Thursday, 12 November 2015

Madikwe: May 2010 (Part 3)

Hello everyone. It was with a shock that I realised that my last blog post was written in August! So much has happened...between hosting a Wild Eye photo safari in the Maasai Mara, jetting off to Hong Kong with my wife on assignment for Nikon Asia, and then attending the Wildlife Photographer of the Year awards in London, it's safe to say things have been hectic.

I have not even had time to process many new photos - but I do know that I have also neglected to finish this trip report from way back in 2010, so here goes.

If you missed (or forgot) the previous part, you can catch up HERE.

Day 3

Our day started with an early rise and a drive out to Tlou dam to photograph the sunrise and whatever else may come across our path. I used the animal tracks in the mud as foreground interest for this image.

There was no real activity around the dam, so we set off again, and soon we had an amazing encounter, on foot, with the unicorn of the African bush...

I've spent time on foot with these amazing creatures many times since then - but you know you always remember your first time LOL.

Just as we were about to return to Nkurru Lodge to have brunch and pack up our rooms, we came across two gorgeous male lions in the south of the reserve. They were at the end of their morning patrol and just beginning to get lazy.

After roaring loudly right next to our vehicle, and sharpening their claws against a tree - the brothers disappeared into the thickets.

And so our short safari to Madikwe came to and end.

Little did I know that this first proper meeting with Gerry van der Walt would result in a great collaboration years later in Wild Eye - thanks a lot, my friend!

I haven't been able to go back yet, and maybe soon I will. The Wild Eye crew regularly host photo safaris in Madikwe, so be sure to check it out if you are interested in visiting this underestimated piece of wilderness!

Soon to come - a 2 week trip to the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, from June 2010. I am sooo far behind on these trip reports, but it's great fun reliving the memories as I write them up here.

Until next time!

Morkel Erasmus

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Under the Winterthorns

If you have been following my work for a while you would know at least two things.

1. I love Mana Pools in Zimbabwe.
2. I love showing the bigger picture in my wildlife photos.

Well, I want to show you a photo taken IN Mana Pools showing the BIG picture.
It's an elephant photo, but it's not really in principle just about an elephant - got it?

First, have a look, and then I will discuss it...

Nikon D800  |  Nikkor 24-70mm f2.8  |  Circular Polariser  |  f16  |  1/160 SS  |  ISO-6400

I captured this photo alongside my guests as I hosted a Wild Eye photographic safari in conjunction with Mwinilunga Safaris in Mana Pools. 

You see, as I explained in this post, my fascination with Mana Pools goes far deeper than just the wonderful experiences that can be had walking with the elephants, lions, wild dogs etc. It's also the ethereal beauty of these floodplain-forests and the immense and gnawed Faidherbia Albida (Winterthorn) trees that dot the landscape that has me in awe.

What I was going for with this composition and perspective that actually diminishes the elephant was that encompassing sense of beauty and awe, where the elements themselves combine with the wildlife to create a sense of what I was experiencing myself in this moment as I was crouching behind the base of the tree with the termite mound around it - closer to the elephant than I was to the perceived safety of our Land Rover...

It's not primarily about the elephant. It's about the tree(s), the mood and the moment my guests and I experienced.

I'd like to think I achieved that.
I'd also like to know what YOU think...
Drop me a comment, tell me what this photo does for you!

Until next time,

Morkel Erasmus

Friday, 17 July 2015

Psychedelic Karoo Dreams

I was photographing this dry shrub under the Milky Way in the Karoo desert of South Africa earlier this year. After getting the standard "static" starscape I normally attempt, I started playing around a bit with in-camera techniques.

This is the "standard" photo...

Nikon D800  |  Nikkor 14-24mm f2.8 @ 14mm  |  f2.8  |  30 seconds  |  ISO-3200

Now, the photo you see below was captured using in-camera techniques.
Some of you won't believe me, I'm it looks like something that was tweaked in Photoshop, right?

Nikon D800  |  Nikkor 14-24mm f2.8 @ 14mm  |  f2.8  |  30 seconds  |  ISO-3200

For this photo, I started at 14mm focal length, performed light painting to get the bush sharp and lit up, and merely zoomed the lens in to 24mm gradually during the last 10 seconds of the 30 second exposure. You need to be very steady and gradual in this process.

Here's another variation...

Nikon D800  |  Nikkor 14-24mm f2.8 @ 14mm  |  f2.8  |  30 seconds  |  ISO-3200
In this case, I followed the same approach as above, but instead of turning the zoom ring during the latter part of the exposure, I turned the focus ring, rendering the image out of focus for the last 10 seconds.

It may not be everyone's cup of tea, but I do like experimenting with these slow shutter exposures, and trying different techniques. It can be so boring to capture the same images over and over and over and over and...

What do you think? Which do you prefer?
Leave me a comment...

Until next time!

Morkel Erasmus

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Close Call

Well folks, to say it's been a hectic busy month would be an understatement. Just look at the time span between this post and my previous post? The outrage!

Anyway - this is a quick recap of our last morning in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park in December 2013...

Since we would be leaving the park on this day, I left Twee Rivieren early for a quick drive up the Nossob river towards Kij Kij and back, while my wife and kids slept in a bit and packed the rest of the small stuff in the chalet.

I found lions at Rooiputs waterhole - a small pride consisting of a lioness and 4 juveniles (males and a female). The lioness looked like she was nurturing a few wounds, no doubt picked up in a recent scrap. They looked fairly relaxed at the outset...but it was about to change...

Just as they were about to drink again, I spotted a big male lion approaching from further up the Nossob riverbed. 

I initially thought he might be this pride's male returning from his nightly patrol...but as soon as these lions at the waterhole caught scent/sound of the approaching male - they went into panic mode!

The lioness sprang to her feet and rushed up and scooted south in the riverbed (in the direction I came from), running at brisk pace to get away before being noticed by the approaching male. 

The cubs followed suit...and I could somewhat piece together what had probably happened that night. He was definitly not their pride male!

This male must have been on their tracks for a while, he might even have been responsible for the gash on the lioness hind leg...why? Who knows - perhaps because it's his region and they are not his cubs? The lion family disappeared from view just as the male caught their scent - he knew something was up...

He moved around the area for a while before finally having the drink he came for, and moving into the dunes...

This was one of those sightings that didn't deliver any outstanding photographs, but it was a very memorable moment of natural history and lion behaviour that I was able to witness. The dynamics between different prids of lions is always full of tension and drama, and this morning I think the lioness and her family came off the better for it. It also leaves some questions...

Why were they alone and without a pride male?
Why were they afraid of this specific male?
Why was the large male alone, was he a nomad that had been dethroned from his pride?

Nature is fascinating.
The Kalahari is fascinating.
You should make a plan to visit it!

Morkel Erasmus