Tag Archives: South Africa

Whale Watching Weekend

This weekend, we are heading into the open ocean for a few hours of whale watching.

The one and only time I have ever seen whales was during a white shark diving trip in South Africa.  We stopped at Hermanus to observe the whales frolicking, before heading further south-east to Van Dyks Bay to see the ocean’s ultimate predator in its domain.

This time, we are staying much closer to home to see the ocean’s largest creatures.

Whale watching has been on the must-do list for quite a while, and I am hoping not only to see some whale action, but to capture it.

I will bring out the big lenses so that I have the best chance of capturing the action, even if it is well and truly away from our position.  Having up to 800mm of focal length should help.

Stay tuned for some images — assuming I manage to capture any!

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Presenting a Wildlife Photography Talk

We recently had some good friends over for dinner and a good catch-up.

They’re both passionate and very capable photographers, and I met them when I was involved with the camera club scene some years back.

Last year they started their own club, and during the course of the night I mentioned that I’d be happy to appear some time as a guest speaker to deliver a presentation and talk about wildlife photography and our trips to South Africa and Kenya.

Sure enough, today an invitation arrived via email, inviting me to deliver a talk and audio-visual presentation at the club next week.

I was delighted to be asked, and I’m very much looking foward to this.  I gave a couple of talks when I was still a member of my old club, and while I loved presenting, I also found a lot of enjoyment in listening to the guest speakers we had there.

With two major African wildlife photography trips and the experience, knowledge, images and video footage I’ve gained, I have a wealth of material to cover.

My plan is to present a slideshow of my stand-out images (including videos), discuss our adventures and experiences, relate what it was like to experience Africa and its wildlife not only as a photographer, but as a person; tell some of the stories behind the images, discuss techniques, tips and equipment (including some show-and-tell); and also reveal some behind-the-scenes material.  I may even delve into post-processing if there is sufficient time.

Hopefully the other photographers at the club will gain something from my presentation, and be inspired to travel to Africa where a world of amazing and potentially life-changing experiences awaits them.

RIP Ximpoko

I recently learned some tragic and disturbing news, and further reading today has confirmed it’s true.

Ximpoko, a very large male lion who inhabited the Timbavati region of Greater Kruger National Park in South Africa, was killed by trophy hunters in July of 2013.

Ximpoko was one of the first male lions we ever encountered in the wild.  He was a magnificent lion, and was considered to be the largest in the Timbavati.

Ximpoko and another large male lion (possibly Mabande at the time), had formed a coalition, and they roamed the region as nomadic males.  They were not siblings, and were not even from the same pride.

We spent time with Ximpoko and his companion in their natural habitat on Saturday, 6th October, 2012.

Here is an image I captured of Ximpoko, showing him in life:

The King's Face

The King’s Face

The Timbavati, South Africa, and indeed the world, is a lesser place due to the horrible and unnecessary loss of Ximpoko.

Some creature I struggle to regard as human sought entertainment at the expense of the life of an amazing lion, and an endangered species.

Ximpoko deserves to be running around the African savannah, continuing his lineage, not hung on someone’s wall as a decoration.

This was not nature’s way.

I hope that when Ximpoko‘s killer meets his maker, he is shown no mercy.

2014 Retrospective: Low-Output Year, but Such is Life

While we’re not quite done with the year 2014 yet, it’s close enough to publish a retrospective of the year from a photographic perspective.

Firstly, it was my most low-output year on record; but with other commitments and interests, and a waning interest in photography, I can live with that.

I only published 32 images shot this year.  2013, despite two overseas trips, was also low in output, with some 50 images online.  In the years before, I had a much higher output rate.

For a number of years, seascape photography was my main interest.  This year I didn’t shoot a single seascape, and I’m not too bothered by that.  I did it for years; everyone’s doing it, and I cannot be bothered any more.  It’s always there, and I can always return to it if the interest re-ignites; but for now, it’s dormant.

The year 2014 started with a trip to Adelaide and the McLaren Vale wine region — it was a wine trip, not a photography trip; but I shot a few images at the Penfolds Magill Estate winery.

Penfolds Magill Estate Winery

Penfolds Magill Estate Winery

Also early in the year, we headed to the Australian Reptile Park, where I shot one decent image of a Tasmanian devil.  It was more of a fun day out with some close friends, but I dragged a camera and a few big lenses along, and shot in dreadful light.

Tasmanian Devil

Tasmanian Devil

Around Valentine’s Day, the macro lens came out of hibernation, and I shot some very pleasing images of Xenedette’s rose.

Petals

Petals

My next photographic adventure was a weekend-long landscape photography workshop with Peter Eastway and David Oliver, where I shot some pleasing aerial images of the Hunter Valley.  The trip was organised through the Focus Photographers group, and it was a great weekend away with like-minded photographers.

Hills of the Hunter

Hills of the Hunter

In May, Xenedette and I headed away to Jenolan Caves for a mini-getaway, where we toured six caves, and where I opted for low-light hand-held photography using my fastest prime lenses to capture the ‘ambient artificial’ light highlighting the magnificent decorations in the caves.  I also got in a bit of architecture photography during the trip.

Shawls of the Lucas Cave

Shawls of the Lucas Cave

In August I headed away with the Focus Photographers group again, also to the Hunter Valley, for a weekend of landscape and natural-light portrait photography with David and Clare Oliver.

As always, there is something to learn from these masters of photography, and I gained an appreciation for natural light from south-facing windows, which produces very soft, flattering portraits, and which is consistent throughout the day, making shooting very easy, as the light is always soft and even.

Father and Daughter

Father and Daughter

Finally, I bought a new 400mm f/2.8 lens for next year’s wildlife safari in Kenya, and in the mean time, dabbled with a few images of near-full moons in September.

Waxing Gibbous Part II

Waxing Gibbous Part II

All in all, 2014 was undeniably a low-output year in terms of photography, but I did gain some new images, new experiences and new contacts; and delved into some of the photographic genre I shoot, as well as a few other less-frequent subjects.

Photography is a pursuit I view as one which can have its peaks and troughs, and for me, I’ve been in trough territory for much of the year.  That’s completely fine, as it’s always there, and I learned long ago to read the signs and go with the flow, seeking images and experiences when the desire makes itself known to me, and not forcing productive output when it’s just not in me.

Photographically, next year will be quite different, with the trip to Kenya being the highlight, but who knows what other photographic experiences I will gain…

And so ends a retrospective of my 2014 photographic year.

Big Nigrescens: Revisiting the African Night Sky

Last weekend, I re-visited some of my unprocessed and/or unpublished images from our epic African trip in 2012, and dragged out from the archives another image of the stunning night sky over Africa.

This is Big Nigrescens, a spot in the Timbavati region of South Africa, through which we had passed during a morning game drive.

Big Nigrescens

Big Nigrescens

I wanted to capture stunning silhouettes of jagged, dead trees against the magnificent night sky over Africa.

After some fantastic wildlife spotting and photography, including pursuit of a leopardess on a stalk some thirty minutes earlier, we returned to Big Nigrescens where I shot this image and a few others in the pitch blackness of a warm African night.

 

Bukekayo Ingwe: Re-visiting the Archives

Sometimes it’s good to go back through older images with fresh eyes and see if there’s anything which was captured and forgotten, but which has potential to be a great image.

The other day I went back through my shots of Rockfig Jr, a magnificent female leopard we encountered in the Timbavati region of greater Kruger National Park during our trip to South Africa in October of 2012.

While I have a similar profile of Rockfig Jr, I thought this second version was worth publishing:

Bukekayo Ingwe

Bukekayo Ingwe

I cannot wait to head back to Africa to surround myself with incredible wildlife, and capture more images of the ever-elusive leopards.  Hopefully we’ll do so in 2014…

One Year Since Africa

On this day last year, we were in the African wilderness, on the final day of our magical photographic safari in Motswari Private Game Reserve.

It has been a while since I posted an image from that trip, so here is a new image of one of the magnificent Jacaranda Pride lionesses we encountered on a morning game drive in the Timbavati.

Panthera Leo

Panthera Leo

Seeing images like this and others from my collection, as well as remembering what we were doing and the magical sensory overload we experienced on that trip a year ago, makes me want to go back there and experience it again.

We’re still keen on heading back to Africa in 2014 and have some planning to do, so perhaps at this time next year, I’ll be writing about what we are doing in Africa rather than what we did a year ago.