Safari Report and Newsletter of Gregory Sweeney Photo Safaris

Africa Wild Safaris Newsletter safari report

Safari Report

In September, I hosted two wonderful groups on safari. The weather was great and light rains last season had left little vegetation so the wildlife was easy to spot.

The first weeks seemed to be filled with cheetahs. On several occasions we spotted coalitions of two male cheetahs out hunting and some with a fresh kill. We also had very close encounters with large herds of elephants, some with very young members. Their antics at the watering holes are always a highlight. With the second group we encountered lions who had recently moved in a claimed territory and females. The African spring is a wonderful time to photograph birds and small creatures and our guides made sure these were not overlooked. I enjoyed presenting this safari to my guests and hope they returned with many pictures and great memories. It is an honor to have increasing numbers of repeat guests. It is true that once you go on a safari you are hooked.

In this newsletter I share with you some post processing techniques to help make the most of your images. My tips on composition will help you capture a good shot or pick the best images out of a large collection. To see more images from the recent safaris see the links to my blog or browse the recent history of my Facebook.

proud lion  baby giraffe

We have added some exciting and productive private reserves to our itinerary for 2016 & 2017. These reserves are full of the big 5 with great chances to see lions, elephants, and leopards. We often see some of the more rare antelope species, rhinos, and some really spectacular water birds. I look forward to visiting these places again soon.

See a selection of my favorite images from this May 2015 Safari on my blog:

Favorite Moments from September 2016 - 1st group

Favorite Moments from September 2016 - 2nd group

What our Guests Say:

I had an incredible time and share it with anyone I get the chance to. I can say it was one of the best experiences of my lifetime and I would love to go back. It was awesome. Thanks to Greg and Karen who are great hosts. - Marla

It was a great group and fantastic safari. It was very good getting to know both of you. I decided that you, Greg and Karen, are the real difference makers in the experience, something I missed at the other lodges. While great places, I missed the felling that we were simply visiting you in your private home. Now I appreciate the sentiment of similar comments on your site. Now for all of the work processing the photos. Tom's Trip Advisor Review - Mike & Tom

Will start sorting photos next week, only about 7000+ photos to sort thru and process, Thanks Greg and Karen for a awesome time, will be back for sure! - Lyndsay * true to his word, Lyndsay is already signed up for a safari in 2016!

dramatic hippo
Read Comments from our Guests Our Tree House Lodge on Trip Advisor

Don't Miss Your Chance to Join Us on an Adventure Packed Safaris in 2016 or 2017

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2016 will be another great year of adventurous photo safaris. We will be hosting safaris at the best time of the year: April/May (African autumn) and Sept/October (African spring). Only 1 safari in 2016 still has spaces available. We will have only four 10 day safaris in 2017 which will book up well in advance.

Reserve spaces now for individuals or your groups of 4 - 6 !

Our safaris in 2016 and 2017 will be 10 day photographic safari in private reserves in Limpopo, South Africa and Kruger National Park with 2 nights in the famous Sabi Sands reserve. All of our safaris are hosted by photographer Gregory Sweeney and enjoy a stay at our tree house lodge

best of limpopo image

Best of Limpopo, Kruger, & Sabi Sands Photo Safari

in May (African Autumn)

May 25 - June 3 2016 - 3 spaces
May 2 - 11 2017
May 17 - 26 2017

Learn more

best of limpopo image

Best of Limpopo, Kruger, & Sabi Sands Photo Safari

in September (African Spring)

Aug 29 - Sept 7 2017
Sept 12 - Sept 21 2017

Learn more

Our Lodge has a new Tree House

We are very proud to announce a new addition to Bona Ntaba Tree House Lodge. Our 4th tree house is complete and ready for guests. The new tree house has spectacular views of the mountains with comfortable hand-made wooden deck chairs for watching the sunset with a drink in hand. Soak in the spa tub or catch more views from the outside shower. The thatched roof and wood floors give you a sense of adventure with ample protection from weather all the while catching a nice cooling breeze.

Our safari guests will enjoy several nights on our Nature Conservancy in the tree houses where they will enjoy game viewing and game drives during the day, roaming plains game species while they relax at the tree houses, and delicious meals in our boma under the stars. After dinner we enjoy listening and spotting for night creatures at the watering hole just off our deck and pool. Most guests say they miss Bona Ntaba Lodge and its food once we move on to the Sabi reserve. See more Photos

Also on my Blog:

Which is the Best Season for Safari? Safari Travel Resource

Composition in African Photography

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Before your South African safari, it is good to review composition principals. I find most of my wildlife images fall into 3 themes: animal portraits, groups of animals, or animals in their environment or with landscape elements. Within these themes you should strive to include storytelling, movement, leading lines, negative space,rule of thirds, and isolation.

Animal Portraits

These images have one center of interest; the animal. All other elements that can be distracting are eliminated and all the viewer’s attention is on the animal, its textures, and eyes.

animal portrait

Some external elements can enhance the portrait almost like props: a bit of fresh kill, flights buzzing around the head, a bit of the branch gripped in a talon.

enhanced animal portrait

The carcass bits in this image add to the portrait explaining the look of bliss on the lion's face and tail attitude.

Read More of this article and see more examples in the full article on my blog

Join us on an Adventure Underwater

Many of my marine trips do not require scuba, just a medium level of swimming skill with a snorkel. These are some of the most magical and memorable experiences you can have in nature. See my underwater trips

safari with great whites

Sailfish & Makos in Isla Mujeres - Feb 2016

Photograph the sailfish as they hunt during the sardine run. We will also spend with makos to see them breach and from the shark cage.

Snorkel with Whale Sharks and Giant Mantas - July 2016

Take our private charter boat each morning to visit the large aggregation of whale sharks and swim along these giant fish. Relax each afternoon on the fun island of Isla Mujeres, Mexico

check all of our underwater trips - many do not require scuba!

Using the Shadows/Highlights Command in Photoshop to add Contrast

Post processing Safari Images

Adding contrast to an image is a great way to boost the impact of the image, especially African images shot in full sun and those where the animal is camouflaged.

Between the Development tools in Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop, there are many ways to achieve increased contrast. Here I will employ the Shadows/Highlights Adjustment in Photoshop and compare it to results using the Curves Tool and to using a combination of Development Tools in Lightroom.

My starting point is this image of a male lion who has just fought for his pride females: he is clearly injured, but still has a regal air. I start with a small white balance adjustment in Lightroom (I used the eyedropper on the white fur of his chin to set the balance). Using the right-click to get the menu, I select Edit In Photoshop to open the image and Photoshop. If promoted, choose to edit the image with the Lightroom adjustments. When I am all finished and saved the results, Lightroom will display the two images together – like a before and after. I can then stack them or otherwise keep the two files related.

Use Photoshop for more sophisticated tools and the ability to limit adjustments to certain areas of your image using layers and masks.

The Shadow/Highlights tool has multiple uses including improving images with too much contrast, those with subjects shot against bright backgrounds, and images in need of more contrast (such as this one) Inside the dialogue box are separate controls for working with the Shadows and in the Highlights.

Each Tonal area has 3 options: Amount: The amount of adjustment you wish to make Tone: This asks “how much of the image comprises Shadows (or Highlights) Here you are setting the definition of Shadows and Highlights based on this specific image and its needs Radius: Sharpening is achieved by adding a “halo” of light around areas where dark and light meet enhancing the transition. The Radius is how large or how distributed the halo is. If you set the value high, the halo is large and spread and the effect is not has noticeable on smaller areas of change. Overall you can control the following factors: Color: This is equivalent to controlling saturation and boosting color saturation along with the exposure contrast changes. Setting this to zero would limit the effect to contrast only: no boost to color contrast. .Black clip / White Clip Here you are setting what will clip at each end of the light to dark gamut. Clipping is when a value that is not pure white (or black) is now increased to become all white. This is a loss of detail unless the clipping occurs in unimportant areas such as sky or shadow where there was no detail anyway.

Read More in the full Blog Post

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