News from the May 2009 Tour - Babies!
I didn’t need to hear the weather statistics to know it had been a healthy summer in the lowveld; there was still water in many waterholes, the grass remained a bit green, and baby animals were everywhere. Every zebra herd had young and newborn calves and mini giraffes walked under their parents. On our Big 5 Game drives we sat back and watched the action as a mother cheetah played chasing and tackling games with her cubs. In Kruger a lioness directed her 4 little cubs away from the small kill they had just finished. Several baby white rhino in the private reserve prove the success of their conservation efforts. The very youngest animals we saw were the baby hyena under the care of a juvenile “baby sitter” and the 2 month old cubs of Savannah , the semi-tame cheetah at one of the lodges.
As guide I plan each day to be busy and to place us with the animals at the best times, but ignoring the plan sometimes has its advantages such as when we found ourselves with a few extra minutes between activities and a need for a coffee. We stumbled onto a unique coffee house sprouting out of a farmer’s field with a gem of a view of the mountains through the ancient branches of a baobab tree. We stayed longer than we should have, but it was well worth it.
An animal filled 2 weeks with lovely weather and no bugs brought us down to our last game drive and I realized that we had not yet seen any ostrich. As sunset approached we were in excellent ostrich country enjoying the grazing bushbuck, kudu, and waterbuck, but as yet no ostrich. The neon colored bee eaters flew acrobatics above us and posed on stems of grass. We chose a spot for a sunset drink where the mountains glowed redder than the sun tinted clouds, and as we took it all in with a cold drink, three ostrich walked straight toward us. Sometimes I think the animals have a flare for the dramatic and satisfying ending.
Its Hard to Give Up Sometimes
Mid morning in Kruger we discovered a juvenile male lion with a problem. He and his two male pals had feasted on their kill all morning and now they were all full and the day’s heat was beginning to overwhelm the cool morning. His friends had already had their fill and were napping under a tree, but this lion, despite his bulging belly, refused to give up the kill to the vultures and other scavengers.
He sat guard over it for a long time in the hot sun then resolved to join his buddies. As soon as he heard a vulture land on his kill behind him, he could not stand it and rushed back scaring the birds off. Several minutes later the heat and full belly got to him again and he moves off again, only to change his mind and go rushing back when the vultures closed in. To our amusement, the lion’s indecision flip flopped at least 6 more times each time the crowd of vultures grew and one bird grew braver and more defiant. One last half hearted attack on the vultures and we knew his wish for shade with his companions had won out over his covet of the carcass. Fifty vultures swooped in but owned the carcass for only a short time. Waiting patiently in the distance for the lion to leave was a single hyena who now moved in. He too chased the vultures away then tore off a chunk to eat in the shade. Now the vultures had the kill to themselves.
This humorous lesson in lion determination was the highlight of our day.
Equipment Review: Getting Reach out of your Strobe
Sometimes the simplest and least expensive products work the best. Case in point is The Better Beamer (for sale on www.naturescapes.net ) . It’s a flash extender that attaches to the strobe and concentrates and magnifies the light into a tight beam. This gives your strobe the ability to reach out to your subjects when using a long lens. If the subject is at a distance which requires a telephoto lens, the light from a small strobe could be pretty diffuse by the time it gets there having little or no fill flash effect, but the Better Beamer’s light concentrating ability helps with the distance problem. The Beamer breaks down very flat for traveling and was pretty quick to assemble. I am thoroughly happy with this small purchase as it enhanced my photos, packs small and light, and can light a hippo at dusk from a distance of 15m. I was surprised at how the animals seemed to be unfazed by the flash; if it caused an elephant to charge, I wouldn’t be here to give a review. Because I am so happy with this simple devise, I recommend that if you bring a strobe on your wildlife shoots, also pop the Better Beamer in your gear bag.
| With Beamer
One note: take care not to point the Better Beamer and your strobe at the sun or you could have melt down situation with the light sensor in the strobe.
Two Treehouses Completed
We have completed contruction of 2 treehouses on our property. The sunsets from the veranah are breathtaking.
Join Us On a Safari
Only 4 spaces available! reserve yours now
Sept 28 -Oct 5
Sept 28 - Oct 10
May 10 - May 22 Extended Photo Safari
May 18 - May 25 Photo Safari
May 10 - May 17 Wildlife Safari
Sept 20 - Oct 2 Extended Photo Safari
More safari details on our website www.AfricaWildSafaris.net
What our Guests say about our May '09 Adventure
We LOVED this trip!
We chose Greg and Karen Sweeney's Africa Wild Safari because they offered what was a guided tour of the many exotic sights and sounds of South Africa. Greg and Karen did it all for us. All we had to do was show up.
This was the trip of a lifetime and if one has a desire to see animals in the wild and soak up a good deal of the animal kingdom, Greg and Karen Sweeney will more than accommodate you.
Donna and Joe from Minnesota
Take Control of Your White Balance
White balance is the function in your camera or image software that removes an unrealistic color cast so that objects which appear white in person are rendered white in your photo. Proper camera white balance has to take into account the “color temperature” of a light source, which refers to the relative warmth or coolness of white light. Our eyes are very good at judging what is white under different light sources, however digital cameras often have great difficulty with the auto white balance (AWB) setting.
Shooting in RAW format allows you to adjust white balance after the photo has been taken. Raw files also allow one to set the wb based on a broader range of color temperature (blue – yellow) and tint (green – magenta) shifts. In your software, find and use a neutral reference to correct the white balance, then hand tune to your taste.
For situations where you anticipate auto white balance will encounter problems or you are noticing an undesired coloration, a neutral reference device is an easy tool to use and carry into the field with you. (see my review of one of these devices) There are two ways to use these devices: read the rest on PhotographAfrica.com)
The next issue of Wild Times will come out in October