a moment in the life of a Sockeye Salmon

The Alaskan glaciers melt into the icy rivers as the sockeye salmon swim upstream in hopes of population. Scales sunk with an intense array of pinks and dark reds. The salmon’s dark green heads protrude out of their thick body of flesh. In a small school, three or four fish swim passionately up the shallow stream. The stream on the verge of freezing glistened in the bright sunlight, and the salmon swimming only inches under the reflective water continue on their journey. The smell of pine swept through the chilled air and the misted grass sprouted on the side of the stream. Although life thrived outside the stream, the salmon’s life narrowed down to a single purpose. They needed to keep swimming.

image found on Pinterest

The fast five

Through my photography, I have been able to travel to the most beautiful places on this planet. But one definitely stands out to me like no other. The Masai Mara in Kenya, Africa. A heaven for photographers. It is one of the best places on earth to see big cats. I have traveled there three times already, and I fall in love over and over again. Last summer I was able to observe one of nature’s seven wonders, the big migration of the wildebeest that come over from the Serengeti to find fresh grass in the Masai Mara.

Many big cats use this chance to hunt wildebeest that got injured during the crossing. There is especially one group of wild cats that are known to almost all photographers. The fast five. The fast five are a coalition of five male cheetahs. Two brothers got together with a set of three brothers and formed a coalition to hunt and live together. Nowhere else on earth can this be observed.

I have had the privilege of observing these magnificent cats hunt, and it is truly incredible. Each one of them has a special dedicated role and their hunting is extremely coordinated, I have never seen anything like it in my life. They know that they have a higher survival rate if they work together. They hunt every day and are more successful than any other group out there. I am excited to see them again on my next trip to the Masai Mara, and I hope that many others get the privilege to see these beautiful cats.

It is truly incredible what nature has up its sleeves sometimes.

picture by author

Dreams

Everyone has dreams of what they want their future to look like. I am currently a senior in high school and I am getting ready for college. My dream school is Montana State University in Bozeman. It is just 1 1/2 hours away from Yellowstone and just 2 hours away from Grand Teton Nationalpark which is a dream place for me and my photography. But before I go to college I will take a Gap year. I had always planned to take a gap year after high school to just have one year of not studying and doing what I want.

My Gap Year will revolve all around my photography. I am am planning to travel to my favorite place in the world, the Masai Mara in Africa for 2 months. I will work with rangers to help prevent poaching as well as spreading the word of wildlife conservation. On the other hand I will work with vets to learn more about the wildlife in Africa. I am also planning to travel to a place that I always wanted to go, Uganda in Africa. I am planning to spend about 4 weeks there to spend time with one of the most incredible species out there. The silver back gorillas.

I have always been fascinated with gorillas. The way they communicate with each other is incredible. I am hoping to further my understanding of these incredible animals and also help protect them as they are on the verge of extinction.

I am excited for my Gap year, as I will do what I love most. I am hoping to have an impact with my photography and spread the word of wildlife conservation further around the globe.

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Relax

I am currently starting to get ready for my College applications. It is a lot of stress and, on top of it, loads and loads of homework. I always try to find something that can distract me. I tend to try and get everything done in one sitting but I have to remind myself that my body needs a break sometimes. I have started to go on runs to get my mind free and it works! But often the day has just been too tiring to go on a run on top of that so I go and do something creative such as drawing, editing photos, or playing the guitar!

But I must say there is one thing that nothing else can come close to that makes me happy and relaxes me. And that is just going to the barn and spending time with the horses. It’s not even the riding part, mostly I just sit down in a stall with a horse and just watch them. Two years ago a very close friend of mine graduated. She learned riding at the school and bonded with one horse especially. The horse’s name is Simba. He has such a character and is an incredibly fun horse to ride. When my friend graduated she asked me to take care of him for her, and so I did. I started forcing a bond with him. Now every time I see him I am filled with happiness and joy.

I have always had stronger binds with animals than I had with people. I guess part of it is that animals don’t talk. They just sit there and do their thing. They don’t judge you and they don’t talk about you behind your back. They have their own characters and they do what they want.

Simba has taught me a lot throughout high school and he has helped me to find time to relax and just be. He can be a brat sometimes but he has taught me to never give up even if you have a bad day. Just push through it, and it will eventually get better.

photo by author

An uproar in wildlife conservation

For many years I have been an active advocate and participant in wildlife conservation. With my photography, I am hoping to reach people and show them the beauty and diversity we have on our planet and show how important it is to keep it alive. There are so many incredible photographers out there that do just that, and who use their voice to stand up for animals. I have many role-models that I look up to, but recently there has been an uproar for one of them.

David Yarrow is one of the most famous photographers and one of the seemingly biggest advocates for wildlife conservation. But in reality, he embodies everything that is NOT conservation. From chasing a giraffe to get a perfect shot, to using wolves and bears that are enslaved, to game farms with a record of abuse, there is one image that has caused the public to hold their breath. A picture in which a model is standing just 15 feet away from 3 elephants.

Now many will probably wonder why that is so bad. If anything would have happened during the shooting, say if one of the elephants started to feel stressed or threatened, they could have firstly endangered the life of the model, but also their lives. If one of the elephants would have attempted to charge, he would have paid for it with his life and would have probably gotten shot. One of the three elephants is named Craig, one of Africa’s last big tuskers.

Now I wonder, is it really worth it to risk a animals life just to get a perfect shot. And most importantly, can you call yourself a wildlife conservationist while actually exploiting animals. I don’t think so.

Yarrow has finally said something and apologized for his actions. It is not much but it is a first step in making things right.

picture credit to David Yarrow

Catching frogs and climbing rocks

Finally. After two full weeks of quarantine, I was able to leave my room and go outside. After being isolated for so long, the simplest things make you the happiest. A hug from a friend, sitting with people, being able to go and eat at the cafeteria. I was so relieved to finally be with my friends again. The first thing I did was go on a long, big run across the campus of my school. It felt so freeing to be outside again and run through the campus and greet people.

On my third day of being out of quarantine, I was able to participate in the outdoor ed program again. We took a trip up to some local mountains. The drive there was just beautiful. Huge mountains and creeks all around. We left the van and I immediately ran to the creek. Feeling the cold water around my legs felt truly amazing. It was that feeling of freedom that I finally felt again after being isolated in my room for so long. We hiked along the creek until we came to a nice spot with shade and deep pools in the creek. We put down our bags and started to explore.

I started scrambling along the rocks going higher and higher, sitting on a high rock overlooking the little valley. I was so incredibly happy to be back in the outdoors again. I climbed back down and noticed lots of tiny frogs jumping around. I remembered how in Germany when I was younger, I would always go and catch the frogs in the lake behind our house. I started catching some frogs and it felt like I was in Germany again. I would catch one and hold it for a while before I released it back and caught the next one.

We stayed for about 2 1/2 hours before we made our way back up to the van. It was a small trip but it brought me so much happiness and I hope I get to participate in many more trips to come.

Finding Inspiration

Inspiration has to do with pretty much anything we do. If it is writing, drawing, dancing, cooking, playing an instrument etc. But sometimes it is hard to get inspired and we feel stuck. We sit at our desks starting a sketch or a choreography for a dance over and over again and we just get frustrated because nothing seems right. I get this feeling a lot.

After school I spend a good amount of time sitting in front of my laptop, looking through photos I have taken on my travels around the world. For me, photography is something to escape to and to relax. Going through pictures is almost like you are reliving these moments. I always think it is so overwhelming how much meaning a picture can have. I pretty much only take pictures of animals and it has grown to be my biggest passion. When I look at my pictures, and I get to look an animal straight into the eyes through a picture I have taken, it almost feels like as if I had some sort of connection to it. For a moment everything is quiet and it is just me and the animal.

Photography has its many amazing sides. You get to travel the world, see the most amazing spectacles that nature has to offer, but there is also a side to it which sometimes brings you down. I follow hundreds of other photographers on social media, and sometimes I scroll through certain accounts just thinking: wow. I wish I could capture pictures like this.

I have a bad habit of comparing myself to others and being very harsh to myself when it comes to the pictures I take. I try to find inspiration through others but in the end it just makes me feel like my pictures aren’t good enough. I have spent hours and hours trying to find a style, that when people see my photos, they know that they are from me. Every time I post something I think it is just not good enough, my pictures all look the same and they all just look flat. I get frustrated and I can’t find any inspiration or whatsoever. But this is part of the progress. Nothing is ever perfect. But there are moments, when I see a picture that I like, and it just makes me so incredibly happy and proud. And these are the moments that keep me going.

People text me telling me that my pictures inspire them. That they enjoy my work. And these are the moments that make everything so worth it. I love what I do and I am so incredibly thankful for all the amazing moments I have got to experience thanks to photography. I love sharing my work with other people, bringing people closer to our wildlife and nature, showing off the beauty and diversity our planet has to offer.

Photo taken by the author.

Saying Goodbye to Blue

She appeared behind my house with her sister and her mother. She was the first to pop her head above the brick wall with her wide eyes looking curiously around the yard. She and her sister were beautiful. Her sister had solid white paws and defined face markings. My family and I planned on keeping her, but we had no room to keep the wide-eyed black and white kitten.

When we brought them inside, the white-pawed kitten, now named Penny, became the more confident of the two. They played together for weeks, and while we knew Penny would stay with us, the formerly unnamed black and white kitten quickly became my little baby Blue. She was shy, yet always curious of her surroundings. She turned to her sister for comfort as they kept each other company.

They had grown to be ten weeks old when Blue was ready to find her forever home. I spent the night holding her and watching them toss around toys. The sun rose sooner than I had expected and I found myself putting little Blue into a cat carrier while we said our goodbyes. Penny didn’t notice as we shut the carrier door and left their playroom.

I sat in the back seat of the car with Blue while she pressed herself against the back of the carrier. Her little body was shaking as she looked up at the passing buildings. As we pulled into the parking lot I stuck my fingers through the wired door hoping she would come to be pet. I knew I would never pet her again. I carefully picked up her carrier and handed her to the shelter staff before watching her be carried away.

I told the woman the name I had given her, and within a day my little Blue was up for adoption. I checked the website daily for updates. She looked happy and confident in the photo they posted, and within a week her adoption post had been taken down.

I watch Penny grow and imagine how big Blue must be today. I am confident that the Humane Society sent her home with a good family. I know she won’t remember her first home or her sister, but I think of her every time I look at Penny. She came to us as a scared feral kitten, and I am grateful that my family and I were able to socialize her and make her comfortable with moving into a real home.

Blue ❤ Photo Credit: Ojai Valley Humane Society

Paper Cranes

Last night I found a stack of colored paper. They were 12″x12″ and dusty from having sat on my shelf for the past three years. I don’t remember why I got them, but I’ve always remembered them being there.

I took them from the shelf and I dropped them on my desk, their purpose still uncertain, and I didn’t expect myself to do anything.

I then proceeded to spend a while doing homework, doing laundry, and preparing dinner. In this time I had forgotten about the stack of papers and allowed myself to get lost in the routine that I had mindlessly adopted over the past month.

When I came back to my desk while going through the motions of cleaning my room which I now do routinely as well, the stack of papers had a new appeal to them. It posed itself as an opportunity to escape my regimen. So I sat down and I flipped through the seven different colors that repeated themselves tirelessly and considered what I could feasibly do.

I never considered myself to be particularly talented or artistic in any way, art classes have always marked themselves as the low points in my grade book. But I was suddenly inspired to do something with them. I knew I couldn’t draw so I eliminated that, my painting skills were on par with my drawing, but folding paper, I was a beast at folding paper.

Photo: Museum of fine arts, St. Petersburg

Now I had never really attempted Origami, but I approached it rather confidently because of my unexpected prowess in the field of paper airplane design. So I went online, and I decided to make a crane.

When I finally completed my first crane about 15 minutes later, it looked decent, and that presented itself as an incredible surprise.

But I had done it, I’d done something that wasn’t typical of me during this drawn-out period of self-isolation, and it was invigorating. I had suddenly found a simultaneous outlet and power I had over the nationwide restrictions.

I was restrained to my home, I had little power in that regard. But nothing could stop me from making those little paper cranes. In the last 12 hours, I have made an embarrassing number of paper cranes but I don’t see an end in sight.

If only I could make them fly.

puffy eyes

an observation on what makes me cry:

  • My little sister’s tears
  • Academy Award Show acceptance speeches
  • essential oils when they get in my eyes
  • As by Stevie Wonder because it reminds me of what could have been.
  • Thinking about my aunt, my grandmothers, my grandfather, my idol…
  • animals with huge eyes
  • Seeing my brother cry
  • second-hand embarrassment
  • Helpless people that deserve better 
  • Doing something I really dont want to do 
  • My allergies 
  • Movies and TV Shows with happy endings 
  • Movies and TV Shows with tragic endings
  • Seeing my parents cry 
  • Death and birth
  • when people are awarded things that they deserve
  • spicy foods
  • when I stare into the sun during sunset and the wind blows in my face.
PC: pinterest.com

– from the perspective of a seventeen year old girl