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