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The Top 10 from Brazil

I always thought that making lists is a little boring. Also, a bit presumptuous.

That its too early for me to start making such lists of my photos – after all, isn’t it the really accomplished guys who have the right to make such lists and share their knowledge ?

But when you return from a trip to a place as wonderful as Brazil and that too with more than 10,000 images, you are tempted to make that list. Even if its only because of the challenge of the task. With much reluctance, I decided to indulge myself in this rather pointless exercise 🙂

So here goes.

I laid down a few rules or guidelines for myself.

Not more than three images of jaguars. Cos its so tempting to put many of these fantastic creatures, especially when you have got so many images. And, while there were some truly brilliant birds out there, just of them sitting on a perch, looking pretty…well, can be avoided, unless there’s some interesting play of light and shadows. That ideally  there should be some action in the image, some story that the image says. Ideally.

It was tough making the list. My favorite, the toucans, don’t make it. Terrible, really. The macaws don’t. The kingfishers don’t. So many beautiful birds taken with some dreamy background don’t.

10. The Buff necked ibis :

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I loved the dreamy background to the pic and that’s what helped it make the list. Plus, it has a slightly startled look and that bit of mud sticking to its beak, all added to the image. Taking the pic however, was no challenge. We were in the boat and the bank was at a height and there was this lone ibis busy foraging for its breakfast. One just had to aim and shoot. No hurry.

But that background. Sigh. Heaven.

9. The Blonde Crested Woodpecker :

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Maybe the woodpecker is just sitting on a perch looking pretty. But then, woodpeckers rarely sit in one place for long and maybe I can justify it further that it was caught in the middle of an act of hunting for its grub and wasn’t just idly sitting :).  Also, those colours in that lovely background stand out really well and is such a strong message of the beauty that lies around us.

8. The  Jaguar :

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First of the three. And it fought a tough battle with another image I had of a jaguar with a caiman. Maybe there is no visible action in this frame. Love the mix of golden light and darkness of the background. And look at that stare. So much of menace. As if it is sizing us up. And not liking what it is seeing.

We saw this jaguar early one morning. The rising sun behind us throwing the most wonderful golden light on this magnificent creature. And, only one other boat with us so there was no jostling for space.

Total bliss.

7. Aracari :

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What a stunning bird.

Those colours. That brilliant design on its beak. That odd shaped head. What a bird !! I loved the way this pic got it looking down its long nose disapprovingly at me. While capturing both the lovely colours and that design of the beak. Maybe with a greater DoF, the tip of the beak would have been sharper but this way,  those eyes pop up that much more prominently, which I liked.

6. Yellow Fronted Woodpecker :

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There are a few overblown highlights. Other than, of course, the fact that this woodpecker is such a beauty, I loved the way the sun from behind the subject ( never ideal ) throws some brilliant light on the woodpecker’s head and the lower part stays a bit darker.

5. The Jaguar  :

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The second of the three. This is an image I have often dreamt of taking. It was also an image that I thought I had screwed up cos rather idiotically, I wasn’t prepared for this to happen. A jaguar coming out of the water has to shake off the water. And I was unprepared for it. Rather unforgivable. I was quite convinced that I hadn’t got a good shot when I reacted after the jaguar started its routine. In the end, however, it came out well. I liked the way the neck is twisted showing the vigorousness of the shake. Also, quite loved the way the distant dark background helps highlight the spray of water.

4. Toucanet backlit :

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Pure luck. The toucanet landed in the well shaded back porch. It was at this point sitting in an even darker place. I was in the really well lit open front when we got the message that the toucanets have arrived. I rushed to the back. Yes, without changing the settings. And then proceeded to make the next elementary mistake of taking the pic from the even darker interiors of the room. Fortunately, a quick look at the image made me realize the opportunity I have of making some good, different image.  The light accentuates the most prominent parts of this striking bird…its beak and that head.

3. Toucanet peering down :

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Sometimes a 600mm lens can be a problem. Especially when the subject isn’t too far away and there isn’t space behind you to back away into. How on earth does one take an interesting pic ? There’s hardly any space to maneuver. And hardly much breathing space to provide an image…I so hate tight shots.

Then I saw the toucanet kept bending forward and took this image. Got that much needed space at the bottom too. And, a shallow DoF made that head and especially those beautiful red painted eyes the focus as the tail of the bird is really fuzzy. Loved this.

2. Jabiru stork landing :

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Sometimes, an opportunity just plops down onto your lap.

We were shooting some otters frolicking in the water.  With the sun falling on them, the opportunities were splendid. Just then, we got a whisper that a Jabiru stork was about to land and I could turn around and squeeze in a few quick shots. Just in time. The sun, that was behind us for the otters was now right in front of us. What would have been a very ordinary shot of a bird landing in the shallow waters now turned out to be a delight of gold and black.

1. The Jaguar :

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The funniest thing about this pic was that I just don’t remember taking this.

Usually, when you are taking pics, you just remember the ones that you believe would be really good ones and you rush to take a look at them when you are back. Maybe, we just had such an embarrassment of riches when it came to jaguar sightings that this slipped from the mind.

Loved the way the light plays here and catches the jaguar leaving bulk of the rest of the image in the dark. I got another one where the jaguar is looking ahead, so the light falls completely on its face but sadly I felt the rest of the body posture was not as appealing. This one encapsulates my abiding memory of the jaguar – alert. Tense. Ready.

In retrospect, it was not only fun making this list but I think it also made it a lot clearer to me the sort of images I should try to capture.

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