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Africa Geographic Photographer of the Year competition 2018: Final comments and photos

And another African Geographic Photographer of the Year composition came to an end last week. I was as successful as last year at the end of the day but as you would have read in my previous blog – 17 photos of mine were selected/shortlisted during the weekly selection of photos published in Africa Geographic weekly newsletter. Now let’s look at my final outcome of the completion.

Three photos of mine made it into the Best 101 round:

1.

Honey badger on carcass 1

Kwang waterhole, Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park: ISO 2000, f4, 1/3200 second, exposure compensation = -0.67, Aperture priority, White Balance – sun, 6meters from honey badger

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2.

Hyena water drop

Cubitje quap waterhole, Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park: ISO 800, f5.6, 1/2500 second, exposure compensation = -0.67, Aperture priority, White Balance – sun, 19m from hyena

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3.

Lioness in rain

Near Kamfersboom waterhole, Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park: ISO 640, f8, 1/320 second, exposure compensation = 0, Aperture priority, White Balance – sun, 40 meters from lions.

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One photo made into the sem-final round but it did not make it amongst the winner/honourable mentioned photos – the semi-finalist photo:

1.

Hyena water drop

Cubitje quap waterhole, Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park: ISO 800, f5.6, 1/2500 second, exposure compensation = -0.67, Aperture priority, White Balance – sun, 19m from hyena

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Now lets’ look at some of my favourites photos that were submitted to the judges but were not considered to be good enough to be included in the weekly selected images as decided by the judges during the weekly shortlisting process.  Therefore, the photos below were not considered for the last few rounds of the competition.

My 13 favourite photos this year not selected by the judges in alphabetical order are:

1.

Baboon side mono

Kwaronge private nature reserve: ISO 800, f8, 1/2000 second, exposure compensation = -1.00, Aperture priority, White Balance – sun. 15 meters from baboon

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2.

Cheetah drinking triangle

14th borehole, Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park: ISO 640, f8, 1/2500 second, exposure compensation = -0.67, Aperture priority, White Balance – sun, 63 meters from cheetah

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3.

Heron dove neck

Kij Kij waterhole, Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park: ISO 640, f5.6, 1/3200 second, exposure compensation = -0.33, Aperture priority, White Balance – sun, 32 meters from heron

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4.

Jackal cub begging

Cubitje quap waterhole, Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park: ISO 2000, f4, 1/3200 second, exposure compensation = -0.67, Aperture priority, White Balance – sun, 21 meters from jackals

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5.

Leopard hide and seek

Sabi Sands nature reserve, Greater Kruger National Park: ISO 2000, f8, 1/1600 second, exposure compensation = -0.3, Aperture priority, White Balance – sun, 12m from leopards

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7.

Leopard pulling kill

Sabi Sands nature reserve, Greater Kruger National Park: ISO 1000, f4, 1/8000 second, exposure compensation = -0.67, Aperture priority, White Balance – sun, fill in flash used, 20 meters from leopard.

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8.

Lion king charged

Kij Kij waterhole, Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park: ISO 800, f8, 1/2500 second, exposure compensation = -0.67, Aperture priority, White Balance – sun, 50 meters from lion

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9.

Lion giraffe head

Near 13th borehole waterhole, Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park: ISO 250, f8, 1/800 second, exposure compensation = -0.67, Aperture priority, White Balance – sun, 50meter from lion.

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10.

Meerkat asks love

Tswalu private nature reserve: ISO 1250, f11, 1/800 second, exposure compensation = -0.67, Aperture priority, White Balance – sun, distance from meerkat = 15 meters.

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11.

 

Meerkat red nose

Tswalu private nature reserve: ISO 400, f4, 1/2000 second, exposure compensation = -0.67, Aperture priority, White Balance – sun, distance from meerkat = 5 meters

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12.

Owl at dawn

Just north of Nossob camp, Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park: ISO 5000, f4, 1/1600 second, exposure compensation = -0.3, Aperture priority, White Balance – sun, 12m from owl

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13.

Wild dog warrior BW

Khwai concession nature reserve, Botswana: ISO 4000, f4, 1/2000 second, exposure compensation = -0.67, Aperture priority, White Balance – sun. 8 meters from dog

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What do you think – do you agree with the judges? Now you can be the judge and have you own opinion regarding the photos posted below. In any case – let’s go for the next competition because not all judges are looking the same type of images.

 

Message to take home:

As one enters a photography competition especially nature photography competitions, the question can be asked: “What are the judges looking for in a nature/wildlife image?” Surely they will be looking at the technical aspects and the post-processing of your photos because it is fact that you have to have good technical photographic skills to become a good photographer. However, when in the veld (field), do not let all the technical aspects prevent you from getting a “WOW” photo especially if the environment/elements are not in your favour. If you come across an interesting sighting, try and put the technical aspects in the back of your mind instead of thinking about it all the time. Remember, sometimes minor imperfections can contribute towards that uniqueness of your photos and not just having another perfect photo like everybody else already have. Try something else by having some interesting elements or technical imperfection included in your image – also to give a more realistic perspective of the real-life situation you’ve captured.

Until next time – keep on shooting

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Africa Geographic Photographer of the Year competition 2018: 17 short listed images

And so came another Africa Geographic Photographer of the Year to an close. The closing date for the last entry was April 30, 2018 and the last weekly finalists were announced on Friday May 04, 2018 in the weekly newsletter. Every week after the results were announced Johan Botha (very good photography fried or ours) and I had a nice email communication regarding the different selection made by the judges and I am surely going to miss it. Therefore, I though I want to share the 17 images of mine selected by the judges to be included in the next round. These images were published in the weekly news letter of Africa Geographic. Now you can be the judge but rather enjoy the images with me:

A. Photos from Chobe National Park, Botswana

1.

Fish eagle up

2.

Gull with fish

B. Photo from Khwai concession area, Botswana

3.

Wild dog wounded

C. Photo from Serengeti, Tanzania

4.

Serval backlit mono

D. Photo from Masai Mara, Kenya

5.

Wildebeest help me

 

E. Photo from Duba Plains, Botswana

6.

Hippo tongue

F. Photos from the Free State, South Africa

7.

Flamingo take off (Welkom)

8.

Weaver feet mono (Bloemfontein)

G. Photos from Greater Kruger National Park

9.

Leopard alert mom

10.

Leopard evade

11.

Leopard queen mono

12.

Leopard side mono

H. Photos from Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, South Africa/Botswana

13.

Honey badger on carcass

14.

Hyena chin drop

15.

Jackal tongue reflection

16.

Lioness sleeping

17.

Ostrich in dust BW

Message to take home

Entering a photography competition can be a lot of fun but one has to be very careful. Why do I say such a stupid thing in the second part of the sentence above? A competition is a competition, right? Unfortunately photography competitions are not that straight forward and simple. Remember, judges are human being and not one human is alike. We all have different opinions and specific preferences when it comes to photos. I’ve been a judge in photography competitions myself and I know how difficulty it is for judges in these photo competitions. As judges, we have look and scan through hundreds or even thousands of images only to select a few what are considered the best of the crop. And then to top it all – only one can be the winner and/or receive the winning medal.

What makes a photo a winner? It depends on the judge of the day. In order to select only a few best images, judges can be very critical and some are just looking for any reason whatsoever to remove an image from that list. Nitpicking the little details such as looking for only the technical correct photos is the easiest way to screen and remove photos from the list. The result is that you as the photographer also will become nitpicking when it comes to taking photos. Now you start to understand why I said: : “…be careful” in the beginning.

I know a few photographers who get nervous about making the slightest mistake, and then they immediately discarded the photos that are technically not perfect. They do get upset about the “failures” and not enjoying their photography anymore. Such photographers start to question their own skills, continuously making excuses for their photos while being totally over-critical about their images. Instead, they should enjoy the photography as a hobby or even as work and be on the constant look-out for that WOW moment to capture that winning image even if the elements are not in his/her favour.

Until next time, keep on shooting!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Africa Geographic Photographer of the Year 2017 final results

Well, well, well – one of my 9 images and an image of mine that was almost not taken (Thanks Hougaard Malan for the persuasion) won the Travel/Scenic category of the Africa Geographic Photographer of the Year 2017 competition. Thank you Africa Geographic for organising the competition and the great prices – much appreciated. Looking forward to next year’s competition.

The image:

 

 

Detail of the image:

Exact location:

Kokerboomkloof camp site, Richtersveld, South Africa

Description:

This photo was taken amongst the Quiver trees in the Richtersveld Transfrontier Park – 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 but still enough light to ensure a great composition, we did the necessary setup of the cameras (including the bulb mode on camera). I waited for the Blue hour to pass (just before 19H30) and then pressed the shutter release. We left the cameras (open shutter) on walked back to camp (about 1km) for a lekker braaivleis. After supper (after about 90 minutes) the camera was collected and after another 90 minutes of in-camera noise reduction, I was able to view the image on the back of my camera for the first time. I was very pleased with the results. The Southern cross was perfectly placed thanks to Hougaard’s calculation and  the camera captured just enough light and stars before moonrise.

Date and time taken:

June 15, 2014 @ 19H27

Equipment used:

Nikon D800 camera, Nikon 17-35mm lens @17mm, Benro head on Benro tripod, cable release used, ISO 200, f8, 5372 second (90 minutes using bulb mode), Manual priority, White Balance – sun

 

There was even an article in our local Volksblad newspaper:

More details on the competition and results:

http://magazine.africageographic.com/weekly/issue-152/photographer-year-2017-winners/
http://www.netwerk24.com/Nuus/Algemeen/medikus-word-reisfotograaf-van-jaar-met-skitterfoto-20170531

Message to take home:

Interesting piece of information I’ve read on the Internet and and I though it is so true. I hope it is applicable to my star trail image above:

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

 

Until my next blog – 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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Natures Best Photography Africa 2015 competition – results

The winners of the Natures Best Photography Africa 2015 competition were announced on Tuesday evening during a gala event but unfortunately I was unable to attend (middle of the week). However, I saw the winners and the winning images were posted on the website of the competition. Nice to see two of my images amongst the winners on the website – many of these winners are professional and experienced wildlife photographers. Another image of mine received a honoured award. Total of three awards for me – very chuffed with myself to have won and saw my images amongst these prestigious names in wildlife photography.

 

The link to the winners: http://www.naturesbestphotographyafrica.com/2015-winners/

 

My two winners are:

First runner up – Mammals of Africa:

Almost 2 crop 1 1920 300k 72d sRGB Y W

Almost – taken at Cubitje Quap waterhole in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park

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Second runner up – Birds of Africa:

Goshawk challenge 1400 300k 72d sRGB W

Goshawk challenge – taken at about 2km north of Samevloei waterhole in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park

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Honoured Award – Mammals of Africa

Hippo aggression 2 by Willem Kruger1

Hippo aggression – taken on the Chobe River, near Kasane, Botswana

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Until next time – keep on shooting!!!

 

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Overall winner of the Africa Geographic Photographer of the Year for 2015

Just a follow up on a previous post of mine – the overall winner of the Africa Geographic Photographer of the Year for 2015 was announced. Unfortunately my image did not won the Africa Geographic Photographer of the Year for 2015. However, a great image selected as the winner. Still, I consider it an honour to have been been selected as one of the finalists.

Here is the link to the 2015 Winners and finalists:

http://africageographic.com/africa-geographic-photographer-of-the-year-2015-winners/

My image selected as one of the finalists:

Almost 3 crop 1 1024 300k 72d sRGB W

 

Until next time – keep on shoot!!!

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Africa Geographic Photographer of the Year 2015 – finalist

Wow, what a surprise when I open the email with the following message from the African Geographic magazine:

“I am thrilled to report that your jackal and grouse image has been selected as one of our finalist in the Africa Geographic Photographer of the Year Competition!!!

 

The image:

Almost 3 crop 1 1024 300k 72d sRGB W

 

It was amazing to be one of only 15 finalists in this prestigious photography competition – almost 10 000 entries were received for this year’s competition.

Unfortunately my image was not selected as a category winner (posted today) but nevertheless, it was a honour just get an image selected as a finalist. Here is a link to the image

http://magazine.africageographic.com/weekly/issue-46/photographer-year-finalists/2015-photographer-year-finalists-image-4/

 

And the link to the category winners – stunning photos and a worthy Wildlife/Scenic category winner by Chris Renshaw:

http://magazine.africageographic.com/weekly/issue-47/photographer-year-category-winners/winner-wildlifescenic/

 

Can wait to see who will win the overall price – to be announced on May 29, 2015!

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