It was awesome to spend some time with the dogs on an afternoon game drive during my last trip. I’ve been fortunate to see wild dogs on almost all of my trips to Africa, but I still get really excited when a ranger tells me that dogs have been spotted on the property.
I have been incredibly fortunate to see wild dogs on all the trips I have taken to southern Africa. My very first trip, when asked what animal I hoped I would see, it was the wild dog. I knew they were rare, endangered, and can be difficult to find, and when our guide Mike found them during our day trip to Chobe Park, I was beyond thrilled. And I have remained thrilled each time I have had the good fortune of spending time with these amazing animals.
All the images below were from my last trip, when we had wild dogs sightings over 3 days in the Okavango Delta.
So far I have been concentrating on learning to effectively use Topaz Studio for standard editing, like I would do through On1 Photo Raw or Luminar. I still have a ways to go to figure out exactly how this would work into my regular workflow, but I decided to do a departure this week and play around with photo art instead. I watched a few tutorials during the week and one of them featured a new (to me) adjustment called AI Remix. The effects that the presenter was creating looked really interesting, so that’s where my focus has been this week, along with the more familiar to me adjustments through impression and simplify.
This first image was shot with my Panasonic camera whilst in Botswana, and it was after the sun went down so the image was incredibly dark and noisy; completely unusable as a regular photograph (just being 100% honest). But, I loved the posture of these two bull elephants jostling in the shallows of the Boteti River, and knew I could make something fun with the image, even if it wasn’t an something that I would traditionally mark as a keeper.
This next image is of a goliath heron. I wanted to simplify the details without losing all the texture and pattern of the feathers, and bring out colours and tones that reminded me of old film images. The result looks like a cross between a painting and a snapshot from an old point and shoot camera, but for me the image works. Perhaps because it brings back memories of the type of pictures I would see around cottage properties when I was younger.
This last image is bit hectic, but it fits with the subject, the amazing African Wild Dog. The combination of adjustments I used diffused the background significantly, but in doing so brought out repeating patterns of triangles in the vegetation which corresponds with the triangular shape of the dog’s ears. It almost feels like the dog rushed through a huge pile of fallen leaves and quickly laid down, while the leaves slowly drifted back down to the ground.
Creating painterly images or abstracts from photos isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but it is something I enjoy playing around with once in a while. Topaz Studio definitely provides a lot of different options to use to create these types of images. Because I own the Topaz plug-in collection, I have access to a lot of these tools that aren’t available within the free portion of the software. The AI Remix adjustment is one that I currently have on trial, and it’s something I would need to experiment more with to figure out if it is a tool I’ll want to have available once the trial period is over.
To start the week, and African Wild Dog at the start of a hunt. We had been spending time with the pack as they lounged in the shade, and quite suddenly they made the decision to set off. They dispersed incredibly quickly, and following them through the tall grass was a losing battle. Thankfully, there were two or three more opportunities to spend with the pack during this particular stay in the delta.
During this month of revisiting old work, I’ve had the opportunity to take many trips down memory lane, remembering amazing moments in nature and the challenging times trying to work out what to do with my camera to make the image that appeared on my LCD match the thought I had in my head.
What this monthly topic has hammered home is that the gear doesn’t matter, its what you are able to do with it. The software used to edit images doesn’t matter, its understanding how to make the tools work for you in the best ways possible. These things get said time and time again, but they really become apparent when you start reviewing a collection of work gathered over time that has been captured and edited with a variety of different resources.
No one looking at my images is going to say “You shot that on this camera body and then you edited it with that software program. There are times when I have been out shooting with more than one camera and once the images have been uploaded to my computer, I don’t know which image was shot with which body, without checking the info panel!
At the end of the day, the only thing that should matter is if the image moves you in some way.
And with that, here are a few images I have reworked this week. I hope you enjoy, and please check back next Sunday to find out what the topic of the month will be for March.
The first thing I thought of when I saw this weeks photo challenge was seeing all of the big five in a single game drive.
It was our first game drive leaving from Chitwa Chitwa, and the first of the big five we came across were the elephants. We ended up in fairly dense bush amongst a large herd, and I know some of the other people in the vehicle were a little nervous of the proximity! At some points, we were completely surrounded by them (I was thrilled!!!)
The second we came across was the leopard. She was only steps away after we started moving away from the elephants. We followed her through the trees as well, and spent some time with her as she rested atop a termite mound.
We stopped for a sundowner drink and spotted a group of 3 rhino in a mud wallow off in the distance. The light was fading, and the viewing was certainly better without the camera.
Just as we were getting back into the vehicle after our drinks and snacks, Surprise our ranger pointed out a couple buffalo crossing the road off in the distance. The photo is awful, I knew it would be when I snapped it, but I thought I should take it as evidence of seeing 4 of the big 5 in a single drive.
As we were heading back to camp for dinner, we followed the tracks of some lions, and came upon them resting quite close to the camp. And with that, it was the big 5 all within the space of 3.5 hours! An absolutely amazing time.
Of course, most people know by now that I am thrilled to view anything when on a game drive, from the smallest bird to the tallest giraffe and everything in between. Here are a few other interesting sights from that drive.
Anyone that has read more than a few of my blog posts knows that I love elephants. I could spend an entire day happily watching them; scratch that, I’m pretty sure if I saw them every day for the rest of my life, I wouldn’t grow bored of being around them. I find them fascinating, beautiful, amazing and peaceful creatures, and being in their presence, even just for a few moments, is a blessing.
Here’s just one of many, many photos I have, I hope you enjoy.
I was originally planning to combine the two areas of the Sabi Sands I stayed at into one highlights post, but I’ve been having such difficulty finding the time to work on my photos the last few weeks that it just wasn’t feasible. Fingers crossed I’ll be able to get to the final highlights post this weekend, so I can move on to the other editing projects that I want to do – and get out and do some more shooting too!
This time-lapse was one of my first attempts, and shows a mid afternoon at the dam in front of Chitwa lodge. Lots of waterbuck around that afternoon!