Archive for February, 2011

South Africa

Thursday, February 24th, 2011

I’ve just returned from a 2 week trip to South Africa, I was there to shoot wildlife and landscape images for a game farm in the Karoo on the Western Cape. The Great Karoo is mainly a dry, barren and unforgiving landscape but is also the largest ecosystem in South Africa and holds an amazing diversity of life. My job was to take images on a game reserve which unlike much of the Karoo was an amazing mix of mountains, rocky canyons, forests and plains.

moon rising over cliffs

Blue wildebeest running

The photography was difficult. As is to be expected the game was very skittish so getting close enough was a constant challenge. I was given a guide who took me out in a 4wd each day which made life easier as the animals were more used to the vehicle and tolerated a closer approach. We also made some pretty long walks as I also did plenty of stalking on foot in order to get the right angle.

Our accommodation was a luxury lodge on the edge of a huge canyon. Sitting out on the veranda when the light was too harsh to shoot we watched impala, springbok, ostriches, grazing wildebeest and a variety of birds. Regular visitors were a pair on sunbirds, various types of bulbuls, beeeaters and a pintailed widow bird even showed up on one occasion.

Lodge

I took this one evening when the stars were particularly bright. You can see the trail of a bat on the right hand side of the frame. I used a long exposure and lit the building with a small torch. We had several clear nights when the stars were the best I have ever seen and you can clearly make out the milky way directly above the lodge.

Lodge at night

The weather was incredibly hot. being their summer it was 40 degrees + every day so was a bit of a shock to the system but I soon got used to it. What was more difficult to get used to was the altitude, we climbed to several thousand meters on some occasions in order to get above the cloud and photograph eland. Lugging a 500mm lens this distance and height was exhausting but the views were well worth it!

I took this shot of my guide, Lodrick, in the middle of the day so it was no good in terms of the light but I couldn’t resist taking it just to show the sheer scale of the place.

I was keen to get some action shots of the animals so on overcast days I would dial in a slow shutter speed to reveal the motion.

Klipspringer leaping

red hartebeest running with young

Due to the weather, we endured constant lightning storms throughout the whole trip. This was taken on the first evening from the veranda. Some storms would come and go within minutes while others lasted for hours allowing for some great opportunities to capture the forks of lightning.

Lightning storm

Springbok with approaching storm

Red hartebeest

Hadedas ibis, pair flying towards rain storm at dusk

Impala with young

Milkweed grasshopper

Larklike bunting singing in rain shower

Hadeda ibis

Black wildebeest backlit

Sunbird perched on cactus

Tortoise

Red-eyed bulbul

This is one of my favourite images from the trip. All too often clouds would appear at the end of the day and prevent me from capturing silhouettes but on this occasion, the final day of the trip, it all came together and I managed to get a shot of this kudu bull standing on the edge of the cliff with the storm clouds rolling in overhead. I purposely zoomed out to 330mm so as to include the distant cliff on the left hand side of the frame to add some depth.

Kudu bull silhouetted at dusk

I still have some 1000 images to edit and process and will add a new gallery with images from the trip in due course!