Sorry I haven’t posted for a while, but its been a busy time. We’re getting ready for a trip to Antarctica and Patagonia so I’ve been preoccupied. That being said, when I saw this week’s challenge, I couldn’t ignore it. We spent some incredible time with some young (3 week old?) lion cubs and their mom back in October and it was sooooo cute and soooo sweet that I never get tired of perusing those photos. Here’s one I thought captured a quiet and curious moment with one of the youngsters as she came toward our vehicle…..
Hope you guys enjoyed this sweet moment – I loved being able to share it…….
I’m not sure that this really fits the subject of this week’s challenge but I liked this photo and I could stretch the meaning to fit……
This is a shot that I took during a “sundowner” happy hour overlooking the Serengeti in Tanzania. The sky was incredible but the only prominent point of interest was a single Acacia tree not far away. Those trees are frequent subjects of African sunset photography so it wasn’t very innovative from that aspect. What struck me about the scene was that the tree’s canopy was totally mirrored by the clouds just above – perfect semi-circles. I decided to take a photo where the subject was dead center in the frame – something I rarely do. I set my aperture to try and catch a sun star as the sun emerged below the clouds but above the tree. I had my camera on a pocket tripod so I was lining the shot up as the sun and clouds moved – as luck would have it, at the perfect moment, I could see a perfectly round lens flare forming as the sun reflected off the center of my lens. I snapped the shot at that second to catch this additional highlight to the symmetry of the scene – it is faint but hopefully apparent in the photo – forming a perfect circle around both the tree and the sun. An experiment in composition with a little help from mother nature.
Here’s my photo for this week’s challenge: “Shadowed.” This cheetah was examining a tree in the Serengeti and it cast just enough shadows to make this a dramatic photo which highlighted the incredible eyes of this svelte predator. Of all the cheetah photos we took during our trip a year ago, this may be my favorite……
Oh no!! Another Kitty photo? Ran across this one when I was going through my Serengeti images and I thought I should do something with it as I don’t recall seeing many photos of Cheetahs in this position. This female spent hours with us one afternoon (causing us to miss lunch!) including a stroll or two on top of our vehicle. This was a little “time out” see took in the grass before she caught the scent of a male cheetah heading our way.
This is also kind of a neat shot to illustrate the fact that the cheetah is the only big cat that can’t retract their claws. They are out all the time to act as “spikes” when the cheetah makes a charge at its prey.
This challenge was easy as I was already working on an image that fits the subject. I just purchased and received a 24″ monitor and a graphic tablet to use for editing photos – I think I was starting to go blind doing all my editing on my small, portable Macbook Air. I had chosen a photo of a leopard from Tanzania for my first edits using the new equipment. Luckily, it happened to be a Leopard descending from a tree so it will also works for this challenge. I hope you enjoy!
I haven’t posted many wildlife photos lately so I’ll use this opportunity to highlight an animal that depends on its endurance to thrive – the African Hyena. Hyenas are not the fastest, strongest, or stealthiest predator out there – but they are one of the most successful. During our trip to Africa this winter, we got to watch these under-rated hunters in action on several occasions.
The first Hyena we saw was in Uganda – it walked right by our vehicle in the early morning and was not at all concerned with our presence. We then watched it and several of its friends try to corner a group of Kob. This photo shows one of the Hyenas in hot pursuit of the herd. While we did not witness the end game of this encounter it was obvious that the Hyenas were just wearing down the Antelopes until they could get a shot at a weak one.
When we got to Tanzania, we saw an entirely different tactic, a single Hyena going after a small family group of gazelles. It locked in on one of the babies, and despite the best efforts of the parents to protect it, just waited until the young one tired out and finally made its kill.
I’ll spare you the graphic final moment of the encounter – you get the point.
I’ll end with one last interesting Hyena photo. On our last morning in Tanzania, a group of six Hyena surrounded our vehicle and wouldn’t leave – they circled the car and examined us all very closely. I took this photo out of our top hatch so that you can see how close they were and the attention they were giving us.
When we finally drove off – they ran after the truck for quite some time…..not sure what we would have done if they followed us to the airport…..
Okay – so for the last few days I’ve been watching some tutorials and ideas on how to turn photographs into “works of art”. While I have normally been a proponent of “natural” processing and keeping things realistic, I wanted to try my hand at some different techniques to add a more artful flair or increase the interest of some of my photos. Yesterday I tuned in to a webinar with Bobbie Goodrich, a wildlife photographer from Santa Fe who has a background as a painter and who creates some very interesting effects with her photos. I decided do a quick attempt by applying some of her techniques on one of my photos. I’d be interested in any of your comments on my processing as related to the original photo which I’ll put below. PS – My wife has already told me that she prefers the “originals” but I think there is plenty of room for other interpretations – besides, its fun to mess around with them and see what I can come up with. Here is the “artful” view of a leopard sitting in a tree contemplating his tail…….
The top photo has the background removed in favor of a colored gradient and the leopard and tree have been kind of “painterized” to give it more of an artsy flavor. The basic photo (with just some minor processing) is shown below – what do you think??
Another fine challenge this week. As someone who is frequently photographing wildlife, there are always lots of contrasts. Large vs small, predator vs prey, etc. However, when it comes to contrast in the animal world, the choice is as simple as black and white – and that means the zebra. This mom and child of the Northern Serengeti do a wonderful job of exhibiting that contrast. Hope you enjoy.
I have once again taken the easy way out on this challenge. My photo is of the time between day and night. Its that awesome time of day when details get muted and there is a feeling of mystery as nighttime arrives. For a photographer, the challenge is to catch that remaining light of day while using the oncoming darkness to enhance the feeling of the scene. One of the ways to capture this transition is the use of silhouettes against the fading light. This photo was taken in the Northern Serengeti as we were rushing back to camp as we had to be out of the park by “sundown”. I saw this giraffe framed against the color of the sunset and asked our guide to stop just long enough to catch this quick shot. I hope this captures the transition between day and night and also the serenity of the evening in an incredible environment.
I was feeling strange that I hadn’t posted a wildlife photo for a week or so……so…..I thought I’d post a different lion cub interpretation. This was one of 3 young lions hanging with her mother in the North Serengeti. In looking through my photos I noticed one where she was looking directly at us – I processed it as an old style portrait which almost looks like a pencil drawing. I then restored the original color and tone of both the eyes and the nose. I kinda like the way it turned out…..
I’m still enjoying going back to my Africa files and finding more photos to work with and post. Here’s a photo of a Lioness who was just lying by the side of the road in the Southern Serengeti. She hardly moved as we slowly pulled up within a few yards of her. I actually had to lean away from the open window to give myself enough room to focus on her serene face. If she had any worries about us being there, she certainly wasn’t showing it.
The National Geographic site puts out “photo assignments” as kind of a challenge and a means to collect and turn photos into stories. I have never submitted any photos before but this morning’s topic was Nature in Black and White. I took a quick look back through some of my Tanzania photos of the large lion pride that we saw on our first evening there. I hadn’t done a version of any of the single cubs in B&W so I thought I’d process this one. I’ll let you be the judge of how it turned out.
Happy Monday! Thought I’d post one more treatment of a male lion portrait from Tanzania. This fella was overseeing the plains about 50 yards away from his “brother” who had an equally windblown look. There were also a couple of females with juveniles a few hundred yards away. I tried to make it another artsy portrait by processing it in a sepia tone and once again emphasizing the amazing eyes these animals possess. Hope you like it…..have a great week!
I was going through some of the Africa photos I hadn’t processed yet and found this one that I thought I’d do a little differently. I made it into sort of a dark black and white and then restored the natural color to the lions eye. This was one of the three male lions of the large pride that we spent some time with in the Northern Serengeti. He had just rolled over from part of his nap while the “women-folk” were out hunting. Happy Weds!
My moments of reflection are triggered by our immersion into nature. Those quiet times when we get to witness some of the real wonders of the world and reflect on how lucky we are to be able to be there. As the challenge says, these are important times to ponder how you fit into greater scheme of things by where you have been, what you have done, and where you are going. We had many such opportunities for reflection in Africa. I say “we” because we shared those moments with some wonderful friends and we all came away changed by our experiences there. I could have chosen any of hundreds of photos that convey that thought to me but I chose this one because of the grand panorama of morning on the Serengeti and the quiet presence and pensive stares of the two amazing animals sharing the moment with us.
I’ve already “let the cat” out of the proverbial “bag” in previous posts but we spent some incredible time with numerous Cheetahs while in Tanzania. As we were setting up our trip I had told our guide Ethan (http://www.ethan-kinsey.com) that we had not seen a cheetah in the wild on our previous african trips and hoped that we would find some on this trip. On our second day, there we were out in the prairie with all kinds of animals around when Ethan looked down in a valley to the left and said “hmmm…. there isn’t any animals down there – I wonder why….?” Off we went to see what was happening and we were rewarded with an introduction to a female cheetah and her young offspring. They were on a worn down termite mound and were harassing a large (about 5′ long) Monitor lizard who was protecting her eggs. After a while, they wandered away with us following them pretty closely. They finally found a tree to relax under and we shared the shade with them as they took their nap. As they started to stir, the daughter started exploring the nearby surroundings and gave us some good photo ops . This photo gives you a good look at the sleek body and also the claws – which are not retractable like other cats. The reason for that is that the Cheetahs use them as “spikes” (like on track shoes) to gain traction during their hunting sprints.
We eventually left them for a little while but returned to find them near a bushy area where they had found a gazelle. We sat nearby as they completely devoured the small animal. While it wasn’t really pleasant to watch, it was fascinating to share their mealtime in close quarters as they kept scanning the plains for potential danger – the Cheetah are not at all aggressive and would abandon their prey at the first sight of any other predator. Here’s a photo of Mom before she cleaned up from the meal.
We actually saw this same pair of cheetahs several times and spent some nice time with them – including our first “boarding” of our safari vehicle by the young one that I discussed in my post https://scottseyephotos.wordpress.com/2014/01/31/weekly-photo-challenge-object/.
I don’t think that I’ve mentioned that we had that same experience two more times during our trip. I’ve never posted a video before but our friend Mike took this one of a different female a few days later – I think it does a real nice job of showing you what that experience was like. First she jumped on the hood, then up on the roof (and yes the roof hatches were all open) with nothing between her and us. She finally jumped down as she was startled when her tail hit the radio antenna! I hope you enjoy….we sure did (and do – every time we look at the photos and videos). Also – suggest you show it full screen to get the maximum effect….
Whats that inside that tree? I am always amazed at a safari guide’s ability to spot the invisible behind the foliage or other camoflage. I took this photo specifically to show just how difficult that can be. This leopard at times completely disappeared into the leaves of the tree – seemingly inside his own private compartment.
As I said in my last African episode, it was time to catch a flight from Rwanda to Tanzania. After a stop to clear customs (very quick and easy), we landed in the Kogatende strip in the Northern Serengeti. We immediately met our new guide and new bestest friend, Ethan Kinsey, a freelance guide http://www.ethan-kinsey.com who is a native born Tanzanian but who also spent his college years in the states. Ethan had convinced us to come to the Northern Serengeti first because he said there would be fewer people as the migration was further south this time of year – we would have the animals to ourselves in this area. That was the gospel truth as we very rarely had anyone join us at our fantastic sightings. As we packed the safari vehicle at the airstrip for our ride to the Sayari lodge, Ethan told us it was about a 20 minute ride but would take longer if we had any good sightings on the way. That was prophetic: when we stopped for some zebra who were running across the road (still on airport grounds), he heard an “alarm call” from a nearby monkey meaning there was a predator nearby. We proceeded over to where the monkey was, expecting to find a lion (as the most common predator). To our surprise, Ethan spotted a Caracal in the bushes. We had never seen one before and Ethan told us that they are rarely seen. We not only saw this great looking cat, we got to spend a good 20-30 minutes with it as it wandered through the bushes and pounced on a lizard for lunch.
Caracals can range from 15 to 40+ pounds and are very stealthy and sleek as they move around. We finally decided it was time to leave “our” caracal and continue to the lodge. As it turns out, we saw MANY more animals on the way to the lodge and the 20 minute ride turned into 2 hours. That was to become a recurring theme – we were late for every meal and “return to base” during the week because of our tremendous wildlife sightings. When we finally got to the lodge we were immediately blown away by the Sayari Lodge http://sayaricamp.asiliaafrica.com/Home.aspx facilities and the hospitality of the staff. Our individual “tents’ included wonderful porches looking out across the rolling hills toward the Mara river (always with animals visible) and amazingly decadent bedroom and bathroom suites including a huge marble bath-tube set in front of the view toward the river.
We had a wonderful lunch under the trees, got settled in a little and then headed out on our first real game drive. I’ve already described part of this drive in my post https://scottseyephotos.wordpress.com/2014/02/21/weekly-photo-challenge-threes/ so I won’t repeat that description of the incredible pride of lions that we spent time with that afternoon. What I didn’t say in that post is that on the way back to the lodge, we ran into another of the African cats – a leopard comfortably watching the sun go down from a perch atop a large boulder.
We only spent a few minutes with this wonderful cat as were once again quite late for dinner and in danger of violating park rules. I hesitate to tell you “the rest of the story” for this incredible day as our wildlife sightings were just amazing for our first day in Tanzania. I’ll just finish by telling you ( I couldn’t get a photo) that as we were at our dinner table that night we were all treated to the largest fireball meteor that any of us had ever seen. It streaked across the entire sky, was large enough to see pieces of it burn off, and it came very close to impacting the ground. Other than that, it was just another day…….
Who knows where they were really going….or what they consider home? In any case, I offer this photo as an apology for not posting anything this week (until now). I’ve been working on a photo show that my traveling companions and I can use to tell people about our incredible trip to Africa and it has taken a lot of time.
This is one of my favorite photos from our trip. Groups of elephants typically travel in lines like the one shown but I liked this one as it shows them cresting a hill (what is on the other side?), heading into a dramatic sky, and it also highlights the beautiful landscape of trees and rocks in the northern Serengeti. I did it in B&W (as I did with many other elephant photos) as it seems to “equalize” the grey elephants with their surroundings rather than have them overwhelmed by the colors of the landscape. I hope you like it – and I’ll get back to my series of posts on our trip next week…..
One of the things I love about photography is that you never know where or if you will find a treasured image – one that recalls the experience you had, the magic of the moment or the splendor of the subject. Even in a place like Africa where the opportunities are endless, you never know if you will get that one “keeper”. Even after you go through your photos a couple of times that treasure may still elude you. That kind of happened to me as I went through my Africa portfolio – there are MANY that I think are good photos and capture the moment well but I was hoping to get at least one that I could have printed professionally to put in our own living room. It wasn’t until I started doing a first cut of post- processing on some of the photos that I stumbled upon this one that I really liked. I had taken a photo of a male lion sitting in the grass of the Serengeti – the light wasn’t great and he wasn’t doing much but he had this very wispy mane that I liked. I decided to see what it would be like as a simulated oil painting using some of the photoshop tools and came up with the image below. I love the expression in the lion’s face and the way his mane translates into brush strokes……. I have sent this away to be printed and am anxiously awaiting its return – hopefully to become a treasured part of our living room decor.
Once again, I thought I’d try to show a little different take on the subject of the Challenge. In this photo there is little doubt where the focal point of the story is……the Cheetah of course! But of equal interest is the fact that it is sitting on our safari vehicle observing us like we were in a miniature zoo. We all knew that it was a special moment by the fact that our wonderful guide ( who had never had this happen before) kept lowly muttering ” there’s a cheetah on my truck…..there’s a cheetah on MY truck”
So the truck is also part of the object….but I also think that the fact that the cheetah was thinking WE were the object is interesting….but she didn’t have a camera.
I have lots of brand new photos to choose from so I did a quick scan and found a couple that fit the challenge. Both of these photos feature the pairings of a large animal with a small one – in both of these cases a bird. The first is obviously a Zebra but with a starling visitor on his back. These starlings are almost irridescent blue/black with bright yellow eyes – presenting a contrast even with the most contrasting of animals – the Zebra.
The second photo positions one of the smallest and quickest birds in Africa, the Pied Kingfisher with one of the largest and slowest mammals on the planet, the African Elephant. I was focused on the Kingfisher and was happy that I was able to also capture the Elephant as part of the background for the shot…..
The first photo was taken in the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania and the second was taken from a boat in the Kazinga Channel in Queen Elizabeth National Park in Uganda