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

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

A. Nature category

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

1.

Duiker backlight 1080 W

Duiker backlight – scored 12/15 (Gold award)

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

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

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2.

Cheetah yawning 1200 300k 72d sRGB W

Cheetah yawning – score 11/15 (Gold award)

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

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

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B. Pictorial category

There are just the two categories in the camera club that the photographers can submit images for judging. In this category, anything type of images can be submitted except Nature and wildlife images. So, this month I’ve decided to submit a landscape image containing human elements for judging.

3.

Dwarsvlei BW land 1024 300k 72d sRGB W

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

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

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

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

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

1.

Firemen 1

Firemen 1 – scored 11/15

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

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

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2.

Old wagen 1200 300k 72d sRGB W

Old wagen – scored 09/15

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

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Message to take home

Just a short message for this post:

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

 

Until next month camera club meeting – keep on shooting

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

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

A. Nature category

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

1.

Fox kiss please 1080 300k 72d sRGB W

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

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

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2.

Weaver feet locked 2400 300k 72d sRGB W

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

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

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B. Pictorial category

There are just the two categories in the camera club that the photographers can submit images for judging. In this category, anything type of images can be submitted except Nature and wildlife images. So, this month I’ve decided to submit a Photo Journalism (PJ) type of image for judging.

3.

In smoke 1024 300k 72d sRGB W

In smoke – score 12/15 (Gold award)

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

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

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

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

1.

Three cheetahs drinking 1400 300k 72d sRGB W

Three cheetahs drinking – scored 09/15

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

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

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2.

Attack both side W

Attacked both sides – scored 09/15

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

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 Message to take home

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

 

Until next month camera club meeting – keep on shooting

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

As mentioned in my previous post, I am still busy with my photography salon administration and I’ve probably received my last salon result for 2015. What a busy salon month this was with 13 salons entered in November 2015 all over the world. However, my main aim is Nature photography and therefore I mainly enter photos in the Nature category. The entry fee for some salons is for all the categories – then I’ll try and enter photos in each of the categories. Right, lets look at the results for November 2015:

The details of the salons are as follows:

 

Total number of salons entered:

13 (12 international salons & 1 national salons).

Overall outcome:

International: 73 acceptances from 142 photos entered = 51% acceptance rate (slight increased from 48% last month)

National: 14 acceptances from 25 photos entered = 58% acceptance rate (slight decreased from 60% last month)

Medals: 4

COMs: 3

Once again – unfortunately there was only one national salon in South Africa this month. A decision made by the PSSA to decrease the number of salons to be held in South Africa. Not the same trend we do see worldwide – very interesting!

Now for the individual salons:

 

A. INTERNATIONAL SALONS

 

  1. DPW SER MNE BIH CIRCUIT 2015 (Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina)

This was a 3-salon circuit in three countries.

Photos entered: 4 photos each entered in the Nature section = 12 entries

Acceptance: 1 COM & 5 acceptances (50% acceptance rate)

Comments: As always, a very interesting outcome – I am no longer surprised but just enjoying to see the various outcomes like this one. I’ve entered Weaver stands your ground for the first time in a salon. The very interesting outcome as it received the COM in this circuit in one salon but failed to receive an acceptance in the other two salons.

 

Weavers stand your ground W

Weaver stands your ground

Bloemfontein, South Africa

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  1. WREKIN SALON 2015 (UK)

Photos entered: 4 photos entered in Nature section.

Acceptance: 3 acceptance (75% acceptance rate)

Comments: At last, my third salon acceptance for Mudd restling in its 7th salon entry. For some or other reason, the judges did not like this image. However, now I can put this image away after I’ve achieved my goal (PSA Galaxy requirement) of 3 acceptances.

Mudd restling 1400 300k 72d sRGB W

Mudd restling

Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, South Africa

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  1. DEL PLATA FOTO CLUB SALON 2015 (Argentina)

Photos entered: 4 photos entered in Nature section

Acceptance: 2 acceptances (10% acceptance rate)

In many of this month’s salons, I’ve used images for which I only need one more acceptance in order to get the required 3 acceptances per image. Meerkat love three was such an image and I’ve received my third acceptance for this image in its third salon entry – full marks for this image

 Meerkat love three 1400 300k 72d sRGB W

Meerkat love three

Tswalu nature reserve, South Africa

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  1. 122ND TORONTO SALON 2015 (Canada)

Photos entered: 4 photos entered in Nature section

Acceptance: 3 acceptances (75% acceptance rate)

Comments: I’ve used the same strategy here in this salon – all four images entered require just one more acceptance each. Hippo yawn 3 is a very “old” image taken a few years back but now I can put it away.

Hippo yawn 3

Hippo yawn 3

Chobe Nature reserve near Kasane, Botswana

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  1. 2nd BAWS SALON 2015 (India)

Photos entered: 4 photos entered in Nature section

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

Comments: The first medal for the month and Weavers on your back taken in my backyard – just to show you that you do not need to travel to great images. Just need some patience and a great deal of luck. 3 acceptances for this image in only three salon entries – done and dusted for the shelve!

Weaver on your back 1024 300k 72d sRGB W

Weavers on your back

Bloemfontein, South Africa

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  1. 41st SMETHWICK SALON 2015 (UK)

Photos entered: 4 photos entered in Nature section

Acceptance: 3 acceptances (75% acceptance rate)

Comments: Once again – the same strategy – entered four images and these four images only require one or two acceptances each to achieve the goal of three acceptances each. I was not that successful with Ostrich in dust as it only received its second acceptance in this salon after six attempts. Now just for the final hurdle with this image – its third acceptance.

Ostrich in dust 1400 300k 72d sRGB W

Ostrich in dust

Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, South Africa

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  1. 3RD THREE COUNTRY GRAND CIRCUIT 2015 (Ireland, Montenegro, Serbia)

This was a 3-salon circuit

Photos entered: 4 photos entered in Nature, Wildlife, Birds, Open Colour, Sport and PJ sections = 72 entries

Acceptance: 1 medal & 24 acceptances (35% acceptance rate)

Comments: This was one of those salons/circuit where there is a limited entry fee option – this time the minimum of sections to be entered was six. And to my surprise, the medal was awarded to an image of mine entered in the Photo Journalism (PJ) section – Two fire sill.

Two fire sill W

Two fire sill

Bloemfontein, South Africa

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  1. 23rd SINGAPORE SALON 2015 (Singapore)

Photos entered: 4 photos entered in Nature section

Acceptance: 2 COMs & 1 acceptances (50% acceptance rate)

Comments: Leopard smacked was one of he images receiving a COM award. Another success story with a 100% acceptance rate in 7 national and international salons despite the low light conditions and some noise in the image

Leopard smacked W

Leopard smacked

Londolozi nature reserve, South Africa

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  1. DOUBLE HALF CIRCUIT 2015 (India)

This was a 3-salon circuit

Photos entered: 4 photos entered in Nature section = 12 entries

Acceptance: 1 medal & 8 acceptances (75% acceptance rate)

Comments: At last, a third acceptance for Young baboon in its 8th salon entry. Not really a success story using this image in salons maybe because the eyes of the young baboon is not visible. Maybe it would have been a stronger image if the baboon was looking at me but I just love the body language as well as the backlight effect (emotional image?).

Young baboon 1400 300k 72d sRGB W

Young baboon

Mashatu nature reserve, Botswana

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  1. SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA SALON 2015 (USA)

Photos entered: 4 photos entered in Nature section

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

Comments: Jacana with eggs is another image that received its third acceptance after I’ve struggled to get the required third acceptance. Very special image to me because it is not the privilege of every photographer to capture a Jacana climbing onto his nest filled with eggs. One of those images I call “an emotional image” – an image the photographer loves but it is not really a image that will do well in competition.

Jacana with eggs 1 1080 800k 300d sRGB noise 2 W

Jacana with eggs

Chobe Nature reserve near Kasane, Botswana

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  1. 1ST BI-CONTINENTAL CIRCUIT 2015 (Greece & UAE)

This was a 4-salon circuit

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

Acceptance: 1 medal & 9 acceptances (63% acceptance rate)

Comments: Yet another first for me – a successful salon participation in the UAE (at this stage my total stands at 44 countries). And a medal award as a bonus as well. Meerkat sitting hug was the image that received its first medal from one of the salons in the UAE.

Meerkat sitting hug 1080 300k 72d sRGB W

Meerkat sitting hug

Tswalu nature reserve, South Africa

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  1. ISTANBUL PHOTO MEETING SALON 2015 (Turkey)

Photos entered: 4 photos entered in Nature section

Acceptance: 3 acceptances (75% acceptance rate)

Comments: Also my first successful salon participation in Turkey. Playful young hyena is another image that was not well received by the salon judges in the past – received its third acceptance after seven salon entries. Maybe the background or the lack of good light – both very relevant reason for judges not awarding a salon acceptance to this image. Therefore, I am very satisfied with the required three acceptances.

Playful young hyena 1

Playful young hyena

Kruger National Park, South Africa

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  1. NATIONAL SALONS

 

  1. 10TH BEACHCOMBER SALON 2015 (South Africa)

Photos entered: 4 photos each entered in the Wildlife, Macro, PJ, Scapes, Human portraits monochrome and Open colour sections= 20 entries

Acceptance: 3 COMs & 11 acceptances (58%)

Comments: Two COMs in the Wildlife section and the third COM for a landscape image Church cloud opening.

Church cloud opening 1024 300k 72d sRGB W

Church cloud opening

Eastern Cape, South Africa

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Message to take home:

I’ve posted a few bird photos in this post – currently my favourite subject to photograph, especially birds in flight/bird actions. The reason why it is currently my favourite subject? Maybe it is because bird photography is so challenging or maybe it is just the opportunity to show my readers what the human eye cannot see. Challenging? All I can say it might be easy to call yourself a bird photographer. However, it is definitely not that easy to be a good bird photographer. For those who have tried their hand at bird photography will know. First of all, your do need proper equipment. But if you think that an experienced photographer with proper equipment just goes on a photography safari trip or just go to a birding place to photograph birds, aim their camera and lens at the birds, and capture many, many amazing photographs, please think again! Because it is definitely not what bird photography is all about. Bird photographers (and I would like to see myself as a “bird photographer in the making”) are those photographers who go to the site before anyone. We stay around until there’s no light. We stay and learn about the environment and the birds’ behaviour and we go back to the same place again, and again, and again until we do get what the shots that we want. Looking the two images I took in my backyard of the weavers posted above – it took me about 2 months of planning with trail and error (30 minutes per afternoon because for just 30minuts the sun is perfect for this shot – sunlight permitted) to capture this image.

 

Until 2016, keep on shooting

 

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

I am catching up on my salon administration while other people are enjoying their holidays at the seaside. While capturing my salon outcomes and preparing the required documentation for Galaxy star rating of the Photography Society of America (PSA), I realized that I’ve received all my results for the month of October 2015. 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 (8 international salons & 1 national salons).

Overall outcome:

International: 60 acceptances from 124 photos entered = 48% acceptance rate (decreased from 55% last month)

National: 12 acceptances from 20 photos entered = 60% acceptance rate (increased from 42% last month)

Medals: 4

COMs: 2

Not very often that I received more medals that COMs. There was a problem in India and we received the results from two salons circuit very late. Therefore I’ve included the results from the two circuits from September in this post

Now for the individual salons:

 

A. INTERNATIONAL SALONS

 

  1. SAM CIRCUIT 2015 (India)

This was a 6-salon circuit.

Photos entered: 4 photos each entered in the Nature section = 24 entries

Acceptance: 3 medals, 1 COM & 15 acceptances (79% acceptance rate)

 

Comments: I’ve entered four newly developed photos in this circuit – with what seems to be a successful salon results for me. Early morning drink received the 3 medals and 1 COM in this circuit. The same image also received acceptances in the other two salons – full marks for this image.

Early morning drink 1400 300k 72d sRGB W

Early morning drink

Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, South Africa

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  1. JCM CIRCUIT 2015 (India)

This was a 4-salon circuit

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

Acceptance: 1 COM & 8 acceptance (56% acceptance rate)

Comments: Once again, four newly developed images entered into this circuit. Not such a successful outcome for me (not the same as the previous circuit) but an acceptable acceptance rate (56%) for me, especially if taken into account that it is an international circuit. A very interesting outcome for Attack both side and just to show people how opinions from judges can differ. This image below received the COM in one salon, 1 acceptance in another and 2 non-acceptances in the other two salons.

Attack both side W

Attack both side

Bloemfontein, South Africa

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  1. BALKAN CIRCUIT 2015 (Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina,)

This was a 5-salon circuit

Photos entered: 4 photos entered each in in Nature section = 20 entries

Acceptance: 2 acceptances (10% acceptance rate)

Comments: Disastrous results for me – only a 10% acceptance rate. Nevertheless, 2 acceptances closer to my goal to receive an EPSA award for the PSA (788 acceptances needed in the Nature section). For all these bigger circuit, I’ve developed new photos just in case I receive three acceptances for an image. For this circuit, I would like to post an image that did not receive any acceptances in the 5 salons but an image I do like – Serval tail. I did enter this image in a subsequent circuit and the image did receive the required 3 acceptances. Just to show you – you should not give up easily on an image you like.

 Serval tail 1920 300k 72d sRGB W

Serval tail

Masai Mara, Kenya

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  1. 1ST VIBRANCE CIRCUIT 2015 (India)

This was a 3-salon circuit

Photos entered: 4 photos each entered in the Nature section = 12 entries

Acceptance: 2 acceptances (50% acceptance rate)

Comments: If the previous circuit was a disaster, the result of this circuit was even worst. No acceptances = 0% acceptance rate. I cannot even remember when last did it happen to me. Hopefully the circuit organisers did receive my images (LOL), But hey, next month is another month. Lets look at yet another image I liked and I was expecting an acceptance of two. Cheetah lipstick already received two other acceptances and I am trying to get the required three acceptances for this image in order to use it to obtain the PSA Galaxy star rating. Maybe better luck next time!

Cheetah lipstick

Cheetah lipstick

Mashatu Nature reserve, Botswana

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  1. 10TH FRENCH DIGITAL 2015 (France)

This was a 4-salon circuit

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

Acceptance: 10 acceptances (63% acceptance rate)

Comments: A much better circuit result for me. Eagle with twig was also a newly developed image I’ve entered in this circuit (first time entry) and the iamge received the required 3 acceptances. Now I can put the image away. Interesting to note that in one of the four salons, not one of my images received an acceptance. Once again – evidence of the differences of opinions of judges and therefore one should not get upset with the outcomes of salons. Just accept the outcome/result and move on.

Eagle with twig 1080 300k 72d sRGB W

Eagle with twig

Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, South Africa

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  1. 3RD OLYMPIC CIRCUIT 2015 (Greece)

This was 4-salon circuit

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

Acceptance: 9 acceptances (56% acceptance rate)

Comments: I’ve entering this circuit since the very first circuit was launched a year or two ago and I am enjoying it. Once again, a good result for me with a 56% acceptance rate. Leopard kill was a very difficult image to process/develop in Photoshop and I wasn’t sure about how the image will do on a circuit. Just because it is not really a pleasing image. But this is what nature is all about and one does not get the opportunity every day to capture such action in the wild. And this leopard just gave us a few seconds before disappearing into the bush with the steenbok. So, I’ve decided to give it a try. Surprisingly it received acceptances in all four salons. So, this image is also going to the shelve with the goal of three acceptances per image achieved (PSA requirements)

Leopard kill 1080 300k 72d sRGB W

Leopard kill

Londolozi nature reserve, Greater Kruger Park, South Africa

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  1. 3RD INDIAN GOLDEN DIGITAL CIRCUIT 2015 (India)

This was a 3-salon circuit

Photos entered: 4 photos entered in Nature section = 12 entries

Acceptance: 1 medal & 4 acceptances (42% acceptance rate)

Comments: A lot of circuits this month and another example of different opinions from judges, Three puppies playing received the judges choice medal in one salon, an acceptance in another salon and no acceptance in the third salon. However, mission accomplished with three acceptances for the PSA Galaxy rating purpose.

Three puppies playing 1024 300k 72d sRGB W

Three puppies playing

Laikepia Nature reserve, Kenya

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  1. MISSISSIPPI VALLEY PHOTOGRAPHY SALON 2015 (India)

Photos entered: 4 photos entered each in Nature General and Nature Wildlife sections = 8 entries

Acceptance: 4 acceptances (50% acceptance rate)

Comments: Two acceptances each in both sections with Wildebeest help me receiving it third acceptance in international salon. Also – the image to be put on the shelf after receiving its third acceptance. I though this image is just a bit different from the usual crossing images people posted all over the Internet.

Wildebeest help me 1920 300k 72d sRGB W

Wildebeest help me

Serengeti, Tanzania

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 B. NATIONAL SALONS

 

  1. 2ND MIDDELBURG SALON 2015 (South Africa)

Photos entered: 4 photos each entered in the Wildlife, Macro, PJ, and Open colour sections= 20 entries

Acceptance: 1 medal, 3 COMs & 8 acceptances (60%)

Comments: Only one national salon this month as the PSSA decided to reduce the number of national photography salons in South Africa. I do not agree with the decision but I am sure the management structure of the PSSA has their reasons for the decision (I heard it is to improve the quality of images entered into national salon – not sure this approach will solve the problem but it is just my opinion. Maybe using a lower acceptance rate will do it). At last – a first for in a long time – I received a COM for a photo entered in the Photo Journalism (PJ) section. I’ve entered Hockey challenge in two previous salons with one acceptance.

Hockey challenge W

Hockey challenge

Bloemfontein, South Africa

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Message to take home:

Looking back at my Wildebeest crossing image of mine and my comment posted earlier in this post, I was thinking of the following issue I am trying to master:

Trying to capture some unique images while developing one’s own style.

I am constantly telling myself when on a photography drive: If the photo I am trying to capture looks the same as the photo everyone else is taking, there can only be one reason: I am doing the same as everybody else and I really do not want to be a copy cat. I want to capture that unique photo meaning I need to think outside the box and do something that nobody else has done before. And this really not easy with all the photographers around today with so many photography opportunities. However, one can continuously ask the following questions: “Am I doing something wrong?”, “Can I change something I’ve been doing routinely on ever trip?”, “Can I change the way I am using my camera/lens/setting?”. Just to highlight a few questions. With such questions asked, I might change the way I’ve captured the image previously and I might get luckly with an unique image.

 

Until next month, keep on shooting

 

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Bloemfontein Camera Club meeting: Outcome of my images submitted – December 2015

The first Tuesday of December and it was the last judging at our local camera club for 2015! Unfortunately I was unable to attend the evening because I was in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park for that week. Apparently the judges were more generous with the points allocated to the evening’s images but nevertheless, lets look at the outcome of the five images I submitted for judging.

 

A. Nature category

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

1.

Leopard on rocks 1080 300k 72d sRGB W

Leopard on the rocks – scored 13/15 (Gold award)

This image was taken in during my very fist trip to Mashatu Nature Reserve with Isak Pretorius and C4 Images and Safaris in 2012. The leopard had just finished eating an impala underneath a bush and walked right up to us before lying down to start cleaning himself in the last light of the day.

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2.

Meerkat sitting hug 1080 300k 72d sRGB W

Meerkat sitting hug – score 11/15 (Gold award)

Yet another image taken of a group of meerkats just before sunset during a trip with Margaret Oliver and my wife to Tswalu nature reserve. It was very interesting to see the almost human-like behaviour of these meerkats. Once again – just to proof my argument you will read below under the third image – a score for this image just made it into the gold award category (11/15) while this image already received 1 medal and two acceptances in salons in Greece and the Emirates this year.

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3.

Baboon baby 1080 300k 72d sRGB W

Baboon baby – score 10/15 (Silver award)

Image taken in from Lou Coetzer’s special designed photography boat on the Chobe River near Kasane, Botswana.

And I thought the judges were generous with their scores! It seems like two of the judges did not like this image – I would love to know they thought was wrong with this image. However, too bad for them because I like the image (light and caring action = story telling element) and this image already received two international salon acceptances in France. Just to show you people – do not get upset with the judges’ scores and comments of your local camera club. It is just their opinions. Rather concentrate to learn something from every camera evening – it is not worth taking the judges’ opinion seriously. Some of their scores and opinions may even be very biased!

So, just relax and enjoy the evening watching your fellow photographers’ photos while creating your opinion on every image. With such an approach, the camera club evening will definitely add more value to you as photographer!I know there are photographers who do not want to come to the camera club anymore because they do not want to be humiliated. Please do not be humiliated by the judges of the evening. Just come and enjoy the images of your fellow photographers!

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C. Set subject –Low key photography”

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

1.

Lioness and cub walking 1 1050 800k 72d sRGB flipped light WLioness and cub walking– scored 13/15

This image was taken in during one my seven trip to the Kgalagadi in 2013. On the last day of one of my trip, this lioness and her cub were walking towards Leeudril waterhole against the rising sun. This image also won the gold medal in the International Images for Screen competition of the Royal Photographic Society in the UK in 2014

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2.

Leopard in the dark 1Leopard in the dark– scored 14/15 and was chosen as the winner for the evening in this set subject section

This image was taken in during a photo safari with Greg du Toit to Mala Mala Nature reserve. This male leopard was walking down the road one evening while patrolling his territory. So, we decided to park our vehicle a few hundred meters in front in a low area while waiting for the leopard to appear with the following vehicle and spotlight used as back lighting

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Message to take home

 

I received a very interesting email from my wife while she was in the USA. I think it is very appropriate after my discussion earlier in this post and I want to share it with you. You decide for yourself:

“Years ago, I entered a photograph in two competitions. At the local camera club, the judge told me the photo had no artistic merit and I should consider giving up photography. At the Sydney International Salon, it won first prize. Two different judges, two different opinions! Which one is right?”

Once again and just to conclude this discussion: Your local camera club is not the Alpha and Omega in photography and do not take the points and comments of the judges personally. It will definitely derail and possibly destroy your photography journey. There is much more to photography than just listening to the judges of a camera club.

 

Until next month camera club meeting – keep on shooting

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Trip report: Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, September 2015 (Part III: Day 4 – 6) – Great shots and missed opportunities

Right, I’ve just returned from yet another week in the Kgalagadi but first I need to complete this trip report – spending a long weekend in September 2015 in Kgalagadi. The purpose of this three-part trip report is to show what can be seen in the Kgalagadi when you are willing to drive all the way up to the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park to spend a long weekend in Twee Rivieren camp.

Right, lets continue to see what the Kgalagadi has to offer in the month of September. This report is called Great shots because I had some great shots taken during these two days as well as Missed opportunities because I’ve missed the shot of the trip because of wrong choices. Just a side comment: the mid- day and late afternoon temperature was between 40 and 46 degree Celsius while the morning temp was between 9 and 12 degree Celsius. For those who are interested and planning their first ever trip to the Kgalagadi.

 

Day 4 – Morning drive

Once again, leaving the camp at gate opening time (06H30) I decided to drive along the Nossob River. And again, a quiet drive with nothing really happening at Samevloei, Leeudril and Kji Kji waterholes. Between Kji Kji and Melkvlei I came across this nice Tawny eagle sitting in one of the dead tree just next to the road. From it feathers, one can see how cold it was – even in September.

21 Eagle early morning W

Eagle early morning

Nikon D4, Nikon 600mm lens, ISO640, 1/2000 sec, f8, exposure comp = -0.67, Aperture priority, WB = sun, 25 meters from eagle

Way too early for the eagle to take – so I just took a record portrait shot of the eagle while enjoying the good light.

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Between Melkvlei and Gunong water hole, the whistling rat colony again – I’ve tried my luck once again. Lets try this one in colour because it was not that late in the morning.

22 Rat hole W

Rat hole

Nikon D4, Nikon 600mm lens, ISO640, 1/8000 sec, f4, exposure comp = -0.67, Aperture priority, WB = sun, 6 meters from rate

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Nothing at Gunong waterhole but on my way back between Melkvlei and Kji Kji – the best opportunity of the trip. But a missed opportunity because of bad decision-making from my side. The same Tawny eagle shown above caught a snake and was busy eating it while a juvenile Bateleur was hoping for a piece of it. As you can see from my camera settings, I was ready for action.

23 Eagle and Bataleur W

Eagle and Bateleur

Nikon D4, Nikon 600mm lens, ISO1600, 1/5000 sec, f8, exposure comp = -0.67, Aperture priority, WB = sun, 25 meters from the raptors

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At one stage the eagle walked away and the Bateleur moved in to look if there was anything left. And this is where I missed the shot. I’ve parked way too close to the sighting as the tawny eagle retuned to the feeding spot to chase away the Bateleur – evidence of my mistake below. In hindsight – I should have used my 200-400mm lens.

24 Eagle and Bataleur fighting

Eagle and Bateleur fighting

Nikon D4, Nikon 600mm lens, ISO1600, 1/5000 sec, f8, exposure comp = -0.67, Aperture priority, WB = sun, 25 meters from the raptors

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I decided to reverse a bit and wait for the take off of both birds as a “consolation price”. First the tawny eagle took off

25 Eagle take off W

Eagle take off

Nikon D4, Nikon 600mm lens, ISO1600, 1/6400 sec, f8, exposure comp = -0.67, Aperture priority, WB = sun, 31 meters from the raptors

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Followed a few minutes later by the Bateleur

26 Balateur take off W

Bateleur take off

Nikon D4, Nikon 600mm lens, ISO1600, 1/3200 sec, f8, exposure comp = -0.67, Aperture priority, WB = sun, 31 meters from the raptors

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Day 4 – Afternoon drive

I followed my usual routine leaving camp around 15H15-15H30. It was very hot – 45 degrees so I did not expect much action. I drove along the Nossob River – the same route as the morning. Nothing happening up the Gunong water hole. On my way back, between Kji Kji and Melkvlei waterhole, I came across the same juvenile Bateleur as display above in a dead tree. After a while it decided to join the parents in a bigger tree – the image below taken while the juvenile was flying from the dead tree to the roasting tree. Just look at the difference between this image taken from the same bird in late afternoon sunlight below and the previous image (hard late morning sunlight) above. Interesting!

 27 Bataleur juvenile flying W

Bateleur take off

Nikon D4, Nikon 600mm lens, ISO1600, 1/8000 sec, f8, exposure comp = -0.67, Aperture priority, WB = sun, 28 meters from the raptor

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And just before Rooiputs water hole, a slender mongoose lying in the road in the shade of a tree. Not very often that one of these shy little animals providing a photographer with such nice opportunities. They usually run away but not this one. I’ve used a fill-in flash a la Albie Venter because of the shadow of the tree.

28 Slender mongoose W

Slender mongoose

Nikon D4, Nikon 600mm lens, ISO1600, 1/640 sec, f8, exposure comp = 0, Aperture priority, WB = sun, fill in flash, 11 meters from mongoose

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And as usual, be on the lookout for the ostriches between Rooiputs and Samevloei waterholes. They do provide you with nice backlight shots while taking a dust bath like this ostrich did.

29 Ostrich late W

Ostrich late

Nikon D4, Nikon 600mm lens, ISO800, 1/3200 sec, f4, exposure comp = -1.3, Aperture priority, WB = sun, 63 meters from ostrich

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What a surprise after Leeudril waterhole – my third ever sighting of a leopard in the Kgalagadi (in four years)! A bit far but just a record shot with a 2x convertor on the 600mm lens in very low light conditions.

30 Leopard W

Leopard

Nikon D4, Nikon 600mm lens with 2 x convertor = 1200mm, ISO800, 1/200 sec, f8, exposure comp = -0.673, Aperture priority, WB = sun, 85 meters from leopard

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So, a very eventful afternoon drive came to an end.

 

Day 5 – Morning drive

The same routine as always – a drive along the Nossob River. The first interesting sighting was between Rooiputs and Kji Kji waterhole. The Cape fox lying in front of its burrow in the early morning sunlight. Unfortunately no puppies around – so I don’t think it was a den.

31 Cape fox W

Cape fox

Nikon D4, Nikon 600mm lens, ISO800, 1/3200 sec, f8, exposure comp = -0.67, Aperture priority, WB = sun, 12 meters from fox

Just to let you know – the above-mentioned camera setting is my default settings for my D4 and 600mm lens combination and I just love it.

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Just pass the rat colonies between Melkvlei and Gunong water hole – the great opportunity of the trip. Around a bend just before Gunong waterhole sat a Tawny eagle and an African wild cat next to each other on the ground. However, both were not interested in each other. The eagle was collecting nesting material. Luckily I’ve got a few shots of the eagle taking of with a twin in its beak – example below.

32 Eagle nesting twig W

Eagle nesting twig

Nikon D4, Nikon 600mm lens, ISO1600, 1/6400, f8, exposure comp = -0.67, Aperture priority, WB = sun, 32 meters from eagle

Be careful with birds with white feathers under their wings – as you can see, the exposure compensation of -0.67 used for this image was not enough in this case – should have used an additional two stops (-1.3). I had to work hard in Photoshop to get the detail back in those feathers.

This image already received 2 acceptances in international salons

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So what happened to the cat? It disappeared over the dunes but I decided to wait a bit to see what will happen. The cat returned after about 15 minutes with another cat on its tail.

 32a Cat running W

Cat running

Nikon D4, Nikon 600mm lens, ISO1600, 1/64000, f8, exposure comp = -0.67, Aperture priority, WB = sun, 28 meters from cat

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I was waiting for some action (this time prepared with my 200-400mm lens – lesson learned the previous day with raptors) but another car arrived and the cat at the back left in a hurry

32b Cat together W

Cat together

Nikon D3S, Nikon 200-400mm lens @ 260mm, ISO1600, 1/64000, f6.3, exposure comp = -0.67, Aperture priority, WB = sun, 15 meters from cats

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The other cat stayed behind lying in the shade of the tree and was very relaxed allowing me to capture once again some nice close-up shots.

33 Wild cat relaxed W

Wild cat relaxed

Nikon D4, Nikon 600mm lens, ISO500, 1/1600, f8, exposure comp = -0.67, Aperture priority, WB = sun, fill in flash, 9 meters from cat

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I even had time to put on my 1.4 convertor for some even more close-up shots.

34 Cat and fly W

Cat and fly

Nikon D4, Nikon 600mm lens, ISO500, 1/1250, f8, exposure comp = -0.67, Aperture priority, WB = sun, fill in flash, 9 meters from cat

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Day 5 – Afternoon drive

 

The same routine – a drive along the Nossob River. The afternoon drive was very relaxing with not much happening except for the lions at Leeudril water hole on our way back to camp. First a nice type of backlight shot with a yawning lioness.

35 Lioness late yawn W

Lioness late yawn

Nikon D4, Nikon 600mm lens, ISO1000, 1/1250, f8, exposure comp = -1.30, Aperture priority, WB = sun, 28 meters from lioness

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And the lioness decided to taste a bit of the Nissan Xtrail in front of us. She moved around my Fortuner as well but I quickly started it and she moved on. Just to show you – you should not feel “jammer” for your vehicle when coming to the Kgalagadi – the Nissan sustained a few holes in its bumper after the bite!

 36 Lioness biting car W

Lioness biting car

Nikon D800, Nikon 70-200mm lens @ 200mm, ISO100, 1/200 sec, f4, exposure comp = -0.3, Aperture priority, WB = sun, 4 meters from lioness

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Day 6 – Morning drive

 

It was time to leave the Kgalagadi to drive the 7+hours back home to Bloemfontein. But not before a quick drive to Gunong water hole and back. At Kji Kji the “gemsbokke” were playing around the waterhole while sharping their fighting skills when it comes to determine who is dominant.

37 Gemsbok fighting W

Gemsbok fighting

Nikon D4, Nikon 600mm lens, ISO1600, 1/4000 sec, f8, exposure comp = -0.67, Aperture priority, WB = sun, 63 meters from gemsbok

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And at last found I found the four cheetahs near Gunong waterhole – I was looking for them every day. They were lying next to the road – how lucky can one get? A quick photo or two and I was on my back to Twee Rivieren to check out and drive back home.

38 Cheetah yawning W

Cheetah yawning

Nikon D4, Nikon 600mm lens, ISO1600, 1/3200 sec, f8, exposure comp = -0.67, Aperture priority, WB = sun, 10 meters from cheetah

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39 Cheetah under bush W

Cheetah under bush

Nikon D4, Nikon 600mm lens, ISO1000, 1/2000 sec, f8, exposure comp = -0.67, Aperture priority, WB = sun, 15 meters from cheetah

Definitely a male cheetah!

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Until the next trip report from the Kgalagadi (Nov/Dec 2015)!!!

 

Message to take home:

 

Thinking of my major mistake during this trip – one should never stop learning when going out on a shoot. Each photography trip should be learning experience – no matter how familiar the environment / park / sighting is. I’ve learned a valuable lesson during this trip and I will surely never forget it.

 

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

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Trip report: Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, September 2015 (Part II – Day 3) – The Cats

Lets continue with the report on my last visit to the Kgalagadi. I am calling this Part II “The Cats” because I was very fortunate to have a few sightings of African wild cats and lions on this public holiday.

As you would recall, I’ve decided to stay in Twee Rivieren for the entire 5 days in the park. I did not want to drive all over the park during such a short stay in the park. I would rather stay in one camp, locate some of the animals and go back every day to try and find them again. And I had some reasonable success with this approach – especially the african wild cats (vaalboskat). Now for Day 3 and let me show you what Kgalagadi has to offer if you decide to stay in one camp for the duration of one’s visit:

Day 3 – morning drive

Leaving the camp at gate opening time (06H30) I decided to once again try my luck driving up the Nossob River. Nothing was happening at Samevloei and Leeudril waterhole. So I decided to carry on Rooiputs waterhole and Kji Kji. However, just past the famous tree with the big Sociable weaver nests next to the road, I came across this magnificent male lion (around 07H30 just to give you an idea of travel time in the Kgalagadi looking for photo opportunities). The lion was walking towards Leeudril waterhole but he was smelling the bushes every now and then. I decided to following him slowly and not to drive back to the waterhole to wait for his arrival. And I was not disappointed – as you can see from the next three images below. Once again – photography in the Kgalagadi is all about anticipation and quick decision-making.

11 Lion scape W

Lion scape

Nikon D4, Nikon 600mm lens, ISO400, 1/3200, f4, exposure comp = -0.67, Aperture priority, WB = sun, 110 meters from lion

I was a bit far from the lion – even for a 600mm lens. But one must always consider capturing the animal in its natural environment and not always trying to get a very close-up shot. That is the reason I call this image “Lion scape”

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At one stage the lion did walk closer to the road – a more close-up shot of his action. Still a nice landscape shot.

11a Lion morning walk W d

Lion morning walk

Nikon D4, Nikon 600mm lens, ISO1250, 1/4000, f8, exposure comp = -0.67, Aperture priority, WB = sun, 63 meters from lion

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And the suddenly he decided to turn towards the road and walked right up to me. I was very fortunate because by now there were already about six or seven cars following the lion (initially we were only three cars following the lion but the rest caught up with us). By now it was not easy to manoeuvre one’s car to get the best possible position for a shot. So, I was very satisfied to have captured this type of shot – always trying something different.

12 Lion one eye W

Lion one eye

Nikon D4, Nikon 600mm lens, ISO1250, 1/4000, f8, exposure comp = -0.67, Aperture priority, WB = sun, 21 meters from lion

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The rest of the morning was just a very relaxing drive with just general game and birds – nothing really worth posting. Turned around at Gunong waterhole and went back to the chalet for a nice brunch, image downloading, bit of image processing and a lekker afternoon snooze.

 

Day 3 – Afternoon drive

My usual routine in the Kgalagadi for the afternoon is to leave camp around 15H15-15H30. I just love driving along the Nossob River from Twee Rivieren, so it was the same route as the morning drive. Between Kji Kji and Melkvlei waterhole I was looking for the African Wild cat I saw earlier the morning in a tree. The cat was still there but while I was watching it and getting my camera gear in place (including my flash because the cat was in the shadows), the cat decided it was time to leave the tree. I quickly had to adjust my camera in order to capture the cat coming down the tree – hopefully where I can get some decent shots. And I was lucky!

13 Cat in tree W

Cat in tree

Nikon D4, Nikon 600mm lens, ISO400, 1/2000, f4, exposure comp = -0, Aperture priority, WB = sun, fill in flash19 meters from cat

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14 Cat coming down W

Cat coming down

Nikon D4, Nikon 600mm lens, ISO400, 1/2500, f4, exposure comp = 0, Aperture priority, WB = sun, fill in flash, 19 meters from cat

I even got a quick look from the cat before continuing down the tree – how lucky can one get!

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15 Cat down branches W

Cat down branches

Nikon D4, Nikon 600mm lens, ISO400, 1/3200, f4, exposure comp = 0, Aperture priority, WB = sun, fill in flash, 19 meters from cat

And the rest of the downward movements was very quick and fast – very difficulty to keep the small cat in the frame but I’ve managed to capture a few of these images with the cat full in the frame. As you can see – I just managed to keep the cat’s tail in the frame.

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Turned around at Melkvlei and when I reached Kji Kji waterhole on my way back to Twee Rivieren, I saw three of four cars parked about 800 meters south of the waterhole. Then I saw two lions walking in the riverbed towards the waterhole. So, parked my car so that the lions have to walk past me. And they did.

16 Lioness walking W

Lioness walking

Nikon D4, Nikon 600mm lens, ISO1250, 1/1600, f11, exposure comp = -0.67, Aperture priority, WB = sun, 21 meters from lions

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The two lionesses had a drink of water with one lioness smelling the air. Not very often that I do see a lioness smelling the air like this. It is usually the male lion smelling the air like this around a female lioness.

17 Lioness smelling W

Lioness smelling

Nikon D4, Nikon 600mm lens, ISO1250, 1/4000, f8, exposure comp = -0.67, Aperture priority, WB = sun, 40 meters from lioness

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After the drinks they continue to walk north while looking for something to catch. As you can see – always alert even when they were walking

19 Lioness watchful walk W

Lioness watchful walking

Nikon D4, Nikon 600mm lens, ISO640, 1/1600, f8, exposure comp = -0.67, Aperture priority, WB = sun, fill in flash, 32 meters from lioness

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One lioness was lying next to the road ever so watchful what was going on around her.

18 Lioness watching W

Lioness watching

Nikon D4, Nikon 600mm lens, ISO1250, 1/4000, f8, exposure comp = -0.67, Aperture priority, WB = sun, fill in flash, 11 meters from lioness

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And as you can see, both of them were definitely in a hunting mode – this female amongst the three thorn bushes looking at some springboks down the riverbed.

20 Lioness hunting W

Lioness hunting

Nikon D4, Nikon 600mm lens, ISO1250, 1/8000, f4.5, exposure comp = -0.67, Aperture priority, WB = sun, fill in flash, 63 meters from lioness

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Unfortunately it was getting late – about 40 minutes (still 45km from Twee Rivieren) left to catch the camp gates still open. So, I couldn’t stay to see if there were a few wildebeests around. Therefore, I left them to do their thing on their own

To be continued

Message to take home:

The eyes! The eyes of your subject are the windows to the soul, and it should be the focal point of your wildlife shots. You should try to keep the focus of your camera on the eyes of your subjects. I know it is not always possible when the action is fast. But in shots of the lions as shown above, it is possible to keep the focus on the eyes.

Until the next edition of this trip report – keep on shooting!!!

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