2019-02-18: Monochrome Monday

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.

 

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On of the pack members breaking off as they set off on a hunt.
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Resting, yet still alert.  After we parked the vehicle, this dog settled in within a few feet of the land rover.
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A classic puppy pose 🙂
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The pack greeting each other as they all awoke from an afternoon of napping.
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Watch dog.

 

2018-09-23: Topaz Studio – Week 3

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.

 

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For this image, I did some basic adjustments first to brighten the image and remove some of the noise, and then played around with a combination of AI Remix (Platinum Rose) and Glow.  For me, the posture of the trunks was the most important element of the image, and I feel the boosted saturation of greens and oranges behind the elephants really helps to showcase their shapes.

 

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.

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A goliath heron spotted along the banks of the Boteti River in Botswana.

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.

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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.

2018-03-05: Monochrome Monday

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.

 

2018-02-25: Revisiting Old Work

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.

A rhino with her calf seen while doing volunteer work with Wildlife Act in 2014.
Not a spectacular picture, but a fun memory for me. I took a day off work and went out shooting for a school project I was working on. It was a fine fall day so I took Spencer with me, and he was overjoyed at having the opportunity to dig in the sand next to the river. October 2013.
My first foray into Botswana included viewing elephants in the water from a boat. An amazing experience!  April 2013.
For my then and now image, I chose this wild dog lounging in the shade, seen while working with Wildlife Act in 2014.
Here is the now version of this image. I think I was much better able to highlight the texture of the fur compared to the original edit.  

Weekly Challenge: Today Was a Good Day

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!!!)

A little too close for comfort for some of the people in our vehicle. 1/1000sec, f7.1, ISO 1000, at 98mm.
A little too close for comfort for some of the people in our vehicle.
1/1000sec, f7.1, ISO 1000, at 98mm.

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.

A gorgeous leopard rests atop a termite mound. 1/400sec, f8.0, ISO 5600
A gorgeous leopard rests atop a termite mound.
1/400sec, f8.0, ISO 5600

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.

A crash of rhino enjoy an early evening mud wallow. 1/100sec, f4.8, ISO 6400
A crash of rhino enjoy an early evening mud wallow.
1/100sec, f4.8, ISO 6400

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.

Two buffalo cross the road, long after my camera was able to take a photo without a flash or spotlight!
Two buffalo cross the road, long after my camera was able to take a photo without a flash or spotlight!

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.

A gorgeous lion rest in the early evening darkness.  A female was close by as well. 1/160sec, f6.3, ISO 6400
A gorgeous lion rest in the early evening darkness. A female was close by as well.
1/160sec, f6.3, ISO 6400

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.

A chameleon that our tracker spotted while we headed back to camp.  I don't think he was too thrilled with being pointed at, he has a rather sour look on his face.
A chameleon that our tracker spotted while we headed back to camp. I have no idea how they can see them in the pitch black from a moving vehicle, but it seemed to be a skill most of the trackers had!  I don’t think the chameleon was too thrilled with being pointed at, he has a rather sour look on his face.
A yellow billed hornbill perched at sunset (or as my Dad calls them, a flying banana).
A yellow billed hornbill perched at sunset (or as my Dad calls them, a flying banana).
A pair of white backed vulture perched in the fading light. 1/200sec, f5.6, ISO 1100
A pair of white backed vulture perched in the fading light.
1/200sec, f5.6, ISO 1100

Have a great day everyone!

Today Was a Good Day

World Elephant Day

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.

A breeding herd of elephants stops by the watering hole outside of the Chitwa Chitwa main lodge for an afternoon drink. 1/500sec, f11, ISO 1600
A breeding herd of elephants stops by the watering hole outside of the Chitwa Chitwa main lodge for an afternoon drink.
1/500sec, f11, ISO 1600

Chitwa Chitwa Highlights

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 guy only had eyes for one thing (the female that  is out of shot).  More about that in another post.
This guy only had eyes for one thing (the female that is out of shot). More about that in another post.
We turned the corner, and there he was!
We turned the corner, and there he was!
A huge group of vultures gathering near a kudu carcass.  They were waiting for a female lion to clear off before heading in fight for scraps.
A huge group of vultures gathering near a kudu carcass. They were waiting for a female lion to clear off before heading in fight for scraps.
A wild dog peers at us from between two small tree trunks.
A wild dog peers at us from between two small tree trunks.
A lion take a pause from his kudu breakfast.
A lion take a pause from his kudu breakfast.
A dagga boy.  One of the old buffalo bulls cooling off in the watering hole.
A dagga boy. One of the old buffalo bulls cooling off in the watering hole.
A yellow billed hornbill, or as my Dad likes to say
A yellow billed hornbill, or as my Dad likes to say “the flying banana”.
A wildebeest enjoying the cool air of early morning.
A wildebeest enjoying the cool air of early morning.
Not who you would expect to see in a wallow.
Not who you would expect to see in a wallow.
One of my favourite birds, the beautiful lilac blasted roller.
One of my favourite birds, the beautiful lilac breasted roller.

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!

I hope you enjoy, and have a lovely day!

Timbavati Highlights

While I have been home now almost a week, I thought I would continue on with posting my highlights of each area I visited in Southern Africa, and then move on to other blog post formats.  I came home with over 13,300 images, so I will have lots to work through over the next couple of months.

I hope you enjoy, and have a great day!

After moving all night, this lion just couldn't go any further, and laid down for a nap on the road.
After moving all night, this lion just couldn’t go any further, and laid down for a nap on the road.
The beautiful textures of the inside of an elephant's trunk.
The beautiful textures of the inside of an elephant’s trunk.
This is what it looks like driving through the bush at night.
This is what it looks like driving through the bush at night.
A heavily pregnant alpha female wild dog looks our way from behind some branches.
A heavily pregnant alpha female wild dog looks our way from behind some branches.
A leopard cub peers down between the branches of a tree.
A leopard cub peers down between the branches of a tree.
Hyenas come in small, medium and large at this sighting.
Hyenas come in small, medium and large at this sighting.
A lioness looks on while the cubs swarm her sister.
A lioness looks on while the cubs swarm her sister.