Friday 24 May 2013

AIF3 - Animals seen

We are spending tonight aside the Kavango River on the Namibian side looking over to Angola before heading into the Okavango Delta ,one of my must visit places list. 2 weeks into the trip so thought I'd list the main animsls we've seen thus far as I listen to crickets screaming and hippis grunting....

The list of animals seen so far...
Red Haartebeest
Bat eared fox
Spotted hyena

Goliath Heron
Cape Starling
Red Breasted Shrike
Kori's Bustard
Chiff chaff
Guinea Fowl
Pearl spotted Owl
Grey go away bird

Trap door spider

Black Rhino
Spotted Hyena
Banded Mongoose
Black Mongoose

And hopefully lots more to follow :)

Tuesday 21 May 2013

AIF(2): Snaps, photos and camera art

The whole purpose of this trip is to learn about photography or to improve your photographic skills. There is a wide range of skills and experience on the trip, from novices like me to real photography nerds: from those of us with new entry level cameras, to folk with several lenses and some expensive kit. Our guide is really knowlegeable and the group is such that everyone helps and learns from others.

During our first week we had an introduction to the basic principles of photography. For me this was great, starting at the basics and trying to get to grips with the interplay between aperture, shutter speed, ISO settings in order to move away from snapping with   the Auto mode of the camera to using the Manual mode to construct planned photographs and even onto  more  'arty' works using on camera retouch and editing or through using software such as Photoshop, Photo Elements etc

Our first 'supervised' session was on night photography where we shared tripods and took pictures of the stars at our camp on the Orange River. Brett , our guide, took us out in small groups to give individual instruction and assistance.

Our next session was on White Balance: and then on impromptu one on how to photograph around a fire: using our camera's fastest shitter speed and largest aperture it is possible to capture really interesting effects in flames. Using a flash enables a photograph of fire and people to be taken.

In Namibia we visited Deadvlei. This is an amazing place to be let loose with a camera. It is a dried up river basin amongst the dunes and is full of dead trees. Their stark shapes against the sand plain in the bright blue sky of a desert afternoon heat is somewhat other worldly, even a bit  eery, but in the end I could have spent much more time there than the  couple of hours we had. Again our guide was not just on hand but was proactive in spending time with each of us individually to help us with different aspects. For me this meant an introduction to macros, close up photography.

The truck is equipped with  Mac pc  enabling everyone to download all there photos to disk. I can't believe how many I am taking and have filled my 4gb card already, As per Africa in Focus's suggestion I have brought a external hard drive with me and I am already glad I did. Most of the photos I have taken will be consigned to the waste bin ventually as I am experimenting with different settings and am keeping almost all of them for now as I am due a one to one session with our guide to critically review my work and get pointers for improvement.

Pictures will follow later

AIF(1) : Stars shining bright above me ...

Day 1 saw us motor out of Capetown heading north for a leisurely drive to camp at an ex-overlander's grape farm on the Oliphant river. Their grapes make the Klawer wine which we sampled and some stocked up with for taking home and for later in the trip. Out of their chenin  blanc, pinotage and sparkling wines I surprised myself by preferring the dessert wine. It was a pleasant evening,an easy start to the trip allowing folks to mingle,get used to each other, our truck (effectionately called Malaika) and putting up our tents.

My companions are an English couple,an Australian couple, a Anglo-South African lady, a younger Canadian guy and a Scottish woman who coincidently comes from my home town - small world.

Day 2 - a early start to drive to the Namibia border. Because of regulations our UK registered truck is not allowed to transport passengers through the border crossing so we are transferred to a Namibian vehicle with our luggage which promptly has a tyre blow out! Otherwise the crossing is comparatively uneventful.

Onto our night stop on the  banks of the Orange River where we are  given our first photography session - star photography.  I never imagined being able to take such pictures of the sky without professional kit: but with borrowing a tripod I was able to take a photo of the night sky.

NOTE: I will add photos to my posts as and when  I get a decent internet connection speed.

Saturday 4 May 2013

Off I go again...

This time on a belated 60th birthday  present to myself - a vacation travelling Capetown to  Kigali with Africa in Focus. Nice to have someonelse do the organisation, the driving etc. As the company specialise in photography oriented tours I have bought my first digital SLR camera, an entry level Nikon D3200  and will be attempting to learn some technical aspects of photography, although I won't let fiddling with settings hinder my actual seeing, taking in and enjoying the sites which hopefully will include some big game.
More posts as and when I can , or in bunches, over the next 10 weeks.