This week’s challenge was easy for me. I’ll take you back to Tanzania on one of our last evenings there. As usual, we were still out with the wildlife at Sundown. We had been watching a group of female lions getting ready for their nightly hunt but we had also been watching a group of Elephants a few hundred yards away. I decided to try to get a ground level shot of an elephant with the sun going down over his/her back. While I couldn’t quite get that photo framed due to the brush in front of us, I kept moving to try and catch the beautiful sunset along with these gentle giants. When I look at this capture, it immediately brings back a sense of excitement (in trying to get the shot) but also the quiet calm and beauty of the scene and this magnificent creature standing in front of me….
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.
We have just recently returned from a wonderful safari trip to Tanzania. When I saw the subject of this week’s challenge, I immediately went to this photo. I took this after one our first days in the wild at Tarangire National Park. We were staying at a wilderness camp with just my wife and I, our guide, and 3 beautiful people to take care of our every need in camp. I selected this photo as it captures many glows – the fading sunglow on the horizon, the star glow appearing in the darkening sky, the moon glow almost directly overhead, and the glow from our campfire embers both on the ground and reflected in the massive Baobab Tree above. This is a scene to remember for many years to come.
There are many things that inspire me to take photographs – a dramatic sunset, a beautiful landscape, an iconic view of the world, an infectious smile, or just a scene of everyday life which captures the feelings of the moment. With all of that being said, the single reason that I got back into photography was to be able to capture nature at its best – through the amazing wildlife that we are privileged to share this planet with. On this week when there has been an overwhelming outcry against the senseless killing of Cecil the Lion, there was only one choice for this week’s challenge, “Inspiration.”
I’ll add my voice to those that are appalled by this act. While there are certainly greater evils in this world (poverty, hate, oppression, and many more), the killing of this noble beast (and the countless other killings of endangered animals in the name of “sport” or commerce) is a very poor reflection on our society. How can one look at a creature like this Lion from Tanzania and not worry that there are supposedly civilized human beings out there that could willfully deprive future generations from this incredible source of Inspiration and awe.
In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Close Up”, I decided to go back to a close encounter from Africa. This little cat (full grown female Cheetah) is staring down at us through the top window of our safari vehicle. I had my smallest lens on and it was still almost too close to focus. She was a perfect companion and made no threatening gestures at all as she spent about 10 minutes on our roof surveying the countryside for 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…..
Well, we are just returned from 3 weeks in Europe but I wouldn’t classify that trip as an adventure. It was very enjoyable but fairly quiet and even. As a contrast, I would classify our trips to camp with the Brown Bears in Alaska or our African trips as adventures – not only because of wildness of the areas but also because you are always in the presence of animals with minds of their own. I don’t mean that these activities are hazardous – but they are adventurous and interesting because you are experiencing things so far from our normal human interactions and lifestyles. I picked this photo (pretty much at random from my desktop) to illustrate a moment that made this an adventure – a chance to witness a wild lioness “schooling” her young ones in their behavior.
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.