Trip report: Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, April 2017 (Easter weekend)

Well, well, well a trip report at last after a long period of silence. My wife decided that we needed a break after a few stressful weeks at work. So, we decided to have a quick trip to the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park (KTP) over the Easter weekend (no additional leave days to be used!!!). Because of the heavy traffic on our roads usually experienced over the Eater weekend, the KTP was our only option. Since 2010 we’ve only been to the KTP once over the Easter weekend and it was so busy. And once again, the park was so busy that it was impossible to get accommodation anywhere on such short notice. Towards the end of 2016 we stayed at Polentswa Lodge and we were very impressed. So, this time around we decided to stay at Rooiputs Lodge (Ta Shebube) and what a pleasant stay. It was really relaxing.

In April the KTP gates close at 18H30 in the afternoons and open at 07H00 in the mornings. So, we arrived on the Thursday in the park just before gate closing time and we left the park on Monday after a quick drive to Gunong waterhole and back. KTP had a heavy thunderstorm on the Wednesday just before we arrived, so there were water puddles all over the place. Once you see the water puddles, you know this will be a slow visit when it comes to sightings. But we still enjoyed our stay – see my Message to take home below. Even though the temperatures dropped to about 7 degree C in the mornings. We were so glad that we were in our own vehicle and not in the open game drive vehicle in the mornings.

This was the second time that I’ve taken my Nikon D500 to the Kgalagadi. The camera is a great asset with its crop factor sensor – especially on the 600mm lens. It gives you a final reach of about 900mm. And with a 1.4 convertor, you get a reach of 1275mm and the quality of the image is till very acceptable. Just what you need in the Kgalagadi. And I did use it frequently on this trip as you’ll see from my images.

Just a few images from our trip below – just to show you what to expect if you do go to the park for a long weekend. Every day we only drove between Twee Rivieren en Gunong waterhole and we did not even drive over to the Auob river on the western side of the park.

Enjoy the trip with us

 

1.

Secretary bird

Nikon D500 & 600mm lens = 900mm, 1/2000 sec, f5.6, Exposure = -0.33, ISO 640, 50m from bird

One of the regular birds to be found in the Kgalagadi and one of my first images taken during our trip

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2.

Swallowed tailed bee-eater

Nikon D500 & 600mm lens = 900mm, 1/5000 sec, f8, Exposure = -0.67, ISO 1250, 9m from bird

Another of the regular birds to be found in the Kgalagadi. One needs to increase the f-stop if you are close to an object to try and get everything in focus especially the tail. ______________________________________

3.

Ostrich

Nikon D500 & 600mm lens = 900mm, 1/3200 sec, f4, Exposure = -1.33, ISO 125, 63m from bird

Many otrishes to be found between Twee Rivierien en Kji Kji water hole. This image was taken at Leeudril waterhole with the setting sun from behind the bird

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4.

Meerkat child love

Nikon D500 & 600mm lens + 1.4 convertor = 1275mm, 1/500 sec, f9, Exposure = -1.33, ISO 250, 21m from meerkat

At the entrance of Rooiputs, a clan of meetkats had a temporay den. I found them one afternoon enjoying the last bit of sunrise before they disappearing into the burrows. The next two dayss they did not return to this speciifc den.

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5.

Meerkat help me

Nikon D500 & 600mm lens = 900mm, 1/3200 sec, f4, Exposure = -0.67, ISO 125, 21m from meerkat

The next morning we did a quick drive to Kji Kji waterhole but we returned to wait for the meerkats to appear because we know they were there. And they apperared just after sunrise, warmed up a bit and then started to their foraging exercises for the day. However, they did not come back to this specific den for the next few days.

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6.

Porcupine side ways

Nikon D500 & 600mm lens + 1.4 convertor = 1275mm, 1/1000 sec, f8, Exposure = -0.67, ISO 320, 84m from porcupine

Another first for us after visiting the park for almost 7 years – a porcupine in daylight. Between Kji Kji and Melkvlei water holes. At first he was on the other side of the river bed and that was the reason why I’ve put the 1.4 convertor on my camera and lens. The old saying is so true: “Being at the right place at the right time”.

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7.

Porcupine close up

Nikon D500 & 600mm lens + 1.4 convertor = 1275mm, 1/1000 sec, f8, Exposure = -0.67, ISO 320, 84m from porcupine

All of a sudden the porcupine decided to cross over to our side. Luckily we were the only vehicle in the sighting and I was bale to manoeuvre our vehicle accordingly. It looks like the porcupine was in some sort of a fight because of the blood on its nose. It all happened so quickly – it was not possible for me to even remove my convertor from my camera and lens. The beauty of having a second body (D4 and 200-400mm lens on the passenger seat next to me). It took the porcupine about 4 minutes from our first sighting to cross the dune and disappear.

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8.

Young ground squirrels

Nikon D500 & 600mm lens = 900mm, 1/800 sec, f7.1, Exposure = 0, ISO 320, 12m from squirrels

You will definitely see a lot of ground squirrels in the park but not very often will you see young one warming up early in the morning

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9.

Black backed Jackal

Nikon D500 & 600mm lens = 900mm, 1/1600 sec, f6.3, Exposure = -0.33, ISO 320, 10m from jackal

Also the ever-present BB jackals and on this trip we saw a lot of them. Always nice to stop if they are close to the road – like this one and practise some portrait photograpghy

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10.

Lion

Nikon D500 & 600mm lens = 900mm, 1/5000 sec, f8, Exposure = -0.67, ISO 800, 50m from lion

Over the long weekend we saw about 7 different lions – always a pleasure and an enjoyment to see what they are up to. This year the grass was a bit high, so photographgy was not easy and one had to wait for the opportnities.

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11.

Gemsbok

Nikon D500 & 600mm lens = 900mm, 1/8000 sec, f11, Exposure = -1.0, ISO 640, 106m from gemsbok

Early in the morning the sun gives an opportunity to take some backlight photos – you just need to look for subjects on the edge of the dunes

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12.

Springbok

Nikon D500 & 600mm lens = 900mm, 1/6400 sec, f11, Exposure = -1.0, ISO 640, 105m from springbok

And a springbok provided us with another opportunity for some backlight photography

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Message to take home

 

Well, looking at the reason why we decided on short notice to take on the long road (800km) to the Kgalagadi for only a stay of 4 nights, I’ve realized that this message I’ve read is so true:

“Nature photography is extremely therapeutic if you can reap enjoyment from it.”

Because of a few stressful weeks before our trip, we decided to put our camera equipment in our vehicle and took on the long road to our favourite park. Even if it was just for a few days. And believe me, it was worth it – within a day or two we were so relaxed and focused on nature and photography that we once again realised that being alone with a camera in the natural world is definitely a great way to wind down and forget about the work. But just remember:

“Take photos not to see the result, but to enjoy the process”

 Until my next trip report – keep on shooting

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Africa Geographic photographic competition 2017: Outcome of my images submitted

I must admit, it has been a long time since my last post but here we go again. Africa Geographic is running a photographic competition for the last few years and this year was no acceptation. Every week any photographer can submit as many photos as he/she like free of charge via their website or via email. There are three categories:

  1. Wildlife
  2. Traditional Culture
  3. Travel/Scenic

Every Friday about 15-20 photos are selected as finalists and published in Africa Geographic weekly newsletter. The completion is running for a few weeks and after the closing date (April 26, 2017) 101 photos are selected from the 300+ weekly finalist to go through to the final judging process. Judges select the winners and runner-ups in each of the three categories but there is also an overall readers’ winner as determined by the number of votes of the readers.

I’ve entered about 40 photos and I had 9 photos selected as weekly finalists. Last Friday the list of 101 photos were announced and below are my three photos that were selected as part of the 101 photos:

 

My three finalists in the 101-image list:

1.

Richtersveld star trail

Lens = 17mm, ISO 200, f8, 5371,6 second (89,5 minutes), 2m from tree

This photo was taken at amongst the Quiver trees in the Richtersveld – close to Kokerboomkloof camping site. It was a moonless night (moon rise was around 21H00) with no light pollution because there are no nearby towns. Just after sundown, we did the necessary setup of the cameras and then walked back to camp for a lekker braaivleis. After supper (after about 90 minutes) I returned to collect the cameras

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2.

The jackal and the vulture 6

Lens = 600mm, ISO 1000, f8, 1/1000 second, 63 meters from birds and jackals

This photo was taken from the vulture hide at Giants Castle in the Drakensberg. While waiting for the Bearded Vultures to appear, we witnessed this type of interaction between a black backed jackal and two Cape Vultures fighting over a piece of meat.

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3.

Leopard head down

Lens = 600mm, ISO 4000, f4, 1/1250 second, 12 meters from leopard

This image of a female leopard was taken in the Sabi Sand reserve (Londolozi) while she was coming down a tree after sunset to start hunting for the evening.

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The following six photos were weekly finalists but did not make it into the list of 101 finalists:

 

The other weekly finalists:

1.

Father love

Lens = 600mm, ISO 1250, f6.3, 1/2500 second, 15 meters from meerkats

This photo was taken near a burrow of a clan of meerkats. Some of them were enjoying their last bit of foraging for the day. These four meerkats were making use of the last sunlight of the day to get some warmth in their system before the sun is about to disappear behind the dunes. One young meerkat was looking for some affection from an elder

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2.

Lioness and cub 4

Lens = 1275mm, ISO 1000, f11, 1/1600 second, 40 meters from lions

This photo was taken at Leeudril water hole in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park around 06H50 in February 2013. I followed the lioness for a few kilometres very early one morning as she and her two cubs were walking towards the water hole. They drank water for about 10 minutes and they gave me a few opportunities to shoot them in perfect light – the early golden hour.

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3.

Chameleon moon

Lens = 200mm, ISO 1000, f2.8, 1/60 second, 2.5 meters from chameleon

This photo was taken during a night game drive in the Mashatu Nature Reserve, Botswana. We came across a chameleon resting on the branch of a dead tree. One has to look very carefully to see these little creatures at night. I used a double exposure technique that is possible to do in-camera (a specific setting on the camera is used). First an image is taken of the chameleon on the branch with a flash and then an image is taken of the moon. The two images was combined in-camera automatically. So I did not manipulate the image in Photoshop – the photo was created in-camera. Not very easy get the composition of the chameleon and the moon right the first time

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4.

Eagle eye

Lens = 850mm, ISO 2500, f13, 1/320 second, 8 meters from eagle

Eagle eye – this close-up image of an Martial eagle was taken near Houmoed waterhole in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park. The eagle was resting on the ground underneath a small acacia tree and it allowed us to get to about 7 meters from it. If looks could kill!!!

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5.

Jackals fighting high

Lens = 600mm, ISO 2000, f8, 1/4000 second, 32 meters from jackals

This photo was taken about 2km south of Kji Kji water hole in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park around 09H00 in the morning. During the night, a group of lions killed a gemsbok and when we arrived at the sight, there were two lions still eating. Around the killing was about 15 black backed jackals lying waiting for the lions to leave so that they have a bite. And this is what happen when the lions leave the kill – jackals trying to establish dominations around the kill.

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6.

Owlet housekeeping

Lens = 570mm, ISO 2000, f18, 1/1250 second, 4 meters from owlet

One of the resident Pearl spotted owlet around the Graig Lockhart waterhole the the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park was cleaning out its nest by removing what was left of a kill – the leg of a mouse. Interesting to note that it did not just drop the remains out of the nest. It took the leg away from the nest to drop it some distance away from the nest.

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Message to take home

Now that you’ve seen my 9 weekly finalists, you’ll be the judge if three images made it into the 101-images lists are my best three images. And with that request comes a warning – be careful that you are not swept away when it comes to photographic competitions. Competitions and especially judges are looking for specific photos or types of photos.

 

Do not get into the habit of just taking images for competitions because each competition, and for that matter each judge, is different. You will only get frustrated and remember: A happy photographer is the best photographer. Perfection and taking the perfect shot should not your ultimate goal. Forget about competitions and do not become a machine by taking photos for competitions. Such approach may cause your photos to start to all look very similar and even similar to other photographers’ photos. Also, without enjoyment you might start to lose your passion for photography. Enjoyment and just being there to capture the moment should be your ultimate goal. Photography is this type of hobby that allows you to be creative – be yourself, take image for yourself and keep on enjoying it!

 

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

It has been a long time since my last post but hopefully I would be more active on my blog this year. Lets continue where I left my blog last year and that is with the outcome of my photos submitted for judging at our local camera club.

Just again the website of our camera club for those who are interested (you do not have to live in Bloemfontein to be a member of our club – we do have members from all over South Africa:

Bloemfontein camera club:

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

 

Method of judging – there are 3 judges (usually senior members of the club) giving a score out of 5 for each image:

1 out of 5 = Not up to standard, 2 out of 5 = poor standard, 3 out of 5 = up to standard, 4 out of 5 = above standard, 5 out of 5 = excellent

 

The three scores are added together to give the image an overall score:

1-6 out of 15 = not good, not an acceptable standard = no promotion points is gained by member

7-8 out of 15 = bronze award, below standard but acceptable – 1 promotion point is gained

9-10 out of 15 = silver award, up to standard – 2 promotional points are gained

11-13 out of 15 = gold award, above standard – 3 promotional points are gained

14-15 out of 15 = Certificate merit award, excellent photo – 4 promotional points are gained

 

A. Nature category

Just a reminder – no manipulation of images using any type of 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.

impala-backlight-1024-w

Impala backlight – scored 13/15 (Gold award)

Nikon D3S camera, Nikon 200-400mmf4 lens @ 360mm, Gimpro window mount and head fix on the door of my vehicle. ISO 320, f5.6, 1/5000 second, exposure compensation = -1.67, Aperture priority, White Balance – sun. 70 meters from impala

The image was taken last year near Satara camp in the Kruger National Park. The previous day my wife saw the opportunity while we were driving back to camp late afternoon to capture the silliette of an impala against the setting sun while all the cars returning to camp creating a very nice dust cloud. Not very easy to capture the image and one’s timing should be perfect because there is only a window of about 10 minutes when the sun is at the right angle. And the returning cars and impalas should be there in good time. The next day we waited for about 30 minutes in the same spot next to the road and luckily the sun, cars and impalas played their part and I was able to capture this image above. Just something different from the ordinary wildlife photo. And it is possible to get a unique shot of an impala in the Kruger National Park – it just needs a bit of thinking and creativity.

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2.

lion-and-cub-backl-1024-w

Lion and cub backl – scored 12/15 (Gold award)

Nikon D4 camera, Nikon 600mmf4 lens, Gimpro window mount and head fix on the door of my vehicle. ISO 400, f8, 1/2000 second, exposure compensation = -2.33, Aperture priority, White Balance – sun. 25 meters from lions

On the very same road (S100) as the previous photo, we came across a lioness walking next to the road with her cub. Unfortunately on the wrong side of the road, but hey, one needs to take every opportunity coming your way. Time for some backlight shots and the image above is an example thereof.

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3.

Baboon half 1080 W

Baboon half – scored 10/15 (Silver award)

Nikon D4 camera, Nikon 600mmf4 lens, Gimpro window mount and head fix to hide. ISO 800, f8, 1/2000 second, exposure compensation = -1.00, Aperture priority, Fill in flash, White Balance – sun. 15 meters from baboon

Another image taken during our trip with Albie Venter to Indlovu River lodge and this image was taken from one of the hides. Just an interesting perspective that the 600mm lens will give you with its very swallow depth of field creating a very nice blurry fore and background. Not really an image that will get a high score from the judges, so I did expect a low score but it was worth sharing the image with my fellow photographers.

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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.

No image submitted because I submitted all three images allowed in the Nature category

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C. Set subject category

This is an additional category for photographers to submit 2 specific images as stipulated in the guidelines for the evening. More emphasis is place on how the photos relate to the set subject than technical correctness of the image. However, these images do not contribute toward the promotion points accumulated by members in order to move through the various levels in the club.

No image submitted by me this time around.

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Message to take home

I am sure you have seen a lot of excellent wildlife and nature photos on the Internet and in magazines. Some of those photos are just portrait images of wildlife while others are action type photos. All of them are, however, timed to perfection. Just like the very first image posted in this blog. Images like these and mentioned in the beginning are not just lucky shots or captured accidentally. These photos were captured because the photographer identified the opportunity beforehand and then waiting patiently for the right moment to capture the shot. It is just our human nature to want to drive around the park for example to see what is around the next corner. However, sometimes it is necessary to stop, wait and sit patiently waiting for the right moment. Next time you stop next to a photographer in a park, asking him/her what is the attraction/sighting and if you get a non-specific answer, you will understand why. It is all about patience and waiting for all the elements to come together.

 

Until next month camera club meeting – keep on shooting

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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.

catch-in-last-light-1400-300k-72d-srg-flip-w

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.

lioness-wake-up-1080-w

 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.

blind-runner-1024-w

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:

In the hide 1200 W

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.

Baboon look 1080 W

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 1200 W

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 1080 W

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.

Giraffe drinking eye 1080 W

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.

Ostrich in dust 1400 300k 72d sRGB W

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.

Francolin reflection 1400 300k 72d sRGB W

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.

Cloudy elephants 1920 300k 72d sRGB W

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!

Leopard bite 1024 300k 72d sRGB W

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.

Leopard one eye reflect 1200 W

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.

Weaver on backside 300k 72d sRGB W

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.

Standing hug 1024 300k 72d sRGB W

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!

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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