Here is a quick post for the day. Hyena! Here is an image capture of a young Hyena moving through the grass in search of food. Hyena’s are carnivores and scavengers. They typically do not kill for food, but scavenge from food sources already killed by another animal. They are high up on the food chain just below the King of the Jungle, the Lion. Even the Leopards and Cheetahs fear the Hyenas. Leopards try to avoid them by taking their kills up unto a tree for consumptions. Cheetahs however, try to keep them away by hunting in multiples. One Cheetah will eat while the other watches out for roaming Hyenas who might try and take their food. Its an interesting thing to watch. Just another day in the African bush country. Enjoy!
Searching for My Brother! This image that I captured while traveling through Botswana recently, tells a story in its own right, but there is more to it. We were fortunate through our Safaris in South Africa and Botswana to locate a few of the Cheetahs who travel in these two areas of the African Continent. Both locations had Cheetahs in very small numbers. The fact that we were successful in photographing these in both locations was a huge win for us and for our guides. These two Cheetahs were brothers. We came upon them late in the day as you can see from the golden light of late afternoon and early evening. We thought they were searching for food, but our guide told us otherwise. We were told that there were three brothers and that theses two were looking for the third. They would stop every few yards and cry out with a high pitched mewing sound. Our guide said they were calling out to their brother who was not in the area. We followed them for some time and captured many different poses and different lighting scenarios. All the while they would stop and cry out for their other brother. Our guide thought he was out hunting on his own.
Later that evening we received a radio call from another Safari group. Indeed the third brother was hunting on his own and found an Impala just across the boundary into the next preserve. It was quite a ways from our location and into some territory where we were not allowed to go since the property owners were in disagreement. So we stayed on these other two brothers and watched as they continued to search for their brother. After a while they began to hunt for themselves. As the light was diminishing we were only able to watch them lay low in the grass and wait for a food source to come by. A medium sized Impala came close and we thought we were going to see a kill. This Impala was within 30 yards of one of the Cheetahs. He stopped and was making aggressive sounds and charging the area where the Cheetah was laying. We thought his days were numbered. We could not photograph any of this activity as it was extremely dark at this point and so just watched and waited. Eventually the Impala ran off ending the potential for a kill. Such is the life in the African Bush. Sometimes your food source comes to you, and sometimes it gets away to live another day. Enjoy!
Independence Day! Happy Independence Day to all my friends and family here on the world wide web. A special thank you to the Sylvania, Ohio community for a great celebration last evening including the fireworks and community celebration. A special Happy Birthday to the girl of my dreams, Elizabeth Kriner. Your Birthday month has only just begun.
Lilac Breasted Roller! Among the many different species that we witnessed in our tour of South Africa and Botswana were some very interesting and colorful birds. This image is a Lilac Breasted Roller. A very small bird but very plentiful in the southern portions of the African Continent. These birds were usually isolated from others and perched on a tree , stump. or branch out in the open plains. We were able to get pretty close to them to capture some great photographs. We tried several times to capture one in flight, but to no avail. They were a little skittish and always flew away from us rather than towards us. Remember to “like” this image on Facebook, “Pin It” with Pinterest, and give it a +1 over at Google Plus. Enjoy!
Mongoose! All creatures great and small. Although our main focus for Safari were predators, we found many opportunities to photograph many other species in South Africa and Botswana. One afternoon on our way back to camp, we came upon a termite mound that was habituated by what appeared to be small rodents. They actually were mongoose. These are very small creatures and yet very dangerous. They kill snakes for goodness sakes. They were a little skittish at first but came out to take a look at us after we sat for awhile.
In my past trip to Africa we didn’t see many of these little creatures. In Botswana we saw many of them traveling across the grassy areas surrounding our camp. This appears to be a dwarf mongoose. They eat all kinds of insects, earthworms, snakes, lizards, birds and rodents. They are terrestrial in nature and usually roam during the day. Some of these mongoose are solitary in nature hunting strickly for themselves, while others travel in packs. Since there were many of these animals in the termite mound we can assume they were not as solitary a figure as one might think.
Remember to “like” this image on Facebook, Pin-It on Pinterest, or give it a +1 on Google Plus. Enjoy!
An Amazing Story! One of the things I think is important is how we are able to tell a story with our photography. If your composition is right and the subject is simple, the photo should speak for itself. The viewer should be able to tell the story of the image without commentary from the photographer. If taken in context, the story gets a little longer and more difficult to tell with one simple click of the shutter. In this post you will see two images. The first is one of the Airport Male Leopard. He is up a tree where he was getting ready to feast upon an Impala that he had carried up to where he laid on one of the branches. We knew this was the Airport Male as his right ears had been damaged in a fight and he was blinded in his left eye. He was partially hidden among the leaves of the tree. We stopped to photograph him and spent quite a bit of time watching him enjoy his meal.
Now here is where the story gets interesting. On the power chart inside Mala Mala Preserve we know that the Lion is always on the top. The Hyaena is next followed by the Leopard. We were surprised to hear that. Yet the ranger told us the Hyaenas were more dominant than the Leopard and would run him off and steal the food that he had just acquired. We also found out that one of the reasons the Leopards take their food up into a tree is that the Hyaenas can’t climb. They have no sharp nails on their feet and are therefore grounded. While we were photographing the Leopard, three Hyaenas appeared at the bottom of the tree. They could smell the fresh meat and followed the scent to the tree where the Leopard was hiding.
The second image was a photograph of one of the Hyaenas who were circling the tree looking for a way to get to the food. The Leopard was unfazed as Hyaenas travelled around the tree and could not climb to the top. Their only hope was for a piece of meat to drop to the ground. Eventually, they just gave up and moved on. They returned a few times to the base of the tree and still could not find any food. An interesting story that was fun to watch. Sometimes the story goes beyond the click of the shutter. This was one of those instances and I am glad I have a chance to share it with you. Enjoy!
Lion – South Africa! As I continue to post my images from South Africa and Botswana, I will try to highlight some of the differences in the two locations. This image of a Male Lion is from South Africa. When I post one from Botswana, you will see that the main on the Lions from Botswana are darker black than those from South Africa. There is a distinctive difference between to the two that I found interesting.
This Male Lion was traveling with another Male and they were lying near a road on the border of our camp at Mala Mala. The ranger was surprised to find them. He indicated that a larger Male had run these two off a few years ago and they had migrated of the Mala Mala Preserve. He said that it appeared they were trying to work their way back and knew that the Male that had tormented them in the past was still on the preserve and might chase them off again. As we were observing these two males, one of them got up and was limping as he walked across the road. He clearly was injured. The other male kept lying on top of him as if to mate with him. We thought this a bit strange but the ranger indicated that this was a move to show dominance between the larger male and the one that was injured.
In addition to some great photography on our trip, our guides were quite knowledgeable on many subjects. One of which was the Lion Prides. Which ones were which. Which ones had dominant males and which ones were around in the preserve longer than the others. In the Mala Mala Camp itself, they had posted a history of the various Lion Prides in the area as well as some of the Leopards that were currently in the Camp. Enjoy!
Male Lion in Black and White! On one of the last days of our Safari, we came upon a Male Lion basking in the sun. He was laying among some tall grass but we were able to maneuver our vehicle around for some great photography. He turned his head, stood up, laid back down, and gave us many opportunities to capture the beauty of this great beast, The King of the Jungle. Once I viewed this image on my big screen in the office, I knew I had to try a Black and White image.
After adding contrast and sharpening the image I tried a High Key Black and White layer. It was really striking. But those eyes! In wildlife photography its all about the eyes. Thats where you focus. You want the eyes sharp. Certain wildlife have great expressions and are usually centered around the eyes. Although I liked the Black and White Image I still thought there needed to be something else to make this image really Pop. So I went back into the Black and White layer and removed the treatment from the eyes allowing the color to come through. Now the image dynamic is a bit more powerful. Capturing wildlife images is fun and exciting. Finding ways to turn those images into Fine Art is a bit challenging but very rewarding when you see the end result. Enjoy!
Giraffe in the Mist! On one of our early morning game drives out of our camp in Botswana, we found we had a very foggy morning. Thinking this might hamper our shooting capabilities we quickly set our eyes on a group of Giraffes grazing among some trees near our position. We tried a few test shots and found the scene quite appealing. We moved our Safari Vehicle to several spots around these Giraffes and captured many photographs. The Giraffes ignored us and this allowed us to move our vehicle several times as we were looking for the best compositions. Our guide was helpful in looking over the environment and suggesting the pest places to shoot.
This particular photograph was most pleasing as it isolated one Giraffe away from the herd, framed her with the branches of the trees, and helped to make the compositional impact we were looking for in our photographs. A great compositional tool is the “Rule of Thirds.” This rule gives you an outline for your photograph. Divide your viewfinder into thirds both horizontally and vertically. Then place your subject along one of the lines you imagine and voila! Great compositions. For the best impact, try to place your subject on the cross points, or power points, of two of your lines. The image dynamic can improve greatly if you take a few seconds to get it right in your camera. Additional cropping in your computer can also aide in finding the best composition for a particular photograph.
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Leopard Portrait! I have said many times here on this Blog that patience is a virtue and can yield some fantastic results. When we came upon this Leopard early one morning in South Africa, our driver Brandon was focused on getting us the right shot. She initially was laying deep in the grass hidden from the view of our lenses. Brandon pulled up to the area and waited and watched hoping for some activity. Eventually, the leopard rose up and started to walk through the grass into a deep set of trees. Brandon fired up the diesel engines and drove around the Big Cat to get us in a better position. Careful to give the animal a wide berth we moved ahead to an area where the guide believed she would come. After several adjustments, we found ourselves in a great place as the Leopard came out of the tall grass. She walked right past our Safari Vehicle moved up to this log and then began to look right and look left. Our shutters were flying at 11 frames per second. The light was golden, the pose was great, she was patient to look around and give us a few seconds to capture a great image. Experience in the field allows for you to quickly compose a shot, check for exposure, and fire away. Sometimes you miss it. But when its a winner, you can see the magic. In addition, the red grass in the background helped to add a splash of color and a great image is created. Enjoy!