Monday, November 2, 2015

Secretarybird - The Hunt

The Secretarybird is one of the most majestic birds of prey in sub-Saharan Africa.
Hunting its prey on foot in open grasslands and savannah, provides the ideal opportunity to capture these birds in action.

Stalking through the Highveld grassland with long strides looking for an early morning snack.
The Secretarybird suddenly disturbed an insect.

The insect had a few trick up his sleeve, and tried every one of them.

Eventually the Secretarybird caught-up with its quarry, for an early morning snack.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Light Directions

Back Light and Side Light

The photographers paint consists of reflected light from the scene being photographed.
For this reason, light is the most important factor in the image creation process.

An ordinary subject in excellent light conditions provides better opportunities than a photogenic subject in bad light. (Harsh midday light)

Golden hour light is probably the most productive light we have.
This light is available during the early mornings and late afternoons.
However, even during the golden hour we still have some alternative light directions and angles to explore.

Front light, back light and side light (natural light) are the three main light directions available to the photographer to explore.

The images below show the difference between, side light and back light.
The subject did not provide the opportunity to capture front light.

During the shoot the early morning light on the subject did not change at all as the subject did not change his position relative to the direction of the light, only my orientation to the subject changed.

Side light - more creative than front light. The sun is at a 90° angle with the subject in your viewfinder.

90° difference in the light direction produced two distinctly different images .

Back light always provides more opportunities to be creative in photography.
Although in this image the sun was not directly behind the subject in line with my position.

The Rufous-naped Lark provided the ideal opportunity to explore the available light directions.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Black-shouldered Kite

Juvenile Rivalry

During one of my photo shoots at Rietvlei Nature Reserve, I came across two juvenile black shouldered kites sitting on opposite perches.

The one suddenly flew off and seconds later started a mock attack on the subject in my viewfinder. The attack consisted of one flyby only.
From the series of images below the image above clearly shows the anxiety experienced by the victim.

Patience is required to produce timeless natural history photographs. Spending time with you subjects will eventually lead to spectacular opportunities,
but keep in mind that not all opportunities will end in keepers.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

GPS Tracks

Wildlife Photography Tips

Keeping track of subject locations in wildlife photography can be challenging, but GPS devices and Adobe can provide a solution.

The question is why you would want to keep track of locations?

- For you own records. Just looking at an image years later might not provide the
necessary visuals to pin point the exact location where the images were captured.
GPS records on images will assist in building your own wildlife atlas for future use.

- There might be scientific reason for this. Species, especially birds,
images of birds seldom found in a specific game reserve might be useful for research.

Some camera manufacturers sell GPS units that can connect directly to your camera. Some models even have built-in GPS modules, and in both cases GPS co-ordinates automatically get added to the image metadata.

For cameras without GPS modules there is a cheaper way to capture GPS co-ordinates and tag images. Lightroom does an excellent job in tagging images with GPS co-ordinates. Adobe Lightroom has the ability to use gpx files (GPS tracks) and tag images by adding GPS Co-ordinates to the image metadata.

Lightroom provides a variety of ways you can add photos to the map module. This is just one way to accomplish GPS image tagging.

Numerous devices on the market can capture GPS co-ordinates and produce an output file. The device most photographers have available is a SmartPhone. SmartPhones can be used in conjunction with the correct software to provide the required GPS tracks, and provide a cheaper alternative.

The application I find useful is "My Tracks". This application records your tracks, and can export the data to a gpx (GPS Exchange Format) output file for use in Lightroom.

All you have to do is ensure that your Smartphone is fully charged, and start recording your tracks. You also need to ensure that your camera date and time match the date and time on your Smartphone to ensure that tracks match images accurately.

Visual Sample of "My Tracks" Data captured
Distance - 32.7 KM
Total Time - 2:30:30

In Lightroom you need to go to the Map section in order to tag images with GPS data.

Select all the images you need to Tag.

Load the matching GPS co-ordinates file downloaded from your smartphone, using the Load Tracklog option. Next, you need to select Auto-Tag Photos option to tag all images with the appropriate GPS co-ordinates.

Selected images highlighted in orange tag

Helmeted Guineafowl

GPS - 25°54'1" S 28°16'35" E

Altitude - 1569.5 m

Selected images highlighted in orange tag

Pearl-spotted Owlet

GPS - 25°14'2" S 31°53'18" E

Altitude - 272.0 m

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Helmeted Guineafowl

(Numida meleagris)

Helmeted Guineafowl is widely distributed throughout Southern Africa. They are predominately ground scavengers.

They are sosial birds and usually form relatively large flocks.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Southern Yellow-billed Hornbill

Southern Yellow-billed Hornbill
(Tockus leucomelas)

Monday, April 20, 2015

Baboon Society

I think this character's story needs to be shared, to give a glimpse into the life of a teenager in Baboon society.

In the extreme heat of the South African lowveld the family rested in trees near the Sabi River. This teenager found the ideal stop in a Maroela tree, totally relaxed with all four limbs dangling down. Some of the adults rested in the same tree. Toddlers were playing on the lower branches of the Maroela tree, and resting was not part of their agenda.

I was totally fixated on the teenager, when suddenly one of his teenage cousins pounced on his resting perch. The little fellow almost fell off the branch, but was able to grab hold ensuring he did not meet with the ground below.

I was totally fixated on the teenager, when suddenly one of his teenage cousins pounced on his resting perch. The little fellow almost fell off the branch, but was able to grab hold ensuring he did not meet with the ground below.

Startled for a few moments, and with the cousin departing, he went back to his afternoon nap.

In the meantime, the toddlers had become more active in the lower branches, but blocking their way to the top was one of the big males in the troop. Clearly they were cautious of the adult. One tried all possible ways to pass the adult ,but to no avail. He would just stare at the youngster. And an adult tail could always double as a rope.

Eventually it was time to move on. These amazing characters supply endless opportunities if one is willing to pause for a moment to observe their behaviour.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

The Teenager

Chacma baboon
(Papio ursinus)

Monday, March 9, 2015

The Dentist

Chacma baboon
(Papio ursinus)