Entries in africa (70)
African Wild Dog, or African Painted Dog (Lycaon Pictus), Botswana, July 2009
Nikon D3x, 70-200mm f/2.8 VR, 1/15 @ f/6.3, ISO 200
There is a den near Dumatau and Savuti in Botswana at the moment, and we had the great fortune of being able to spend some time with them and their new puppies. All 13 of them. What makes it amazing is that there are two mothers with 2 separate litters, and watching how they all interacted was an amazing sight. I have spent more time in east African than in Botswana if you are to look at the total number of days spent out in the bush, so seeing and being able to photograph African wild dogs is very special to me. In east Africa the African wild dog is more difficult to find, and the places to find them are in the southern parks of Tanzania where I don't spend as much of my time.
I have a few keepers from our time with them, and this is the first in a small series of images that I will post over the coming days.
This is the 3rd trip report from my latest safari to Namibia You can read my Namibia trip report (Part 1 - Skeleton Coast) entry and also my Namibia trip report (Part 2 - Serra Cafema) entry if you have not already done so.
After winding down our time at Serra Cafema, we took a long bush plane flight down to Swakopmund to fill up with fuel. We flew over the Cape Cross seal colony and turned the plane inward towards the huge dunes of the Namib desert. The absolutely huge dunes of the Namib-Naukluft Park greeted us as we prepared to land. The Sossusvlei / Deadlvei region always blows me away, and this time was no exception.
We spent 3 nights with my friends at Kulala Desert Lodge (Carina the manager is a great friend), which is the closest place to stay to the entrance of the park. It is extremely comfortable and the shorter drives into the park is definitely appreciated, as the area is vast and spread out.
I visited this area 2 times on this trip to Namibia, and I will only include the images that I took from this first visit. I have to admit that I had a very difficult time trying to capture the area in a different way when compared to my previous trips there. I looked at my images and, for the most part, I was unhappy with my experimentation and results. I am not sure why, as I was emotionally connected when taking the shots, but the images on my screen just don't match how I felt when I was taking them. This is the age old challenge for nature photographers, and I got hit hard on this trip.
Overall, I had such a great time on this segment of my Namibia trip. The participants, my co-leader JP, the landscapes, the lodging and all of the staff along the way. This was certainly a trip that I will remember for a long, long time, and I hope to dig a few portfolio additions out of my raw files. I just need to decide which types of images I am really looking for, as I have images that are very similar to those from prior trips, and also new types of images that are very different and are more challenging to process. When I put a portfolio together, I always make sure that the overall tone, color palette and feel are consistent through all of the images. My style of photography is changing right now, and I am not sure where it is going to end up. I am having fun playing around with different looks, for sure, but these new ideas of processing may necessitate my going back to my older Namibia images to re-process them to have a more consistent look and feel to them.
Longitudinal Dune, Namib-Naukuft Park, Namibia. Sony A900, 70-400mm, 1/30 @ f/11, ISO 100
Sand Slide, Namib-Naukuft Park, Namibia. Sony A900, 24-70mm, 1/15 @ f/13, ISO 100
Photographer in the dunes, Namib-Naukuft Park, Namibia. Sony A900, 70-400mm, 1/80 @ f/11, ISO 100
Dunes from above, Namib-Naukuft Park, Namibia. Sony A900, 24-70mm, 1/500 @ f/7.1, ISO 200
Dunes near Sossuslvei, Namib-Naukuft Park, Namibia. Sony A900, 16-35mm, 1/20 @ f/16, ISO 100
Repeating Triangles, Namib-Naukuft Park, Namibia. Sony A900, 70-200mm, 1/40 @ f/11, ISO 100
Photographers in formation, Namib-Naukuft Park, Namibia. Sony A900, 70-400mm, 1/100 @ f/4.5, ISO 100
Is this the new definition of a tripod? :-). Namib-Naukuft Park, Namibia. Sony A900, 24-70mm, 1/6 @ f/8, ISO 100
JP at Deadvlei, Namib-Naukuft Park, Namibia. Sony A900, 16-35mm, 1/160 @ f/8, ISO 100
Digging in for a shot, Namib-Naukuft Park, Namibia. Sony A900, 70-200mm, 1/30 @ f/5.6, ISO 100
This is the 2nd trip report from my latest safari to Namibia You can read my Namibia trip report (Part 1 - Skeleton Coast) entry here if you have not already done so.
After the skeleton coast, we flew along the ocean and turned inward at the mouth of the Kunene River, which markes the boundary between Namibia and Angola. The next location on our trip was a 3-night stay at Serra Cafema, a camp along the Kunene River with the Serra Cafema mountain range in Angola in the distance.
Serra Cafema can only be described as the most remote luxury lodge in all of southern Africa. This was my 2nd time there, and each time I have felt like there isn't a care in the world. It is just one of those places that draws me back for more. Photographically the area is complex, and not easy to capture in one or a few images. Serra Cafema is quite a bit warmer than the Skeleton Coast Camp, and with good reason, as it is farther inland from the sea. The coastal fog and cool air doesn't reach Serra Cafema as much or as often as locations that are close to the sea. Serra Cafema is a wonderful location if you are looking to photograph the Himba tribe, as well as landscapes. On one occasion, a small group of us took out the quad bikes for a spin out on the sand dunes. This enabled us to manuever quickly into areas where we wanted to photograph, and then hop back on to go someplace else.
Serra Cafema Camp is a small, luxurious output in the middle of nowhere, yet the accommodations and common areas are extremely nice, comfortable and inviting. And the staff? Probably one of the best staff attitudes and service I have had anywhere in Africa. There are few that equal the service, like Mombo Camp and Vumbura Plains in Botswana.
Photographer on the Dunes, Serra Cafema, Namibia. Sony A900, 24-70mm, 1/40 @ f/8, ISO 100
Sundowner time! Sony A900, 70-400mm, 1/25 @ f/5, ISO 640
Back to camp after our 'tough' afternoon of photgraphy and sundowner coctails. Sony A900, 16-35mm, 1/2sec @ f/2.8, ISO 800
Photographers, dunes and mountains. Sony A900, 24-70mm, 1/250 @ f/5, ISO 100
Francois, our guide and snake charmer. Sony A900, 24-70mm, 1/80 @ f/6.3, ISO 100
Francois, JP, Larry and Randy and our quad bikes on the dunes. This is an excellent way of moving around on the dunes, as you are more nimble and can find unique areas worth stopping for where a large 4x4 vehicle likely wouldn't go. The challenge is making sure that all people in the group know when to meet back up at the quad bikes to go to the next area. Once somebody walks off behind a dune, you won't see him for a while. Sony A900, 24-70mm, 1/160 @ f/6.3, ISO 100
JP working his yoga mojo magic on the dunes. Sony A900, 24-70mm, 1/320 @ f/8, ISO 100
Setting up for refreshments after an early morning sunrise shoot. We always have snacks, cold drinks, coffee and tea ready to go after a morning shoot. Sometimes a good cup of coffee is all I need to put a smile on my face, but this is the whole package to have a cup out in a beautiful setting. Sony A900, 24-70mm, 1/320 @ f/5.6, ISO 100
On our final morning, the camp staff surprised everybody by bringing breakfast to us for a 'bush breakfast' feast. No exactly roughing it, I must say. After I took this photo, I realized that Justin has a problem with smiling for the camera. Nice one, Justin. Here is a zoomed in image for the world to see:
Ok, so I have been back home for almost a month and I have had the time to reflect on my latest Africa adventure. So here are some thoughts about my trip, along with a few behind the scenes type images.
This was my 3rd trip to Namibia since 2006, and I had 2 different itineraries and groups this time around. The first segment was all about the northern and central part of Namibia, and we spent our time at 3 different camps/locations: Skeleton Coast Camp, Serra Cafema along the Kunene River which borders Angola and Kulala Desert Lodge near Sossusvlei, Deadvlei and the tall sand dunes of the Namib-Naukluft Park. The second segment of my Namibia journey focused on the central and southern part of Namibia: Kulala Desert Lodge and the Namib-Naukluft Park (same as 1st trip), the unique landscapes of the Namib Rand Reserve and Woldedans Dunes Lodge, and the deserted diamond mining town of Kolmanskop.
All of my photography on this trip was taken with gear that was graciously on loan from Sony, and the kit included a pair of A900 24mp camera bodies with portrait grips, a 16-35mm f/2.8 Zeiss, 24-70mm f/2.8 Zeiss and a 70-400mm f/4-5.6 G lens. They had also sent a few other lenses, but due to weight restrictions I needed to travel with the most efficient kit possible. I really enjoyed this Sony kit, and for travel and landscape photographers I cannot think of a better system at the moment. The A900 camera is a well-built yet small camera, and the lenses are as good as any that I have used from Canon and Nikon. There is much to like about the entire system, and I am taking notice of their super telephoto that they had behind glass at this year's PMA in Las Vegas. Based on the size I can only surmize that it will be a 500mm f/4, and hope that I will be able to get my hands on it when it is available. Joe Johnson of Really Right Stuff also loaned me an L bracket for the A900, and I want to publicly say thank you to both Sony and RRS for the loaners for the trip.
This first segment was a joint operation between myself and John Paul Caponigro, and we had 10 participants. Due to the distances involved, we used bush planes to transport us, our camera gear and our luggage between our camps. Even though we did not expect it, we had an additional Cessna 210 to augment our Cessna Grand Caravan. Some of the flights were quite long, and when flying over such beautiful terrain I had to remind myself to have enough compact flash cards for these flights, as it is easy to burn through 8GB or more on a single flight.
Running down the dunes. Sony A900, 24-70mm, 1/50 @ f/8, ISO 100
Our first camp was Skeleton Coast Camp, and on the way there we made a landing at Palmwag in the Damaraland region for fueld and a 'bio break'. The flight from Palmwag to Skeleton Coast was spectacular, as the rocky hills of Damaraland turned into bleached sand dunes along the coast. Wilderness Safaris operates the camp at the Skeleton Coast, and they have exclusive use of the entire Skeleton Coast National Park. Imagine having an entire national park all to yourself, and we pretty much had this during our stay as there were very few people at the camp when we were there. We spent 3 nights at Skeleton Coast Camp, and we only saw a small portion of what the area has to offer.
The Skeleton Coast National Park is only a small subset over the skeleton coast, as the entire coast of Namibia is considered the skeleton coast. The area is rich with many different types of eco-zones, and literally every 30 minutes you see an area that was totally different than the last. The area can get warm during the day if it has clear skies, but the closer you are to the ocean the more likely that you are going to encounter some sort of coastal fog. This brings cool air, along with an increase in wind speeds. Each morning before sunrise the temperatures were in the 40's, and on some afternoons it would get into the upper 80's. I am dying to get back to the Skeleton Coast, but John Paul is going to beat me to the punch as he will be leading a trip there in 2010 (email me if you are interested in being put on a list to be notified when we have more information).
Here some grab shots from our time there:
JP gives us his best superhero imitation
Larry striking a pose. Sony A900, 24-70mm, 1/80 @ f/5.0, ISO 100
The wildlife in Namibia is scare, but fabulous. Springbok near the Hoarusib River. Sony A900, 70-400mm, 1/640 @ f/8, ISO 200
Justin cannot exactly take a nap when JP is taking wide angle shots of his feet. Sony A900, 16-35mm, 1/320 @ f/4, ISO 100
The Skeleton Coast Camp vehicles have a bench seat on the top. Very cool for getting a (windy) view of the terrain. I loved sitting up on top, as I soaked in all of the views and smells of the area. This is an experience that is not to be missed, for sure. Sony A900, 70-400mm, 1/250 @ f/8, ISO 100
Part of the Namibia offroad driving experience is the traversing of dunes. This isn't a particularly tall dune, but it does give a clue as the angle of descent that we would often face. As you drive, or more accurately slide, down the sand dune roars at you as a result of the friction. Sony A900, 24-70mm, 1/500 @ f/5.6, ISO 100
....and taken from another angle on a separate dune. Sony A900, 24-70mm, 1/200 @ f/9, ISO 100
Andy's relaxed pose from on top of the Land Rover. Sony A900, 16-35mm, 1/160 @ f/9, ISO 100
One of our vehicles. Sony A900, 24-70mm, 1/500 @ f/2.8, ISO 100
After a long morning of driving and rich photography, we turned the corner and saw that the camp had setup a wonderful lunch right on the beach. I love it when we are able to do these types of meals, as it allows us to stay out all day and not think about returning to camp just to eat a meal. The meals are always wonderful, and when the extra step is taken to exceed expectations it is always well received. Sony A900, 24-70mm, 1/500 @ f/6.3, ISO 100
Gert, one of our exceptional guides, offers a cool and refreshing gin and tonic at the end of the day. Sony A900, 16-35mm, 1/500 @ f/2.8, ISO 400
The Rock Garden and Clouds. Sony A900, 24-70mm, 1/20 @ f/8, ISO 100
Are you available to travel to Namibia next month? I had a cancellation for my Namibia, May 19-27 trip. I have a number of people on a waiting list, but I am also getting the word out on this blog. If you have ever wanted to visit and photograph one of the most photographically rich landscapes on the planet, Namibia is the place for you. Namibia took my breath away back in 2006 when I visited for the first time. Now Namibia is part of my safari mix every year, with its captivating sand dunes, people and wildlife.
1 spot available due to late cancellation