2024-02-19: Zebras

Zebras felt like a good follow on to last weeks post showcasing some giraffe images. They are another lovely animal to spot in the bush, especially when they are chilled out and allow a photograph with some nice eye contact.

As I was editing these images, I noticed as I was zooming in and out many scars on the adults. Perhaps from a brush with a predator, conflict with another member of the herd, or scrapes and scratches from moving within thick bush quickly. Potentially, a combination of all three. Seeing images of a few different individuals highlights that all the stripe patterns are unique.

Both mama and the youngster having some dinner. Madikwe, November 2022.
A perfect zebra tail swish.
Watchful attention. Eyes and ears focus in the distance.
I love the eye contact from both these zebras, but this certainly wouldn’t be an image I would want to try and print, as I’d have to swap in a new sky due to the extreme number of small flying insects creating little black spots throughout the blue sky and clouds. At this size and resolution, it isn’t an issue worth the time to fix. And besides, that’s being out in the bush. Sometimes, it is extra buggy.

2024-02-11: Giraffes

The weekend got away from me, so just a quick few photos in the hopes that it helps me keep with the habit of completing a weekly post.

I selected some giraffe images to share today. They are such an interesting combination of goofy and elegant, and are usually quite chilled out when spotted on safari which allows for lots of photo opportunities.

The lack of hair tufts on the ossicones indicates a male giraffe. They lose the hair tufts as they spar with other males in the traditional necking competitions. The image above provides good contrast, and is either a female, or a young male that has not yet started necking.
These two were part of a much large mixed group of giraffe and zebra spotted at the side of the road while on game drive in Madikwe, South Africa.

2024-01-28: Infrared Landscapes

Now that I have moved my editing back to Lightroom, I’ve rediscovered quite a few images that I had flagged in my quick collection as ones I wanted to edit, from my trip to South Africa in 2019. The first four images are from that trip, and the last three from my recent trip to Zimbabwe in 2022.

While a lot of time has passed since 2019, I didn’t spend much of it on photography during the Covid years, as I was otherwise occupied in graduate school (during my free time from work) and when I did have time for photos, I was exploring using Capture One during that time period.

Coming back to Lightroom feels both familiar and very different at the same time, and I definitely need to spend some time relearning the familiar tools, and learning about all that has been added in the intervening time. I felt a sense of accomplishment working through these images and only completing the edits within Lightroom, not moving on to familiar plugins available in Photoshop.

All of these images were shot as long exposures around midday or early afternoon, using an infrared filter and then converted to black and white. It is something I want to work on more as I really enjoy the look of the shockingly bright foliage and inky skies.

The Sand River. South Africa, May 2019.
Lion Sands Tinga Lodge. South Africa, May 2019.
I recall exactly where I took this image, on an elevated walkway path between my room and the next over, while staying at Tinga Lodge. While its just some random trees and bushes, it showcases what I really love about the long exposure infrared images, with the bright fluffy grasses and leaves, and the deep black of the tree trunks and inky sky. Tinga Lodge, South Africa. May, 2019.
The Sand River from the deck of Tinga Lodge. South Africa, May, 2019.
These bright clear skies around lunchtime were long gone by dinner. Hwange, Zimbabwe. November 2022.
Clouds building. Hwange. Zimbabwe, November 2022.
Those clouds were part of a huge storm the ripped through Hwange. We had to abandon our afternoon game drive and barely got back to the lodge before the skies opened up. Zimbabwe, November, 2022.

2023-12-17: Elephants

I was drawn to elephants today, and wanted to put together a bit of a variety of images, so I have a few in colour and a couple in monochrome to share today. While I have a decent catalogue of elephant images, these are all from my most recent trip to Africa in 2022.

We came across this big guy moments after leaving camp for our morning game drive. I was quite fortunate as my seat mates didn’t go on morning drives, so my guide and I could have a relaxed time in the mornings and we could stop at sightings for as long (or short) as I wanted. I had to tell my guide that he needed to call it with the elephants we found, or we’d end up hanging out with them the whole time. It was a good thing we didn’t, as not long after this, we found wild dogs. I guess I know what I am editing for next week 🙂 Madikwe, South Africa. November, 2022.
I didn’t ask the elephant for directions, but it is pretty clear that they are directing us straight on the road 🙂 Madikwe, South Africa. November 2022.
This was quite an interesting sighting, as I was in a hide to watch birds when this elephant came over to drink and graze. It was amazing to watch from such a close distance. He absolutely knew I was there watching him, but wasn’t concerned with me at all.
Madikwe, South Africa, November 2023.
I love monochrome editing, both for the visual appearance of it, and the way it can save a strangely toned photo. Out of the camera, this image had a very strong magenta hue. The image was captured on an early morning game drive, and while sometimes a magenta cast is quite appealing, on this image, it wasn’t, and trying to correct for it yielded some rather strange results. So, monochrome it is. I think monochrome suits this image as it gives a better impression of how easy elephants can disappear into the bushes than the colour version did. Hwange, Zimbabwe. November 2022.
This small group was part of a much larger herd that came to the waterhole outside of our camp, drinking and bathing and then enjoying a mud bath in the mud pits next to the dam. I love the position of the elephants, showing the typical behaviour of keeping the smallest in between mom and another older elephant (perhaps an older sibling). Hwange, Zimbabwe. November, 2022

2023-09-10: Elephants in Silhouette

I’d always hoped for the chance to capture an image of elephants silhouetted against a sunrise or sunset. I had the opportunity when I was in Zimbabwe last year, though the results weren’t quite what I had in mind. I think if we had been in position about 15 to 20 minutes earlier, the sky would have been a bit brighter, though still colourful enough to be interesting. Though, of course, had we been in this particular spot earlier, the elephants wouldn’t have been there, as they were on the move and just passing through the area.

There are so many sightings I think would be interesting, and images I would love to capture. I don’t put pressure on myself or guides when we are out and about to find certain situations, as part of the joy of being in the bush is the unexpected. Though if we are at a sighting, I will ask for a vehicle to be repositioned, if it is safe to do so and doesn’t adversely impact others, in order to be able to capture better images, but usually, the guide has already thought of that as they position a vehicle.

2023-07-23: Brewing Storms

We’ve been having a lot of thunderstorms recently, but it’s not particularly picturesque or open where I live, so I am not able to get interesting photos of the storms. I did try once driving around to see if I could get a decent vantage point, but didn’t find anything that made me want to take my camera out.

However, I did get some fantastic storms while I was away in November, complete with open vistas to take pictures of the towering clouds approaching filled with rain. Here are a few of those shots.

A storm in the distance; seen whilst staying at Jaci’s in Madikwe. November, 2022.
Clouds closing in over a dam in Madikwe. November, 2022.
Interesting cloud formations seen whilst on a evening river cruise from Tsowa Safari Island in Zambezi National Park. Zimbabwe, November 2022.

2023-07–9: Infrared Landscapes

These infrared landscape images I took in Zimbabwe caught my eye as I completed the process of moving back to Lightroom and reorganizing the images that I have left to edit. They look rather strange scrolling past unedited, as they are almost a neon red/orange tone, but once converted to black and white, offer a different look than a typical monochrome landscape.

These were both shot near mid day, and the infrared filter requires a long exposure, providing some nice movement in the foliage, like this palm tree.

A lone palm on the banks of the Zambezi River. Zimbabwe, November 2022.

This second image was shot by the waterhole at the camp we stayed at in Hwange. The pair of marabou storks were almost motionless with their wings outstretched, making them look almost fake in the long exposure image. The sky looks extra dramatic in black and white, and later in the day, we had a spectacular thunderstorm with torrential rains.

Marabou storks with wings outstretched. Hwange, Zimbabwe. November, 2022.

2023-06-25: Elephants at Hwange

I’m in the process of making some changes to my cataloguing of photos. After a few years of trying to work with Capture One exclusively, I’m moving back to Lightroom for cataloguing and basic edits. Given how hectic life was during the time I was trying to use Capture One, I probably didn’t put enough effort into learning the program, but Lightroom feels easier to use, and right now, that’s enough of a pull to make the switch. In all honesty, it’s nice to have so many different choices of software to use, and my choice may change again in the future.

It’s a little tedious transferring over my star ratings, since there isn’t an automated way to do things, but at least it means I am going through all the photos again to decide if I do want to work on them in the future.

As for today’s image, it should be no surprise that I gravitated towards elephants. This sighting was right after lunch when we arrived at our camp in Hwange, and everyone enjoyed the antics of this group rolling in the mud and dust bathing.

2023-05-28: Giraffe

A giraffe on a hot and sunny day. I think I caught the giraffe mid-chew, making it look even a little more awkward than they normally do.

A giraffe seen in Zambezi National Park, Zimbabwe. November, 2022.

2023-05-14: Pygmy Kingfisher

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.

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