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!

Baby elephant light 1920 300k 72d sRGB W

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.

Barbet chasing weaver 1400 300k 72d sRGB W

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.

Room red light 1024 300k 72d sRGB W

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.

Weavers air fight 1024 300k 72d sRGB W

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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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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