Friday, October 31, 2008

Good Times

Normally I would be uploading the Weekly High Five on a Friday. Today is slightly different.

It would have been very easy to do a High Five as it has been another great week on the Photo-Africa Stock Library with a huge amount of new images being added to the various African Wildlife and Nature categories. For this week you can visit the Stock Site and have a look through the various new images that have been added.

As you are reading this I will be at Sossusvlei, Namibia getting ready to get married tomorrow. Adele and I decided to keep it nice and small and we will only have our parents, sisters and one friend sharing the day with us. After quite an 'interesting' year we are looking forward to finally completing the next step that has been coming for a long time.

Instead of the High Five I have decided to include a few random 'people' images of the last few days.

Adele and I the evening that Glen arrived from Australia. This is the third time that Glen has visited us in SA and is this time joining us as our best man / bridesmaid!

Gavin and I sharing a drink after seeing a leopard on drive last week, followed by another three (3!) leopards at Tuningi's waterhole!

Adele, Gavin, Heidi and I at the bar at Tuningi.

Adele and I a few years ago at one of the viewpoints in Madikwe. We have been together for almost five years and have worked together for almost all of that time. Many great memories and many more to come!

I will be back in Johannesburg for a quick stop on Monday before we head off on a short trip to the St Lucia wetlands and KwaMadwala Game Reserve. I have no doubt that in between everything else I will be getting quite a few images and I will upload these as soon as I find the chance!

In the meantime, here are a few of our 'wedding-links' that you can go and check out:

Once I am back I will get back to everybody's emails and comments! Thanks a lot for all the support and as always I look forward to hearing from you!

Until next time!


Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Most Beautiful Cat

Whenever you get back from a drive after a leopard sighting there is always a great vibe at the lodge and when you look at some of these images that Gavin recently uploaded to the Photo-Africa Stock Library you can see why.

Absolutely stunning image of a female leopard up on a rocky ledge. If I am not mistaken I think he got this image the day after Adele and I left Madikwe. The day before we had a very brief visual of her and to find a leopard like this is always magic!

If you look at the leopard's body you can see how well their coat camouflages in the bush. If they do not want to be seen you can go for days without even the slightest visual.

I love this image in black & white - it makes the cat stand out against the rocky background. Awesome!

For more leopard images you can click here. Amazingly beautiful cats!

As always I look forward to hearing from you.

Until next time!


Wednesday, October 29, 2008

A Different Kind of Shooting

For a change something completely different!

Every single day we go out into the field and shoot wildlife. Normally this includes shutter speeds, apertures and big lenses.

Glen, a friend visiting from Australia, took the following videos last week while Gavin and I went to do a shoot of a different kind. One that involves targets, rifles and pretty big calibre bullets!

We have to do a logbook shoot every month and these two clips show myself and Gavin doing a 30-20-10. This evaluation requires you to fire successfully at three targets at 30, 20 and 10 meters respectively. This all has to happen in less than 15 seconds.

Good fun and a subtle reminder that we work in the wild! No cages. No zoos. No tame animals - This is the real thing!

As always I look forward to hearing from you.

Until next time!


Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Birds of Colour

In this week's High Five, Mike asked for more images of some SA birds.

I had a quick look through the Photo-Africa Stock Library and these three images were uploaded by Edmund Fourie during the last week.

This male Southern Masked Weaver is in the process of starting to build his nest in an attempt to impress a female or two. From the new nest you can clearly see where the Weavers get their name from.

Same bird, different angle. It is a pity the wing was just cut off in this image but you can clearly see the amazing colours this little guys has during mating season.

Probably the most photographed bird in Africa - the Lilac Breasted Roller. The name, roller, comes from the aerial display they do during mating season. This is a great capture and even has the little bit of light in the eye.

As all the birds in Africa start 'wearing' their breeding plumage I am sure the guys will upload more bird images to the Stock Site which I will then post here on the Blog.

As always I look forward to hearing from you.

Until next time!


Monday, October 27, 2008

Where Did They Go?

Just a quick one...

I received the above email from a guest (thanks Mauritz!) who came to visit us at Tuningi. The image shows Gavin and myself looking for lion tracks after finding a zebra carcass and a whole lot of Spotted Hyena walking away from the scene with a large piece of 'take-aways'.

We found the tracks but I guess judging from the body language you can see that we did not find the big cats on this particular morning. The lioness had youngsters and must have moved away into the thick stuff when the hyenas made their appearance. :)

If you have been to Tuningi and have any images like this you can email them to me and I will add them to the Blog.

As always I look forward to hearing from you!

Until next time.


Sunday, October 26, 2008

Lilac Breasted Roller

It has been quite a busy day trying to get a lot of the small things finalized before we leave for Namibia on Tuesday morning but I have still been able to upload quite a few images to the Photo-Africa Stock Library.

This is one of the images I uploaded earlier today. It is the same Lilac Breasted Roller that featured as my pick of the week in the latest Weekly High Five. Gavin must have captured him coming out of the nest as we were together when we tried to capture the amazing colors on this noisy bird.

This post has been posted automatically by setting the date and time of when you want it posted which means that if you have have already gotten this far I have been successful! The idea is to do a couple of Blogs like this so that I can keep things ticking over while I am away.

As always I look forward to hearing from you.

Until next time.


African Sunsets

I have slowly started working through the huge amount of images I have from the last few weeks at Tuningi.

There are still a lot of images to go through but so far I am pretty happy with the results. In the first RAW directory I found these two images which I quite like.

Elephant Sunset

Heron Sunset

Both images were taken about 100 meters apart as the sun was setting over Madikwe. Gotta love the African bushveld!

I'll be back soon with more!

Until next time.


Saturday, October 25, 2008

Weekly High Five #20

During the last few weeks two new photographers have signed up to showcase their work on Photo-Africa. The images have been rolling in and it is great to see how a small sideline idea I had a few months ago is starting to get closer to what I think it could be.

The quality and diversity of images that is being uploaded to the Photo-Africa Stock Library is amazing and I am proud to be associated to the guys who are out there capturing the beauty and magic of Africa in their images.

I have quite a lot of ideas and plans for the site but I needed to wait for it to grow and gain some momentum. With the way things are going I reckon I might be able to expand and put a few of the ideas into motion quite shortly. I still feel that Photo-Africa is truly unique in that it shows the true Africa through the images that gets uploaded and, more importantly, their are new images being uploaded on a very regular basis.

Adele and I will be heading up to Namibia on Tuesday for our wedding next Saturday and when we get back from the short trip afterwards I will start to focus a lot more on the site and the direction I would like to see it going. So many ideas and possibilities. As they say... "watch this space"!

For now however, back to the Weekly High Five.

For this week's choices I tried to see if it would be possible to actually not include lion images.
Nothing against them as they do make the most amazing images, but Gavin and I were chatting and I thought it would be interesting to see what would come up if the King of the Jungle was not in the mix.

There were however, as always, a number of lion images that stood out so before we get to my High Five choices here are a few of these that caught my attention.

Lion Image 1 - Sereti Snarl by Gavin Tonkinson

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Lion Image 2 - Lion Spotlight by Matt Jones

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Lion Image 3 - Golden Grass by Gerry van der Walt

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Lion Image 4 - Wildlife Art: Electric Lion by Gavin Tonkinson

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A couple of interesting lion images so now that they are 'out of the way' here goes with my choices for this week's High Five.

Image 1 - Quintessential Africa by Matt Jones

Great silhouette of an African Icon. The sun and clouds give this image a great natural, moody feel. I am still not sure if I would have liked the sun and giraffe to have swapped sides in the image as then the animal would have had some space to move into but in this specific image it does not bother me too much. Very nice 'African' image.

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Image 2 - Hyena Stand Off by Matt Jones

Great capture of animal interaction. It is scenes like this that makes a visit to an game reserve in Africa worth it. This image shows the two scavengers walking side by side as they size each other up. Under normal circumstances the spotted hyena would have the upper hand as they travel in large clans. You can see how the Brown Hyena has 'fluffed' up his mane to look bigger in an attempt to intimidate his larger opponent. Great image!

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Image 3 - Zebra Art by Will Knight

The image on it's own would have been good but the treatment in PS truly makes this unique. The tones are beautiful and assists the way the zebra pops in the bottom corner. I like!

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Image 4 - Klipspringer Double by Gavin Tonkinson

I am still leaning towards this one as my pick of the week. Getting a quality image of a Klipspringer is quite unusual and this one is pretty much perfect. The second antelope in the background that is also looking back at the photograph makes it work even better. An amazing image of a seldom seen antelope. Brilliant!

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Image 5 - Nesting Roller by Gavin Tonkinson

This Lilac Breasted Roller has been nesting at an old Leadwood tree at Tuningi. We have tried on numerous occasions to photograph the beautiful bird and I reckon Gavin hit this one on the head. The rollers keep on coming back to the nest to feed the youngsters and this image shows him coming out of the nest. The image is simple with great texture and just a touch of colour. Very tough call between this and Image 4 but I am going with this as my pick of the week.

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Great diversity! When you have a chance go and check out the New Image on the Photo-Africa Stock Library and browse through some amazing African Wildlife and Nature images.

I will be in Johannesburg until Tuesday and will be posting a few more images, videos and updates before I go. I will also try and get a few posts written and have them automatically posted each day so will try and do a High Five next Friday of the images that get uploaded during the next few days.

Time now to go and pick up the champagne for the wedding and run a few other errands. Coming from the peach and tranquility of the African bush in Madikwe I am not quite excited about heading to a shopping mall on a Saturday morning! will have to do a few coffee shop stops to make it all worth while!

As always I look forward to hearing from you!

Until next time.


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Amazing or Brutal - The Video

If you have been following the Blog you will recall the post - "Brutal or Amazing. You Decide..."

This post showed images of a sighting we had during which a female lion killed a pregnant Red Hartebeest and the events which followed as she discovered the unborn baby inside the female.

The guests who were with me when we witnessed this amazing scene emailed me the link to the video they took during that afternoon which shows the entire episode as we saw it. Thanks guys!!

Read the original post and then you can view the ten minute video below.

It was an amazing sighting and something that till today still leaves many unanswered questions.

As always I look forward to hearing from you!

Until next time.


Saturday, October 18, 2008

Weekly High Five #19

It seems that the rain has finally arrived in Madikwe.

Last night we watched as the clouds built up, winds started picking up speed and then finally, after a long dry winter, the rain fell. It was not as much as we had hoped for but at least the dust has been settled and we can now look forward to the next major shower that will bring new life to the plains.

This week has seen a lot of new images being uploaded to the Photo-Africa Stock Library. The diversity is amazing and it makes me again how special the growing collection of images truly is. Some amazing images ranging from lions to birds and landscapes. There has also been quite a few wildlife art images uploaded which is a great new angle to the database of African Wildlife and Nature images.

Here goes with this weeks' High Five.

Image 1 - Lightning by Matt Jones

This was not taken last night, when the first rains fell, but captures the drama perfectly. I still want to take a shot at photographing lightning one day. This image shows the power of an African thunderstorm. Drama, colour, action. In a perfect world I would have liked to see the power lines erased from the image but not a major issue. Powerful image.

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Image 2 - Lion King by Gerry van der Walt

I was initially worried that the background in this image would be too burnt out. In a way I still think so but then again it highlights Africa's largest cat beautifully. Their is intent in his eyes and the background adds to the drama of the image. Perhaps a little more contrast in his face would have added more detail to the image but still a great lion image.

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Image 3 - Wild Dog Art by Grant Marcus

The original image was already a winner and I quite like the 'treatment' this one received. The dog's body creates a perfect diagonal line down to where he is drinking. The frame, which gives it that 'old' feeling also helps you to look towards the centre of the image. The frame in the bottom left corner could perhaps have been lightened just a touch to make the circles in the water more clear but still a nice attempt at create art from a wildlife image.

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Image 4 - Giraffe by Gerry van der Walt

One of the challenges in wildlife photography is to create images that stand out. Images that use different angles to showcase the animal or scene. This image is slightly different to your 'standard' giraffe image in that it is taken from the back yet still shows the animal's eye. What is he looking at? The branches in the left of the frame gives the image a little texture and places the giraffe in a more natural habitat than if it was just the animal's head. Interesting angle - interesting image.

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Image 5 - Leopard Rock by Matt Jones

Simple yet powerful. The leopard could not have been placed more perfectly in the image and the direction she is looking in also works perfectly. The rocks that fill the frame gives great texture and color to the scene while at the same time shows the animal's natural habitat. This is definitely not something you see everyday and is a very special sighting. Great image and was originally my first choice my pick for the week.

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Image 6 - Namibia Dune by Will Knight

Absolutely perfect! I was in the process of uploading the High Five when this image was uploaded to the Stock Site. It shows the dunes in Sossusvlei in Naimibia. The lines and colors capture the beauty of Namibia, 'the land God created in anger', to perfection. I might feel a little biased towards this image as this is where I will be getting married in two weeks but I still feel this image is truly amazing. A late entry but my pick for this week. (This also happened to have been the 2500th image added to the Stock Site!!)
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Another great collection of images. As always I look forward to your comments and feedback! To view these and other image you can visit the Photo-Africa Stock Library.

I am sitting on a LOT of images from the last few weeks and am dying to work through them. The sightings have just been that good that we have been getting home with at least 50 workable images after each drive. I am going to to my best to get these images onto the Stock Site and Blog during the week so make sure to check back soon!

Almost time to head out again.

Until next time!


Thursday, October 16, 2008

Watching Paint Dry

Apparently watching a lion sleep is like watching paint dry.

This was a comment I heard from a guide while sitting with a pair of sleeping lions. I found this quite amusing as paint cannot just get up at any second, go into stalking mode and attempt to take down an unsuspecting wildebeest that happened to wander too close to it. Something we almost witnessed twice in the last week.

No, seriously. I think a lot of people take nature for granted.

Think about it. Realistically lions do sleep for around 18 hours a day so it is what they do but for a great deal of people travelling to Africa, a sleeping lion might be the only one the ever get to see in the wild. The scene will however always be filled with stories. Where did they come from? Why did they choose this spot? Why do they sleep so much? Does it look like they have had anything to eat in the last few days?

These and other questions will lead you to a place where you will better understand their world.

Do you think that National Geographic and Animal Planet get all their amazing footage by ignoring the sleeping lions and just follow the ones that are busy doing something?

When lions sleep their smell and hearing are still extremely acute and you never know when an animal might stumble into their sensual range (that make sense?). Combine that with the fact that lions are instinctive hunters will will not pass up the opportunity to have a go at anything that could possibly be a free meal.

Is it not therefore worth it to sit back, relax and become a part of their story rather then just stop, look and move on? I believe it is.

When you try to keep up with moving lions this is difficult. You are also normally so busy trying to focus on what is going to happen next that you don't always get the chance to delve a little deeper into all the information that can be shared about these amazing predators.

From a photography point of view sleeping lions are brilliant! You have the chance to position yourself, take light into account and play around with various abstracts and close up while waiting for that one moment of magic when they lift their head and yawn as they start their 'wake-up-rituals'.

During the last few weeks we have been lucky enough to spend a lot of time with lions - both sleeping and very awake. For them the difference is not as big as you may think. They can go from fast asleep to full hunting mode in a matter of minutes. Unbelievable to see!

Take the time. Watch them. Appreciate them. Share in their story. In other words... take the time to 'watch the paint dry!'

I will be back tomorrow with this week's High Five. The guys have been uploading at a furois rate this week so check in at the Photo-Africa Stock Library to see some of the new images that have been uploaded.

As always I look forward to hearing from you!

Until next time.


Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Who's the Boss?

The game viewing at Tuningi has been phenomenal the last few weeks.

I have so many images that I need to go through that I am not quite sure where to start. We have also started to leave on drive a little earlier which means getting up at 04h30 each day. This makes for a helluva long day and you kinda want to try and get a little shut eye in between everything else. Will hopefully get through all these images in the next few days.

Wanted to just add these quickly. We sat at Tlou Dam watching a pride of five lions, mother and youngsters, at the water when a mother rhino and her calf came in for a drink as well. The light was virtually gone but I was able to squeeze a few images out at an ISO of 3200! Here are some images of the action that followed.

The presence of Africa's apex predator did not bother the female rhino in the slightest. The youngster however decided to take things into his own hands and took them on all on his own.

The young lions tried to move in on the youngster from various directions but they were vary aware that even at such a young age the little rhino had a lot of fight in him.

The little guys was up for the challenge and chased the lions all over the place while his mother did not even lift her head where she was drinking just to the right of image.

After a few charges back and forth the young rhino and lions stood staring at each other for a while. Notice how the lion's mother is still laying down and not really bothering about the activity in front of her.

Great sighting and awesome to see how the young rhino and young lions tested each other while their older, wiser mothers just got on with their daily activities. You got the feeling that they were thinking "Been there. Done that."

I will post more images on the Blog and Photo-Africa Stock Library as I get the chance to work through them!

Michael, I agree. Your tiger image is pretty impressive! Great capture!!

As always I look forward to hearing from you!

Until next time.


Sunday, October 12, 2008

Wildlife. Photography. And everything in between.

I am currently waiting for the first copy of my second book - Wildlife. Photography. And everything in between.

I am quite excited about this one as it features more than 250 of my African wildlife and nature images of the last few years, a section on various African Icons (such as lions, leopards, zebra and giraffes) and a basic look at composition in wildlife photography.

I will do a proper write up once I have an actual copy in my hands, but in the meantime I have included a small example of some of the composition tips included in the book.

Cropping for Impact

This image, of one of the old Batia male lions in Madikwe, was taken from about 3 meters with a 195mm zoom. If you could not get as close or do not have a huge zoom lens you could always consider cropping your image for more impact. Most post processing software...

Rule of Thirds

When you divide your frame into thirds, both vertically and horizontally, you will end up with four points where these lines cross. These power points have been used by photographers and artists alike in order to create more dynamic and interesting images...

Combining Principles

- Power Point: The mating lions have been placed...
- Active Space: Even though this is a portrait orientated image...
- Diagonal: The diagonal branch in the top right corner...
- S-Curves: S-curves and C-curves can be very effective in leading your viewer's gaze...

For a more detailed preview of the book you can click here and I will be back soon with more African wildlife images.

As always I look forward to hearing from you!


The Tshola-Mateya Coalition

In some of the previous posts you might have read about the Tshola Mateya Coalition.

These two male lions have pretty much taken over the south western areas of Madikwe. They are just under five years old and absolutely massive! During the last few days we have been able to track them down on a number of occasions.

We are still getting to know these two lions and will hopefully get many more opportunities to photograph them as time goes on. Here are a few of the images from the previous two days.

We found Mateya sleeping in the early morning sun yesterday morning. Look so peaceful.

It is difficult to judge the size of these guys without anything to compare it to but they are absolutely massive!

When he raised his head to look at something he must have stood at least 1.5 meters tall.

Mateya is the blonde brother and, as you can see, an absolutely beautiful cat.

This is Tshola, the darker brother. This shot was quite tricky as the early morning light was highlighting only certain parts of him. Still like the result though.

Will be back soon with more images from the last few days. Elephant, black rhino, leopards and wild dogs are but a few of the amazing sightings we have had during the last week!

Until next time.


Friday, October 10, 2008

Weekly High Five #18

Things are finally back to normal. After missing two weeks the Weekly High Five is back every Friday!

This weeks High Five features a very diverse range of images. If you have been following the Blog over the last few weeks you will know that there have been a LOT of new images added to the Photo-Africa Stock Library. I uploaded a lot of these from Johannesburg when I was there on leave but the guys have been at it during the last week and the images just keep on rolling in.

I started doing game drives again yesterday and already have a large number of images to work through. I will be getting these up onto the Stock Site during the weekend and will hopefully also post some images and stories on the Blog.

For now here goes with this week's edition of the Weekly High Five.

Image 1 - Lion Face by Grant Marcus

I love the close crop in this image. The ears have been cut off on both sides which does not 'disrupt' the image as much as if just one was missing. The focal areas of the image, eyes and mouth, forms that invisible triangle with the nose in the middle. Powerful use of shapes. The flies on the nose area combined with the open mouth and little bit of grass at the bottom of the frame gives the image quite a rough look. If anything there could have been a little more light on the eyes but then again this would have drawn your attention to much to the top of the frame. Nice images that captures the lion's wild side.

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Image 2 - Mongoose Fight by Gerry van der Walt

This is a much older image but was only added to the Stock Library recently. These Banded Mongoose are shown having a bit of a tussle about food. In an action image such as this it can be quite useful to have a combination of blurred motion and one or two crisp / sharp areas in the image. The closest mongoose who is trying to get away from the aggressor is blurred which makes you 'see' how he is trying to get away. The visibly upset mongoose in the back has a combination of movement (in the paw) and the face which is a little more in focus. The teeth and eye shows you his intentions. I might have liked to have the face a little more sharp but in this kind of images the slight blur works quite well.

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Image 3 - St Josep Lily by Adriani Jones

Stunning close up. The center of the flower is in focus and then the combination of color and DOF makes it fade perfectly to the side of the frame. The slight bit of light in the top right aids in leading your eye along the green line towards the focal point of the image. This is what macro photography is all about. Absolutely stunning.

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Image 4 - African Sunset by Matt Jones

This image is all about composition. The African sky offers you so many breath-taking moments that if you take a few seconds to look around at what aspects of the environment you should include in your image you can end up with something like this. The two hills form a perfect base for the tree to 'sit' in. The tree is placed on one of the power points (Rule of Thirds) and the way the branches are arranged highlights the orange sky by almost pointing your view in that direction. I still pity the brochure photographer I met in the Seychelles who said that sunsets are over-rated. Stunning capture!

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Image 5 - African Wild Cat by Matt Jones

This is the first image of an African Wild Cat that has been uploaded to the Stock Library. These little nocturnal cats are very difficult to photograph but this image works very well. The animal has been placed to the right of the frame and the direction the spotlight is coming from, the direction the cat is looking towards and the direction of the grass in the background all lads your view to the left of the frame. To photograph an animal like this in the evening take some doing and to get it nice and sharp with natural colors is quite special. A special image and my choice of the week.

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A great mix of images. You can view these and other new African Wildlife images on the Photo-Africa Stock Library. By clicking on any of the images on the Stock Site you are helping us to rank the images. When you click on Most Popular Images you can view the images that have been receiving the most hits. Click on your favorites to help them 'climb the ranks'!

I will be back towards the end of the weekend with many more unique African Wildlife Images. The game viewing is good and the photography is fantastic!

As always I look forward to hearing from you.

Until next time.