LightStyle Photography: Blog en-us (C) LightStyle Photography (LightStyle Photography) Mon, 16 Mar 2020 06:35:00 GMT Mon, 16 Mar 2020 06:35:00 GMT LightStyle Photography: Blog 90 120 A Kayak Moment The wildlife in Riviera Nayarit has kept my camera busy for several years, particularly during the bird migratory season.  The months of December through April are filled with an influx of birds that make their seasonal migration south for the winter.  For me, it is an exciting time to capture their presence in the magnificent wilds of this region of western Mexico.

The majority of my bird images have originated from the rivers and estuaries that are within a day's drive of my home.  One such waterway is located only 7 miles away, the Rio Lo de Marcos.  I can easily access it with my Jeep, and I commonly float it's length with my kayak.   The Jeep can take me down the river's shallows, acting as a blind as I gather images of the wildlife along the shore and the jungle canopy.  Birds seem to tolerate my presence without much concern, providing I maintain a reasonable distance, and keep my speed at a snail's pace.  The Jeep is a dark green in color, blending into the local growth.  With windows rolled down it makes a good rolling platform to shoot from. 

Kayaking Rio Lo de MarcosKayaking Rio Lo de MarcosLolo and I kayaking along the Rio Lo de Marcos But it's the kayak that allows me to navigate into the mangroves and approach the wary subjects with much more intimacy.  With careful and silent maneuvering I can generally float to within 20 or 30 feet to snap a shot.  The kayak takes me deeper into the mangroves where the more exciting species tend to congregate.  And it is much more silent than the Jeep.  With the right combination of gear one of my photo forays into these mangroves can last a full day.... and I am rewarded with some remarkable images.

On a recent outing with a friend (who I've recently initiated into the joys of kayaking) we paddled the familiar channels of this river and into the mangroves.  I shared stories from my prior trips there, and I pointed out some 30 species of birds - at least those that I knew.  She was thrilled.  Kingfishers skirted noisily along our route, contesting our presence in their domain.  We spotted two Great blue herons fishing in the shallows.  Night herons, Boat-billed herons, Green herons, and Great egrets were spotted in good numbers all around us.  Black-bellied whistling ducks by the hundreds were circling overhead, and gliding down upon the water for the night. 

The onslaught of mosquitos and no-see-ums tested our patience as the afternoon lazily passed us by.  At one point we rounded a bend of the river bank and into an explosion of birds lifting up into the sky.  The commotion startled us both.  Within moments, the glassy surface of the water before us split violently into a spray of white froth.  A crocodile had launched itself from the river bank, and quickly sank beneath the waters.  It was immediately evident to me that I had just missed a great shot of a 10-12 foot beast.   We both suddenly wished that our kayak was not sitting so low in the water. A Kayak MomentA Kayak MomentLolo witnessing a dramatic sunset on Rio Lo de Marcos

We easily delayed our return to the Jeep and our launching point to extend our time in the late afternoon serenity of the river.  The day was proving to be a marvelous experience, and there was no rush to end it.  The evening sky was decorated with fluffy clouds.  The sun was sinking lower, and with every minute that passed we witnessed the unfolding of a fantastic sunset.  The sun sprayed its colors across the heavens as the mirrored surface of the river reflected the spectacle of color and texture above us.  We were being blessed by one of nature's greatest displays.  Luckily I happened to have a pocket camera with us.

The sun disappeared, and as the sky darkened we paddled back up the river to the Jeep.  Whistling ducks parted before us as the kayak sliced across the surface.  Further upriver the last of the Kingfishers chattered his objections and bade us farewell.  We pulled out of the river, loaded the kayak on the Jeep.  By the time I started the engine the stars above were greeting the night and lighting our way back home.

(LightStyle Photography) Fri, 17 Jan 2014 22:23:35 GMT
I'll Be Back Not too long ago a minor miracle occurred in my life... one that caused me to pause and remember the importance of family and friends. Even those members of family that we commonly consider to be pets. During a recent trip south I had asked a friend to house sit my Casa. She also cared for my dog, Maya, and my bird Diego, a half-moon conure that I've had for nearly 4 years. During the trip I received an occasional report that all was well. I knew they were in good hands.

Oranged fronted ConureDiegoMy Orange-fronted conure The day I returned to San Pancho, I walked through the front door and immediately sensed something was amiss. I walked the Casa, noticing the doors were open... not unusual during the day. But no one seemed to be home, and Diego, his cage and his perch were also missing. My mind raced as I envisioned the worse case scenario. Eventually I saw my house sitter in the hammock catching a mid-afternoon siesta. Hesitantly, I woke her to announce my return. But more importantly, to ask about the whereabouts of Diego. She confirmed my worse fears.

Two days before my return home, Diego had flown out the open back door of the Casa. It was not his first taste of freedom, as he had escaped the confines of the Casa the year before. We were fortunate to have found him shortly after his departure. But this time it was different - Diego had not returned for over 48 hours. He was on his own, and most likely roaming the jungle canopy looking for his favorite hammock in his cage.

My heart sank as I realized we would no longer share breakfasts together at the table. No more Diego flying around the Casa to stretch his wings... no more Diego perched on my shoulders and nudging my cheek for attention. I was truly going to miss his morning chatter and his screeching phrases of “diego-diego” and “big diego”... or his “big kiss” call with a quick swipe of his head as if to throw a kiss.

But I was really going to miss his favorite phrase: “I'LL BE BACK”. It was the phrase we commonly said as we left the Casa through the front door. Eventually he had picked it up on his own, and he began spouting it at random.  I would respond back with “WHERE YOU GOING?”... sometimes half expecting a response from him.

Diego Wanting to PlayTime to Wake Up

I immediately roamed the beach along the edge of the jungle, whistled and called in hopes he'd be nearby. The sun sank lower in the sky as the day progressed.  My hopes were fading as was the light of day. In time I was done.  I gave up trying to call him or whistle. It seemed useless... the hotel residents next door were beginning to frown at me.

Eventually, with one last call of his name, I heard a faint but familiar “diego-diego” up the hill and in the jungle. I called back, and once again I heard a faint echo of the phrase. Diego was hearing me! I raced up the hill, continually whistling and calling his favorite phrases. The canopy was thick with the green of jungle foliage. Somewhere he was up there, calling back. I continued calling, and managed to narrow his location down to a single tree. With repeated calls and whistles Diego slowly descended the branches and limbs of the tree. I saw him 30 feet above my head, looking down on me in hesitation. It was Diego for sure. What I needed was a mango!

As I wheeled around to race back to the Casa, I heard Diego call again, almost frantically, as if to prevent me from leaving. Luckily my fridge had a few mangos.  I grabbed one, and raced back into the jungle hoping for a miracle, peeling the fruit as I ran.  It never occurred to me the mess I was creating as the juices rolled down my arms.  As I approached the clearing where I first spotted Diego, I called his name in desperation. Diego responded, and within minutes he swooped down upon my shoulder, and eagerly pounced the open fruit. He was undoubtedly hungry and thirsty.  I suspect he was as grateful as I for the reunion.  He was coming home.

Diego was back... JUST AS HE SAID HE WOULD!

(LightStyle Photography) Diego Sat, 21 Sep 2013 21:42:23 GMT
All's Swell in San Pancho In late August of 2013, the Pacific coast of mainland Mexico was rewarded with a sizable swell generated by storms in the southern Pacific.  That Saturday morning I woke early to the sounds of larger than normal surf.  Excitedly I rushed a cup of coffee and grabbed my dog Maya for our morning stroll.  The beach was empty as we walked south toward the village of San Pancho...not unususal for this time of year.  Tourists and our seasonal residents have long since returned to the north.  

Below a Glass CeilingAn early riser harnesses liquid energy from a southern at San Pancho's river mouth.

We strolled down the beach, coffee in hand while Maya scampered across the sand with her favorite "stick of the day".  She kept my other hand occupied by demanding an occasional toss of her stick into the boiling waters of the surf.  Maya is a Lab... a Retriever.  She has no patience with my inattention when she's gumming a good stick.  The morning was glorious.  Skies were clear, and the winds from the Sierra Madre mountains had yet to materialize across the jungle canopies.  It was going to be a good day.  I could feel it.

From a distance I could see the juice building up at the river mouth south of my Casa.  Surprisingly, no one was yet in the water.  I wondered if this swell had somehow escaped the attention of the local surfers.  The river mouth was breaking cleanly with 5 foot waves.  Maya and I sat on the beach near the Malecon, gazing as liquid energy unfolded before us.  An occasional set rolled in and peaked at 8 feet before tumbling over itself with a crash.  As my coffee worked its wonders, my mind began to comprehend the reality of the oncoming morning.  Beautiful day... good surf... good light... no tourists.  No camera!  I pondered the moment.  Savoring the remainder of my cup, I then decided that news of the surf conditions would rapidly spread through the village once the first surfer arrived to check it out.  Maya jumped to her feet as I jogged back to the Casa for my photo gear.

03280328 Breakfast was quick, much to the pleasure of Maya, who always insists on a prompt feeding once we return from our morning stroll.  The Jeep was hastily loaded with camera gear and a few beach essentials. Within 40 minutes I was back at the river mouth.  I shuffled gear, and set up under a beach umbrella for a day behind my cameras.  By then 6 to 8 surfers had arrived.  They were cutting clean lines across the green faces of the waves... punching holes through the lips of watery curls.  Soon spectators would line the beach for a view of the action.  I was seated comfortably, front and center.

The morning passed.  More surfers arrived.  It was obvious that word had spread outside the village of San Pancho.  I recognized a few faces from Sayulita, the next village to the south and better know as the surf destination of choice.  The ocean's energy escalated as each set rolled into shore.  The lineup was more consistent now.  My trigger finger was getting a workout.  I dared not glance up at the crowd surrounding me for fear of missing an epic moment... that "one in a million shot".  The surf talent was obviously here. My camera tracked and captured their aerial displays and fierce carvings of the green, rolling walls of water.  I missed a few shots of guys encased in a watery tube - that one moment every surfer lives for.  But eventually a local teen managed to squeeze under a curl at the right moment, just as my lens was trained upon his path, and focus-locked on his position.  Got it!  With a bit of luck.  And patience... the "photographer kind".

00010001 The sun eventually rose higher into an afternoon haze of heat. I was fortunate to have the shade above me as the villagers lounged around watching the surfing theatrics. Several beach dogs tried to escape the heat by sneaking into the shade under the territorial glare of Maya. She held her ground, determined not to be displaced from her space under the umbrella. By mid-afternoon much of the crowd had succumbed to the heat. Spectators had thinned, but a few remained that were still energized and enthusiastic for those still riding their boards. The slight offshore breezes of the morning had turned. The ocean surface now rippled with winds from the west. Waves were now loosing some of their shape and smooth faces, but the southerly juice of the swell continued on. As surfers tired and paddled to shore, they were replaced by new arrivals eager to stoke themselves with the adrenaline rush of a fast ride.  It was a steady stream of new subjects.

The talent dissipated as the afternoon wore on. It was well past lunch. I as hungry. Our two beach restaurants were within 200 yards, offering fish tacos, shrimp tacos, marlin tacos, tacos this and tacos that, etc. My mouth watered. And thoughts of a cold Pacifico were also seriously distracting me from the work at hand.  Serious distractions.  The bikinis were tough enough.  But hunger and thirst...?

I caved in... called it a day.  The gear got stowed back into the Jeep.  I walked into La Perla, grabbed a table under the thatched palapa with an easy view of the river mouth, and patiently waited for service.  I took off my hat, kicked off my sandals and stretched into a hammock-like prone position in my wicker-backed chair.  Patience.  Of the "La Perla kind".

It was at that very moment that I saw THE shot.  The ONE...of the whole day.  A younger kid, on a somewhat late takeoff, dropped down a face that was double his height.  His wave.  No one else took it. The wave curled, and heaved over his crouched back by a good 2 feet.  He jetted through the barrel. The air around him compressed as the green tube collapsed behind him.... pushing him forward.  He ejected in an envelope of mist.  Still standing on his board.  Arms outstretched in ecstasy.

Epic... but not recorded.

It simply takes patience.  Of the "photographer kind".


(LightStyle Photography) San Pancho surf Surf Wed, 18 Sep 2013 05:22:00 GMT