Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Drive-by Kalahari Scenes

By now you should know that I love the Kalahari desert.
It's a place that soothes the soul.
It's a place of silence, solitude, serenity and splendour.

Most of my visits to this region have been to the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, a National Park straddling South Africa and Botswana. Due to the nature of this place you are confined to exploring its landscapes photographically in two ways...within the confines of the rest camps and campsites, or from your vehicle as you drive around looking for wildlife (among which the magnificent black-maned lions of the Kalahari).

Over the years, I've managed to collect quite a few nice "drive-by" landscape photos in my pursuit to capture the arid beauty of the Kalahari effectively. It takes a different approach to traditional tripod-stomping, as you are really limited in how you can compose your photos. The following collection of images show some of the "drive-by" shots that I am most happy with to date. Most of these were taken handheld or resting on a beanbag on the vehicle door.

As always - the photos are best enjoyed by clicking on them...

1. "Kalahari Ghost Rain"
It gets very hot in the Kalahari - this image depicts "Ghost Rain", rain that evaporates even before hitting the earth. It's that hot! And this was taken right at sunrise!! Location - the dune fields between the Auob and Nossob riverbeds.

Nikon D800  |  31mm  |  f7.1  |  1/60 SS  |  ISO-640

2. "Southern Nossob"
A typical scene in the lower Nossob riverbed. Red sand dunes, camelthorn acacias, and big skies. This "river" runs only once every 100 years or so.

Nikon D800  |  24mm  |  Polariser  |  f8.0  |  1/320 SS  |  ISO-500

3. "Red and Blue"
A typical late morning scene in the northern stretch of the Auob riverbed. Another fossil river, this one experiences a flash flood a bit more regularly than the Nossob, perhaps every 20 years or so!

Nikon D7000  |  92mm  |  f8.0  |  1/200 SS  |  ISO-100

4. "Heart-shaped Cloud"
The space and the skies in the Kalahari are immense...and when the conditions are right you can capture something of that vastness on camera.

Canon 1000D  |  16mm  | Polariser  |  f11  |  1/80 SS  |  ISO-200

5. "Rain of Fire"
Although veld fires are common in the summer months, this was merely a spectacular sunset storm to the west, as seen from the lower Auob riverbed during a rare lush green season.

Nikon 1 V1  |  27mm  |  f3.5  |  1/200 SS  |  ISO-400

6. "Ominous Overheads"
The storms in this part of the world can get quite rough. We were parked at a waterhole on this particular afternoon when a ripper came through - dust, rain, wind and lightning...

Canon 1000D  |  16mm  |  f8.0  |  1/80 SS  |  ISO-400

7. "Road to the Kalahari"
Just a grab shot of the road in the northern Auob riverbed. Doesn't this just make you want to get in your SUV and drive to the Kalahari??

Canon 1000D  |  28mm  |  f18  |  1/160 SS  |  ISO-200

Did you enjoy these? I hope it inspires you to not neglect your landscape photography even when you are not allowed to leave the safety of your vehicle...

Let me know what you think - which is your favourite? I intend on building this collection with every return visit!

Morkel Erasmus

Monday, 30 March 2015

Death Dance

Sometimes you spend hours waiting for a specific photo, anticipating and watching for the decisive moment in sweltering heat...other times you just stumble into the right spot at the right time. 

I wish I could wax lyrical about the planning and preparation that went into capturing this moment, but I can't. It was a combination of right time/place and luck (we all need some luck in this thing called wildlife photography!). During our 2013 +Wild Eye Great Migration photo safari I hosted with +Marlon du Toit, we saw some lions lying in the grass next to the Mara river, and decided to head closer for some portrait photography. As we pulled to a stop, to our amazement a lone wildebeest scrambled up the riverbank (having just done a solo crossing we couldn't see from our vantage point), and the poor thing literally almost tripped over the lions. The largest female of the small pride wasted no time in pouncing on the unfortunate ungulate, and a lengthy struggle ensued during which we were privy to the emotional dance of death between these species that occurs during the Great Migration. 

This particular wildebeest didn't seem to want to give up and kept struggling to escape his attackers, but to no avail. We were very close to the action, and shooting with a 500mm lens forced me to compose a little out-of-the-box, but I liked how it came out!

Nikon D3s  |  Nikkor 500mm f4 VR-II  |  f8.0  |  1/1250 SS  |  ISO-1400

I also converted it to monochrome, and I like it better in that medium. What do you think??

Nikon D3s  |  Nikkor 500mm f4 VR-II  |  f8.0  |  1/1250 SS  |  ISO-1400

Let me know which you prefer by dropping a comment below.
Thanks for stopping by! I hope you have a great week...

If you would like to join us in the Mara Triangle this year for an awesome photographic adventure, then check out THIS page.

If you would like to purchase this tone version as a limited edition fine art print for your office or home, mail me:

Morkel Erasmus

Sunday, 29 March 2015

Special Print Series - Atmospheric Elephants

Good afternoon everyone...

I've just released a new special print collection on my website. It's a specific portfolio of black & white photos showcasing elephants under the vast expanse of the African sky. This series can be printed on the finest Hahnemuhle Photo Rag paper or fine art quality canvas, and it will be an exquisite adornment for a home or a corporate office space. I am making each image available as individual prints. 

I will also be running special prices on multiple orders of 2 or 3 prints, 5 prints, 9 prints or the whole series of 13...multiple prints can be designed and sized according to the specific space you intend for them to be hung.

You can see the entire collection HERE.
If you want a moody piece of "Africa" to adorn your walls - let me know!

For detail pricing and enquiries, please contact me on:

Have a great week!

Morkel Erasmus

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Study of a Kalahari King

Sometimes, when you spend time photographing a specific animal, you become quite taken by them - as if you are able to capture a part of their being on camera, and therefore transport them back to whoever views your images.

Over the years, I have had the fortune of photographing some very good-looking male lions in the Kalahari. Every time I return there, I seem to come across another individual male who embodies the spirit of that harsh yet special semi-desert environment.

During our safari to the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park in December 2014, my wife and I spent a few days photographing the new pride male around the 13th Borehole area. We saw him mating with a female, posing in gorgeous light, snoozing at the break of day, and finally patrolling the dry Auob riverbed, all in the space of 3 days, using various focal lengths.

I will let the images do the talking - so check out this beaut of a lion in all his glory!

Nikon D810  |  Nikkor 400mm f2.8 VR  |  f5.6  |  1/1000 SS  |  ISO-1000

Nikon D3s  |  Nikkor 24-70mm f2.8 @ 38mm  |  f5.6  |  1/400 SS  |  ISO-720

Nikon D810  |  Nikkor 400mm f2.8 VR  |  f5.6  |  1/1000 SS  |  ISO-800

Nikon D810  |  Nikkor 400mm f2.8 VR  |  f4.5  |  1/800 SS  |  ISO-220
Nikon D810  |  Nikkor 400mm f2.8 VR  |  f5.6  |  1/640 SS  |  ISO-640  
I do hope you enjoyed seeing the images of this magnificent specimen as much as I enjoyed taking them! Have a lovely week, my friends, and thanks so much for stopping by.

Morkel Erasmus