Trip report: Londolozi, South Africa – Apr 2016 (Part 1)

It is been a while since I’ve posted a trip report – so I decided to do this trip report “live” while on location. We are very fortunate to have internet access but luckily very limited cell phone reception. So, here we go.

My wife planned this trip and we decided to stay the first night in Berg en Dal camp in the Kruger National Park. We left home very early on Saturday morning (around 05H00) and we arrived at Malelane gate around 14H00 after 3 stop-and-go’s on the N4. An afternoon drive and a Sunday morning drive to Sukuza provided us with sightings of 4 of the Big 5 (no lions) as well as a glimpse on wild painted dogs. And who said there are no photo opportunities in the Kruger National Park!

Two interesting images from our drives:

Oxpecker on bufallo 1080 W A Oxpecker on the nose a buffalo.

Nikon D4, Nikkor 600mmf4 lens, 1/4000 of second, f4, ISO1600, exposure = 0.

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Dwarf mongoose three 1200 W

We came across a den of about 11 dwarf mongoose in a termite mount next to the road (6-7 meters away) – so we spent almost 1 hour with them. After a while they got use to us and started to relax. They are so curious and are very interesting to watch.

Nikon D4, Nikkor 600mmf4 lens, 1/4000 of second, f8, ISO1600, exposure = -2/3.

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After some quality time in the Kruger Park itself, it was time to leave the park just to re-enter the Greater Kruger park a few kilometres from the Kruger gate for a stay at Londolozi. This is our second visit to Londolozi with Byron Serrao and we were so looking forward to our stay. And we were not disappointed! The following images are just a few highlights from the first few days.

Leopard in night 1200 W

During our first afternoon/evening drive Byron took us to a young female leopard with a kill in a tree. There was not much left of the kill and the female was very relaxed. However, there were a few hyenas around, so she went up a Maroela tree kept a watchful eye on the hyena and she provided us with some excellent photo opportunities like the image above.

Nikon D4, Nikkor 600mmf4 lens, 1/400 of second, f8, ISO4000, exposure = -1.0, manual mode.

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Leopard backlight yawn 1080 W

Also some backlight shots with a yawn or two!

Nikon D4, Nikkor 600mmf4 lens, 1/160 of second, f8, ISO1600, exposure = -1.0.

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Fish eagle catch 1080 W

So Byron decided that this trip is not just about blood and claws – lucky for us there were two fish eagles hunting at Taylor’s dam. I was not so lucky with these birds but I got this shot of the only fish caught by the eagles that morning (after a few misses). Using a f8 aperture to ensure both wings tips are in focus – could have used f11 as well but it was overcast and the light was not good.

Nikon D4, Nikkor 600mmf4 lens, 1/1600 of second, f8, ISO1600, exposure = -1/3.

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Where is the milk 1920 WBack to the claws of the trip – there are two lioness and two cubs around and we got a quick glimpse of them before the cubs disappeared into the thickness of the bushes.

Nikon D4, Nikkor 600mmf4 lens, 1/4000 of second, f8, ISO1600, exposure = -2/3.

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Leopard protective mom 1080 W

We also visited the Mashaba female leopard and her (almost) 1 year old cub feeding on an impala kill on the ground. Interesting to see how the female tolerated the presence of the young cub (almost time for the cub to leave the mother). Not very often one gets two leopards feeding on one kill. And they came within a meter or two from our open vehicle!

Nikon D4, Nikkor 600mmf4 lens, 1/640 of second, f8, ISO4000, exposure = -2/3.

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Sunset in the bush 1080 W

There is always time for a landscape photo or two (taken from the vehicle) while waiting to enter a sighting – especially with a sunset like this. The vultures waiting patiently for an opportunity above the Masaba female leopard and her kill.

Nikon D3S, Nikkor 70-200mmf4 lens @ 70mm, 1/800 of second, f8, ISO100, exposure = -1.3.

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Elephant small 1200 W

There are lots of elephants around and I could not resist taking an image of this young one doing a mock charge towards our vehicle.

Nikon D4, Nikkor 600mmf4 lens, 1/4000 of second, f8, ISO1600, exposure = -2/3.

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Lion water watch 1080 W

And a sad story for a giraffe but an easy meal for the two dominate male lions of this area. On one of our drives, we came across a giraffe that was stuck in the mud of a waterhole. During the day it became too weak and it drowned. Later during the night & the next morning the two male lions arrived to enjoy this free meal left in the water.

Nikon D4, Nikkor 600mmf4 lens, 1/250 of second, f4, ISO4000, exposure = -2/3, fill-in flash and spot light as light source

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Cheetah head 1200 W

Cheetahs are not often found in this area because of all the other predators around. However, there was one male found in one of the sections of the park.

Nikon D4, Nikkor 600mmf4 lens, 1/640 of second, f8, ISO1000, exposure = -2/3.

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Eagle take off branch 1920 W

And there were also some opportunities to practise my favourite type of photography – birds in fight. Not very often one get a African hawk eagle siting in the open on top of a branch. So we parked the vehicle and waited patiently for the eagle to take off. And eventually it did. My first decent shot a this type of eagle in flight. Patience is the name of the game.

Nikon D4, Nikkor 600mmf4 lens, 1/4000 of second, f8, ISO800, exposure = -2/3.

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What a first few days in the bush – full of action and opportunities. To be continued.

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

February 2016 – a month with mix results when it comes to my salon results.

 

Total number of salons entered:

11 (9 international salons & for 2 national salons).

Overall outcome:

International: 46 acceptances from108 photos entered = 43% acceptance rate (decreased from 50% last month)

National: 30 acceptances from 48 photos entered = 63% acceptance rate.

Medals: 0

COMs: 6

Now for the individual salons:

 

A. INTERNATIONAL SALONS

 

  1. KOTOR CIRCUIT 2016 (Montenegro, Ireland, Serbia. Croatia)

This was a 4-salon circuit

Photos entered: 4 photos each entered in the Nature, Birds & Wildlife sections = 48 entries

Acceptance: 16 acceptance (33% acceptance rate)

Comments: Dragon take off entered in the Nature section is the only image that received a full house of 4 acceptances in this circuit.

Dragon take off 1080 300k 72d sRGB W

Dragon take off

Botanical Gardens, Bloemfontein, South Africa

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  1. Everest international SALON 2016 (India)

Photos entered: 4 photos entered in Nature & Open colour section = 8 entries.

Acceptance: 2 acceptances (25% acceptance rate)

Comments: Not a very successful start to 2016 and salon entries. Only one acceptance each in both the Nature and Open Colour section is not the way to go. Drop on beak was the only image to receive an acceptance in my favourite section namely the Nature section.

Drop on beak 1024 300k 72d sRGB W

Drop on beak

Flatanger, Norway

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  1. 4TH GREEK SALON 2015 (Greece)

This was a 4-salon circuit

Photos entered: 4 photos entered in Nature section = 16 entries

Acceptance: 12 acceptances (75% acceptance rate)

Comment: A much better results for me with an acceptance rate of 75%. Eagle eye level was one of two images to receive a full house of acceptances (accepted in all 4 salons) in all 4 salons. I was not sure about the image – taken during my last trip to the Kgalagadi in 2015. It is not the best bird in flight (BIF) image but I just love the angle of the image as well the look of the eagle in my direction.

 Eagel eye level 1080 W

Eagle eye level

Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, South Africa

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  1. SOUTHAMPTON SALON 2016 (UK)

Photos entered: 4 photos entered in Nature section

Acceptance: 2 acceptance (50% acceptance rate)

Comments: I am still busy developing the series of the meerkat images from our trip in 2014. This time around Meerkat down boy was one of the two images to receive an acceptance. I just love the interaction between the meerkats – so human-like.

Meerkat down boy 1200 300k 72d sRGB W

Meerkat down boy

Tswalu nature reserve, South Africa

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  1. MAN AND WORK SALON 2016 (Serbia)

Photos entered: 4 photos entered each in Open Colour & Nature, sections = 8 entries

Acceptance: 2 acceptances (25% acceptance rate)

Comments: Once again – a very disappointing salon result. Not even one acceptance in the Nature section as both acceptances were in the Open Colour section. An image with a very South African name namely Dwarsvlei land received an acceptance in the Open section. We were driving to Mossel Bay on New Years Eve for the long weekend when we saw the clouds were started building up. When we arrived at this unused but well-known railway line and station, the clouds were perfect. And we did not waste any time and the shutter was firing.

Dwarsvlei land 2400 300K 72d sRGB W

Dwarsvlei land

Near Middleburg, Northern Cape, South Africa

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  1. 59TH SAGUARO NATURE SALON 2016 (USA)

Photos entered: 4 photos entered in Nature 7 Wildlife sections = 8 entries

Acceptance: 4 acceptances (50% acceptance rate)

Comments: Not very often that there is a pure nature salon/exhibition and this is one of them. Only two sections and both are nature related section. An image I did struggle to get three acceptances received its third acceptance in this salon namely Two leopards. The image was taken a few years ago with the assistance of a spotlight and it portrayed two leopards – brother and sister) drinking water at a waterhole. The ranger knew about the adult leopard in the area with the two sub-adults but it was not easy to locate the young ones. The image was taken during the same trip as the meerkat image posted earlier in this post.

Two leopards 1 1400 300k 72d sRGB W

Two leopards

Tswalu nature reserve, South Africa

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  1. COACHELLO SALON 2016 (USA)

Photos entered: 4 photos entered in Nature & Wildlife sections = 8 entries,

Acceptance: 2 acceptances (25% acceptance rate)

Comments: Once again – no acceptances in the Wildlife section but luckily Tree at sunrise received its third acceptance. The lack of clouds surely was a drawback in the image, as it did not receive acceptances in 4 other salons. But then, Nature and specifically wildlife safaris does not come with a guarantee or a contract. One has to accept what is on offer.

Tree at sunrise 1080 300k 72d sRGB W

Tree at sunrise

Mashatu nature reserve, Botswana

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  1. 43RD WESTCHESTER SALON 2015 (USA)

Photos entered: 4 photos entered in Nature section

Acceptance: 1 COM & 3 acceptances (100% acceptance rate)

Comments: At last a 100% acceptance rate. Weaver head clamp was the image to receive the COM. Very difficult to capture the action of these weavers as pre-focusing does not work and they are VERY quick! But it provides me with some much needed practice.

Weaver head clamp 1200 300k 72d sRGB W

Weaver head clamp

My own backyard, Bloemfontein, South Africa

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  1. ATLANTIC INTERNATIONAL SALON 2015 (USA)

Photos entered: 4 photos entered in Nature sections

Acceptance: 2 acceptances (50% acceptance rate)

Comments: Another image I’ve struggled to get the required 3 accpetances is Sociable weaver building nest. I know it is once again not the best bird in flight image because the wings are blurry and not sharp. And the background is not the best I’ve seen. It was very difficult to get a high enough shutter speed in low light condition to get the wings sharp, and positioning one’s vehicle is just as difficult. so I can live with the result. Image was taken next to that very famous tree between Samevloei and Leeudril waterholes,

Sociable weaver building nest 1

Sociable weaver building nest

Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, South Africa

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  1. NATIONAL SALONS

 

  1. 10TH KRUGERSDORP SALON 2015 (South Africa)

Photos entered: 4 photos each entered in the Wildlife, PJ, Scapes, Human portraits, Open monochrome and Open colour sections= 24 entries

Acceptance: 2 COMs & 13 acceptances (63%)

Comments: 1 COM in the Wildlife section and 1 COM for a PJ image (sport) namely Hockey challenge. Just to show you the importance of taken pictures in good light. Form the diection of the shadows one can see it was late in the afternoon even though the direction of the sun was not ideal.

Hockey challenge W

Hockey challenge

Bloemfontein, South Africa

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  1. 3RD PSSA NATIONAL SALON 2015 (South Africa)

Photos entered: 4 photos each entered in the Nature colour, Nature monochrome, Our country, Spring, Open monochrome and Open colour sections= 24 entries

Acceptance: 2 COMs & 13 acceptances (63%)

Comments: Full house acceptances (4 acceptances) in the Nature section but interesting to received the 2 COMs in the Our Country and Spring sections. Juice was the image with the COM award in the Spring section but is was not my first choice in that section – interesting to see the opinions of the judges.

Juice 768 300k 72d sRGB W

Juice

Botanical Gardens, Bloemfontein, South Africa

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Message to take home:

 

I’ve mentioned the benefit of taking pictures in good light and the sun is still one of best sources of good light. It is fact that a photographer can definitely get amazing pictures by using the best source of light anywhere – the sun. However, patience and skills are required if you really want to use sunlight to its full potential. First you need evaluate and identify your needs of light for your photograph. Bright daylight especially in the middle of the day is often not the best time to be outside and shooting nature or wildlife images. Secondly you need to wait for the right type of sunlight for your image. And then both needs to get together for to capture that wow image. The golden hours (1-2 hours after sunrise and before sunset) are by far the best sunlight for nature and wildlife photography.

Until next month, keep on shooting

 

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

Already the third month of the year and the first Tuesday of the month means it was again time for another Bloemfontein Camera Club meeting. This month I was one of the judges, so I was not allowed to score my own images or those of my wife. So, it was up to the other two judges to score my 5 images submitted for judging.

 

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.

Lepoard close portrait 1080 300k 72d sRGB W

Leopard close portrait – scored 12/15 (Gold award)

Nikon D4 camera, 600mmf4 lens, f8, ISO1600, 1/2000 of sec, -0.67 exposure comp, WB = Daylight, Aperture mode, about 8meters from leopard.

This image was taken during a previous photography safari trip to the Greater Kruger National Park with Byron Serrao last year. We followed this leopard for a while and at one stage he decided to rest behind a anthill (unfortunately because there was no sunlight). He looked up to us and with that he provided me with the opportunity to get a close-up portrait of him. It was one most magnificent male leopard I’ve ever seen – I think he is called the Puva male.

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2.

Mongoose look 1080 W

Mongoose look – score 10/15 (Silver award)

Nikon D4 camera, 600mmf4 lens, f8, ISO1600, 1/3200 of sec, -0.67 exposure comp, WB = Daylight, Aperture mode, around 10meters from mongoose.

Like I’ve mentioned in my previous post – always be ready to capture the moment with your camera. One afternoon I had a visit from a Cape grey mongoose in my backyard. I was photograpghing the birds and all of a sudden all the birds disappeared. I did not understand what was happening but after a few minutes it became clear – the mongoose was approaching. I was ready and now I do have a lot of images of the mongoose. However, I do like this image – not the usual image of a full-length mongoose on the tree trunk (I do have a lot of those) but I thought to show the club members something different. Seems like this kind of image is not what the judges of the evening were looking for. Too bad for them – I still like the alert eye of the mongoose as it climbs over the tree trunk.  The judges’ scores and their opinions are not going to change my opinion of this image. Just remember – I was not allowed to manipulate the image, therefore the background (I was shooting into a dark bush as background) was not Photoshopped.

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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 can be submitted except Nature and wildlife images.

1.

Church in fire 1024 300k 72d sRGB W

Church in fire – score 12/15 (Gold award)

Nikon D800 camera, 17-35mmf2.8 lens @, f17, ISO100, 1/5 of sec, 0 exposure comp, Manual mode, WB = Daylight

Image taken of a small church used a “plaas skooltjie” near Elliot. We are staying at the local hotel (just before the Elliot pass) next to the main road a few kilometers from this church. That morning we could not see what kind of clouds were around (before sunrise – very dark) but we decided to try our luck. And we were very lucky with some amazing clouds building up and with sunrise it created magnificent photo opportunities. This image was not manipulated in Photoshop – it is true reflection of the situation – it was absolutely amazing. This image is dedicated to all those people who do not believe to start very early in the morning (and I know a few of them – you will know who your are). See what you are missing!!!

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C. Set subject – “Bush/landscape with NO human elements in it”

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

1.

Tree at sunrise 1080 300k 72d sRGB W

Tree at sunrise – scored 12/15

Nikon D800 camera, 17-35mmf2.8 lens @, f17, ISO100, 1/20 of sec, 0 exposure comp, Manual mode, WB = Daylight

This image was taken of a well-known tree (Cecil John Tree) in Mashatu nature reserve, Botswana during a wildlife photography safari (can you believe it – doing landscape photography during a wildlife safari!) with Albie Venter. Unfortunately one cannot order the weather and there were no clouds around at sunrise. But we did the best we could with what was available.

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2.

Tree in Nossob River 3

Tree in Nossob River – scored 10/15

This image was taken during on our many trips to the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park in 2013. I remembered that there was not much going on re: wildlife, so we decided to keep ourselves occupied with some landscape photography. Not too bad an image taken from my vehicle with limited maneuvering space. Already received a few salon acceptances with this image.

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Message to take home

While I was driving home after the camera club meeting I was thinking once again re: the purpose of a camera club. I do have my own opinion about it but here is not enough space in this post to discuss it. However, two things do stand out for me about camera clubs – (i) everybody is entitled to his/her own opinion and we are individuals with different opinions and (ii) do not take the scores and critique of the judges too seriously – it will kill your passion for photography. Continue to develop your own style of photography but do remember this piece of advice I read somewhere on the Internet:

 “I always thought good photos were like good jokes. If you have to explain it, it just isn’t that good”

We had very interesting talk during the camera club by Willem van den Berg (freelance photo journalist now working mainly for WEG magazine) and the photos he presented on the screen during his talk were like good (no, rather excellent) jokes. There was no need to explain – emotions captured in every image!!!

 

Until next month camera club meeting – keep on shooting

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

And so another year is almost 1 month “old” and hopefully 2016 will be full of wonderful photographic experience. I just cannot belief 2016 is only my 5th year being involved in this very exiting hobby – thanks to my wife! In 2010 I did not even know how to switch on a camera let alone using words like shutter speed, ISO, aperture and the word I feared the most at that stage “Photoshop”. And in 2011 I’ve entered my first national salon – our local camera club (Bloemfontein Camera Club with 2 acceptances from 24 entires!) and here I am in in my 4th year of salon participation

 

Total number of salons entered:

7 (7 international salons & for a second month in a row – 0 national salons).

Overall outcome:

International: 22 acceptances from 44 photos entered = 50% acceptance rate (increased from 43% last month)

National: There were no national salons held in the month of Janaury 2016 – I do hope the PSSA will revisit their decision to limit the number of national salons in South Africa.

Medals: 1

COMs: 0

At least 1 medal on the table – better than last month!

Now for the individual salons:

 

A. INTERNATIONAL SALONS

  1. 2NDMIRACLE IMAGE SALON 2015 (India)

Photos entered: 4 photos entered in the Nature section

Acceptance: 4 acceptances (100% acceptance rate)

Comments: It has been a while since I had a 100% acceptance rate in an international salon. No a very successful image but Kalahari pillow received its second acceptance – so just one more acceptance to go before I can put the image away.

Kalahari cushion 1024 500k 300d sRGB W

Kalahari pillow

Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, South Africa

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  1. Light of Oman SALON 2016 (Oman)

Photos entered: 4 photos entered in Nature section.

Acceptance: 1 medal & 2 acceptances (75% acceptance rate)

Comments: My first successful participation in Oman and my 46th successful country. Almost was the image that won the FIAP Gold medal for me (already posted in an earlier post) while Lioness and cubs 4 was also accepted.

Lioness and cups drinking water 4 1050 300k 72d sRGB yellow W

Lioness and cubs 4

Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, South Africa

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  1. KUPA SALON 2015 (India)

Photos entered: 4 photos entered in Nature section

Acceptance: 2 acceptances (50% acceptance rate)

Comment: Once again – birds in flight as one of my favourite topics in wildlife photography did it for me with Pygmy goose take off 1  – it was one of the two images receiving an acceptance. And it was the 3rd acceptance for this image meaning I can put it away. Very difficult to catch these little birds in flight because they are so quick!

 Pygmy goose taking off 1

Pygmy goose take off 1

Chobe Nature reserve near Kasane, Botswana

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  1. MAITLAND SALON 2016 (Australia)

Photos entered: 4 photos entered in Nature section

Acceptance: 3 acceptance (75% acceptance rate)

Comments: Leopard mating dance was one of a series of images captured during a mating process between 2 leopards near Londolozi nature reserve. The image was taken in very low light conditions (single spotlight with fill-flash) and I had to increase my ISO to 6400 to get a decent shutter speed of 1/1000 of a second in order to avoid a blurry image.

Leopard mating dance 1080 300k 72d sRGB W

Leopard mating dance

Greater Kruger National Park, South Africa

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  1. 3RD PSSA INTERNATIONAL SALON 2016 (South Africa)

Photos entered: 4 photos entered each in Creative art, & Open Colour, Open Monochrome, Street & Scapes sections = 20 entries

Acceptance: 7 acceptances (35% acceptance rate)

Comments: I was one of the three judges for the Nature section – therefore I was not allowed to enter any images in my favourite section. But it was an experience to be a judge in an International salon – another first for me! We started around 10H00 with judging and finished by 14H00 – 1200 images later. I’ve tried my hand at doing some monochrome images and was awarded with two acceptances with Church BW being one of them. Believe me – it is not an easy job to convert an image into a monochrome image.

Church BW 1024 300k 72ds RGB W

Church BW

Near Elliot – Eastern Cape, South Africa

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  1. Metropolitan SALON 2016 (USA)

Photos entered: 4 photos entered in Nature section

Acceptance: 1 acceptances (25% acceptance rate)

Comments: Weavers fighting as the only image to have received an acceptance in this salon! And its third acceptance and now I can put the image away. Not one of my favourite images because I had to crop the image very tight (too many other birds around) – almost too tight Well, one acceptance closer to my goal of obtaining an EPSA award (700 acceptances) from the Photography Society of America (PSA).


Weavers fighting 1050 300k 72d sRGB N W

Weavers fighting

My own backyard, Bloemfontein, South Africa

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  1. Apricot PHOTO SALON 2016 (Armenia)

Photos entered: 4 photos entered in Nature,

Acceptance: 2 acceptances (50% acceptance rate)

Comments: Yet another first successful participation in my 47th country worldwide. Meerkat close hug was one of the two images receiving an acceptance.

Meerkat close hugh 2100 W

Meerkat close hug

Tswalu nature reserve, South Africa

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Message to take home:

Some interesting advice I read last week: “Nothing happens when you sit at home.” This is so true when photography is your hobby. It is important to go out and look for some photo opportunities – even if it is just around town or an outing to your local Botanical garden (or even your own garden for that matter – see the second last photo in this post above). Always be ready with your camera – have it with you all times if you do go out. And do not be particular with what you want to shoot – just try and capture anything what look interesting to you. More often you will be surprised with the outcome!

Until next month, keep on shooting

 

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Outcome of my photography salon (competition) entries – Month of December 2015

The last month of 2015! A very busy month when it comes to photography salons. Therefore, no further unnecessary comments but lets right to the results for December 2015. What I am going to do in this post is to once again focus on a few images that did not receive acceptances. Now, the details of the salon outcomes are as follows:

 

Total number of salons entered:

12 (12 international salons & 0 national salons).

Overall outcome:

International: 63 acceptances from 146 photos entered = 43% acceptance rate (decreased from 51% last month)

National: There were no national salons held in December 2015

Medals: 0

COMs: 0

Wow, along time since there are no COMs or medals on the table!

Now for the individual salons:

 

A. INTERNATIONAL SALONS

 

  1. 3RD CORK SALON 2015 (UK)

Photos entered: 4 photos entered in the Nature section

Acceptance: 1 acceptance (25% acceptance rate)

Comments: Another interesting image struggling to get accepted in salons. Old lion portrait received only 2 acceptances in 7 salon entries. Not sure why – maybe this portrait image of an old lion the Kgalagadi does not have enough action. One will never know.

Old lion portrait 1050 300k 72d sRGB W

Old lion portrait

Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, South Africa

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  1. WPAI SALON 2015 (India)

Photos entered: 4 photos entered in Nature section.

Acceptance: 3 acceptance (75% acceptance rate)

Comments: The only image not to have received an acceptance was Leopard watch out. I know it is different type of image – not all judges do like spotlight to be used in photography and the image was very difficult to process.

Leopards watch out 1400 300k 72d sRGB W

Leopard watch out

Greater Kruger National Park, South Africa

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  1. 17TH CHHAYAPATH SALON 2015 (India)

Photos entered: 4 photos entered in Nature section

Acceptance: 1 acceptance (25% acceptance rate)

Birds in flight is one of my favourite topics in wildlife photography and that is why I just love this image of a European Roller taking off in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park – Roller take off. My “love” was not shared by the judges because it was one of the three images that did not receive an acceptance.

 Roller take off 1

Roller take off

Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, South Africa

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  1. YORKSHIRE SALON 2015 (UK)

Photos entered: 4 photos entered in Nature section

Acceptance: 1 acceptance (25% acceptance rate)

Comments: Francolin reflection was one the images that did not receive an acceptance in this salon. Probably the composition of the bird in the image is not up to standard – ?too tight at the bottom.

Francolin reflection 1400 300k 72d sRGB W

Francolin reflection

Mashatu nature reserve, Botswana

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  1. 1st CRNA GORA CIRCUIT 2015 (Montenegro, BiH, Serbia)

This was a 3-salon circuit in three countries

Photos entered: 4 photos entered in Nature, & Open Colour, = 24 entries

Acceptance: 6 acceptances (25% acceptance rate)

Comments: Jacana sprinter was the image that did not receive an acceptance in any of the three salons.

02. African jacana sprinter

Jacana sprinter

Chobe Nature reserve near Kasane, Botswana

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  1. SINGUR SALON 2015 (India)

Photos entered: 4 photos entered in Nature section

Acceptance: 3 acceptances (75% acceptance rate)

Comments: Once again – Roller take off did not receive an acceptance. So, I need to post one image that did receive an acceptance namely Maraboe feeding – a bit unexpected!

08-Willem-Maraboe feeding 1024 sRGB 300k 72d W

Maraboe feeding

Chobe Nature reserve near Kasane, Botswana

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  1. INDIAN PHOTO SALON 2015 (India)

Photos entered: 4 photos entered in Nature, Open Colour, Open monochrome and Photo Travel sections = 16 entries

Acceptance: 2 acceptances (13% acceptance rate)

Comments: Ouch – one of those salon where the judges are not impressed with your photos. I am sure some of you can relate to the feeling. It was one of those salons with just one entry fee and all the sections are included in the fee. Not one nature image of mine was accepted – not even the image of the Kori bustard taken in excellent late afternoon light – Kori after bath. But so be it.

04a Kori after bath W

Kori after bath

Kgalagadi Transfrontier park, South Africa

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  1. CLICK AND SHOT SALON 2015 (India)

Photos entered: 4 photos entered in Nature section

Acceptance: 2 acceptances (50% acceptance rate)

Comments: This time Maraboe feeding did not receive an acceptance – and so did Drongo bath. An emotional photo for me just because of the degree of difficulty to capture the drongo taking bath – very, very fast action!!!

Drongo bath 1024 300k 72d sRGB W

Drongo bath

Mashatu nature reserve, Botswana

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  1. 2ND IRELAND EXHIBITION SALON 2015 (Ireland)

Photos entered: 4 photos entered in Nature, Portrait, Open Colour, Open monochrome and Photo Travel sections = 20 entries

Acceptance: 7 acceptances (35% acceptance rate)

Comments: Another salon where the entry fee was inclusive for all the sections – no separate entry fee per section. All four images of mine submitted in the Nature section received acceptances including a very tightly crop Fish eagle in full. I am not complaining because it was its third acceptance so I am done with it.

5 Fish eagle in full W

Fish eagle in full

Chobe Nature reserve near Kasane, Botswana

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  1. 1ST BH CIRCUIT 2015 (Montenegro, BiH, Serbia)

This was a 3-salon circuit in three countries again

Photos entered: 4 photos entered in Nature, & Open Colour, = 24 entries

Acceptance: 11 acceptances (46% acceptance rate)

Comments: Lioness late yawn is the image that did not receive any acceptances in the three salons. Better luck next time.

35 Lioness late yawn W

Lioness late yawn

Kgalagadi Transfrontier park, South Africa

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  1. 1ST TOURISM CIRCUIT 2015 (Serbia, Cyprus & Turkey)

This was a 3-salon circuit in three countries

Photos entered: 4 photos entered each in Nature & Open colour sections = 24 entries

Acceptance: 12 acceptances (50% acceptance rate)

Comments: Yet another first for me – a successful salon participation in the Cyprus (now my total countries with successful salon entries stands at 46). Very interesting outcome with all images submitted in the Nature section receiving acceptances in the Turkey salon but no acceptances in the other two salons. Baby carry full was one of these images.

Baby carry full 1080 300k 72d sRGB R W

Baby carry full

Tswalu nature reserve, South Africa

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  1. 1ST KULA WINTER CIRCUIT 2015 (Serbia & Montenegro)

This was a 3-salon circuit in two countries

Photos entered: 4 photos entered in Nature & Open colour sections = 24 entries

Acceptance: 14 acceptances (58% acceptance rate)

Comments: One of this month’s better outcomes with an overall acceptance rate of 58%. Lapwing dipping butterfly did not receive an acceptance in any of the three salons.

Lapwing dipping butterfly 1200 300k 72d sRGB W

Lapwing dipping butterfly

Chobe Nature reserve near Kasane, Botswana

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B. NATIONAL SALONS

None

 

Message to take home:

Just a short message for those of us who do enter photography competition such as salons: Remember photography is considered to be an art. And more important to remember – art is subjective. No matter of you love it or hate it, you have to respect what others do to their images.

 

Until next month, keep on shooting

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Bloemfontein Camera Club meeting: Outcome of my images submitted for judging – February 2016

Last Tuesday was the first Tuesday of the month and it was once again time for another Bloemfontein Camera Club meeting. Without wasting some space and time with stories, lets look at the outcome of the five images I submitted for judging.

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.

Duiker backlight 1080 W

Duiker backlight – scored 12/15 (Gold award)

Nikon D4 camera, 600mmf4 lens, f4, ISO800, 1/2000 of sec, -2.0 exposure comp, WB = Daylight, Aperture mode, around 40meters from Duiker.

This image was taken in during our last trip to the Mokala National Park during the first week of January 2016 (before the rain). We stayed for the fist time in the Tree house and what a treat! It was very dry in the park and there is a waterhole just in front of the tree house. During the late afternoon it provided some backlight and side light opportunities like this image of a duiker.

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2.

Cheetah yawning 1200 300k 72d sRGB W

Cheetah yawning – score 11/15 (Gold award)

Nikon D4 camera, 600mmf4 lens, f8, ISO1600, 1/3200 of sec, -0.67 exposure comp, WB = Daylight, Aperture mode, around 10meters from cheetah.

Just made it into the Gold award category. This image was taken during one of my two trips to the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park in 2015 – taken on the last morning during a drive to Gunong waterhole before I headed back to Bloemfontein. When the image appeared on the screen, I did realise that it was cropped to close to the upper side. Nevertheless, ….

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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 can be submitted except Nature and wildlife images. So, this month I’ve decided to submit a landscape image containing human elements for judging.

3.

Dwarsvlei BW land 1024 300k 72d sRGB W

Dwarsvlei BW land – score 9/15 (Silver award)

Nikon D800 camera, 24-70mmf2.8 lens @, f11, ISO100, 1/160 of sec, -0.67 exposure comp, Manual mode, WB = Daylight, around 10meters from cheetah

Image taken during our drive down to Mossel Bay for the New year’s weekend in 2015. Form the Southern Free State we saw the clouds building up and when we arrived at Middleburg, the clouds were almost perfect for this shot. No time for a tripod (was packed away in the car) – handheld shot. I played around with the image changing it into a monochrome image with a difference. Lets see how it does in the salons.

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C. Set subject – “Paris is burning (fire)” – an image with fire as a subject

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

1.

Firemen 1

Firemen 1 – scored 11/15

This image was taken in during a fire exercise by our local fire fighting department.

I though the image was appropriate for the topic but apparently not all three judges did think so. Well, they are entitled to their opinions.

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2.

Old wagen 1200 300k 72d sRGB W

Old wagen – scored 09/15

This image was taken in in the local fire department’s museum – I can live with the score of the judges. Just thought to submit something different this time around.

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Message to take home

Just a short message for this post:

 You, as the photographer, are the one that decide what should be captured in the frame and what should be excluded not. However, one must remember that the photographer cannot always control every single item in the frame and therefore what is capture for an the image. BUT the photographer has control over his/her position in relation to the subject being photographed. Therefore, it is possible to position yourself in order to put the subject in the best possible composition and “remove” some of the unwanted clutter before pulling the trigger (“press the shutter”). Do not just stay stationary during a shoot – keep moving around to find the best possible angle for the shot.

 

Until next month camera club meeting – keep on shooting

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

And so another year is almost 1 month “old” and hopefully 2016 will be full of wonderful photographic experience. I just cannot belief 2016 is only my 5th year being involved in this very exiting hobby – thanks to my wife! In 2010 I did not even know how to switch on a camera let alone using words like shutter speed, ISO, aperture and the word I feared the most at that stage “Photoshop”! Nevertheless, we joined the Bloemfontein Camera Club in 2011 and never looked back. There is so much to learn in such an environment despite the odd “unrealistic and undeserved” comments/critique from the judges – never to be taken seriously because one must remember that it is just an opinion of an individual. Lets look at the outcome of the five images I submitted for judging.

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.

Fox kiss please 1080 300k 72d sRGB W

Fox kiss please – scored 11/15 (Gold award)

Just made it into the gold award category. This image was taken during one of my trips to the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park in 2013. When I submitted the image on Sunday night before the club meeting (first Tuesday of every month) I did realise that the image is a bit flat but I wanted to how the image is projected on the screen. And one of comments of the judges was that maybe this mage was taken in not the ideal lighting condition or even in the middle of the day. It was not the case because the image was taken early one morning but I’ve just removed some of the yellow colour cast form the image otherwise the judges will complain about the colour of the image. This is just an example of the “unrealistic and undeserved” comments/critique from the judges as mentioned earlier in the post. However, I do not take it personally but I know the post-processing of the image was not up to standard.

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2.

Weaver feet locked 2400 300k 72d sRGB W

Weaver feet locked – score 11/15 (Gold award)

This was really a big disappointment for me as the image projected on the screen was definitely not of the same standard as the image I saw on my screen. But so be it. Images projected via a data projector and projected via computer screen might not look the same. I just remember Prof Hennie Cronje during my very first photography course: “If you as the photographer likes your photo, then the photo is a success.”

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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 can be submitted except Nature and wildlife images. So, this month I’ve decided to submit a Photo Journalism (PJ) type of image for judging.

3.

In smoke 1024 300k 72d sRGB W

In smoke – score 12/15 (Gold award)

Image taken during a fire exercise by the Mangaung fire department last year..

Not very often that I do receive a gold award in the Pictorial category of the camera club – so I am very satisfied with the outcome.

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C. Set subject – “Good, bad and ugly” – an image with three subjects will do

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

1.

Three cheetahs drinking 1400 300k 72d sRGB W

Three cheetahs drinking – scored 09/15

This image was taken in during one my seven trip to the Kgalagadi in 2013.

No comments as the criteria were not very clear of what was expected from this category

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2.

Attack both side W

Attacked both sides – scored 09/15

This image was taken in my backyard in Bloemfontein. Once again – no comments

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 Message to take home

It was very worrying to see that the club did not receive any images for judging from any of the 1 or 2 star members. In some instances I also don’t blame them because sometimes the judges can be very hard on them and not really looking at/adhere to the criteria on what is expected from these junior members. I can almost guarantee the young photographers – you will not agree with some of the judges on their scores or comments/critique. Just accept it and move on. But so what – just to re-peat myself from last month post – the score not not what the camera club is all about. Therefore, 1 and 2 star members should not be discouraged from submitting because it is necessary for photographers to connect with other photographers. What better opportunity (apart from being with fellow photographers on a photography safari or course with an EXPERIENCED photography guide) is there than an evening of photo judging. The three opportunities mentioned here are definitely invaluable and you will grow much faster as a photographer yourself. It is also about having fun with the assistance of your fellow trigger-happy shutterbugs.

 

Until next month camera club meeting – keep on shooting

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