Sunday, August 31, 2008

Photo Safari #2

It is a strange thing to go out into the field every morning and every evening and not feel like you are getting anything worthwhile to photograph! Don't get me wrong - I absolutely love what I am doing but somehow, in my mind, it feels like the 'perfect' photographic moments are just not presenting themselves!

The sightings the last few weeks have been pretty good yet it feels like the truly magical moments have been eluding us. Make no mistake, it is not that I am not enjoying going out but it feels like every time I want to click the shutter the animal turns away, the light is bad, there is grass in the way or something like that.

As I cannot consider any of my current images for the High Five as they have not yet been uploaded, I have have selected a few that I have captured over the last few weeks in another 'photographic safari' kind of post. All of these images, and the other new ones I will capture until 24 September, will only be uploaded to the Photo-Stock Stock Library at the end of the month so if there are any specific ones you would like to purchase please let me know and I will upload those for you!

The Etali female resting after feasting on a wildebeest. She was int he thickets and had to wait for for 'the look' before taking the image.

Almost drove over this happy couple - one of the Batia brothers mating with the Sereti female. Great sighting first thing the morning but the light was quite flat. Got an interesting sequence as he dismounts and will hopefully get these posted soon.

Found this hyena drinking water in a little puddle early one morning. She was also not camera friendly and I had to wait for quite some time to get her face in the shot.

As we came around the corner this Martial Eagle was just wrapping up a hunt. He caught a Tree Squirrel and we waited for a while to see if he would start to feed. No action so we left him with his meal.

Close up of a Zebra. Have been seeing a lot of these guys so playing around with different angles and lenses.

This was a great sighting. The herd first drank at Tlou Dam and then chaos erupted as all the youngsters got involved in a serious bout of mud bathing.

Absolute bliss!

They were making a huge mess! Great to watch as these four almost mimicked each other. Have quite a few images from this sighting. Will post more soon.

Nice sighting of an African Hawk Eagle. Still seriously thinking of getting a large prime lens... cash flow!!! :)

Female Kudu. There was not anything special about this scene but the light was spectacular! Had to play around with a few images of her enjoying her breakfast.

We were very far from the scene and I had to stretch my Sigma 50 to 500 all the way to maximum zoom. Light was going and quite a tough shot but still not too bad. Would have been nicer if the bushes behind the rhino was not there which would have made him stand out more.

One of the Batia males walking away from our waterhole at Tuningi. The black and white feel felt like a good choice for the last image on this post.

I reckon not too bad over all but still feels like it could be better! Is it wrong to be too critical of your own work?? Is it wrong to always try and get a better image? Better exposure? Better composition?

I do like the images I have been getting the last while but it feels like there is something missing. Over the last few weeks I have been quite keen on trying to capture animals in motion but there have been very few opportunities. Soon....

Anyway, time to get going. Almost time to head out again and 'look for the magic'! :)

As always I look forward to hearing from you!

Until next time.


Friday, August 29, 2008

Weekly High Five #14

After quite an emotional week it is again time for the High Five.

The images I chose this week is again quite varied and shows the very diverse nature of Africa and it's wonderful natural heritage. Looking through all the images on the Photo-Africa Stock Library I have found it increasingly evident that the way in which you approach the composition of your subjects in Wildlife Photography is a lot more important than the equipment.

By being selective as to which elements of the scene to include or leave out you can tell a story and lead your viewers eye to the areas of the frame that captured your eye in the beginning. Yes. It does get easier with practise but it also means that you have to step back from what you think works or what works for other people and do what you feel is right.

I believe if you shoot things that heightens your emotions - whether it be fear, excitement, sadness, greed, whatever - you will already have an edge over the person that is just shooting for the sake of trying to create an image. If you are able to capture emotion in your images you are well on your way to creating images that other people will also find attractive and feel emotional about. This, I believe, is the sign of a great image!

With that in mind, here goes with this week's High Five.

Image 1 - Zebra Butts by Gavin Tonkinson

The lighting in this shot is great and draws your attention to the focal area of the image. This cleverly captured image gives you the impression of closeness between the zebra - an emotion we can all relate to. I also like the way in which both the animals heads are completely out of view as this is normally something that draws your attention away from the intended focus. Nice image and one that shows what you can do with an every day scene like this.

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Image 2 - Misty Giraffe by Gavin Tonkinson

Another moody image that works. Apart from the fact the image is laced with emotion, almost bordering on tension, it could be used in a text book on the Zone System. The different shades of black / grey always makes for a difficult exposure and you need to understand your equipment and the scene very well to get an image worth using. The image was taken in a freak rain storm and in my opinion was very well captured.

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Image 3 - Peacock Feather by Craig Muller

A male Peacock is one of those birds that was designed for photography. This close up of one of it's feathers shows why. A very well executed macro with the black centre not placed in the middle of the frame. The clarity and sharpness is also evident and all of this makes for a great abstract macro image.

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Image 4 - Angry Ellie Silhouette by Kevin Linforth

Great moment of an upset elephant at dusk. A sunset image with orange tones also always creates an emotional response. By adding the tense ellie to the mix you have a great image. It seems that the last few weeks we have been getting a lot of ellie silhouettes and this is another great example of why they are such a winner.

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Image 5 - Walking Lion by Gavin Tonkinson

In my opinion this is a brilliant image. Even though there are not any blurred parts of the image you can definitely get the feeling that the large cat is walking. The diagonal lines created by the legs and tail leads your gaze up towards the body and direction where he is moving to. The combination of the pads on the back foot and the black tail tip also works very well and is placed in the power point from where you start 'moving with the animal'. When viewed at a larger size you can even see the small specks of dust as it falls of the back foot. Great sharpness. Not too difficult this week and definitely my favorite of the week.

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This week has flown by and even though the sightings have been pretty good the obvious photography moments have been quite rare. We have seen Wild Dogs shoot across the road in front of us at full tilt. Lions on every drive and a good amount of rhinos mixed in. It has just worked out that very few of these moments were expected and when they were we just could not get into the right position to get those 'award-winning' images we are always looking for.

When looking at the above images it just shows that there is a lot more to photograph then what meets the eye so make sure to check back soon as I will be uploading various images from the last few weeks drives to the Blog in the second edition of Photo Safari.

As always I look forward to hearing from you! Leave a comment and let me know which is your favourite of the week!

Until next time.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

All Dogs Go To Heaven

Dogs are miracles with paws.
~Susan Ariel Rainbow Kennedy

On Saturday evening last week Adele and my Boston Terrier, Gizmo, passed away. The reality of this has only now slowly started setting in. Gizmo is gone and to me it feels like a piece of me is gone forever.

After 'helping us unpack' at our new house at Tuningi, and accidentally swallowing a few tablets, Giz started getting sick. Initially nothing too serious and Adele and I immediately drove him to the closest vet in Lichtenburg. Blood tests showed that everything was fine and we left with all sorts of medicines that was supposed to get him back to his energetic best.

Things started looking up and he seemed to be improving when on Saturday morning he started getting very sick again. Adele immediately drove him to the Medi Vet Clinic in Thabazimbi. The vet put him on a drip and gave him an injection to make him sleep. He would be watched over the weekend and Monday everything was supposed to be ok.

Adele received the call on Sunday morning. A completely unrelated complication crept in and our little boy passed away in his sleep.

We live a different life from most people in that Gizmo was with us 24/7. The longest time we were apart was for 2 days when we flew to the Sabi Sands for a job interview. Other than that we were always together.

For the last few days the world has seemed a little more dull. Food has not tasted as good. The sunrises have not been as magical. The days and nights are filled with reminders - the little heartbeat at our feet is gone.

On Sunday evening Adele and I shared a bottle of red wine, tears and the most amazing memories as we said goodbye to Gizmo. It has been one of the most difficult things I have ever had to do but I would not wanted to have shared it with anybody other then Adele. For a brief moment in time Adele, Gizmo and I were the perfect little family. It is a time I will never forget!

Dogs have given us their absolute all. We are the center of their universe. We are the focus of their love and faith and trust.
~Roger Caras

I know Gizmo had the most amazing life a dog could ever wish for and that is how we will try and remember him.

He was our child, a listener, a cuddle-partner, an entertainer and most of all - he was our best friend! In honor of our little boy here are a few images of how he will always be remembered.

Even at 6 weeks he was already energetic and game for anything!

Adele and Gizmo at 6 weeks.

Even at a young age he had huge amounts of personality.

For quite some time I was worried that his ears would not stand all the way up.

There was no need as he turned into an absolutely beautiful Boston Terrier. The teeth sometimes gave him a bit of a strange look but that is another small thing we got to love about him.

Gizmo was very well traveled as he went everywhere with us. This was his first trip to the beach. Amazing few days and I reckon if he could choose - one of his bets trips!

Me with my boy.

For almost a year and a half we were the perfect little family. A time I will never forget.

Gizmo as we will always remember him.

A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than you love yourself.
~Josh Billings

This is how we felt. We were loved. Gizzie - Thanks for loving us like you did and giving us all the amazing memories. You will always be remembered and have a place in our hearts.

It is very difficult to move on but this is a part of life. We were able to give one lucky Boston Terrier the time of his life and we know we will do it again. Perhaps closer to the New Year Adele and will get another Boston Terrier (or two!!) to fill our lives with the joy we got from Gizmo but for now we will move forward and remember the joy that he brought us.

I find myself wondering if I am 'too' sad about this and whether it is silly the way we are feeling? Then I stop and think no. I believe that anybody who can love a dog that much must have a good heart. You learn from them and they make you realise that unconditional love does exist. For that reason and the way we felt when we were together I know I have the right to feel sad and will do it again and again. Having a dog like this makes your life richer then any amount of money can ever do.

The dog is the only animal that has seen his god.
~Author Unknown

Thanks for reading.

Until next time.


Wednesday, August 27, 2008

A Day at Tuningi

After getting a few requests and questions about our daily life at Tuningi I decided to do a 'photo-diary'. This was done as follows.

Yesterday I carried my little Sony T100 (still love that little camera) around with me. I set my watch to beep on every half hour. At that time I would take a picture of whatever we were doing at the time. I tried to get the image as soon as the alarm went and it was amazing how things worked out during the day. It was actually a lot of fun and something I might do every now and then!

The idea was not award winning photography (working on that with the other images though) but just documentary style images that show what an average day is like for us!

So here goes with the first edition of - A Day at Tuningi

After waking up at 5h30 and a quick shower, I walked through the office. Quick email check and then down to the lodge.

Down at the lodge we make the hot-box with coffee and muffins for the drive and give the guests their wake up call. Also, and this is the most important thing, that first cup of coffee!!

The Cruiser is all packed and ready to go from the main lodge. As soon as the guests finish their coffee - off we go!

Out on drive - it is always great getting out in the field. It is still quite chilly in the morning but we can definitely feel it warming up as we head towards spring.

On this particular morning we headed out for a walk. After the safety briefing we headed out from where we parked the vehicle. A very different experience. It is amazing to be out in the wild with nothing between you and nature.

Here we were almost finished with our walk. We were following lion tracks down the small game path but was not able to find them. It becomes very addictive trying to track the large cats. Lots of stories but more on that in another blog!

After the walk a well-deserved coffee break. The coffee and muffins just tastes better out in the bush!!

Perfect timing!! As my half hour alarm went off we found the Tshabala female walking on the road towards us. She passed within 2 meters of the side of our vehicle. She walked for a little while before finding a nice shady spot and falling asleep.

After leaving the lioness we started making our way home. My next alarm was again perfectly timed with this giraffe ambling along the side of the road.

On last stop before we get back to the lodge for breakfast. Inkwe Pan. The pan is a major hot spot for birding and it was great to see that it is being pumped again. You can also just see the birding hide on the right side of the frame where you can go and sit and get the most amazing bird photographs!

Breakfast time and Adele, Harry (chef) and the rest of the kitchen staff was very busy making sure the guests don't go hungry - something that NEVER happens when you go to a safari lodge!

After drive and breakfast we headed up to the office to see what other work needs to be done. No day is ever the same. Here Gavin is busy looking through the updated Lion Branding sheets that was sent via email.

Coffee time - again! Here Gavin, Adele and I take a break from a very 'hectic' day for another cup of java! (Check the size of the cups!!)

Chaos outside. Toyota came to service all our Land Cruiser today. It really helps a lot that they come to us!

This is Gavin and I installing Windows on his pc after a virus! No idea where it came from but need to get it up and running so he can upload more images to the Photo-Africa Stock Library.

Chaos sorted. Land Cruisers serviced and ready for more drives.

One of the day's highlights. Adele and I put Glen on speaker phone. He is a great friend from Australia and coming out for our wedding as best man / bridesmaid!! Great chatting to you buddy!!

Almost there. Still installing all the programs on Gavin's pc.

Adele checking on the guests having lunch at the main lodge before the afternoon guest drive.

Adele and Gavin finishing up their lunch at the bar.

First animals on the afternoon drive - Blue Wildebeest. Again perfectly timed for my half hour shot.

Heading up to the north of Madikwe towards a possible lion sighting.

Another lion sighting in Madikwe. It was interesting to see that this pride, the Tshaba female and her 5 youngsters, seem to be joining up with the two Etali youngsters. Great sighting with so many lions around us!

Gavin did not have any guests this afternoon so he came along to take some pics. Here he is taking pics of the lions in the dam wall at Maukeng Dam.

Drink stop. Great time of day in the bush!!

On our way back to the lodge this Brown Hyena stared at us coming down Acacia drive. Again, perfectly timed for today's half hour exercise.

Heading home in the dark. On this particular evening the spotlight did not show us much!

Back at the lodge we wait for the guests to come down for dinner. Rather then sit and do nothing you might as well have a drink at the bar!! :)

Last pic of the day - Adele, Heidi, Gavin and I. Since Tuningi recently got awarded the Diners Club Platinum Award for the Wine List of the Year competition we thought it a good idea to pose with some of the wines. Another great day in the bush!!

There you go! Another day at Tuningi!

Tomorrow I will be uploading another Blog and there is a lot of new images coming soon! Time to go now as Gavin is going to make us 4 kilograms of prawns for dinner tonight!!! Yummy!!

As always I look forward to hearing from you!

Until next time.