Tsowa Safari Island was a beautiful place to stay in the Zambezi National Park in Zimbabwe. Getting there involved a game drive through the park, with some dramatic views of the river valley, and then arriving at a boat launch and transferring to a small craft for a short crossing to the island. The afternoon we arrived, we set out for a sundowner birdwatching cruise. While not a traditionally good time of day or direction for photos, I love seeing the sun peaking through the fluffy clouds.
During my recent tour in southern Africa, we headed out for a morning of birding, and started the day walking along the edge of Zambezi River. We were a few kilometres upstream of Victoria Falls, where the water was flowing at leisurely pace and we could safely walk along the rocky bank. While most of the group was focused on trying to find new birds, or spotting birds on distance sand bars and tree branches, I was enjoying the beauty of the sunrise and the rapidly changing colours in the sky. When we finished along the edge of the river, we returned to our vehicles for a picnic breakfast before a leisurely drive around some of the birding sites in Victoria Falls.
It’s been gloomy today with heavy fog, and I needed a bit of sunshine in my life, so I turned to my recent trip photos. While a monochrome landscape may seem a strange choice, looking at the image I can feel the warmth of the sun and remember the fun I had while I played around taking images at midday with my infrared filter on at one of the lovely dining decks at Jaci’s Lodge where I stayed in Madikwe. I specifically shot this intending to give it a monochrome treatment, and I am happy with how it turned out. I’d hoped that an elephant might pop to the water hole while I was shooting, as that would have been interesting with a long exposure, but it was not to be this time.
The majority of my time in southern Africa has been during the fall and into the winter (the dry season) which also happens to be the time for the impala rut. The dynamics at play during that period are very interesting to watch, and sometimes the result for the fighting males can be an untimely end (I shared some images taken during rutting season here, if you’re interested).
This time, while traveling through the bush, we saw many heavily pregnant impalas, and were hopeful of the chance to see some newly born lambs. Our group lucked out in two areas, Zambezi National Park and Chobe National Park, and had the chance to see two of the newest members of the herds. In both cases, these were our guides first lambs of the season. We were a bit early for the baby boom, but it was nice to see the couple that we did.
I was glad to start the new year working on my photography a bit, even if it was primarily behind the scenes, housekeeping type work, like finally finishing my first round of star rating my trip photos. When I came to the few photos I captured of the male violet backed starling, I smiled remembering how excited I was to finally have the opportunity to capture one of these birds in fairly decent light; that was enough to decide that this was the photo to edit if there was only going to be time to do one.
Our tour had a one-day trip into Chobe National Park in Botswana. It was a place I had visited on my first trip to Africa, and our group even had lunch at the same lodge I visited the first trip, so it really was a walk down memory lane. Being a different season, the experience was significantly different, but still very enjoyable. After border formalities and getting to the park, we were driving towards the river when our guide heard of some lions off of the main road about 20 minutes away. Our two guides chatted for a few minutes while slowly driving along, before making the choice to turn back to give people the chance to see some big cats. We spotted this starling just before making the decision to turn around, and it was only one of two that I saw on the trip (the other not offering any photo opportunities) so I am glad we carried on as far as we did before turning back for the lions.
It’s been a long time since I’ve taken any volume of photos (May 2019 to be exact) and I’d forgotten how time consuming it is to go through images and rate them to determine which deserve editing. With other obligations for my time, I’ve only gotten through about 2/3rds of my images from my recent trip, on a first pass only. But, at least I am making progress. I reached the image I’m sharing today and decided to stop and edit it. I absolutely love owls, and it’s magical whenever there is an opportunity to see one. I was lucky enough to have one land outside my office window earlier this week, but as I was working I didn’t get any images. Maybe that is why this one stood out for me today.
On my recent tour, we were transferring from Hwange National Park to Tsowa Island in Zambezi National Park, and came upon a family of 3 Verreaux’s eagle owls. While they were quite high in the trees, there were still opportunities for good viewing and photos. I think I captured a few images with a least two of the family together, but I’m running out of day, so a single owl will have to do for today.
While I still haven’t gotten back into any type of routine with editing and posting, it feels good to be spending some time on this again.
It’s a challenge to get back into old routines when they’ve been allowed to slip away. This seems to be true for a variety of things, from health and fitness routines to participating in hobbies. The last post I shared was back in January, almost a full year ago. At that time, I needed to let photography and posting slide as I was trying to deal with my final semester of school (plus raising a new puppy and dealing with other life challenges). Once school ended in May, I thought I would be able to easily jump back in to doing all the things, but that wasn’t my reality. Instead, I eventually came to the realization that I was burnt out, and needed to give myself some time and space to add things back into my schedule.
At the start of November, I embarked on the first trip I’d taken since 2019. It was wonderful to have the opportunity to focus on things that I enjoy, and pick my camera up again. While I still have lots of different places I want to visit, heading back to Africa felt like the right thing to do. I wanted to be back amongst elephants.
It didn’t take long before creating images felt natural again, and I am hoping I will be able to find the same with editing in due course. I’ve played around with a few different types of software over the years, but have decided to try Capture One for cataloging and editing. Right now, it feels like a steep learning curve, however, I think returning to Lightroom would likely feel the same after being vacant from editing for almost a year.
I’m looking forward to working through my images and sharing some of the experiences I had on my trip over the next while. I’m hopeful I can get back into a routine of creating and posting.
When I started my summer term in May, I knew I had a very heavy workload planned and would likely only have minimal opportunities to work on my photography and post to the blog. But between work, school and other commitments, as well as trying to enjoy what little summer Prince George gets, photography completely went by the wayside. The September term was even more packed, and it was all I could do to keep up with commitments. When I logged on today, I noticed that the last post I did was May 23rd.
Next week I’m starting in to my last semester of grad school, with only two classes to go. With a slightly less hectic school schedule, I am hopeful I will be able to carve out a bit of time each week to work on my photography and share some images. But until this education journey is complete, I have to prioritize as needed, and the blog will likely be the thing to get dropped if my schedule gets too hectic again.
Today I’m sharing a few images of my favourite cat, the leopard. While initially I had been using a trip to Africa as a carrot for getting through my program when things got tough, right now it seems uncertain when I’ll be able to plan an international trip again. I’m certainly hoping, like so many people, that things calm down and travel can resume again without the risk of last minute cancellations and flight issues. I’ve got a very full plate until the end of April, but I am hopeful that I can start to plan a trip once my courses are completed, whether it will be local or international – your guess is as good as mine.
Wishing everyone all the best for 2022.
I felt drawn to work on some elephant images, but wanted to find a slightly different spin, so I focused on some of the sightings that I had with bull elephants the last time I was in South Africa. Encountering a lone bull, especially one in musth, can be risky business, and I am always grateful for the skilled rangers that handle the encounters with so much skill (while at the same time, providing lots of interesting information about the animal).
I thought mama bear deserved another post. In black and white, she looks a bit more imposing than she does in real life. Or maybe that’s just me?