Galapagos 2017 Pictures

Nisa and I took a cruise in the Galapagos Islands this summer.

Of course visiting the Galapagos is about wildlife photography, which I discovered is quite different from what I usually do. It also produces data at a rate I’m unaccustomed to, so sorting through the photos was a lot more work than usual, but after two months I did manage to get through them. I included a sunset photo for each day to punctuate the album.

For a few photos, I have some stories to tell.

In Puerto Ayora, the largest town in the Galapagos and our jumping off point, my favorite thing was the fish market.

Generally there are fairly strict rules about what you can do in the Galapagos with respect to the wildlife, you have to stay a couple meters away from the animals and absolutely can’t feed them. If you break the rules do it flagrantly I suppose, because here every day the morning’s catch is prepared for restaurants and stores, and the wildlife gets the scraps. The sea lion pictured here almost seems like a pet – it knows better than to eat the whole fish, and instead waits patiently for scraps. However he may bend the rules a bit by resting his head on the fish. The pelicans and frigate birds know no such discipline.

This juvenile blue footed booby was blocking the path and got a little aggressive. Most of the animals seem to regard humans as something between a curiosity to a harmless nuisance, but this young bird showed some moxy in solving the human problem.

Sea lions showed up every time we went snorkeling, and we went snorkeling every day. On land where we’re the mobiles ones and they can barely get around, they don’t like us so much. But in the water, they swam circles around us, doing acrobatics and blowing bubbles. Some baby fur seals were afraid of us, but it was as if their parents told them, “Stop being such babies, go out and play, it’s just humans. They just flail around uselessly in the water, they’re harmless.” I may be anthropomorphising a little bit but it seems the pups got the message and after we left the water, they came to see us off.

When snorkeling, I used my new Canon M5 with a soft underwater case. Underwater photography was also new for me.

Sea lions chase tuna into one particular shallow bay, allowing them to catch multiple big fish at the same time. It’s the only place sea lions behave in this way and the BBC has apparently been trying but unable to capture this on film. This time they had caught two or three tunas. Nisa and I were in kayaks at the time observing from a distance. Our guide had been careful to warn us to not get too close and make sure there was room for the sea lions to get between the feeding area and the bay as sea lions are known to jump onto kayaks if their route is blocked. I was shooting on the opposite side of the channel from Nisa while a fellow passenger, Thomas, held my kayak. At one point a big alpha male sea lion put his head onto Nisa’s kayak. Time froze, nobody knew what was about to happen and it seemed like even our guide didn’t know what to do (“Um, do something! Do something!”). Nothing actually happened, and after a tense moment he left. It seems the sea lion was just curious, I suspect he just wanted to know what we were doing there as we didn’t seem interested in eating. For the record he was mistaken, that tuna looked delicious.

Blue footed boobies awkwardly waddle around on land, but become stunt-pilot acrobats in the air and water. We were lucky enough to see a feeding. They dive into the water en-masse, come to the surface and circle around to drive in again. I had no idea how to shoot so I only got a few pictures, before I decided to just enjoy the moment.

Sea turtles are pretty great.

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SimpLSystem: A Perfectly Comprehensib-L-System

I’ve made an L-system for Fabric Engine, called SimpLSystem. The project lives right now is on the Fabric Engine forums. The code is on my personal GitHub. The goal is for it to be a collaborative project in the Fabric Engine user community to explore variations and applications of L-Systems. As such, it’s not very far along and I’ve released it pretty early to allow it to be more community-driven. So if you like the intersection of these curious systems with high performance computation and node graphs, give it a shot!Several evolutions of an L system, each color is + 1.0 iterations.

L-systems, if you don’t know, are these neat things that take small strings and then make monstrously huge strings out of them by repeatedly replacing single characters with the other strings. Then the monstrously huge strings are interpreted into some kind of geometry by feeding them character by character into an imaginary flying turtle, who takes orders from these characters and leaves a trail of intricate, fractal-like structures. The turtle can also teleport (to a position previously visited location). Wikipedia may have a better explanation.


The first few times I tried to use it, it happily filled up the memory on my computer and crashed it several times because I accidentally set the iterations one level too high. L-systems have a tendency to scale that way: instantaneous, instantaneous, instantaneous, slightly laggy, completely unresponsive and quickly making everything else on my system unresponsive as well, forcing a reset and wondering if I should do the Windows-didn’t-shut-down-properly hard drive checking thing. (I’ve since added a safety that keeps the string from growing above a certain size. It should be safe now.)