Bloemfontein Camera Club meeting: Outcome of my images submitted – August 2016

Last night we had our monthly camera club meeting for September 2016 and I haven’t even posted the results of the month of August yet. So, here it is:

Bloemfontein camera club:

http://www.bkk.co.za/index.php/en/home

 

A. Nature category

Just a reminder – no manipulation using computer software is allowed in this category – so what you see was what I’ve captured (and I do not like the manipulation part of Photoshop or photography for that matter).

1.

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Catch in last light – scored 12/15 (Gold award)

Nikon D3S camera, Nikon 200-400mmf4 lens @300mm, handheld, ISO 800, f4, 1/6400 second, exposure compensation = -0.67, Aperture priority, White Balance – sun, 30 meters from eagle.

An image taken a few years during our trip to Norway. Not very easy capturing these eagles taken the fish from the water handheld and shooting from a small motorboat. Satisfied that I was able to get a decent shot.

 

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2.

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 Lioness wake up – scored 10/15 (Silver award)

Nikon D4 camera, Nikon 600mmf4 lens, Gimpro head on power clamp fixed to the seat of the vehicle. ISO 800, f8, 1/2000 second, exposure compensation = -1.00, Aperture priority, Fill in flash, White Balance – sun. 19 meters from lions

The image was taken in the Greater Kruger National Park – Sabie Sands. We followed the two lioness and the cubs for a while until they came to rest on a small height. It was possible to get a nice shot at eye-level with the lioness not interested in entertaining her cub. Missing out on a better score from judges because technically it is not a perfect image (I can just hear the comments of the judges – overcast, bad light, no eye contact, no catch-light in the eye, etc., etc.). Luckily it doesn’t bother me – I like the story telling element, so did judges of one international and one national photo competition.

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B. Pictorial category

There are just the two categories in the camera club that the photographers can submit images for judging. In this category, anything type of images (you are allowed to manipulate images for this category) can be submitted but preferably not Nature/wildlife images.

1.

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Blind runner – score 11/15 (Gold award)

Nikon D4 camera, Nikon 600mmf4 lens, Gimpro head on tripod, ISO 1250, f8, 1/4000 second, exposure compensation = -1.33, Aperture priority, White Balance – sun, 50 meters from athletes.

An image taken during the national athletics championship held in Bloemfontein earlier this year – an image of yet another world record holder from Bloemfontein namely Louzanne Coetzee. Taken late in the afternoon around one bend where the sun was shining on that specific spot and the rest of the track was in shadows.

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Message to take home

People do have different opinions regarding camera clubs. Some tend to stay with the camera clubs and submit their images every month. Other photographers do get frustrated and angry with the scores and critique from the judge and leave the club. No matter what your opinion regarding a camera club is, just remember the following:

It is important to seek critique on your work as well as to try and understand how people feel about your work. However, your main aim with photography should not be to take images for the purpose of getting many likes as possible. You aim should be to take images that you like, enjoy and that means something special to you. Yes, it is normal for you to try and take images that people will enjoy, but you should not go out into the field with that approach/your main aim. Do what you like to do and enjoy it yourself. It is just human nature that some people will not like your work, and more than often it will be the judges of a photography competition or the judges at your local camera club. Don’t get distracted or try and change your style just to satisfy the judges. Eventually such an approach will catch up with you and you will get discouraged with photography.

 

Until next month camera club meeting – keep on shooting

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Trip report: Indlovu River Lodge (Karongwe Private Game Reserve), Julie 2016

My wife and I as well as two friends have just returned from a photography safari in the Limpopo province. Albie Venter from Africa Unlocked organised the safari and was our guide. We stayed the first two nights at the Indlovu River Lodge in the Karongwe Private Game Reserve about 40km outside Hoedspruit on the R36 road to Tzaneen. A very interesting game reserve offering various photography opportunities such as game drives on “vulture vehicles” and two hides (an animal and bird hide).

Albie decided to concentrate on the hide for the two days and not making use of the game drives because our next 4 days (yes, Albie – 4 days!!!) were reserved for Timbavati Nature Reserve in the Greater Kruger National Park with plenty of game drives on our schedule. Our daily routine was something like this – wake up was around 05H00, coffee (tea for me) around 05H45 and leaving for the hide around 06H00. The hides are about a 10min drive from the lodge. Leaving the hides around 10:00 depending on the activities around the waterhole to drive back to the lodge. Brunch at 11H00 and then it was time to download and to sort the images taken during the morning session – “skei die kaf van die koring”. An there were lots of “kaf” because nowadays I tend to play around and experience with different options when photographing wildlife. Tea was served again around 15:00 and we left for the hide around 15:15. We exited the hide just after sunset to drive directly back to the lodge, had some drinks and then supper was served in the boma around 19H30. Afterwards yet another quick session of photo downloading and sorting before a well-earned sleep.

Below are a few images taken during our time spent in the hides:

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In the hide

Nikon D3S, Nikon 24-70mm lens, ISO2000, 1/25 sec, f4, exposure comp = +0.33, Aperture priority, WB = sun

And this what the hide looks like with four very serious photographers occupying the animal hide.

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The first afternoon after we arrived at the lodge – some people took a major detour to arrive at the lodge following the advice of Rebecca and Albie’s advice – we went straight to the animal hide. Any surprises? Lost of baboons around – so I had plenty of time to play around.

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Baboon look

Nikon D4, Nikon 600mm lens, ISO800, 1/2000 sec, f8, exposure comp = -1.00, Aperture priority, WB = sun, fill in flash, 11 meters from baboon

This first image is the typical camera club type of image – technical correct in good light

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 Baboon half 1080 W

Baboon half

Nikon D4, Nikon 600mm lens, ISO800, 1/2000 sec, f8, exposure comp = -1.00, Aperture priority, WB = sun, fill in flash, 15 meters from baboon

Then it was time to start playing around with the setup and composition – this image above is definitely not your typical camera club image but I just love the effect that the 600mm lens is creating with its very shallow depth of field. Many people including camera club judges will think this image was manipulated (background and foreground blurred) in Photoshop during the post-processing but it is not the case. In the very last image of this post  I will show what an image looks like that was manipulated in Photoshop – please note that for competition purposes, the manipulation of nature images using computer software are not allowed.

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Baboon X drink

Nikon D4, Nikon 600mm lens, ISO800, 1/2000 sec, f8, exposure comp = -1.00, Aperture priority, WB = sun, fill in flash, 10 meters from baboon

The shallow depth of field of the 600mm lens can some times be problematic – not getting the back and tail of baboon in focus even with an aperture of f8. Nevertheless, it is the story telling elements that is important to me in this image.

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Baboon side drink

Nikon D4, Nikon 600mm lens, ISO800, 1/2000 sec, f8, exposure comp = -1.00, Aperture priority, WB = sun, fill in flash, 8 meters from baboon

Yet another experiment with composition and camera setting – I tend to increase the aperture of my camera the close I get to my subject with the 600mm lens.  It seems to have worked for this type of image.

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Baboon ET phone 1200 W

Baboon ET phone

Nikon D4, Nikon 600mm lens, ISO4000, 1/3200 sec, f8, exposure comp = -0.67, Aperture priority, WB = sun, fill in flash, 15 meters from baboon

Further experimenting with composition and camera setting – I had to increase my ISO to 4000 with the aperture set at f8 to get a decent shutter speed to freeze the scratching of the young baboon. Now he looks like ET phoning home.

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 Baboon dark 1080 W

Baboon dark

Nikon D4, Nikon 600mm lens, ISO2000, 1/800 sec, f8, exposure comp = -0.67, Aperture priority, WB = sun, fill in flash, 15 meters from baboon

This is my favourite shot of the afternoon – taken after sunset with my flash to create the dark background (not manipulated in Photoshop).

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We were also privileged to experience the visit of a giraffe to the hide and waterhole during the same first afternoon.

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Giraffe drinking eye

Nikon D3S, Nikon 70 – 200mm lens @ 200mm, ISO200, 1/1600 sec, f4, exposure comp = -0.67, Aperture priority, WB = sun, fill in flash, 10 meters from the giraffe,

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The next morning we decided to go early to the animal hide to get some backlight shot – surprise, surprise, it was an overcast day! Not the ideal day for wildlife photography but one needs to improvise, hence the following shot against the clouds and rising sun

Giraffe sill 1200 W

Giraffe sill

Nikon D800, Nikon 70 – 200mm lens @ 70mm, ISO320, 1/1250 sec, f5.6, exposure comp = -0.1, Aperture priority, WB = sun, 20 meters from the giraffe

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After a while we decided to go to the bird hide to photograph  some birds. Not much going on except for a flock of guinea fowls foraging around the hide.

 Guinea fowl hide 1200 W

Guinea fowl hide

Nikon D4, Nikon 600mm lens, ISO2500, 1/5000 sec, f8, exposure comp = 0, Aperture priority, WB = sun, 15 meters from the bird

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During our afternoon session the sun was out providing us with some interesting shots from the animal hide again.

Kudu afternoon 1080 W

Kudu late afternoon

Nikon D3S, Nikon 24-70mm lens @ 38mm, ISO1250, 1/400 sec, f11, exposure comp = +0.33, Aperture priority, WB = sun, fill in flash, 7 meters from kudu

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Njala and baboon 1920 W

Njala and baboon

Nikon D3S, 70 – 200mm lens @ 70mm, ISO800, 1/8000 sec, f4, exposure comp = -0.67, Aperture priority, WB = sun, fill in flash, 10 meters from Njala

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Njala head hide 1200 W

Njala head hide

Nikon D4, Nikon 600mm lens, ISO5000, 1/4000 sec, f4, exposure comp = -0.67, Aperture priority, WB = sun, 28 meters from the Njala

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I conclude this trip report with and image I manipulated in Photoshop (as mentioned earlier in this trip report – the only image manipulated in Photoshop to get a nice, smooth background by adding haze (Dehaze function in Lightroom) to the background. I will not be able to us this image in a Nature photography competition.

To be continue with the trip report on our visit to Timbavati!!!

 

Message to take home:

If you look at the advertisement/promotion on the Internet of this little gem of a nature reserve with its animal and bird hide, you think: “Ag, it is easy to get those WOW image.” It may be your perception but believe me – your perception is wrong and it is not that easy. It is HARD WORK. Nowadays, to get those unique images, photographers require a lot of time with a lot of energy & effort to be put into a safari/trip. It is not just about arriving at a site and start shooting. You constantly need to plan the shots carefully while waiting for the right moment – a lot goes into photography. But at the end, it is worth the effort if you are satisfied with the outcome.

Until the next trip report – keep on shooting!!!

 

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Outcome of my photography salon (competition) entries – Month of April 2016

I am a bit behind with the posting of the results of my salon entries because we are already in Aug 2016 but no need to worry – eventually we’ll get there. So let’s go directly to the outcomes of my salon entries for April 2016

The details of the salons are as follows:

 

Total number of salons entered: 11

9 international salons & 2 national salons.

Overall outcome:

International: 60 acceptances from 120 photos entered = 50% acceptance rate

National: 21 acceptances from 48 photos entered = 44% acceptance rate

Medals: 3

COMs: 6

Now for the individual salons:

 

A. INTERNATIONAL SALONS

 

  1. 2nd Tower circuit 2016 (Serbia)

This was a 5-salon circuit

Photos entered & results: 4 photos entered in Nature section (20 entries) = 10 acceptances (50% acceptance rate)

Comments: All 4 images received two ore more acceptances with Weaver sparrow dance receiving 4 out of a possible 5 acceptances. Once again and a continuation of my previous post – no need to travel to exotic places because this image was taken in my back yard.

Weaver sparrow dance 1200 W

Weaver sparrow dance

My own back yard, Bloemfontein, South Africa

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  1. Scottish salon 2016 (Scotland)

Photos entered & results: 4 photos entered = 2 medals (50% acceptance rate)

Comments: Staying with the average of 50% acceptance rate with my international salon entries this time with two medals. Ostrich in dust was a very interesting medal winner if you like backlight shots. For those who are visiting the Kgalagadi park – be on the lookout for the ostriches on your late afternoon drive back from Rooiputs to Twee Rivieren (on the western side of the road). They are usually around taking dust baths providing your with some interesting backlight shots.

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Ostrich in dust

Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, South Africa

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  1. Natura naturans salon 2016 (Serbia)

Photos entered & results: 8 photos entered = 2 acceptances (25% acceptance rate)

Comments: An interesting salon with two nature section namely Birds/Insects as well as Landscape. Lupha rocks is the only one of my four images entered and received an acceptance.

 Lupha rocks 1024 300k 72d sRGB W

Lupha rocks

Luphathana, Wild coast, Eastern Cape, South Africa

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  1. 4th Cheltenham salon 2016 (UK)

Photos entered & results: 4 photos entered = 1 acceptances (25% acceptance rate)

Comments: Eisch, I am going downhill with my salon results at this stage with once again only a 25% acceptance rate. However, Francolin reflection received its required third acceptances (working towards my EPSA honours – three acceptances per image required) after its 9th salon entry.

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Francolin reflection

Mashatu nature reserve, Botswana

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  1. 2nd Digitalna foto arhiva crcuit 2016 (Serbia)

This was a 4-salon circuit with three Nature section – my favourite type of circuit. Four countries were involved as well.

Photos entered & results: 4 photos entered in the three sections (48 entries) = 23 acceptances (48 % acceptance rate)

Comments: Once again, each of the 12 images received at least one acceptances meaning the images are up to standard but maybe the images were just not the “taste”/choice of the judges. However, Goshawk shadow received acceptances in all 4 salons. Initially I thought to crop out the shadow but after I’ve developed the image, I liked the shadow. And for those of you who are familiar with the Kgalagadi will know this images was taken at my favourite waterhole in the park.

 Goshawk shadow 1200 W

Goshawk shadow

Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, South Africa

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  1. 1st IUP SALON 2016 (Hong Kong)

Photos entered & results: 20 photos entered in 5 section = 9 acceptances (45% acceptance rate)

Comments: I received a 100% acceptance rate in the Nature section with all four images receiving acceptances. Cloudy elephants also received its required 3rd acceptance after seven entries so I can put the image away.

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Cloudy elephants

Mashatu nature reserve, Botswana

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  1. Indian Photofest salon 2016 (India)

Photos entered & results: 4 photos entered = 4 acceptances (100% acceptance rate)

Comments: A, at last a successful salon with a 100% acceptance rate. Leopard bite also received its required 3rd acceptance after 5 entries. Sorry for posting so many leopard images but these animals are so elusive and they are one of my favourite animals – many more to come. Also anything can happen around them – like these two that are in a mating mood. So always be prepared!

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Leopard bite

Greater Kruger national park, South Africa

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  1. Sydney harbour salon 2016 (Australia)

Photos entered & results: 8 photos entered in two Nature sections = 2 ribbons & 4 acceptances (75% acceptance rate)

Comments: Three acceptances each in both sections with 2 ribbons (COMs). Leopard one eye reflection received its required 3rd acceptance after its 9th entry and received one of the ribbons – a struggle to get the required 3 acceptances for this image, Not sure why (many because of the one eye not being there anymore or is it the quality of the light – I sound like a camera club judge now – the technical aspects of the image is more important than the story telling element) but at last I can put the image away.

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Leopard one eye reflection

Greater Kruger national park, South Africa

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  1. 5th Hoylake salon 2016 (UK)

Photos entered & results: 4 photos entered in Nature section = 3 ribbons & 4 acceptances (75% acceptance rate)

Comments: And I should conclude this international salon section with yet another image taken from my back yard and it received its required 3rd acceptance in its 5th entry. I just love the interaction between the birds in my back yard during the breeding season. I also choose a very nice sport to photograph them – just under a dark bush with the sun shining for almost an hour in the afternoons on them. The black background is not manipulated in Photoshop.

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Weaver on backside

My back yard, Bloemfontein, South Africa

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 B. NATIONAL SALONS

 

  1. 3rd Southern suburbs SALON 2016 (South Africa)

Photos entered & results: 24 photos entered = 1 medal, 6 acceptances (29% acceptance rate)

Comments: A struggle lately with the national salons even with my entries in the nature section. For example in this salon I only received 1 acceptance in the Wildlife section. So how about posting an image that did not receive an acceptance and you be the judge. Standing hug already received 2 national salon and 3 international salon acceptances including a COM award. Maybe the judges are of the opinion that I am blurring the background of this image during my post-processing (which is a total no-no in nature photography) but it is not the case. It is just the 600mm lens that can create such blurry backgrounds if one is close to your subject and the background is some distance away.

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Standing hug

Tswalu private national park, South Africa

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  1. Photo challenge SALON 2016 (South Africa)

Photos entered & results: 24 photos entered = 4 COM & 10 acceptances (58% acceptance rate)

Comments: A much better salon result for me with 3 COMs and another acceptance in the nature section – 100% acceptance rate. Lioness water please is one of those images with a COM award.

Lioness water please 1080a W

Lioness water please

Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, South Africa

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Message to take home:

Thinking about photographic salon and other competitions, one needs to be careful not to get too upset with the outcome of these competitions. It is just because the judging process is so subjective. The same principle applies to camera club judging. Therefore, this year I decide to review the outcome of my salon and camera club results and I realised the following:

My results are disappointing because nowadays I am trying to do things “Out of the box”. I am moving away from the typical salon and camera style of images. Camera club evenings and salon competitions are now becoming just a measuring tool and not the ultimate. I am now prepared to step outside the comfort zone of those typical (technical correct and rules complaint images) camera club images. With such an approach it’ll probably all go wrong and one’s hit rate will be very low during a trip. However, trying to capture something different is where you will find the WOW photos. We all the rules in photography such as the rule of thirds, golden triangle, etc. and we hear it time and time again in the critique of the camera club judges. Why not try and break it? Such an approach will set you apart from the endless bird on a stick shots we see every day on social media (not that there is anything wrong with such images). Lets see where such an approach is taking my level and style of photography.

What (and where) is your style of photography? If it is within the camera club milieu, so be it but just make sure you do not get too upset with the judges and most of all – keep on enjoying it. Otherwise, try and do something different – not matter what other people (especially the judges) think.

Until next month, keep on shooting

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Outcome of my photography salon (competition) entries – Month of March 2016

Yes, in this post I’ll show you that you do not need to go to exotic places to get salon-winning photos. You can capture those images in your back garden as some of the images posted in this blog post were captured in my back garden So, without any further unnecessary delays, lets look at the results:

The details of the salons are as follows:

 

Total number of salons entered: 9

7 international salons & 2 national salons entered

Overall outcome:

International: 60 acceptances from 130 photos entered = 46% acceptance rate (corrected version)

National: 21 acceptances from 48 photos entered = 44% acceptance rate

Medals: 2

COMs: 4

Now for the individual salons:

 

A. INTERNATIONAL SALONS

 

  1. RIDGEWOOD 2016 (USA)

Photos entered & results: 8 photos entered = 4 acceptances (50% acceptance rate)

Comments: There were two Nature section for this salon – Nature General and Wildlife. I’ve entered a few macro and landscape (without human elements) photos in the Nature general section and to my surprise Juice was the only image to have received an acceptance.

Juice 768 300k 72d sRGB W

Juice

Bloemfontein Botanical Gardens, South Africa

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  1. BOHEMIA 2016 (India)

Photos entered & results: 4 photos entered = 4 acceptances (100% acceptance rate)

Comments: Not an everyday phenomenon – a 100% acceptance rate in the Nature section of an international salon but I am satisfied with this kind of outcome (obviously!). Interesting to note that my series of images of the interaction between the weavers in my garden is not doing as good as expected. Possible the background is too dark – one would never know the reason for it but I do shoot into a dark bush. Luckily Weaver grap received an acceptance in this salon

Weaver grap 1024 W

Weaver grap

Bloemfontein, South Africa

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  1. SJV EXHIBITION 2016 (USA)

Photos entered & results: 8 photos entered = 3 acceptances (38% acceptance rate)

Comments: Once again – a salon in the USA with separate Nature General and Wildlife sections. All three acceptances were in the Wildlife section with a lioness image (Lioness watchful walk) taken in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park receiving one of the three acceptances. An image not filled with action but I just like the attitude of the lioness up and about hunting for food as the sun was setting behind the dunes near Kji Kji water hole.

 19 Lioness watchful walk W

Lioness watchful walk

Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, South Africa

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  1. DVF PHOTOCUP 2016 (Germany)

This was a 3-salon circuit

Photos entered & results: 4 photos entered (12 entries) = 3 acceptances (25% acceptance rate)

Comments: Not a very successful circuit taking into account at it was with this circuit that I received my first ever medal in photography back in 2012 – my second year of entering photo salon competitions nationally and internationally. Nevertheless, Mongoose look taken in my backyard received an acceptance in one of the three salons. These Cape grey mongoose is a very skittish little animal not giving a photographer much time to capture it in the wild.

Mongoose look 1080 W

Mongoose look

Bloemfontein, South Africa

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  1. CONTRAST BOSNIA 2016 (Bosnia Herzegovina)

Photos entered & results: 8 photos entered = 2 acceptances (25% acceptance rate)

Comments: Once again – an acceptance rate around the acceptable norm for a salon. Only 1 acceptance in the Nature section namely Elephant baby light – a image taken in amazing sunlight as the sun was setting over the Chobe River. The image almost looks oversaturated but that was the actual colour – the golden hour!

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Elephant baby light

Chobe national Park near Kasane, Botswana

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  1. PATHSHALA SALON 2016 (India)

Photos entered & results: 4 photos entered = 2 acceptances (50% acceptance rate)

Comments: It seems like the judges like the images of the interaction between the different species in my backyard rather than the interaction between the weavers itself. Barbet chasing weaver received one of the two acceptances in this salon.

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Barbet chasing weaver

Bloemfontein, South Africa

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  1. 1st exhibition mystic 2016 (Serbia)

Photos entered & results: 8 photos entered = 1 COM & 3 acceptances (50% acceptance rate)

Comments: Only one photo accepted in the Nature section but interesting to see a full house of all four photos being accepted in the Open colour section. Room red light was the photo to have received a COM award. One of my favourite travel photos because of the contrast in the different colours.

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Room red light

Kolmanskop, Namibia

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 B. NATIONAL SALONS

 

  1. 2ND LOWVELD NATIONAL SALON 2016 (South Africa)

Photos entered & results: 24 photos entered = 1 medal, 1 COM & 6 acceptances (33% acceptance rate)

Comments: The photo that received the medal was in the nature section namely Leopard smacked which was already posted and discussed in a previous post. Just to emphasise the degree difficulty to capture fast moving action in low light conditions with a struggle to get a fast enough shutter speed – noise, noise, noise – as this image was shot at ISO6400 (and f4) with Nikon D4 image in order to get a decent shot at 1/1000 of a second shutter speed.

Leopard smacked W

Leopard smacked

Londolozi reserve, Greater Kruger national park, South Africa

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  1. 3RD BOSVELD NATIONAL SALON 2016 (South Africa)

Photos entered & results: 24 photos entered = 1 medal, 2 COM & 6 acceptances (33% acceptance rate)

Comments: At least the judges in the Bosveld salon appreciated the interaction and the degree of difficulty to capture the interaction between the two weavers – this image was taken without using a pre-focus approach. It was all about following the quick moving weavers for a split of a second as the one male was trying to dominate the other male weaver and keeping the focus of the camera on the weavers. Weaver air fight received the medal in the Birds section.

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Weaver air fight

Bloemfontein, South Africa

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Message to take home:

 

The question I am asking myself is: “Am I satisfied with the outcomes of national and intermational salon competitions?” And more that 95% the answer is YES. And one the secrets behind my self proclaimed success is: “To be prepared when it comes to Nature photography”. So how does a photographer become prepared?

Speak to any of famous/well-known wildlife photographers and you will get a similar type of answer as to reason why they are prepared and consistently producing stunning photographs. It is definitely not because they are just merely lucky, observant, or even more skilled than the average photographer. Now, with just more than 5 years experience in Wildlife photography, I came to the same conclusion. It is not just about being lucky or being observant. So why are they so successful?

You will find a very short answer to this question – THEY DO SO BECAUSE THEY ARE NOT BEING LAZY.

They do not get those WOW shots by staying at home or indoors. They do not get those WOW shots by reading book after book on photography. Yes, everybody should start somewhere and a book or a short course is a good idea/start. But no, they do go out and look for opportunities to practice their skills. So, my advise is simple: Don’t be lazy and go out – even if it is just to your own backyard like I did. And keep on practicing your skills! Eventually you’ll get it right.

Until next month, keep on shooting

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Bloemfontein Camera Club meeting: Outcome of my images submitted – June 2016

The last bit of catching up with my report on images submitted to our local camera club for judging and that is for the month of June. Being back at home, I do have opportunity to choose from a variety of images from my database. Not a very successful evening for me but then my images were not everybody’s cup of tea (see my Message to take home at the end of the post). And that is what I’ve decided to do from time to time when submitting images to the camera club for judging. The results of my 5 images submitted to the Bloemfontein Camera club for judging in the Nature section are as follow:

Bloemfontein camera club:

http://www.bkk.co.za/index.php/en/home

A. Nature category

Just a reminder – no manipulation using computer software is allowed in this category – so what you see was what I’ve captured (and I do not like the manipulation part of Photoshop or photography for that matter).

1.

Lion water watch 1080 W

Lion water watch – scored 12/15 (Gold award)

Nikon D4 camera, Nikon 600mmf4 lens, Gimpro head fixed with power clamp on the railing of a safari vehicle, ISO 4000, f4, 1/250 second, exposure compensation = -0.67, Aperture priority, White Balance – sun, fill in flash used, 32 meters from animal.

During our visit to Londolozi a very old giraffe bull slipped and felt into a smallish waterhole. It was too weak to get up again and it drowned. After a while the two dominant male lions discovered it and started feeding on it. Here is one of the lions on the giraffe just before sunrise with side lighting provided by a spotlight from another vehicle as he was keeping a watchful eye on the surrounding.

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2.

Meerkat kneeling 1024 W

 Meerkat kneeling – scored 10/15 (Silver award)

Nikon D4 camera, Nikon 600mmf4 lens & 1.4 convertor, Wimberley head on a window mount, ISO 400, f5.6, 1/2000 second, exposure compensation = -2.0, Aperture priority, White Balance – sun, distance from meerkat = 21 meters.

This photo was taken near Rooiputs water hole early one morning. This meerkat had just enjoyed a bit of early morning sunlight to warm itself. In this image the meerkat went down to the ground to take off to do some foraging. Interesting image with some backlighting – see my comments in Message to take home regarding the 3 three important aspects when it comes to technical correctness of images.

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B. Pictorial category

There are just the two categories in the camera club that the photographers can submit images for judging. In this category, anything type of images (you are allowed to manipulate images for this category) can be submitted but preferably not Nature/wildlife images.

3.

1500m watching W

1500m watching – score 10/15 (Silver award)

Nikon D4 camera, Nikon 600mmf4 lens & 1.4 convertor, Wimberley head on a window mount, ISO 1250, f8, 1/2500 second, exposure compensation = -1.3, Aperture priority, White Balance – sun, distance from athletes = 63 meters.

This photo was taken near during the 1500m race of the South African Athletics Championships held earlier this year in Bloemfontein. The setting sun (behind the pavilion) made photography difficult at the finish line, so I decided to move to a position so that I can capture they as they were coming around the last turn. I just love the colour of the golden hour on the two athletes and look careful at the interaction between the two of them. Just something my fellow athletes will enjoy and appreciate.

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C. Set subject – “Yellow”

The majority or major subject of the image must yellow – so it must be a Nikon.

Just to support the club, I decide to enter to two images in this category.

1.

Yellow bee 1400 300k 72d sRGB W

Yellow bee – scored 11/15

This image was taken of in the Mountain Zebra Park next to our chalet.

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2.

Sparrow attacking weaver 1080 300k 72d sRGB W

Sparrow attacking weaver– scored 10/15

This image was taken in my own backyard.

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Message to take home

I think of my fellow photographers and camera club members will agree with my statement:

“Camera club photos is all about technical correctness of the image not the story telling element is usually playing second fiddle.”

Some judges do not even try to look at the story telling element of an image – they immediately try to find something to criticize, just because they are suppose to identify the errors in the photos. They sometimes totally forget to just enjoy the image projected on the screen

Yes, I am sure we all agree that Light, Sharpness, Composition, and Photo quality (post processing) are very important to master, but we must remember that these aspects do not always have to be perfect to create a great photograph. Just look at the literature/Internet and major photography competition winners and their images – some of those images have glaring deficiencies and yet they do have the WOW factor to win. You, as the photographer, must develop your own style and therefore determine how to take an interesting image. Wait and reconsider before you discard every photo that does not comply with the camera club requirement namely Light, Sharpness, Composition. Consider developing an underexposed or overexposed photograph into a high key or low key photo and it might look great. Often an unorthodox composition such as breaking the Rule of thirds will be just what was needed.

Yes, pixel peeping is important to train your photography eye and to look critically at your photos, but you can sometimes put too much emphasis on it and you are missing the story telling element/WOW factor.

 

Until next month camera club meeting – keep on shooting

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Bloemfontein Camera Club meeting: Outcome of my images submitted – May 2016

Right, let’s do some catch up with my images submitted to our local camera club and lets look at the outcome. I was in the Greater Kruger National Park at the time of submission and I did not take any images with me for submission. So, I had to quickly develop a few images from our time in the park and luckily our camp had some excellent Internet facilities. The results of my 3 images submitted to the Bloemfontein Camera club for judging in the Nature section are as follow:

Bloemfontein camera club:

http://www.bkk.co.za/index.php/en/home

 

A. Nature category

Just a reminder – no manipulation using computer software is allowed in this category – so what you see was what I’ve captured (and I do not like the manipulation part of Photoshop or photography for that matter).

1.

Leopard aggression 1080 W

Leopard aggression – scored 12/15 (Gold award)

Nikon D4 camera, Nikon 600mmf4 lens, Gimpro head fixed with power clamp on the railing of a safari vehicle, ISO 4000, f11, 1/640 second, exposure compensation = -0.67, Aperture priority, White Balance – sun, fill in flash used, 7,5 meters from animal.

This photo of the so-called Mashaba female leopard was taken in the Londolozi Nature Reserve. She was feeding on an impala kill for about a day and she had her almost 1 year cub with her. Two or more leopards do not usually feed on one kill but this mother was still tolerating the youngster near the kill. In this image she just finished feeding on the kill in the last sunlight of the day and was showing some aggression towards her cub. The sun was from the left and therefore no catchlight in the eye.

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2.

Dwarf mongoose three 1200 W

Dwarf mongoose three – scored 11/15 (Gold award)

Nikon D4 camera, Nikon 600mmf4 lens, Gimpro head on a Gimpro window mount, ISO 1600, f8, 1/4000 second, exposure compensation = -0.67, Aperture priority, White Balance – sun. 7 meters from mongoose

The image was taken in the Kruger National Park near Skukuza camp. We came across a den of these dwarf mongooses – we counted about 11 of them in a termite mount next to the road. We stayed for almost 1 hour with them watching and enjoying the interaction between them. Once again, not the correct light condition but I just liked the interaction between the three mongooses.

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3.

Lioness love 1024 W

Lioness love – score 11/15 (Gold award)

Nikon D4 camera, Nikon 600mmf4 lens, Gimpro head fixed with power clamp on the railing of a safari vehicle, ISO 1250, f8, 1/4000 second, exposure compensation = -0.67, Aperture priority, White Balance – sun, fill in flash used, 21 meters from animal.

This photo of the so-called Tshala females was taken in the Londolozi Nature Reserve. The lioness has just returned from a hunting expedition and the cubs were left in the thick bushes on the bank on the Sabi River. This image showed the loving interaction between the lioness and the cub in the last bit of sunlight of the day. Interesting to see that one one the judges did not like the image – probably because of the background. Some judges think that everything must be perfect – which is not always the case with Nature photography.

 

Message to take home

I am sure everybody has asked (or it is still an unanswered question) this question before – what is the purpose of submitting your images to an official camera/photo club? I am not going to give you the perfect answer that question but I am going to tell you what you should not try to do:

And that is to comparing yourself with other photographers during a camera/photo club evening.

This approach will certainly kill the photographer within you. Therefore, stop absorbing other people’s work. When you sit in a local camera club, give yourself a break from the playing comparison game by comparing your photos with the rest of the club or even comparing your score with the rest of the club members. With such an approach no one wins. I am sure at the end of the day(night) you will end up in a fetal position in defeat as you decide (and maybe realise) you are totally talentless, or you are left with that sickening feeling when you look at your fellow photographers’ images and decide that your images are not as good as theirs. Just remember, you are not going to improve your level of photography by playing the comparison game during a camera club evening.

My recommendations:

(i) Rather use the opportunity to learn something from your fellow photographers during the course of the night.

(ii) Look at how your images are projected on the screen. It is possible that there might be a difference on how your images look on your computer and how they look on a projected screen. And many photo competitions are judged by using a projector.

To conclude – camera club evenings: Look and learn rather than look and compare.

 

Until next month camera club meeting – keep on shooting

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Bloemfontein Camera Club meeting: Outcome of my images submitted – April 2016

It is already time for our May 2016 camera club meeting and I haven’t posted my outcome for April 2016 yet. I was just too busy with other photography admin commitments but lets get immediately down to business. The results of my 5 images submitted to the Bloemfontein Camera club for judging:

Bloemfontein camera club:

http://www.bkk.co.za/index.php/en/home

 

A. Nature category

Just a reminder – no manipulation using computer software is allowed in this category – so what you see was what I’ve captured (and I do not like the manipulation part of Photoshop or photography for that matter).

1.

Flamingo pair 1200 W copy

Flamingo pair – scored 11/15 (Gold award)

Nikon D4 camera, 600mmf4 lens, f8, ISO1320, 1/4000 of sec, -0.67 exposure comp, WB = Daylight, Aperture mode, about 32 meters from the birds.

Early one Saturday morning my wife and I drove to Welkom to photograph the flamingos on the “lakes” around Welkom. With the flamingos moving around, they provided us with some interesting compositions – like this image where two of the birds walked very closely past each other. I just had to wait for the correct moment.

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2.

Jackals fighting high 1920 W

Jackals fighting high – score 9/15 (Silver award)

Nikon D4 camera, 600mmf4 lens, f8, ISO2000, 1/4000 of sec, -0.67 exposure comp, WB = Daylight, Aperture mode, about 32 meters from the jackals.

The image was taken during my last visit to the Kgalagadi in December 2015. A pride of lions killed a gemsbok about 1.5km south of Kji Kji waterhole and were busy feeding on the kill when I arrive just before 07H00. I had to wait for almost 2 hours for the lions to finish their meal. Just after they left the kill, the Black backed jackals moved in (about 20 of them). And this is how they tried to establish domination around the kill. I though this is not really an image to submit to your camera club (wrong direction of the light, busy background) and the judges confirmed it. But I just loved the action and story element and so did the international salon judges as the image received already its 3rd international salon acceptance. Just to show you – do not always rely on the opinions of the judges of your local camera club.

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B. Pictorial category

There are just the two categories in our camera club that the photographers can submit images for judging. In this category, anything type of images (you are allowed to manipulate images for this category) can be submitted but preferably not Nature/wildlife images.

3.

Steeple chase challenge 1024 W

Steeple chase challenge – score 9/15 (Silver award)

Nikon D4 camera, 600mmf4 lens, f4,5, ISO2000, 1/8000 of sec, 0 exposure comp, WB = Daylight, Aperture mode, about 50 meters from the athletes

Also another image that I thought is not really a typical camera club image but still I’ve decided to enter the image for judging. One cannot develop as a photographer by just submitting “camera club friendly” photos. Why was I not surprise with the outcome and the score?

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C. Set subject – “Something old and in Black and white”

Just to support the club, I decide to enter to two images in this category.

1.

Old wagen BW 1080 W

Old wagon BW – scored 9/15

This image was taken in the museum of our local fire brigade.

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2.

The Grave 1080 W

The grave – scored 10/15

This image was taken a few years ago during a trip I took one Saturday morning down to the southern Free State town of Phillipolis – taken in the town’s local cemetery.

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Message to take home

Like I’ve mentioned earlier in this post – photography is not just about the outcome of the judging process of your camera club. Yes, one can learn so much by attending a local camera club and growth as a photographer. But remember to be yourself and more important – photography is not about capturing what’s out there in the world, it’s about capturing what’s inside your heart. That is why one should go out on a shooting and decide: “I am going to shoot what matters to me. I am going to put more of myself in the image and not what the judges of the camera club or salon competition would like to see. I am not going to listen and follow the crowd – it is my image and I can do anything I like” Therefore, use your camera club to growth as an individual photographer and try not to become just another photographer in the crowd.

 

Until next month camera club meeting – keep on shooting

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