I find kingfishers to be fascinating birds to watch. I always enjoyed it when I spotted them during my walks along the river when I used to live near Vancouver, and especially love to see the large variety of kingfishers whilst travelling in Africa.
On my last trip, I was fortunate to see 7 varieties of kingfishers, and to get photos of 6 varieties (a woodland kingfisher still stubbornly remains on my mental images to capture list).
While some of the images from this trip weren’t as good as previous (such as the pied & giant kingfishers) I wanted to get as many of them as I could in one post, as it shows the wonderful variety of size and colour. And despite the name, not all kingfishers fish. Some prey instead of small amphibians or insects.
The pygmy is the smallest of the kingfishers seen in Southern Africa, and they really are a treat to spot, with jewel tone feathers and an intensely orange beak. This one was seen in typical woodland habitat. The barbed wire seems out of place in the bush, but the track we were driving along had an open construction excavation along the length of the road (I believe putting in a new water pipe), and the wire provided some demarkation between the work zone, and where it was safe to drive.
We were fortunate as this kingfisher kept flying off and back to almost the same spot on the wire, giving everyone in our group ample opportunities for spotting and photographs.
Tomorrow, I’ll have a little pop up on Facebook that says “On this day 4 years ago” with a photo of a KLM airplane sitting at the gate. That flight would be the third leg on a solo journey that saw me travel Prince George to Vancouver, Vancouver to Calgary, Calgary to Amsterdam, Amsterdam to Kigali, and Kigali to Entebbe, to begin my journey around Uganda, and then onto Kenya from there. Planning and booking a trip like that, on my own, was a bit scary, but it was also a yes with every fibre of my being. Along the journey I met lovely people, saw things I had dreamt about for years and thoroughly enjoyed every minute of the adventure.
For the next few weeks I am going to explore images that I didn’t share at the time of the trip, and take the opportunity to relive some of that adventure. I do hope to have the opportunity to trek to see gorillas again in the future; it is an absolutely magical experience, and the tourism dollars from the treks are so vital to ensuring the survival of the mountain gorillas.
I hope you enjoy this trip down memory lane with me.
Another month has come to a close. I think I am a bit like a broken record now, always saying I don’t know where the time goes and how the days pass by so quickly. There’s a chill in the air though and several windy days have rid the trees of all but the most persistent leaves. Autumn is on it’s way out.
October’s topic of the month
Over the month of October, I worked on using all three of my editing programs – On1 Photo Raw, Topaz Studio and Luminar, to compare and contrast the different programs and try to get a good feel for the strengths and weaknesses and in which situations the different programs shine. I didn’t really come to any strong conclusions, except for images shot at very high ISO, in which case Topaz is my clear choice (specifically being able to use Denoise 6).
What’s new this month
I had the chance to get away for a week and a half in the desert of Southern California, and opportunity to relax and recharge my batteries, and do a little bit of photography as well. While I was there, I took a night sky photography workshop in Joshua Tree National Park, and look forward to sharing images. I also had a chance to play around with my new infrared filter. There are a lot of nuances to infrared photography that I need to learn, but it was fun just meandering in the desert taking photos of cactus and seeing what happened.
5 favourites of the month
What’s coming up next?
For November, I am going to focus on the night sky. I have some images that I would like to share from California, and hopefully it will stay warm enough that I don’t have to bundle in too many layers to get out at home and capture a few images. Fingers crossed!
Like last year, Northern BC has been hit hard with wildfires. It’s actually pretty scary looking at the wildfire maps, as it looks like most of the province is currently on fire. Thankfully, there is currently no danger in our immediate vicinity, other than extremely poor air quality from the substantial amount of smoke that has settled in the region, and the airborne ash that lately has been coating my car every night.
Yesterday morning started out normal enough for the past few weeks, a bit smoky but nothing too terrible. But then as the morning wore on, it got darker rather than brighter, and at 9:10am it looked like we were in the midst of some type of solar eclipse event. I went outside to try and capture a few images; it was extremely smoky, cold like it would be in the middle of the night, and all the photo sensitive lights had come on. It was spooky quiet as all the birds had dropped to complete silence.
By 10am the darkness had passed but it remained incredibly smoky throughout the day.
I was in the middle of work so I didn’t have the opportunity to drive anywhere more interesting to take pictures; this is a view down my driveway to the road… not that you can really even see the driveway in the image. It was just the sky I was focused on.
This shot was taken on my Fuji camera with the 18-55 lens, shot at f2.8, ISO 2000 and 1/60 sec. I created the merged panorama in On1 Photo Raw, and for efficiency edited it in On1 (back to the Luminar processing tomorrow). The merged panorama was a bit of a challenge because the images were so dark. I had to up the exposure slider on all the individual images, and then reverse that on the panorama. My camera is basically always set to auto white balance, and I changed it in editing to daylight, and that got the sky to be true to life.
Just to give some perspective, sunrise this week is around 5:55am.
All of us here are praying for the safety of all the incredibly brave people working to put these fires out, and hoping that some favourable weather will be heading their way soon.
The photo challenge topic of the weekly is unlikely. The first thing that popped into mind for me was encountering people I’d met before while traveling in Namibia last April.
My first trip to Namibia was in 2015, with a two night stop in Sossusvlei, and then a two night stop at Damaraland Camp. At the Damaraland Camp, we had a wonderful guide named Chris. He was an incredibly thoughtful and knowledgable guide and he took great care to show us the best of the area and share his expertise with us. At DMC, we also had an amazing host in camp manager Maggie.
My second trip to Namibia, we decided we wanted to see different areas, so we chose the Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp and Ongava Reserve outside of Etosha National Park. On our arrival at Hoanib, the camp manager told us our guide would be Chris, a recent addition to their staff who had moved over from another property. At 3:00 we gathered to head out on our first game drive, and saw none other than our fabulous guide from two years previous, Chris from Caprivi. Almost as far away from home as I could get, and there was a familiar face.
During our stay in Damaraland, the one thing Chris was absolutely determined to find us was the desert adapted elephants. It took until lunchtime, but he finally found them in the the rocky hills. During our stay at Hoanib, Chris was no less determined to find the elephants, but they were much easier to locate. He often said the elephants living near Hoanib were spoiled compared to the ones living in Damaraland.
We had a great time at Hoanib but then it was time to move on. We arrived early afternoon into Etosha and were settled at the lodge with a drink, chatting with the relief manager that was looking after the property. She had introduced herself as Maggie but it took a moment to realize it was the same Maggie we had met 2 years previous at DMC, as her flaming red hair from 2015 had been replaced with a more subdued shade. For the second time in under a week, halfway around the world, I was running into familiar faces. My Mom pulled up a video on her iPad of Maggie and her staff singing a song to us as we departed camp two years earlier, a wonderful memory for all of us to share.
Thinking about these memories makes me wish I had been more inclined to take lots of photos of people during my travels; that’s definitely something I need to do better with in the future. I don’t have a photo of Maggie from this past trip, but we do keep in touch now on Facebook; an unlikely second meeting has turned into a friendship 🙂
Another week, and another trip down memory lane in terms of my photography. I’m really glad I made the decision to work on images already captured for this month, as we got rather buried in the snow the past week, and I haven’t had the time, or the energy, to get out and try and capture anything new.
This week is a mixed bag of images, shot locally and in Africa, in colour and black and white.
For my then and now image, I chose this zebra from my first trip to South Africa. The original black and white conversion was done in Lightroom using a few basic adjustments, not long after I returned from my trip. The updated image was edited recently using a combination of plugins in Photoshop, including MacPhun Tonality and Topaz Detail. I’m sure I could achieve similar results simply using On1 Photo Raw (I’m not using Lightroom any longer for processing), but I like the ease of using Tonality for black and white edits.
When I decided on the topic for the month, I had many plans for posts. Many plans that I have not been able to put in to action because of the weather. C’est la vie.
This week has seen warm temperatures and generally lots of overcast days, though I did manage to get out a couple times for a few quick photos when the sun was out. The warm temperatures and occasional rain have left the snow covered in a sheet of ice; areas almost look like they have been glazed with the fancy icing that goes on sugar cookies. I found that to be difficult to convey in an image though, and reducing everything to black and white made it somewhat more apparent.