Wednesday, February 11, 2009


Remember that the Photo-Africa Blog has moved!!

You can view the new site at

As always I look forward to hearing from you!


Monday, January 26, 2009

Quick Update!

Just a quick update from the Photo-Africa Blog.

Since the Blog moved from here the following posts have been uploaded:

Two new features on the Blog have also been posted quite a few times. They are:

  • Photo of the Day
  • Did You Know?

You can sign up to receive all the latest posts via email by clicking here.

As always I look forward to hearing from you!

Until next time.


Monday, January 12, 2009

Photo-Africa Blog Has Moved!

The new Photo-Africa website is finally complete and can be visisted at

From now all new posts will be uploaded to the Blog on the new site. The Blog can be accessed directly at

Please make sure to sign up for the RSS Feed on the new site or alternatively subscribe to receive all the latest news and posts via email. This can all be easily done by clicking on the links on the new site.
See you on the flip side!!

Friday, January 9, 2009

Weekly High Five - 2009

I have just uploaded the first edition of the Weekly High Five to the new Photo-Africa Blog!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

So Close

As you might know, I am in the process of intergrating the Photo-Africa Home Page with this Blog.

All new Blog posts will from now on be uploaded to the new site.

There are still a LOT of things I need to do on the new site which includes all the RSS feeds, galleries and domain changes but so far so good!

I will keep you posted on this Blog as to when the whole project is completed but in the meantime please visit the New site & Blog which you can find by clicking here.

The latest Blog Post, So Close, can be viewed by visiting the new site and clicking on Blog on the top of the screen!

If you have any comments or suggestions I look forward to hearing from you!

Until next time.


Tuesday, January 6, 2009

A New Start...

2009 has definitley kicked off with a bang!

The shortened version so far is this:

  • Very busy at lodge - We have been pretty much fully booked since middle December so I am looking forward to going on leave next week. Nice to be home on my birthday as well.
  • Great sightings - Wild dogs, lion cubs, leopards and loads of general game. Amazing stuff!
  • Huge amount of great images to edit - Have been having a helluba time shooting the last few weeks. Cannot wait to get a chance to work through all the RAW files.
  • New job lined up - More on this very soon.
  • New puppies on the way - Yip. Gizmo's parents are pregnant again and we will be getting two new Boston Terrier pups! Very exciting!!
  • New website almost ready - This has been coming for a long time. I am in the process of giving Photo-Africa a new fresh look. The Homepage and Blog will be combined into one with a much more simple feel and new features. The version I am working on is currently live and you can visit it by clicking here. Remember there is still a LOT of work left and I should have everything 100% up and running by end January. This includes the links, galleries and many more images. When you have a moment and visit the new guestbook and leave me your comments! As soon as the new site is completed it will replace the home page and this blog. As they say... watch this space!
I am sorry for not getting back to all my emails yet but I am working on it and I will get back to you!!

As always I look forward to hearing from you!!

Until next time.


Monday, December 29, 2008

What If...

What if...

Whether in photography or life in general, these two words can potentially carry huge meaning. 

In photography these two words could be the difference between an absolutely amazing image and a very average snap shot.  When used in retrospect it is too late and there is then nothing than can be done to get another chance but when you think of it before you click the shutter you open up your mind to all the possibilities that are locked up in 'what if' you can create magic.

What if the blade of grass and leaf was not covering this young leopard's face?  Would it have been a better image?  Probably, but it really does not matter as there is nothing you can do about it now.  The image has been created and that is that.  A quick 'what if' before the shutter clicked might have led to a different outcome but then again hindsight is always nice and clear.  (I still like the image though!)

Now depending on your point of view on the age old cliche art imitates life and, whether for good or bad, those two little words are also a part of our everyday lives.  Would it not have been easy if, like in photography, we can ask 'what if' before decisions get made.  Before we speak to someone.  Before life forces you to move on.  

It seems way more likely that most of us will face those two words in retrospect as during this time of year we start looking forward to looking back.  New resolutions.  New goals.  New dreams.  

For whatever reason we all have to deal with our own 'what if' questions, however difficult they may be.

What if I said it?
What if I did not say it?
What if I listened?
What if I did not listen?
What if I told that one person how I really felt?
What if did not give up?
What if I did?
What if he was still in our life?
What if I accepted that offer?
What if I had the courage to stand by my own convictions?
What if I am better than I think I am?
What if it really is possible?
What if...

Life is not always black and white.  Yes, there are things that are right and wrong but people's differences, personalities and ideas add color to our everyday life.  When you can combine this color with a respect for old-fashioned values you will be able to live life to the full and not be afraid to face your 'what if' questions.

At the risk over too many cliches, life really is too short.  

On a personal note, I feel there are things that I would have done slightly differently but I am grateful to say there are no regrets.  There are most definitely a few key moments in life I might have decided to negotiate differently but the road these decision has led me on has been amazing so even if there was regret life found a way to make up for it.  New possibilities.  New ideas.  It has been quite a ride but it is not over yet.  In a very short time from now it seems things might change again.  As long as I do not sit back one day thinking 'what if I made a different decision' - bring it on!

As you look back at 2008 treasure the memories and look forward to another chance.  In 2009 live life to the fullest.  Tell that person how you feel.  Go climb that mountain.  Take that trip.  Take more pictures.   Make the change.  Follow your heart.  Follow your dreams.  Do everything you need to do so that when you get to this time next year there won't be any 'what ifs'. 

Thanks to everybody for their support during this year.  With a lot of things planned for the New Year I look forward to sharing more images.  More stories.  More of life.  It has been a helluva ride but buckle up because here we go again...

All the best for 2009.  Make it count!

Until next year!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Ten 'Great' Photo-Africa Images - 2008

What makes a great image?

If you ask 100 people you are going to get 100 answers.  It is most definitely a personal choice but there has to be something that can be found in great images.  Something that, whatever your point of view, demands the viewer's attention and makes you look at the image again.  

Various dimensions like technical quality, composition and other photographic 'rules' can be thrown around but is it truly possible to place a series of criteria and regulations as to what ultimately makes a great image?  I don't think so.

A great image should excite you.  A great image demands a second look.  A great image should capture the essence of the moment which can then be seen and felt by the viewer.  A great image will still be a great image in 20 years.  In 100 years.  If you as the photographer can moved past the point where you worry about mastering technique and your equipment you are in a position to finally start creating great images.  Images that you see in your mind before clicking the shutter.

Wildlife photography is no different.  My initial idea was to, for this final High Five post of 2008,  go through the images on the Photo-Africa Stock Library and choose a Top Ten of sorts.  Obviously I was very optimistic as I have not even gotten through a quarter of the images.  

Instead I went to the Most Popular images, based on amount of views on the site, and chose ten images from there to feature in this post.  As I was looking through the small thumbnails I chose the images that, even as a small preview, caught my attention.  Isn't that what it is all about?  For an image to catch your gaze no matter what the size?  

I don't think all the images on the Most Popular page are great images.  In my opinion some of them are pretty ordinary but people's preferences differ.  A good image to me might be a masterwork to you.  A great image surely then has to be the one that, no matter what your background, preference or mood, stands out and demands your attention.  

So as the final High Five of the year, here are in no particular order a number of great images that have been uploaded to Photo-Africa during 2008. 

These images are all very different but great in their own way.  Have a look at each images and choose only one word to describe it.  Passion.  Tension.  Power.  Beauty.   If you can do this I believe an image has what it takes to be 'great'.

At the end of the day beauty is in the eye of the beholder.  If your vision is true to yourself great images will create themselves.  Shoot with your mood.  Shoot with your feelings.  Shoot like you want to and you are on your way to create great images.

During January I will work my way through the images on the Stock Site and post my real Top Ten for 2008.  For now you can visit the following two links to view the ever-growing database of African Wildlife and Nature Photographs on the Stock Site.  Even during the festive season more than 100 new images have been added.  Absolutely 'great' stuff rolling in!

What do you think makes a great image?  Is it just one thing?

As always I look forward to hearing from you!

Until next time.

Spot the Wild Dog

With being one of Africa's most endangered carnivores, the Wild Dog is notoriously difficult to find and keep up with.

The dog below thought he should make it even more difficult as he sat in an old farm dam while another three dogs were scouting around for impala. 

After he came out of his morning hiding place we followed them around for a while as they ran all over the place after, by now, very paranoid impala.  In the end we lost visual as they moved off into the thick bushes after another possible meal.

As always I look forward to hearing from you!

Until next time.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

An African Christmas

Christmas and New Year normally means a nice long holiday spent with friends and family.  This is not quite the same when you work in the lodge & hospitality industry.

During this time of year most lodges in Africa are completely fully booked.  For the management, guides and staff this means a very busy time as you create special memories and wonderful experiences for guests.  Normally this goes hand in hand with working long hours without having the chance to see family and celebrate the holiday as you normally would.  I truly take my hat off to the people working over this time of year!

During the day you find yourself looking at the people on holiday as they celebrate the togetherness and spirit of the festive season.  Somewhere deep down inside you feel conflicting emotions.  These feelings pendulum between a sad longing to also have the opportunity to share special moments with friends and family and a feeling of satisfaction of having created another moment, another memory for someone else.  

Right now these memories are made up of adventures in the African bush, great meals and the warm hospitality where every little detail comes together to create a kind of magic.

During the last few days of 'silly season' the game viewing at Tuningi has been spectacular.  The last four groups of guests have all seen the Big 5 a couple of times over and the pack of Wild Dog have been very kind to give us the most spectacular sightings.

As we sat watching the sunset below on Christmas eve it was a strange kind of way it feels great to be a part of the memories that some people will hopefully carry with them for a long time to come.  

The only other feeling that is always there is that next year or the year after we will also be able to create memories with family and friends but for now we continue to do what we do and create magic for our guests - a feeling that, for now at least, is worth all the time spent.

I hope you have a Merry Christmas!

Until next time!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Season's Greetings!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Weekly High Five #26

It is amazing to think that this will be the second last Weekly High Five for 2008.

For those of you that are new to this Blog here is how it works. The Photo-Africa Stock Library features a growing database of African Wildlife & Nature images. These images get uploaded by more than 25 wildlife photographers and field guides working in Game Reserves all over the African continent.

All the images have been taken in the wild and shows Africa through the eyes of people who care enough for nature and it's wildlife to capture the beauty and magic that is Africa. With many of the contributing photographers working in Game Reserves and witnessing the most amazing sightings every day , the images form a part of one of the most unique and regularly updated showcases of African Wildlife & Nature images on the Internet. All these images can be viewed on the Stock Site and is available as non-licensed commercial, editorial or personal use.

Every Friday I choose five of the latest images that have been uploaded to the site and feature them on the Blog with my thoughts on what makes these images stand out while always keeping photography and wildlife in mind.

With this being the 26th edition of the High Five, I have featured 130 images from the more than 3000 images on the Stock Site. For next week's edition, which will be the last for the year, I will choose my top ten favourite images of 2008. I know that as I am writing this it is going to be a very difficult thing choosing only ten but it will be interesting looking through the images all the way back to when the Stock Site was started in April this year.

Make sure to check in next week for Photo-Africa's Top Ten Images of 2008, but for now here goes with this week's High Five.

* * *

Image 1 - Shaking Spurfowl by Matt Jones

Interesting image. This Natal Spurfowl is busy shaking himself clean after a dust-bath when Matt clicked the shutter. The head is slightly out of focus but still assists in creating a dynamic image of the bird in action. If the head was perfectly crisp this would have been ab even better image but I still find it fascinating.

* * *

Image 2 - Black Shouldered Kite by Gerry van der Walt

This image presents quite an interesting exposure challenge but the final result is not too bad. What makes this image work is the Black Shouldered Kite looking straight at the camera - eye contact.  The ideal would have been to have the sun slightly more from behind the photographer which would have highlighted the beautiful red eyes more but still a good bird image.  Would perhaps have liked to see more contrast but not a major.

* * * 

Image 3 - Vulture Face by Paul Benson

As far as bird close up goes this is right up there.  As with the previous image, and all other wildlife images, it's all in the eyes.  Not only is the eyes crisp and sharp but the catch light makes the image come alive.  The negative space on the right is used perfectly and gives the vulture something to look at.  Stunning image of a very difficult to shoot subject.

* * * 

Image 4 - Mating Lions by Gavin Tonkinson

This image has quite a few things going for it.  The first is, again, eye contact.  The male lion looking at you as if to say "What are you looking at?" immediately draws you into the image.  The way it looks as if the male lion is kissing the female on her head gives the image a 'cute' quality.  I am not quite sure what to make of the look on the female's face but I like it.  Kind of confused perhaps? This image also shows that you should sometimes break the rules and place your focal point in the centre of the image.  There are so many small things happening that it does not feel like your gaze is stuck in the middle of the frame.  Nice one.

* * * 

Image 5 - Hyena Battle by Matt Jones

This is easily my pick of the week.  Absolutely stunning image that shows interaction between the two species of hyena.  The dry dusty environment works perfectly to heighten the emotion of the scene as the Brown Hyena kicks up the dust.  From a previous post, this image draws you in.  It must have excited the photographer as it does the viewer.  This is what wildlife photography is all about - showing the stories that play out in nature.   Great shot!

* * * 

It is nice to see that a lot of the guys are uploading more bird images.  Overall I have been very impressed with the diversity of images that have been uploaded this year and hopefully this will show in next week's Top Ten post.

As we approach the end of the year there are a lot of new ideas and regulars I would like to add to the Blog.  If all goes to plan this will probably start coming together towards the end of January after I have met with a few potential partners and sponsors for competitions Photo-Africa will start running.  I am also in the process of integrating the Photo-Africa Home Page, Blog and Stock Site into one.  Lots of work, many ideas and still quite a few things to iron out but the process has started.  Will keep you posted!

Even though things are quite hectic for us over this time of year I will still upload a few posts during the next week before the Top Ten post next weekend.

As always I look forward to hearing from you.

Until next time.

Friday Fun - African Laxative

I received this image by email.  Not sure who took it or where but the caption worked.

"An African laxative about to start working"

As always I look forward to hearing from you!

Until nest time.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Don't Think - Just Do it!

Photography is art. It is abstract. It is a passion.

An image should convey your passion, interest and excitement. If you are not shooting with this in mind you will struggle to produce images that make people go 'Wow!'.

You can get your images perfectly sharp with a text book histogram but it your images do not contain elements that excite you they will probably also not excite your viewers. In order to make better images shoot with feeling. Shoot with passion.

Ansel Adams said "There is nothing worse than a sharp photograph of a fuzzy idea."

Think before you shoot. Feel before you shoot. Don't click the shutter at a scene purely because it has been done before or you think it might look good as a photograph. You need to know. If your images don't 'talk' to you they probably won't 'talk' to other people either.

Technical knowledge is important but it should never get in the way of shooting what excites you. Ken Rockwell says on his site "Worrying about manual exposure settings and technique distracts you from your passion, just as if your lover were to stop to answer the phone in the middle of a steamy one-on-one. You need to worry about seeing, feeling, composition and lighting, NOT about f/stops as you start out."

Many people still believe that buying a newer, better camera will automatically help them produce better images. People make photographs, not cameras. A good photographer can make brilliant images with a very basic camera while many people with very fancy and expensive cameras fail to produce striking images as they lack passion and vision.

Here are two if the images that got me quite excited the last two days.

Fantastic build up of clouds over Tlou Dam in the Madikwe Game Reserve.

The front paw of a very large male lion that produces the tracks we spend endless morning walking after.

It might not always be the obvious, but shoot what excites you. Don't think about it, just do it!

As always I look forward to hearing from you!

Until next time.


Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Madikwe's Inselbergs

If you have ever been to the Madikwe Game Reserve you will know that the Inselbergs are one of it's defining features.

This panorama shows the road on the western fence line close to the Wonderboom Gate and the Inselbergs as they stretch into the reserve from Botswana in the North. You can click on the image for a larger view.

As always I look forward to hearing from you.

Until next time.