Anyway, that’s where the Photographer’s Ephemeris comes in, it will tell you exactly where in the sky to expect to see the sun and moon at any given time of the day based on the location you choose. Check out the screenshot below of the Hillsboro Lighthouse using the app, the path of the moon is light blue turning to orange and and the sun is yellow to dark blue.
Pretty cool, eh? Thanks to Michael J. Cohen (www.mykey.smugmug.com) for the heads up on this very useful app. I came late to the party but better late than never! The weather is looking better so I may head out this weekend for some wildlife photography and maybe some video. If you haven’t yet check out the screening room where “Sedona: The Spirit of Wonder” will be playing all month and if you’re new here feel free to check out my bio and the rest of the site. Have a great weekend and I’ll catch up with you next week!
A full moon on Ft. Lauderdale Beach from earlier this year:
Blog Entry July 19, 2013
“The Road Less Traveled”
Continuing with the “right in your own backyard” theme I started with last Friday’s blog, this past weekend featured a visit to Bonnet House in Ft. Lauderdale. Located right across from Birch State Park and across the street from the ocean, Bonnet House is a landmark historical home with a rich history.
Bonnet House’s history began in 1919 when Hugh Taylor Birch gave the land to his daughter as a wedding gift when she married Chicago artist Frederic Clay Bartlett in 1919. Bonnet House was constructed as a winter retreat where Frederic worked on his art and Helen composed music and poetry.
When Helen died in 1925 Frederic didn’t visit much until he married Evelyn Fortune Lilly and then Bonnet House was active again. Frederic died in 1953 but Evelyn continued to visit until two years before her death at age 109. In 1983 she deeded the house to the Florida Trust for Historic Preservation to ensure it would be preserved for future generations. Bonnet House would close to the public during the winter while Evelyn stayed there and would reopen during season after she left.
If you live near Ft. Lauderdale or are planning a visit you should check it out….it may not be Disney World or Vizcaya, but it’s a hidden gem in the middle of Ft. Lauderdale and it’s grounds (and the house itself) are beautiful.
You can visit the official website for more info here.
Not many opportunities for photography this week as the weather for lack of a better word….sucks. Rain, rain, and more rain has been drenching us here in South Florida with even more in the forecast for this weekend. I’ve been wanting to try some night photography but guess I’ll have to wait. I’m already looking forward to the winter months when the cold fronts move in and the skies clear. Hopefully things will clear a little for the weekend and if it does I’ll be out there!
Check out the Screening Room if you have time where “Sedona: The Spirit of Wonder” is playing this month…I sometimes like to think of this site as a “visitors center” of sorts with a lot of things to do and the screening room has been a popular feature. Anyway, have a great weekend and see you next week!
Blog Entry|July 12, 2013
Finding new places to photograph is always a challenge especially when commitments (and finances) prevent extensive travel. Sometimes I look at other people’s photos from exotic and distant places and wonder if I’ll ever get out of South Florida. I know I will eventually but in the meantime I’ve learned that no matter where you are there are plenty of opportunities to capture some great shots. Take the above photo for example. It was taken at Blowing Rocks Preserve in Jupiter, FL which is about an hour from where I live. One of the things I love about Blowing Rocks is that it doesn’t look like Florida…that sunrise photo could have been taken anywhere on the east coast and there’s nothing that screams “Florida”. Same with the picture below.
Not that Florida isn’t a beautiful place but when all of your photos come from the same place it’s nice to have variety of shots. And that’s the key…no matter where you live try and find something unique about where YOU live, even if you’re bored with the same scenery. Trust me, there’s somebody living somewhere that wishes they could see what’s right outside your door!
Speaking of travel I’ll be heading to North Florida later this summer to wrap filming for Birth of a Predator. No visible alligator nests this year so the Everglades and wetlands portion of filming is now complete. I’ll be filming along the Silver River in Ocala and possibly traveling to Louisiana for some additional shots before I finally wrap the film at the end of summer. Really looking forward to getting this film out there!!
“Sedona: The Spirit of Wonder”, originally an IMAX Movie is now playing in the Screening Room so head on over and check it out. New artwork has been added to the store also. I’ve also been working on the Gator Creek Films website which should be live in a few days and I’ll let you know here when it’s up and running. Have a great weekend and I’ll see you all soon!
Blog Entry|July 2, 2013
Hey everyone! I know it’s been awhile…I’ve been busy setting up the new website for Gator Creek Films which is taking a little longer than anticipated. I’m also streamlining this site and taking the video side of my business to it’s own website which will make navigating this site a little easier. I’ll be back tomorrow with a new travel blog and some interesting gator nest news. BTW the above photo was taken at Wakodahatchee Wetlands of one of the many large iguanas that hang out there.
Blog Entry May 31, 2013
Going away this weekend so gotta keep it short, but some really awesome news. My footage of George the Alligator’s sneak attack on another gator is being featured on the nationally syndicated newsmagazine show “Right This Minute” all weekend long! Pretty cool, eh? If you’re in the South Florida area it will air this Saturday night at 11:30 p.m. on WPLG Channel 10. Follow the link below to watch it online:
Blog Entry|May 27, 2013
I observed quite a bit of activity at Loxahatchee this weekend and the above photo was taken there this past weekend. It’s ironic that when I’m set up for video I see a lot of action and things that would make awesome shots and when I’m in photo mode I see things that would make great video. It’s a tough choice sometimes but when I’m there to film I have to stick to my plan. Although I will sometimes grab the camera if there’s enough time and fire off a few exposures.
I can’t complain about it though because I did film some amazing behavior of George performing his signature sneak attack scare tactic on another alligator on Saturday. When another alligator gets to close he submerges and basically scares the living crap out of the unsuspecting gator by emerging right next to the other gator. Now George could have easily taken out the other alligator in this video but he didn’t, he just wants to show he’s the boss which he did quite effectively. Check out the video below and I’ll see you back here Wednesday for the travel blog. I promise this time! For real.
If you watch until the end you can see it unfold in slow motion and get an idea of how he scares but doesn’t actually hurt the other gator. Also be sure to turn off the site music using the music player controls on the sidebar. BTW I just couldn’t resist using the “Jaws”theme…
A twelve foot alligator named George executes a surprise attack on another gator getting too close to his territory. I’ve seen him do this a few times and he never hurts the other gator. He just likes to show who’s the boss…
Blog Entry|May 18, 2013
Before I get started I wanted to share a little personal info with you. When I was between the ages of two and four my father was stationed in Iran. He was an officer and we had to travel frequently and although I don’t remember much of these years, I do have some memories of the house and garden. I found some old slides which I converted and I find it amusing to note that I had a blow-up alligator in the pool with me LOL.
Never underestimate the importance of flossing:
Spending the weekend in the swamps filming Birth of a Predator came with it’s rewards…and also a price. On the good side I did manage to get some footage of alligators bellowing, and not just ANY alligator bellowing, but none other than George! Mating season is in full swing out in the Everglades and I’ve been trying to get out every morning to film this really cool behavior. The months of April and May are mating season for alligators so I only have a couple more weeks to get more bellowing even though I probably have enough at this point for the film. Then it’s time to start looking for alligator nests! On the downside I have about ten really bad horsefly bites on my hands from hanging out in the wet areas and boy do they hurt! All in a day’s work I guess…
I also found a mother alligator at Loxahatchee (which is the area I got most of the bites from) with some babies from last year. She’s keeping in a pretty safe spot which may account for the large numbers of babies that are still surviving. Baby alligators are vulnerable to many things including large birds. turtles, and even other alligators. So a secluded spot was a smart choice for this mother.
Almost forgot to mention that my friend Bill Gozansky has a brand new nature and photography app on iTunes, it’s a great resource for any beginning to intermediate photographer. Stay tuned for The Bucket List Travel Blog on Wednesday right here in the Grotto and again on Friday where I’ll be posting a video which explains why I don’t like filming in public wildlife reserves If you haven’t already, check out “Hunt for the Supertwister” which is still playing in the screening room. See you on Wednesday for the travel blog and another unique destination!
I’ll leave you with a video of George performing for the cameras, have a great rest of the weekend!
Blog Entry|April 24, 2013
When I do my travel blog here on Wednesdays, many of the places I write about seem to be out of the way exotic destinations so for today’s travel blog I’ve decided to bring it a little closer to home. Today’s destination is Mexico. Yup. Right in our own backyard! Very easy to get to and even easier to afford. Of course I live in Florida which is fairly close to Mexico and only a short flight away but even still…it’s much closer than most of my features here.
Mexico is one of the most popular tourist destinations on earth. While much of the tourist trade is centered around the beaches, Mexico has so much more to offer. For starters there is Chichen Itza which is one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. Closer to Mexico City is Teotihuacan which is home to several large pyramids and Coba is another fascinating destination which is a Mayan city near and around two lagoons. Of course if you want the more glamorous and fun side of Mexico that is there for you too
As a wildlife photographer one of the more interesting facts about Mexico is that it is the home to millions of Monarch Butterflies which migrate between November and March each year. It’s important to note that the numbers have been decreasing at an alarming rate so go out and buy milkweed plants and attract those Monarch Butterflies!
Mexico is also a very diverse country and don’t let it’s “fun” and “touristy” attractions fool you, this is a land of great cultural, historical, and artistic heritage which to me is just as fascinating as is it’s glittering beaches and fancy hotels.
I write quite a bit about exotic destinations here every week but Mexico is certainly one of the easiest to get to and also very affordable. Personally, I would prefer the more ancient sites like the pyramids or some of the archeological sites rather than the more common tourist destinations…although those would be fun too.
Check out this short feature on Mexico and I’ll see you back here again on Saturday for a brand new blog update..see you then.
You can turn off the site music using the music player controls on the sidebar.
Blog Entry|April 22, 2013
Well it’s Earth Day today and instead of doing my usual blog, which I had already written, I’m posting a few thoughts about the alligator attack at Loxahatchee which thankfully didn’t involve George.
I have a few thoughts about the unfortunate incident that happened at Loxahatchee last Friday when a small child was attacked by an eight foot alligator near the canoe launch. As a Florida native and a wildlife photographer and filmmaker, I have spent most of my life in and around the Florida Everglades. Starting from a very young age alligators have been as much a part of my life as anything else and I’ve also spent a great deal of time at the Loxahatchee refuge where this took place. After talking with some law enforcement officials at the refuge I’ve come to a few conclusions.
Before I start let me just say that it is not my intention to attack this father, I truly am glad that things turned out okay for him and especially for his son. For starters let’s take a look at what happened. A six year old boy was out with his father ready to go canoeing and as the father was signing them up the child wandered off near a dock and fell into the water. An alligator clamped down on the child’s arm and it took the father and another bystander to free the boy from the alligator’s jaws. Luckily the boy escaped with only minor injuries and as is the routine when these things happen, the alligator was destroyed.
One of the things that bothers me about this story is the fact that various news agencies are lauding this father as a hero. That’s debatable. What he is, is lucky. The true hero in this scenario is the good Samaritan who risked his own hide to help out and luckily this story has a happy ending. Except for the alligator who did nothing wrong, he was doing what alligators do and paid with his life.
I spend at least three to four days a week out at the Loxahatchee refuge where this happened and it constantly amazes me when I see time and time again ignorant parents who let their children wander off and get close to the water. I’ll give you just one example of many. I was out last week at Loxahatchee and overheard an older man asking the woman who runs the canoe rentals what the “risks” were for taking his small grandchildren out for a canoe trip. In the meantime the two children, who didn’t look to be more than five or six years old, were playing at the water’s edge and happily splashing around as their parents were talking to another couple about thirty feet from where the children were playing and completely oblivious to the fact that their small children were unwittingly presenting themselves as bait. Can anybody else see the problem with this scenario? Or is it just me? And this isn’t the first time I’ve seen this sort of thing.
Let’s get a few things straight. First of all these are not theme park alligators, they are real living and breathing predators who have been around since the dawn of time. Alligators are driven purely by instinct. The usual prey of an alligator consists of fish, turtles, birds, and small mammals. Guess what? Your child is a small mammal. An adult is less at risk of an alligator attacking because of our size. It’s happened, yes, but it is not a common occurrence. Alligators are by nature afraid of people (unless they’ve been fed but that’s another gripe for another time). Small children on the other hand are easy prey and any parent with an ounce of common sense will not let their child go close to the water or wander off in a strange environment. That’s probably a good rule to follow no matter where you are with your child.
When you are out with your children in a place like the Everglades you need to be extra vigilant and use at least a minimum of common sense. If you can’t do that then you have no business being out in that kind of environment with your child because you’re risking your child’s life, your own life, and anybody who has to step in and help if God forbid something happens. Watch your kids! The Arthur Marshall Loxahatchee Wildlife Refuge is completely blameless in this situation. The blame in this situation falls completely on the shoulders of the parent who could have very easily lost his son the other day. I hope he learned his lesson and let this serve as an example to other parents that not keeping tabs on your kids can have dire consequences.
-Mark Andrew Thomas
Blog Entry|April 17, 2013
Today’s travel destination takes us to the Great Barrier Reef located off Queensland, Australia. I have to say scuba diving the Great Barrier Reef is definitely something I’d love to do despite the fact that it seems every Great White Shark attack happens there…well not really but there have been several. Anyway, I digress.
The Great Barrier Reef is not only the world’s largest coral reef but also one of the seven wonders of the world. Larger than the Great Wall of China, it’s the only living on earth visible from space. The Great Barrier Reef stretches over 1800 miles and runs parallel to the coast. The Great Barrier Reef is also a breeding ground for humpback whales that migrate from the Antarctic and is also the home of giant sea turtles.
The Great Barrier Reef is one of the most diverse and expansive ocean habitats and home to millions of lifeforms. 1800 species of fish, 125 types of shark (yikes), 4,000 species of mollusks, and more than 350 types of coral not to mention 10,000 types of sponges.
Check out this video about thew Great Barrier Reef from National Geographic (and remember to turn off the site music using the player on the sidebar):
That’s it for today…see you Friday for the next update!
Blog Entry|April 13, 2013
In the last blog post I wrote about how otters were high on my list off “yet to get” and I finally got the chance to photograph a river otter over the course of several days. Quite a challenge to film and even more of a challenge to photograph. Constantly on the move, this particular otter was fishing up a storm in the gator hole and passed me by several times before I finally was able to get some decent shots.
Bobcats are back again and in a big way, it’s almost a guarantee that if you spend any time at GC that you’ll see either a river otter or bobcat…or both which was the case one day last week. Young bobcats are chased off by the mother once they reach a certain age so have to take advantage of the opportunity while it lasts. Bobcat sightings rise whenever there’s a litter of kittens and drop off dramatically when there’s not. If the mother doesn’t have any more then that’s the end of “bobcat days” as she is sighted very infrequently from what I’ve been told. EDIT: Unfortunately a few days ago the mother bobcat was killed by an alligator so what this means to future generations of bobcats remains to be seen. There is at least one female from the earlier batch of kittens that still hangs around so perhaps she will become the dominant female.
Got some exciting news to share with you, I received an email from Discovery networks about using some footage I have of the full moon rising for a show called “Alien Encounters”. Most likely it will be used for a brief cutaway but would be really awesome if it ended up in the opening credits for every episode!
To make up for my absence I have two new videos to share with you, one is a video of George on the move while he was chasing fish and damn! He sure knows how to make an entrance! Remember to to turn off the music using the music player controls on the top of the sidebar to the right. Check it out:
The next video is an interesting scenario as a Great Blue Heron, an iguana, and the mother alligator from last year have a minor run in…
Anyway, that’s about it for now and now that I’m back on schedule be sure to check out Wednesday’s blog for a brand new exciting travel destination!
Have a look at the screening room for a video from Storm Chasers…really cool stuff and would love to tag along someday!
Blog Entry|February 22, 2013
For those of you who know me at all, you know wildlife and landscape photography will always be my first love along with filming the wonders of nature. I love them both equally. However those people will also know that I love trying new things and experimenting with different styles. Take the above photo for example…..haha, get it? Anyway, it’s an example of HDR photography which is something I’ve been playing around with in addition to my usual subjects.
What is HDR? Well, I’m going to give you the same advice my father used to give me when I asked a question. Look it up. Seriously…it’ll do you good Kidding (sort of ) It stands for High Dynamic Range and it is becoming very popular, in fact it’s been popular for awhile now. HDR images can vary ranging from gorgeous vibrant images to those with a surreal painterly look.
HDR images are several different exposures of the same subject combined into one and then processed using special software such as Photomatix, etc. Whenever you see a photo that looks almost TOO real and the detail and color are very sharp, chances are you’re looking at an HDR photo.
HDR is fun but wildlife and nature will always be my first love. So when you see different kinds of photos here just indulge me LOL. That’s about it for now, out for another round of photos tomorrow morning and Birth of a Predator starting up again in two weeks. Have a great weekend!
Blog Entry|February 14, 2013
Today’s destination is Nepal. Nepal is a sovereign state located in South Asia. Perhaps it’s best known feature is the highest point on earth…..Mount Everest which rises 20,000 feet above sea level.
The capital of Nepal is Kathandu which is the region we’ll focus on today. The Kathmandu valley is comprised of three ancient cities: Kathmandu, Patan, and Bhaktapur. Legend has it that the valley was was once a primordial lake ringed by verdant mountains. In this pristine lake lived giant serpents until one fine day, saint Manjushree, the Bodhisatva, raised a mighty sword and in one fell swoop, cut open the side of a mountain at a place now known as Chobar. The voluminous waters of the lake gushed out, leaving behind a fertile valley capable of supporting large urban settlements over the millennia. The Gopala and Kirati dynasties were the earliest rulers here followed by the Licchavi (300-879 A.D.), under whom flourished trade and crafts*
Blog Entry|February 8, 2013
Welcome to another edition of the Friday blog! I apologize for neglecting Wednesday’s travel blog, I had a busy week! It will be back next week…promise! So last week I told you that I always love capturing photos of wildlife that I’ve never seen before, last week was the Great Horned Owl. This time last year it was the bobcats. Now there are river otters being sighted every morning at Green Cay. Next to bobcats, river otters are pretty high up on my most wanted list so hopefully soon I’ll be able to check them off the list. I hope they don’t eat the baby alligators in the gator hole which is where they’ve been sighted.
Currently I’m gearing up for another round of filming for “Birth of a Predator”. I’ll be finalizing plans next week for a visit to North Florida to shoot some more scenes and possibly some underwater footage as well. With mating season around the corner I may be able toget some cool courtship footage to add to what I already have. If I can, I may do another summer of nest filming but we’ll have to wait and see how things go with my mother.
That’s about it for now, make sure you check out the video in the screening room. “Secrets of Egypt” which I’m holding over for another week because it’s really cool and I’m really lazy this week
Have a great weekend and see you next week…
Blog Entry|February 1, 2013
It’s always a thrill when I get the chance to photograph new wildlife that I haven’t seen before, last year was the bobcats and this past week I photographed a Great Horned Owl at Loxahatchee. There’s a nesting pair in a tree not too far away from the road and although the female is hard to see, the male is usually sitting in plain view on one of the upper branches. Should provide some great photo ops over the next month or so. Now if I could only get a really cool pic of river otters. They’re next on my list…