Monday 30 September 2013

Keeping your options open

I'm back from the most incredible experience in the Mara Triangle (Kenya)!! Between a million wildebeest (literally), lion kills and cheetah kills right in front of us and the mind-blowing expanse of the Mara'll take me some time to find my bearings again (good luck to me for walking back into that office tomorrow!). I cannot think of a better base to spend a week exploring the Mara ecosystem than the Wild Eye camp set up on the banks of the Mara river and run by Maasai staff.

This is from a crossing we witnessed on our first full day in the field. There's much more drama from this scene to share, but upon importing my photos into Lightroom this one caught my eye. Processed quickly using my basic workflow and some splashes of Nik Color Efex for fun. 

This "monster croc" (they make'em BIG in the Mara) was hunting some of the animals crossing and made a number of kills in the space of 2-3 hours, stashing the victims below the surface before coming back for more hunting. Here he swims right into a bunch of crossing wildebeest...can imagine a number of words that would be uttered by these creatures as they see this guy in their midsts (none of which would be allowed by the forum auto-moderation haha).

I like it when a single image tells a striking story (or even multiple possible stories), like this one...don't you?

Nikon D3s
Nikkor 500mm f4 VR-II
f5.6  | 1/1000 SS  |  ISO-220

Morkel Erasmus

Sunday 22 September 2013

World Rhino Day 2013

As is customary, I like to do a short post on 22 September, which has been World Rhino Day for the last few years. As this post goes live, I am on my way to the Masai Mara for a Wild Eye Great Migration photographic safari which I am hosting with Marlon du Toit.

Here's a photo of a Black Rhino I photographed in an undisclosed location. This particular youngster was very agitated and charged everything in sight, even the poor Plover flying in front of him.

click on the photo to display at optimal resolution and sharpness

The various rhino species in the world are under immense pressure due to an increase in wealth in Eastern nations like Thailand, Vietnam and China where the horn is used in traditional medicine and ornaments. The horn has absolutely NO medicinal value or properties!

To find out more about the World Rhino Day initiative, check out their website:

More information on rhino conservation and anti-poaching initiatives:

The latest poaching stats in South Africa, from SANParks:

We can only hope and pray that this magnificent species can one day be seen in the wild by our children and their children. If you know people who are consumers of rhino horn, please try and spread awareness of these issues to them. I doubt many of them know HOW the horn is harvested, and that it's useless for their health.

Thursday 19 September 2013

Playing with Food

By now you should realise that I am crazy about a little stretch of Africa known as Mana Pools. Not only is it a place of immense beauty and a real sense of wilderness, but the fact that you are allowed to traverse the floodplains on foot at will (and at own risk, I might add) brings a whole new dimension to your safari experience as well as the kinds of photos you can capture.

We spent some time with a trio of elephant bulls one afternoon, during which the oldest one would regularly get up on his hind legs to break off a branch from the highest albida trees around (see more of that behaviour here). The other two would then come closer and feast with him. This photo shows one of the guys snapping the branch after they'd stripped the leaves from it. On the high resolution photo you can see the bark splintering as well. Shooting with a 500mm lens meant that I had to keep enough distance between myself and the big boys to be able to compose the frames properly.

Nikon D3s
Nikkor 500mm f4 VR-II
f5.6  |  1/800 SS  |  ISO-2800
Exposure Bias +0.3


If you enjoy my posts, feel free to subscribe to the blog, and do leave a comment here...

Morkel Erasmus

Tuesday 17 September 2013

The Poser

You'll notice I'm posting more photos locally on my blog...I'm moving more of the stories I share on my Facebook Page here so that traffic to my blog can be increased, and that I have my stuff hosted on my blog rather than a Facebook Page that can be taken away if the powers that be so choose.

This is a baby Chacma Baboon photographed in the Kruger National Park in South Africa. These little guys are photographic gems and always provide fun, interaction and quirky poses like this. This guy was part of a troop which hangs around the Shingwedzi river close to Shingwedzi rest camp. Their whole area has changed due to the recent floods there, so I'm not sure if the troop has moved on. 

Overcast, rainy weather evened out the shadows and created a nice exposure with soft light. You always need to be mindful for great poses with primates, especially ones which can seem anthropomorphic. The smaller the subject, the more important the shooting angle also becomes. I was able to get a decent low perspective here, even though I was shooting from my vehicle parked on the road. 

Canon 1000D
Canon 100-400mm L IS USM
f6.3  |  1/500 SS  |  ISO-800
Exposure Bias +0.3 

This photo is Copyrighted © Morkel Erasmus Photography.

You may share this image as presented here under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 licence (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0).

NBClick on the photo to display correctly

Morkel Erasmus

Monday 16 September 2013

Pastel Lion

This young male lion was photographed from an underground bunker hide in the Etosha National Park, Namibia. I got up at the crack of dawn to see two young males approaching the waterhole. I grabbed my cameras and ran to the bunker. What followed was a beautiful sighting in beautiful light! At this point, a few minutes later, one of the young males walked right up to the opening where I was shooting from. 

I was able to capture this frame using a 140mm focal length, and it's pretty much uncropped. In order to get those lovely colours in the sky on the horizon, I needed to blend back a darker exposure of the same RAW file using luminosity masks. I hope you like it!

Nikon D800
Nikkor 70-200mm f2.8 VR-II @ 140mm
f4.0 | 1/200 SS | ISO-560

Do click on the photo to view it properly.

Morkel Erasmus

Thursday 12 September 2013

Kruger: December 2009 (Part 6)

Okay, so it was starting to drizzle again...

As we got to around the next bend in the road - we were faced with this sight!

We got to spend more than an hour all alone with these wet kitties in the lush green bush as the rain fell softly all around...magic!

Suddenly, presumably hearing something (potential prey?), the whole pride shot up like a bullet from a gun and ran into the bushes. We stuck around for about 15 minutes but couldn't see far enough into the bushes to ascertain which direction they were taking. We moved on...and found this cute Common Duiker.

Our drive would be completed by spending time with some of Kruger's famous big elephant bulls...

The weather was getting even more gloomy as we crossed the Shingwedzi river and headed back to camp for some lazy time... be continued...

Sunday 1 September 2013

Kruger: December 2009 (Part 5)

Let's carry on, shall we??

During our time of rest in the Shingwedzi camp, I photographed this woodpecker around our chalet...

We were going on an official Sanparks sunset drive that afternoon, and it proved to be an afternoon for the birds. As we left on our drive we saw this endangered Saddle-billed Stork... well as this migrant Broad-billed Roller...

How about this Verreaux's Eagle Owl?

And this Woodland Kingfisher?

All these lovely birds were seen on the short 3km drive from Shingwedzi camp to the main link road between the central and northern parts of Kruger...

We headed north to the Mphongolo river road, and had a beautiful yet quiet drive. This Sharpe's Grysbok was a highlight.

We also came across some Open-billed Storks in a muddy pan...

As it got dark and we were on our way back to camp, we came across this cute Flap-necked Chameleon...

We got home, made haste to get our meat on the "braai" (grill) and get into bed for another early morning drive.

The next morning we got up to an overcast sky and a light drizzle in the air. Needless to say the temptation was great to have a late snooze in...but we resisted it and braved the gloomy weather by heading out of the gate. It seemed that everyone else in camp was doing the "lying low" thing we were tempted by. We would be so glad we went out, though!!

We headed north - I wanted to drive the lovely Mphongolo loop again as it wound through the lush riverine forest along hte Mphongolo river.

First up - the resident baboon troop.

Some mean-looking Buffalo boys...

As we turned onto the Mphongolo loop we saw a Brown Snake Eagle...

We moved on and the road was quiet from here on in...until we passed the first link back to the main road, that is... this space!

Morkel Erasmus